Pastor Luis continues our Summer Series, Heroes of Faith 2, with Moses who became a hero of faith by his diligent faith in God.
As I mentioned, we’re continuing our summer theme we’re calling Heroes of Faith. Each time I share around this theme, I’d like to focus on the life of Moses, particularly the early portion of Moses’ life. As we do that and explore the formative years of his life, I hope we’ll be able to discover that our faith in the Lord is usually born in times of uncertainty and adversity. It’s usually there that we most exercise. It’s almost as if our faith in God is made for trials. It’s there that we usually step and lean into it. It’s there that we usually become most open and able to explore this idea a little bit more. It was about seven weeks ago that I was last given the privilege of sharing here at this platform. It was also around seven weeks ago that I had a little bit of an accident playing basketball. An accident that ended up putting my right hand and arm into a cast for seven weeks. For seven weeks I had to explain to people what kind of accident I had. I started embellishing it a little bit. People would ask, “What happened? I would say, “Man, don’t you hate it when you dunk too hard?” Nah, that didn’t happen to me either.
I fell backward and broke a little bit of a bone. A small bone here that put me in a cast. It was about two days ago, Friday morning, that I went to the doctor and they removed the cast after seven weeks. I was so looking forward to this. It was something I really was looking forward to it to the point where Monday morning I woke up and this song just came to mind. It’s by this group named Europe. It’s probably the only song they’re known by. It’s The Final Countdown. It’s Monday morning. I’m listening to The Final countdown with my wife. It has this minute and a half long intro that’s just so memorable. If you’ve never heard it, it’s worth listening to. But it was Monday morning, then Tuesday morning, the same thing, and Wednesday morning, the same thing. I saw that “Honey, you know what time it is?” She’s, “It’s the final countdown.” “Yes, it’s the final countdown.” We just started playing with it. I shared it with my co-workers. I would send them texts of the music without any explanation. They needed to understand on their own what was going on.
I remember I was sitting in the office Friday morning in the clinic where the assistant was going to remove my cast. I just started to play that song as she started to saw it off. She laughed and knew exactly what it was. She said, “That’s funny. You shouldn’t celebrate too fast. We don’t know what’s going on there.” I remember going in to see the doctor after the X-ray and playing it with my doctor too. No explanation, I just started playing it. “Just give me my results.” He said, “You may not want to celebrate so quick. We don’t know if it’s completely healed.” I remember thinking, “But doc it’s the final countdown. This is supposed to be it.” He said, “Hey, it’s not healed yet. In fact, you’re going to need three weeks in a brace. You need to be in a brace at all times.”
I remember sitting there and started asking questions: “What do you mean? I mean, my wrist just got free and now you want to put it in a brace again.” He said, “Yeah.” I said, “So, okay, what can I do?” Basically, he said, “Not much of anything. You definitely can’t play basketball. No basketball for a while. Three weeks and then we’ll re-examine it.” I said, “Okay. How about bike riding” “No bicycle.” “I have a motorcycle.” “No motorcycle.” “All right, no motorcycle.” I said, “Could I write with it?” “Maybe, maybe.” Maybe I could write with it, man. I said, “Here’s the thing.” He knows I’m a pastor. I said, “This weekend I’m going to be sharing with my church so could I remove it then?” He goes, “Why? Are you telling me that the congregation will have a hard time receiving the Word of God if you are wearing a brace?” I said, “No, though, just for aesthetic reasons.” He’s, “Oh, so you’re telling me that the congregation would have a hard time receiving the Word of God if it doesn’t look good?” I said, “No, it’s just for me.” He said, “I’m just kidding. Of course, you could not wear it.” It’s doctor-sanctioned here. No brace while I’m speaking.
I shared that because it was seven weeks of being inhibited, unable to have full mobility. It’s not totally recovered yet. But I’ve got to be honest with you, it was seven weeks and it was not easy. I was thinking about this because at first, I remember the injury first happening, It’s such a minor thing. A cast for seven weeks. If I do the comparison game, I should be very happy. I should be so happy that at least my body’s ability to heal itself, that I’ve at least got to this place where restoration is possible. If I compare myself, I should be happy with my mobility. The truth is I wish I could tell you that I was happy all through these seven weeks.
