One of the great stories in all of the Bible comes at the end of the book of Joshua. Joshua has led Israel into the conquest of the land.
So the LORD gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the LORD gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the LORD gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the LORD had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.
And Joshua summoned Israel to make a choice in the way that they would live. He said, ...
"Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD. If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
Joshua's resolve is the sort of stand that we all need to make. We all need to come to the place where we say, "As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
This morning, in our exposition of the book of Hebrews, we come to one of those places where a choice is to be made. So, I invite you to open your Bibles to Hebrews, chapter 11. In our exposition of the book of Hebrews, we now come to the life of Moses. We have seen Abel and Enoch and Noah, and all the patriarchs: Abraham, (Sarah), Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Let’s read our text: Hebrews 11, and beginning in verse 23, ...
Hebrews 11: 23-26
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
These verses take us some 400 years after the death of Joseph (recorded in verse 22, which we looked at last week). These verses take us into the horrible practice of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who sought to suppress the Jewish people, by ordering the murder of all the male children born to the Hebrews. The Hebrew midwives were told, "When you are helping the Hebrew women to give birth and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, then you shall put him to death; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live" (Exodus 1:16).
This is a clear case of infanticide -- the killing of helpless infants after they have been born. This has been practiced by many cultures throughout many times in history. Often the case has been religious -- attempting to appease the gods. We see examples of this in the Bible, particularly in the worship of Molech and in Israel during the reign of Manasseh.
At other times, the case has been pragmatic, as in the case of the ancient Greeks and Romans, whose father would look at the child and decide it’s fate. If the child was an illegitimate child or unhealthy or deformed or the wrong sex, these babies would often be deserted, as in left in a clay pot in a remote place. That way, the child would die of natural causes (like hunger or asphyxiation or exposure to the elements) and the parents would not be held guilty or murder. 
At other times, it was political, as in what took place in ancient Egypt. The Hebrew people were increasing in number (Ex. 1:9). At first, the Egyptians tried to enslave them and "afflict them with hard labor, ... but the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied" (Ex. 1:11, 12). And so, Pharaoh resorted to the measure of infanticide, ordering the Hebrew midwifes to put the little boys to death in an attempt to keep their numbers down. "But," we read in Exodus 1:17, "the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live."
This little phrase here is the seed of my first point,
which comes by way of application, ...
1. Choose Life (verse 23)
That is what we see here in verse 23, which talks not about the Hebrew midwives, but about two Hebrew parents. Their names (though not listed here in the book of Hebrews) are Amram and Jochebed (Ex. 6:20). When their son was born, they had a choice. Were they going to obey Pharaoh, and give up their son? Or, were they going to disobey Pharaoh and attempt to keep their son?
On the one hand, you look at that and say: "What sort of choice is that? Of course they will keep their son!' Just like the Hebrews midwives were doing - fearing the Lord and not obeying Pharaoh. "Who, in their right mind would give up their child?" The answer, of course, is "no one." But, sadly, there are many who aren’t in their right mind who end their child’s life.
And, lest you think that infanticide only took place in ancient cultures a long way away from us; and, lest you think that we have progressed in our day and age, being far better than the ancient cultures -- think again. Oh, in our culture, it may not technically be the same thing as infanticide, but it is the same at its core. You know, what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the practice of abortion, the termination of a pregnancy.
It takes place in our day and age. It takes place right here in Rockford. A good estimate (from what I have heard) is that some 50,000 babies have been aborted here in Rockford. Now, the population of Rockford, itself is only 150,000. The surrounding communities add another 50,000.  That puts our community somewhere in the range of 200,000 people. The number of abortions in Rockford is something like 1 in 4 since Roe vs. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, nearly 40 years ago.
Now, obviously, Rockford serves a greater area than merely our city and surrounding cities. Many have come from out of state to have abortions here in Rockford. But, if that statistic is correct, that’s an awful lot of babies who have never been given the chance to breath. My call to you, church family, is to Choose Life (verse 23).
This has been the slogan for many in the pro-life movement for many years. In many states, you can even get a license plate that says, "Choose Life" on it. This verse is a good one for us to think about fighting for the unborn. And I’m calling you all to fight for the pro-life cause.
