Moses is a key figure of both Jewish and Christian history. If it were not for Moses, the people of God would have remained slaves until God brought in another deliverer. When it comes to Moses’ work as the one who rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, we often think first of the burning bush. There Moses encountered God and heard God’s call to save His people from Pharaoh.
But long before the burning bush Moses had made a key decision. If he were to face this choice and choose differently, Moses would not have led the people out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Thankfully, Moses chose the path he did.
What was this key choice that came so long before what we think of as God’s calling and commissioning of Moses? We find out in the Hebrews 11 Hall of Fame of Faith:
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
What if you could change who you are? Let’s say you could choose a life of riches and fame or disgrace and poverty. Which would you choose?
Moses “refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” (v.24). As the movie title suggests, Moses was a Prince of Egypt. He learned from the greatest of tutors, knew how to read and write, developed leadership skills for war and for peace. His present and future were provided for.
As the grandson of Pharaoh, Moses had everything he needed. Food and shelter. Work and purpose. Respect, title and riches. He might be sent to marry a lonely princess in honor of a treaty. He may even have claim to the throne of Egypt.
All of this Moses gave up, by faith. It was not that he did not appreciate what was available to him or that he despised it. Being half raised by his true mother, he knew that he was not really the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.
But something inside him, his faith, pushed him to be defined by his true heritage and identity. Moses was a Hebrew, born of Hebrews. He was not an Egyptian, even if he could have all that the house of Pharaoh might provide for him.
It was a far distance from the Prince that everyone bowed before as he passed by, whose every word they obeyed and whose pleasure they served at. Now he was ordered around, bullied and mistreated. He was “mistreated along with the people of God” (v. 25).
Why did Moses make this choice? Was it because he felt ashamed at what the Egyptians were doing to his people? Was it because he was just learning his true heritage as the movie suggests?
No, Moses made the choice to be one of God’s people because of his faith. After “he had grown up,” Moses understood that the true God was the God of the Israelites, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And that God had made promises to those men, a covenant that was passed along from generation to generation.
In hearing and understanding the promise of God, the “not seen” and the “hoped for,” faith sprung up inside of Moses. As he learned that as a Hebrew he was an heir of those promises, his faith pushed him to cast away all other identities, all other provisions or rewards that were not the ones he had in God.
What about us? We, too, have an identity in God. We are His sons and daughters. We are victors over sin, death and the grave through Jesus Christ. We are empowered to live out and share the Gospel through the Holy Spirit living in us.
We must, by faith, cast off every other identity and give up every other reward that does not come from God. It will only keep us from fulfilling and receiving all that He has for us. Even if it means giving up great things, parts of life that we are proud of, accomplishments and awards that we hold up for everyone to see, or titles and position that elevate us to great heights, we must give it up.
Like Moses we stand at the crossroads. Will we choose what the world would let us have, or what God has promised to us? We make the choice by faith. May we rewrite verse 26 for ourselves, and consider Christ as of greater value than the treasures of this world, because we are looking ahead to our reward.