The truth is, even the adversity, though it was small, was still adversity. I remember initially negotiating, wondering, “What can I do? What can I not do?” Coming to realize, “Wow, I’m severely limited. This is my dominant hand.” I remember having moments where I was bothered and irritated. Other moments where I would be discouraged. I was thinking about this and sharing because that is the nature of adversity, is it not? Where it may not be such a big deal in the grand scheme of things. Honestly, is it that? On the other hand, no matter how hard we try, we cannot deny that it bothers us. It bothers us, and how we respond there matters.
There were moments when I was feeling pretty low. Moments I couldn’t tie my own shoes. I mean, to have to ask for help. I remember, “Honey,” to my wife, “can you tie my shoes?” It’s such a humbling experience. Other things I didn’t mind saying I couldn’t do like, “Honey, I just can’t do the dishes.” The thumb is crucial for that. But we know what it’s like because it’s there in that place where we come more in touch with our weaknesses, limitations, or what we cannot do. That is the place where faith is either born or exercised. If we have noticed in our own lives and journey, it is there we become a little bit more open to God. It’s there when we recognize, “Well, I can’t do this.” Or, “I don’t know if I have it in me.” Or, “I don’t have the strength I once had.” All of a sudden, we become a little bit more open to God. It’s there. It’s almost as if our faith in the Lord was made for such moments. It’s right there.
What we see when we explore different figures of our faith, different heroes of the faith is that they’re not all that different from us. In fact, Moses was born into such a moment. He’s referred to throughout the New Testament. There are a couple of passages I’d like to explore. Then we’ll zoom in on the context of how he was brought into the scene. We’re told, “He dealt shrewdly with our race and forced our fathers to expose their infants so that they would not be kept alive.” This is in the middle of Stephen’s defense. He’s giving a defense for why he has faith in the Messiah Jesus. Stephen is the Church’s first martyr. As he is doing this, he refers to Moses’ beginnings.
Verse 19, though it moves quickly, refers to a very dark period in Israel’s history. What we know is the Israelites were somewhat captive. They were enslaved under Egypt and Pharaoh. Verse 19 is referring to Pharaoh. The Israelites had multiplied to such an extent that Pharaoh became threatened by how large of a number they had. After consulting with his cabinet, he decided, “If a foreign army were to invade us, they could rise up against us, and all of a sudden we lose power.” He implemented and ordered a treacherous population control method. He decreed that any boy, any male born to the Israelites would be put to death on the spot. Stephen says in verse 20, “At this time, Moses was born in that circumstance and he was beautiful in God’s sight and he was brought up for three months in his father’s house. When he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.”
He moves through this and says he was born and hidden for three months. Then Pharaoh’s daughter ended up adopting and taking him in. We would see this and say, “Wow, that’s a rather amazing story.” But what Hebrews captures is a little bit more detailed. There are a few more ingredients in terms of what was actually going on. We’re told this refers to the faith of his parents.
Hebrews 11:23: “By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents.” His parents hid him for three months by faith. It’s not referring to Moses at all. It’s referring to his parents. It says, “Because they saw that the child was beautiful,” what mother wouldn’t see that their child is beautiful? There’s not a mother who wouldn’t say this. What this is pointing to and what Stephen was pointing to is that there was a sense that God had an assignment for this child. Look at this, “They were not afraid of the King’s edict.” Hebrews is saying that his parents demonstrated heroic faith. That the law of the land they saw as unethical. They believed in God and exercised civil disobedience doing what they knew was right. They didn’t bow. They weren’t afraid. They were courageous. For three months they hid him. This is more of a broad summary. The more detailed version is found in the second book of the Scriptures called Exodus. It’s in the second chapter of Exodus that we find this passage that gives us an account of the circumstances Moses was born into. I’d like us to take a look at it and, hopefully, we’ll be able to glean some things.
In Verse one, we’re told, “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took, as his wife, a Levi woman.” He’s referring to the tribe in Israel, one of the 12, the tribe of Levi. This tribe ended up becoming the tribe that came to be the workers of the temple and the priests of the temple generations down. He’s saying Moses came from that tribe. He says, “There’s this man took as his wife a Levi woman.” Verse two: “The woman conceived and bore a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. When she could hide him no longer she took for him a basket made of bullrushes and dabbed it with bitumen and pitch and she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the riverbank.”
These sentences and verses show us a little bit of what is happening here. The historians have come to understand that what happened is she gave birth to Moses. She did not fear. We see this in the Hebrews passage, “not fearing the King’s edicts, she courageously decided to hide him for three months. After three months recognizing she could no longer hide the child, she makes an ark.” We get the sense it’s not her alone, but the family acting together. They make a little ark for the child and put material on it. Historians believe enough material that when it dried it solidified, sealed it, and made the ark buoyant. They put the child in it, went to the reeds by the river, and let the child go.