Choosing life is exactly what Moses’ parents did. Rather than seeing their son murdered according to law by the Egyptians, they hid their child for three months, until he wasn’t able to go undetected any more. I trust that you know the story of what took place after this. The mother of Moses put him in a wicker basket, covered over with tar and pitch (Ex. 2:3). Then, "she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile" (Ex. 2:3). Moses’ sister, then, watched to see what would happen with the child. Now, it so happened that "the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, ... and she saw the basket among the reeds "(Ex. 2:5). She opened up the basket and saw the child. Upon seeing the child, she had compassion upon the little guy, rightly concluding that it was one of the Hebrew women, who placed the child there. Moses’ sister was there to recommend that she get a woman to nurse the child for Pharaoh’s daughter (Ex. 2:7). And so, she is sent home with her brother and the promise of wages from Pharaoh’s daughter to nurse the child (Exodus 2:9).
At this point in the story, I really need to comment upon what the personal touch will do to anybody. See, it’s one thing to hear about things about abortion. It’s another thing to rub up close and personal with the evils that take place in abortion.
I believe that this is what took place with Pharaoh’s daughter. She knew about the killing that was taking place. But when she saw it up close, hearing the cries of a baby, her heart was softened. And so, she took the baby into her own home. Now, this arrangement continued for some time. Eventually, Moses was given into the hand of Pharaoh’s daughter to be raised as one of her own. Even Pharaoh's daughter chose life, contrary to her father's command as King.
In recent months, I have attended two different events that have taken place in my life that has helped give me a personal face to the whole abortion issue. The first event was attending an event called, "Silent no more." It took place this fall out at the Peace Plaza on Perryville road. As I remember about 9 or 10 women stood up to publicly confess the abortions that they had done to them. One of the things that struck me was the tremendous pain that having an abortion caused for each of these women.
Several of them have thought about that day every day of their life. Several of them were on the brink of suicide at one time, because of the overwhelming guilt that they experienced as a result of these things. Several of them spoke about the suction sound that they heard while in with the abortion doctor, who literally sucks the baby out of the womb. So horrific was that sound that whenever they have heard that sound again (like at a dentist’s office), their minds have immediately gone back to that day, and it has stirred their thoughts to remember that awful day. It has made visiting the dentist to be something very hard for them.
If there is another opportunity for such an event like this again, I would encourage you parents to get a bit of a personal glimpse into the effects that abortion has upon women. And as appropriate, bring your older children. Hear how abortion scars women for life. And so, I urge you to Choose Life (verse 23) and to fight for that cause.
The second event that took place was just this past Friday. I went down to the Northern Illinois Women’s Center, where the abortions in Rockford take place. When I saw the cars drive into the parking lot, I saw some young women, getting out of the car, heading into the building to get an abortion.
It broke my heart to see these young women going into that place with a live baby in their wombs, most--if not all--of whom have a beating heart, knowing that they would exit the facility without their child but with scars for life. My heart broke for these women.
This morning, I want to say publicly, that I am thankful for the efforts that have taken place to stop the tragedy at the abortion mill. I know that the effort is predominately Catholic. I know that the focus there is focused mostly on saving a life physically. But, I’m still thankful to the Lord for their courage and persistence to stop the abortion that takes place in that building.
When I went down there this past Friday, there were about 15 people who braved the elements and sought to deter the women from entering the facility. People were holding up signs that spoke of the horrors of abortion and the reality that a life is in the womb. Some of the signs held up were offering a free ultrasound. Those who entered the facility were offered literature about the realities of abortion.
As the women entered the building, someone with a megaphone shouted out such things as this, "Mom, ... please don’t do what you are about to do. Please don’t have this abortion. Please don’t kill your child. You don’t have to go through with it. You can have a free ultrasound out here. There are people who care for you, who will help you. I care for your baby more than you do. Please stop!" It was as if this was one last voice pleading with the young woman to stop from going through with it. What if nobody stood there to make efforts for the unborn? If that were the case, what happened Friday after I left would never have taken place.
Here’s an email that I received later describing what took place after I left.