Unless we forget, this was not an action the mother of Moses desired to do. She was doing it out of compulsion. There were no other options. If we could imagine what type of emotional turmoil she must have gone through to leave a three-month tender old child. Can you imagine? One thing’s for sure, we could surmise, her prayers were not passive. We could say that her prayers were not thoughtless in their nature. They weren’t casually spoken out. No, if anything, we could easily speculate that Moses’ mother and family had prayers that were filled and delivered through tears. She did it moving with faith, through tearful faith.
We could imagine that there was serious agony and anxiety that this woman was releasing her child, not immune to fear or to the anxiety that must have captured her heart. Yet she did it courageously. We’re told as she does this in verse four, “his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.” We get the sense that the mother is no longer mentioned. The sister, whom we know later through Exodus, is named Miriam, “At a distance stood to know what would be done to him.” Verse five, “Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river while her young women walked beside the river and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child and, behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrew’s children.’” It appears that Moses’ mother, sister, and family had somewhat of a plan. It appears that this was not coincidental. What happened is they had some idea of where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed herself. Knowing they had no option but to release the baby, they released the child on the riverbank by the reeds where they knew that Pharaoh’s daughter, the princess of the land, would bathe herself.
We also know that her maidservant’s servants would walk by down the bank of it. She hears a baby crying. She sends the servant woman, “Can you go see what that is?” The servant woman brings back the basket. She opens it and sees the child. It’s crying and she takes pity on him. Unbeknownst to her, I think, she was set up. You put a young woman and a three-month-old child together, that’s brilliant. That’s smart. If her father, the Pharaoh, was shrewd, so was Moses’ mother. She takes pity on the child, “Oh, my, this is one of the Hebrew’s children.” This is why I love the stories of the Scriptures. They’re thick and layered with all sorts of drama. She says, “This is one of the Hebrew’s children.” In verse seven were told, “Then his sister said to the Pharaoh’s daughter, she appears out of nowhere, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew woman to nurse the child for you? I could see you have compassion for the child. I know you can’t take care of it right now. Do you want me to go get one of the Hebrew women to take care of this child? I think I could find one.”
Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.”The girl went and called the child’s mother. Now, think about that. That’s comedy right there. That’s irony. It’s one of these things where we see the larger picture. We see every single role. We see every side, every angle, but they didn’t see what we see. I just love the way this is positioned. She comes in, she delivers and they don’t know what they’re doing. They don’t know exactly how this is panning out. Pharaoh’s daughter doesn’t know what’s exactly going to happen, but Moses’ sister steps in, “Do you want me to go get one?” “Yeah, go get somebody.” The servant goes and gets his mother. We’re told in verse nine: “Pharaoh’s daughter commands Moses’ mother, Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages. I will pay you to take care of this child.” She doesn’t know it’s her own son. I mean, it’s remarkable. “The woman took the child and nursed him and when the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son and she named him Moses, because she said, ‘I drew him out of water.'”
This drama that is unfolding reminded me of when I was a child. There would be these surprising elements. I remember, as a child, my grandparents loved to watch soap operas. They were in Spanish and are called telenovelas. They were captured right on the edge of their seat. There was always this moment where we would see different parties, different roles, all captured in their limited vantage point. Something would happen in a surprising element. There’s always this line I always remember hearing. No matter what soap opera, it would be one series or another series, I always hear this. If you’ve never seen a soap opera in Spanish, that’s okay. But I remember hearing, “Maria por que’” “Why?” My grandparents loved that moment because they saw it all along. They were, “Oh, I saw that coming.” Boom. Why? I didn’t see this.
This is exactly what’s happening with Moses. Each one didn’t see exactly, but what the author is telling us, is God saw it all. God saw it all. Look at how He orchestrated this. Yes, there were probably some human elements to it, but you could see His fingerprints in it all. It’s amazing because what we are watching here is that Moses wasn’t even supposed to be able to be born alive and yet he survived. We’re seeing that he wasn’t even supposed to live beyond that point and for three months he was hidden. At the point of three months of no longer being able to be hidden, his mother ends up setting Pharaoh’s daughter up. All of a sudden Pharaoh’s daughter takes him in and pays her to take care of him. After a period of time, she hands him over and he is raised by the daughter of the man who ordered his demise. Who saw that coming? Who could have predicted that? We see the remarkable way things unfold. We know, Moses is not the original name he’s given. Moses is his adopted name.