Later in the morning when only a couple sidewalk counselors were left and only a few people were quietly praying, a young woman came out of the abortion mill. She told a sidewalk counselor that she saw the ultrasound motorhome and could not get the sign that said, "Free Ultrasound", out of her mind as she sat in the abortion mill waiting room. The young mother was immediately walked over to the motorhome. Once inside she was still anxious about the child within her, but she wanted to see the truth. When this scared young woman saw the ultrasound of her own baby in the womb, the little guy decided to put on a show for mom. With shouts of joy, she yelled, "He looks like he's dancing, and I can see his heart beating! Oh My God!" In an instant everything changed. She no longer seemed nervous but was in love with the child inside her, and her love will protect her child now from the forces inside the Rockford abortion mill who destroy human life for a profit. Mom was given a gift bag with baby items, a bible for mothers, and contact information in case she needs help in any way, shape, or form.
Now, you need to understand what took place here. A soul wasn’t saved that day. A baby was saved from dying by a suction at the hand of a doctor. There is still work to be done in the life of that mother and in the life of the child. This is just the front lines. This is where the war is taking place.
But, in order to fight a war, you need to have ground medics who will never see the front lines. You need to have cooks who will only strengthen the troops, so that they will be strengthened to fight. You need to have commanders, who sit behind the enemy lines and make the strategy. You need to have those back home who are funding those who are sent to fight.
And for you, choosing life for you may not mean standing outside in the cold rain in front of the abortion center. But, it may mean making efforts to help those who follow up with moms like this. Because, this mother will be referred to a place like the Pregnancy Care Center, who will help the scared mother to care for the baby in her womb. Even then, the job isn’t done. At that point, it’s simply that a child has been given the opportunity to breathe.
It may well be that this mother cannot support the child, so chooses to give it up for adoption. For you, choosing life may mean getting involved with adoption. Maybe you find that there is room in your home for another child. Perhaps it means getting involved with Safe Families, who often deal with mothers who bring their babies to term, but don’t have the resources to care for them. It may mean that a single mom enters our church, and we all care for her. Perhaps it just means giving financially, so that others might do this work. Perhaps it means making the issue known within your sphere of influence. Many of you know about Abort73.com; perhaps it means purchasing items to advertise for that internet site.
I don’t know what it is for you. I don’t really know what it is for our church. I just know that we have been involved with this issue from all these fronts, and want to continue to encourage you to Choose Life (verse 23).
Perhaps you aren’t in a situation now to do any of these things. But, I know that there is one thing that you can do. I know that you can pray. So, pray. Pray for God to stop the evil. Pray for righteous legislation. Pray for God to touch the heart of scared, pregnant women to turn to Him. Pray for God to help direct the fathers of these unwanted children to give godly counsel, to keep the child.
Well, we need to get back to Hebrews. Notice the reasons given here in verse 23 for why Amram and Jochabed chose life.
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
The first reason given here is "because they saw he was a beautiful child." Now, that’s a strange reason. Because, every parent believes that their child is a beautiful child. One of the joys that I have as a pastor is getting to see babies. Often, I am asked to come and visit those who have just had babies. It’s my delight to do so. And, as I look at these newborns, I’m always struck by how small they are. I’m also struck by how well God has made them -- 10 fingers and 10 toes, a nose, 2 eyes and a mouth. I’m amazed at the glory of God in being able to fashion such a child in the womb. I’m drawn back to what it was like when we had all of our children. It’s usually a very happy time.
I love visiting new parents. But, quite frankly, between you and me, newborn babies aren’t often the most beautiful of creatures. Their heads are often misshaped. Their eyes can’t focus. They are often without hair. But, in the eyes of parents, they are always the most beautiful child. That’s just how it works. It was no different with my children -- they were all cuter than your children.
So, that’s a strange reason why the author here notes as to why Amram and Jochabed kept Moses safe. But, there may be more going on here than merely the sight of the child. Most of your translations here read that he was hidden, because they saw that he was a "beautiful" child (KVJ, ESV, NASB, NKJV). Indeed, that might be. But, the NIV reads a bit differently. It reads, "because they saw he was no ordinary child."