We see this and easily forget what Moses is most remembered for. He’s remembered and known for having the experience with the burning bush where the voice of God speaks. A bush that is on fire and isn’t consumed. That’s what he’s remembered for. He’s remembered for being sent as an instrument in God’s hand to be able to deliver his people. The refrain that often goes and echoes, “Let my people go,” in his confrontation with Pharaoh. He is remembered for the amazing miracles and demonstration of God’s power to the point where the Red Sea parts and an entire people group walked through it as if on dry ground. He’s remembered for his moment on Mount Sinai where he comes down with two tablets etched with 10 Commandments for his people. Do we realize none of that would’ve happened had he not survived the uncertainty of the times in which he was born? So fragile was his life, so vulnerable was he in the balance of things, anything could have gone wrong at any moment, yet God orchestrated something. Something that I think is meant to remind us of a couple of things. As we turn the tables a little bit and consider what does this has to do with our faith?
First, I’d like to suggest that our faith reminds us that our faith is meant to be passed down from generation to generation. It’s meant to be passed down from generation to generation. Look one more time at Hebrews 11. We are told, By faith, Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents because they saw the child was beautiful and were not afraid of the King’s edict. This is saying Moses didn’t have a chance unless his parents exercised courageous faith. Moses wouldn’t have had an opportunity had his parents not exercised some degree of courage and heroism in their faith, no matter how small it might seem. Oh, how significant it became.
All of us owe our faith to someone. Yes, our faith is between us and God. But, He uses people. All of us at some point or another probably didn’t have the strength of conviction. We probably found ourselves extremely vulnerable. It was somebody else who exercised their faith on our behalf that gave us the opportunity to explore and come to a point of receiving the love of God. We’re all connected. None of us is self-made in God. If that’s the case, it says that all of us, in some way, shape, or form, are exercising our faith courageously. Generations are hinging on that. There are some people tied to us. They are waiting on our courage to make a way for them. That’s what it reminds us of.
I was thinking about this, particularly in our own context. I’m now in my mid-thirties. There was a time when I was in the younger generation in our church community. That time is gone, I’m no longer in the younger and I’m definitely not an elder, more seasoned, generation of our church. But coming here for some time now, one of the things that I’ve come to really love about our church community one of the things I love about our church community is that we have layers of generations and we are not defined by silo. We have layers. In that, I was thinking about what a great opportunity we have. We have a great opportunity to enrich ourselves and to benefit from each other. I could speak to the younger generation, there is a reminder here that we are to honor and respect those who are older than us in the Lord. We are to honor that, I say this, not because there’s any degree of that lacking as much as the city we live in and the region of the world we live in. We live in a region that exalts youth, loves innovation and newness, and lives on the edge of society. When that is the case, what also is magnified is anything that is not that, is disregarded so quickly.
Many times it’s there. If we who are younger or who have people who are a little farther along than us in the Lord, we have a tremendous opportunity to gain from them. We might consider that they’re not really with it. We might consider they’re not tech-savvy enough. They don’t understand this generation. They might seem like they no longer understand where we’re at. Yet what we miss out on is what only they can provide. I’m speaking to a segment here, which is experience and wisdom, and that only comes with time. Proverbs says, “Wisdom, good advice, lies deep within the heart but a person of understanding is able to draw it out.” To those of us who are in the younger in this community, we have an opportunity to seek those out who are a little older and more experienced, to humble ourselves, and to ask, “Would you give me advice? Would you guide me? Would you speak to me about the tested faith you have walked in?”
To the more seasoned, I simply would love to say, “We need you. Oh, do we need you. We need you not to check out. We need you not to coast in these segments of your life. We need your tested fiber. We need your faith that has been proven time and time and time again. We need it.” Our students need stability. Our students need a perspective that is only able to be shared because someone has walked it out. Our young families need hope that comes, not through theory, but through having lived it. Our married couples need to be able to see, “This is what it looks like to sustain.” Oh, we need you, probably now more than before.
If we find ourselves somewhat in the middle, what we have, in my opinion, is one of the greatest opportunities because we both get to glean and give. It is in this season we get to do both. If that’s the case, do you see what a great opportunity a community such as ours has to take advantage of our faith? It’s never meant for ourselves. It’s always meant for the generations coming behind us. If that’s the case, it may cause us to feel like foreigners in a strange land. There will be moments in our lives when we will feel like we don’t belong. I get this from the fact that Moses was ripped out of his home and placed into a home that didn’t want him to begin with. He wasn’t with his people. He wasn’t with those who shared his faith. He wasn’t with those to whom he was born. He was in a foreign place. We have to understand, that for 40 years as he grew up in this place, no matter how hard he tried or others tried, he would always recognize, “There’s something different here. There’s something different.” He had to feel like he was somewhat of a stranger. We know this because he acts on that 40 years down the line.
in our case, in our lives, we might come to a point where we embrace Jesus in our lives. There might be points in our culture where we find ourselves on the outside of the inside circle, marginalized. We might find culture celebrating the things we think, “Grieves the heart of God.” We might feel uncomfortable with that. It’s because we are to be reminded that this is quite normal for us who embrace Jesus in our lives. Peter told the believers of the first century, “Friends, this world is not your home.” This is in 1 Peter 2:11-12. “This world is not your home so don’t make yourselves cozy in it. Don’t indulge your ego at the expense of your soul,” What does that mean? He says, “Hey, if you ever find yourself humbled by being on the outside of stuff, don’t feed your pride and give up your soul.” Don’t do that. If you ever feel uncomfortable, remember this isn’t our permanent residence. He doesn’t say, “So get angry. So retaliate.” No, he says, “Live an exemplary life.” We would say heroic. “Live your faith out among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they’ll be won over to God’s side and be there to join in the celebration when He arrives.”
If you ever find yourself on the margins of society or culture, if you ever find yourself on the wrong side of history, if we ever find ourselves in a place where we just can’t celebrate what is being celebrated everywhere else, don’t worry. It’s a reminder: This isn’t our permanent residence, to begin with. It’s okay. It’s a call to live our faith out courageously, to not back off of it, but to live it out gently, lovingly, and courageously. By that, others who may not have the ability to embrace the love of God, one day, your actions, Peter said, “Your actions will give them the ability to be open. When Jesus returns, the celebration will be bigger because of your heroism.” Ah, what a promise. What a great reminder to us because if it reminds us of that, it also reminds us that our faith assures that our adversity is never meaningless. It’s never meaningless.
Moses’ experienced the pain of being born into an environment that was extremely hostile to his existence. He most likely saw his own people being subjugated and enslaved as he grew up. In all of that pain, it was not lost on God because what we know is that that pain of seeing his own people and himself being born into such a place where he was ripped out of his family’s grasp, ended up fueling his passion to see his own people set free. It was in that pain that God used it to plant the seeds of what Moses ultimately became most passionate about.
If that’s the case, it’s also a reminder of what Paul said to the Romans. He said, “Listen, if we have embraced Jesus in our lives, we now have peace with God and we now get considered audacious.” But he says it. “We can now rejoice in our adversity because it causes perseverance and perseverance builds our character and our character gives us a hope, a hope that will not disappoint or lay us to shame.” Why? Because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts. So if the pain is able to sometimes be the seeds of what ultimately becomes our passion, then pain is also the adversity to be the tools God uses to form our character. If that’s the case, then it’s also able to increase our compassion.
Look at this passage from Corinthians. Paul said to them, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with a comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” Do you hear what he said? If we find ourselves in adversity, in times of uncertainty, the God of all comfort is able to comfort us. That is able to increase our empathy and compassion for others. An injury, a trial, or limitation gives us the ability that when we see others in pain, struggling, or limited, we may not know exactly what that is like, but we are able to then give them what we ourselves received.
Adversity is never meaningless in the hands of God. In fact, it becomes perhaps the moments where we get to either experience the birth of our faith or the exercising of it. We get to step into the heroic faith He invites all of us into. Not perfect, not without weakness, but heroic, nonetheless. In a moment, we’re going to receive our time of giving and our closing song, but I would love to pray and ask for His blessing.
Lord, I thank you that not one of our tears is lost on you. Not one moment of our struggle, not one moment of our uncertainty, not one detail of our lives is outside of your knowledge and your ability to use it for our good. I pray God that you would help us. I pray that you would help us, for those especially if we feel we have such a limited perspective. We don’t see everything. We don’t. I ask that you would give us courage. I ask that you would give us a degree of heroism. Even if no one ever sees it, you do. I pray, God, that you would help us exercise our faith in you or perhaps experience it for the first time in our moments of uncertainty. I ask for this in Jesus’ name. Amen.