The Greek word here for "beautiful" is only used twice in the New Testament. Here, and in Acts 7:20, which also speaks of Moses at the time of his birth. Acts 7:20 says that Moses "was lovely in the sight of God." In other words, it wasn’t merely that Moses was beautiful in the eyes of his parents. But, there was also something divinely favorable about him. As some commentators have pointed out, Moses was divinely favored (i.e. MacArthur). He was to be the appointed one.
Josephus, the Jewish historian, who lived around the time of Christ said that during the days of Moses, there had been some anticipation of a deliverer coming. Here’s what he wrote, ...
"One of those sacred scribes, who are very sagacious in foretelling future events truly, told the king, that about this time there would a child be born to the Israelites, who, if he were reared, would bring the Egyptian dominion low, and would raise the Israelites; that he would excel all men in virtue, and obtain a glory that would be remembered through all ages." 
It is for this reason, said Josephus, that Pharaoh ordered the murder of all the newborn boys. Sounds a lot like Herod in the days when Jesus was born, doesn’t it? But, God’s purposes will always prevail. God protected Jesus by sending Him to Egypt. And God protected Moses by sending him to the king of Egypt.
Now, it’s not like this prediction from the scribe was entirely out of the blue. God had told Abraham, ...
"Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions"
When Moses was born, the people of Israel had been in the land some 350 years already. Those who knew the prophesy knew that the time was coming soon. I believe that the scribe to which Josephus refers knew the prophecy. How would Israel leave Egypt, but with one who would come to deliver them. And so, there was an anticipation of this deliverer. And somehow, someway, Moses’ parents sensed how special their son was.
But, there is a second reason why Moses was hidden by his parents. Look again at verse 23, ...
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.
I trust that you see it there at the end of this verse. They were not afraid of the king’s edict. They willingly risked their life for the sake of their son. If they had been found out, certainly they would have been imprisoned -- possibly, they could have been killed. If Pharaoh was ordering the death of children, he very well may have ordered the death of those who transgressed his orders. Such action on their part, may well have cost them their lives. But, their fear of the Lord was greater than their fear of man.
They did what the apostles of old did. They obeyed God, rather than men (Acts 5:29). And they chose life instead. You likely won't lose your life for the cause of the unborn. But do you have within you a fear of God that would chose life even if it did mean your death? The only way to do this is "by faith", which is the point of Hebrews 11. "By faith" Moses' parents chose life. I'm calling all of you to do the same. As you Choose Life (verse 23), do so by faith.
Well, we need to get to our second point. Not only am I
calling you to Choose Life (verse 23), I’m also calling you this morning to
2. Choose Christ (verses 24-26)
That’s what Moses did. He chose Christ over the treasures of Egypt. Let’s look at his faith, beginning in verse 24, ...
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
Implicit in these words is that Moses knew that he wasn’t an Egyptian. He knew that he had been adopted into the royal family. He knew that the Jews were his people. It may have been because he remembered his parents; we don't know. Now, when you read the account of Moses’ upbringing in Exodus, we have no idea how long he was with his parents and how old he was when he went to live with Pharaoh’s daughter. Here’s what we read in Exodus 2, ...
"... The woman took the child and nursed him. The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son."
But, his name always reminded him that he was a Jew. Exodus 2:10 says, "She named him 'Moses' and said, 'Because I drew him out of the water.'" Perhaps he was old enough to have some religious training at home with his parents. Maybe not. But, he wouldn’t need to be very old to have received all of the training that he needed. John Newton’s mother died when he was less than 8 years old. And yet, the teaching he received from his mother continued to haunt him, even when he was living in his rebellion, on the slave ships. Regardless, some how, in some way, Moses knew the God of the Hebrews.
His knowledge of God was enough to overcome the religious training that he would have received at the hand of the Egyptians. We know from Acts 7:22 that "Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians." The Egyptians were polytheistic, with many, many gods. From time to time, various gods obtained pre-eminence. They had idols in their houses. They considered animals like the bull, the cat and the crocodile to be holy. 
But, despite all of this training, Moses obtained the knowledge of the one true God and followed Him, forsaking the earthly benefits of his position in Egypt. "Pharaoh’s daughter took him, ... and nurtured him as her own son" (Acts 7:21). This means that Moses was royalty in Egypt. He had power. He had privileges. He had riches. He had leisure. He had a future. He had anything that he wanted. And yet, Moses threw it all away.
Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, rejecting his adopted mother. He refused to be called the prince of Egypt. He refused to walk in sin (verse 25). He refused the treasures of Egypt (verse 26).
Do you know what the treasures of Egypt were like? Egypt was the world power in their day! They had the wealth of the world! They had the resources to build the pyramids, which continue to stand to this day. We got a glimpse of the treasures of Egypt in 1923, when English archaeologist, Howard Carter first entered the burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen. When Howard Carter first entered the tomb, he said that almost everything glinted of gold.
When king Tutankhamen was buried, he was buried in a solid gold coffin. His mummy was covered by a golden burial mask, which weighs more than 20 lbs (at today’s prices, that’s worth half a million dollars). His tomb was filled with riches: "golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, and clothing".  We can only guess that all of the kings of Egypt were buried like this. Howard Carter merely stumbled upon one that had been undisturbed. We don’t bury our treasures like this. But, Egypt was wealthy enough to do this.
And Moses, being the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, had access to it all. But, he turned it down. Instead, what did he get in return. He was mistreated (verse 25). He was disgraced (verse 26). He was banished from the land of Egypt (Exodus 2:15). The story of his banishment is told in Exodus, chapter 2, ...
Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, "Why are you striking your companion?" But he said, "Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and said, "Surely the matter has become known." When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.
He was banished from all of the earthly comforts that he knew. Instead, he left to be a shepherd in Midian, becoming "a sojourner in a foreign land" (Ex. 2:22).
To help give you some perspective on this, it would be a bit like prince William, heir to the throne of England, embracing Jesus, forsaking his throne and coming to live in the United States to work a farm in Iowa. Moses had everything that the world had to offer (by way of material goods and power), and he forsook it all to follow Jesus.
But, then, again, isn’t that what Jesus calls us to be and do for Him? Luke 14, beginning in verse 26 says, ...
"If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, when he sets out to meet another king in battle, will not first sit down and consider whether he is strong enough with ten thousand men to encounter the one coming against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
Moses fulfilled every single one of these requirements. He hated his family -- his adoptive parents. He carried his cross -- risking his life for the sake of God’s people. He gave up all his own possessions -- The treasures of Egypt. And he became a disciple of Jesus.
Now, this language may be shocking to you. Didn’t Jesus come some 1,400 years after Moses? How is it that Moses endured the "reproach of Christ"? It is true that Moses never knew the name, "Jesus." But, you need to realize that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8). Jesus hasn’t changed. Followers of God in the Old Testament were really followers of Jesus, because, they are, in fact, one and the same. The Trinity is the only way that you will make sense of this verse.
And this morning, I’m calling you to the same thing. Have the faith of Moses and Choose Christ (verses 24-26). Choose Christ over the riches of the world. The apostle John says, ...
1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world nor the things in the world If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
Choose Christ over the accolades of the world. Jesus said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26).
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master ' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.
Paul said it well, "All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Tim. 3:12). We will never be heroes in the world’s eyes if we are followers of Christ. How will you do this? Look to the reward. Note well what we read in verse 26, ...
considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
Looking to the reward is a theme in Hebrews that simply won’t die. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that, "without faith, it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." The patriarchs were looking for the heavenly city (Heb. 11:13-16). And Hebrews 13:13-14 says, "Therefore, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come."
Looking to the reward is key, because it is the power that helps us to press on in our faith. Moses had eyes to see the greater reality. And he was no fool. Jesus said, "For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?" (Mark 9:36). The answer is, "nothing."
Had Moses continued in the ways of the Egyptians (which are identified in verse 25 as "sin"), then he would have forfeited his soul. Instead, Moses did the smart thing. Jesus said, "For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it" (Mark 10:35).
So, give up your life for the sake of Jesus. Give up your life for the sake of the gospel.
Now, when we give our lives to Jesus, we give up much. We give up everything that we have. But, we gain so much more. We gain the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith (Phil. 3:9). We gain the everlasting smile of our God. We will receive our reward in heaven that Jesus outweighs any sacrifice that we make here upon the earth.
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on
March 6, 2011 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.