St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Faith Helps Us see Clearly

Sermon on Hebrews 11:24-28

Text: By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 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. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.

Many of us need help seeing. As a result, we get glasses or contacts. Some need just a little help for reading. Others can’t see anything without our corrective lenses. If you don’t need the help now, you probably will later. If we want to see clearly, we need our glasses. As we study this account from Hebrews 11, we note that there was something that helped Moses see clearly. That something was faith. FAITH HELPS US SEE CLEARLY 1. When We Are Distracted, 2. When We Are Afraid, and 3. When We Are Looking For Deliverance.

Hebrews 11 has been called a museum of the heroes of faith from the Old Testament. The writer mentions people like Abel. Noah, and Abraham. The hero of faith that is highlighted in this section is Moses. We recall the account of Moses. He was born in Egypt at a time when Pharaoh ordered all baby boys born to the Israelites were to be killed. Moses’ mother put him in a basket that would float and placed him in the river among the reeds. Pharaoh’s daughter spied the basket and, when she saw the baby, her heart went out to him. Moses’ sister stepped in and asked Pharaoh’s daughter if she would like someone to care for the baby, until he was weaned. Moses was raised by his mother, until the time came for him to be taken to the palace. Pharaoh’s daughter brought him in and raised him. There is no doubt that Moses grew up in conditions far better than the rest of his people. He was surrounded by the best that Egypt had to offer. He received the best education. You would have to say that he had it made.

That is what makes verse 24 a bit shocking. “Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” He gave it all up. He renounced all the benefits that were his. Why? “He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 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.” (Verses 25&26) Moses knew that he had been given a greater purpose in life than to be the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He knew that he had been chosen to be the one who would lead the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt to a land that God had promised to give to their ancestor, Abraham. To refuse to do this and live life in the royal palace would have been a sin. There are many people who would look at this account and call Moses a “fool” for giving up the easy life and choosing to be mistreated along with his countrymen.

Why did Moses do this? The answer is found at the beginning of verse 24: “By faith.” Moses knew that the things that the palace could offer were only fleeting. Ultimately, they had no value. He knew, by faith, that to follow this path would have been going against what God wanted for his life. Just as a side note, remember that Moses went to live in the palace when he was weaned, around 5 years old. The only exposure he had to the teachings about the true God was during that time. This underscores the absolute necessity of teaching our children very early in their lives about what God has done for them. Because Moses saw the true value of the fleeting pleasures of sin and knew his true calling in life, he was able to see through the distractions. He was willing to do so, because, by faith, he knew what was really important.

What are some things in life that people would call us “foolish” for giving them up? Rather than trying to look for an advantage in our jobs, we are honest and help others. If we don’t laugh at an off-color joke, people might look at us funny. We won’t go out with people and overindulge, so they wonder what’s wrong with us. There are many of the sinful pleasures of this life that, if we refuse to do them, people will call us foolish for not doing them.

Why do we refuse? The answer is the same for us as it was for Moses: By faith. We know who we are. We are the people of God. We do so to thank God for making us his own. With this realization comes the fact that we do not deserve to be called the people of God. We know that we have not always said “No” to the sinful pleasures of this life. We have done what God has said not to do. We know that we have deserved to be eternally separated from God in hell. However, we also know that Jesus came into the world to rescue us from ourselves. Jesus came to be our Savior. He did so, first, by living a life that was free from all sin. He lived that perfect life in our place. Secondly, he took all those times when we had been distracted by the things of this world to the cross. There, as he suffered the torments of hell, he paid for all our sins. His resurrection shows us that we have been forgiven. When we were brought to faith, we became the children of God. We received the eyes of faith that allow us to see that all the sinful pleasures will only lead to death. We know that we have been called to a higher purpose, and that is to be the people of God who live to please him. We pray that the Lord would continue to sharpen our eyes of faith, so that we can clearly see what is truly important.

Verses 27 continues: “By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.” There were several times when Moses faced Pharaoh’s anger. Pharaoh was enraged when Moses came to him to demand that he let God’s people go. After the people of Israel were set free, Pharaoh became angry and sent out his army to get them back. The Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army. They had no way to defend themselves. Yet, we read that Moses “left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger.” How could he do that? The answer again is “by faith.” By faith, “he saw him who is invisible.” Even though Moses might not have been able to physically see God, by faith he saw him clearly and put his trust in him. That trust was not misplaced, as God delivered his people by splitting the Red Sea and allowing the Israelites to walk through it. God also used the Red Sea to get rid of the pursuing Egyptians. Moses was not afraid because, by faith, he saw that his God was with him.

What are the things in your life that are making you afraid? What is the Pharaoh’s army in your life? Maybe, it’s the results from a medical test. It might be a potential financial setback. We might be afraid to stand up and live like a Christian in the face of pressure to go along with the rest. Are there things that make you want to stay in bed, so that you won’t have to face them? There are and will be many things that might make us afraid. What are we to do about them? How can we handle these things? The answer again is “by faith.” By faith, we see the one who is invisible. We know that God is there for us. He has given us so many promises in his Word to strengthen us at those times. For example, we read in Psalm 91, “If you say, ‘The LORD is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent.” (Psalm 91:9&10) God promises that he will keep troubles from you. How many times in our lives haven’t we seen this come true? That thing that we were fearing never came to pass. Even if it should be that God allows some difficulty or even tragedy to enter our lives, we still look to him in faith. We have this assurance in Romans 8:28, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” God promises that whatever might come into our lives, whether good or bad, it will be for our benefit. We, also, have our Savior’s promise in Matthew 28:20, “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” You do not have to face any of those things that frighten you on your own. Jesus will always be with you. We pray that the Lord would strengthen our faith so that we remember that we do not have to be afraid. Our almighty, loving God is right there beside us.

The writer to the Hebrews calls one more time in Moses’ life, when he exhibited the faith that had been given to him. “By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.” (Verse 28) Recall the account recorded in Exodus 7-10. God sent a series of nine plagues upon the Egyptians. Each one of them was devastating to the Egyptians. You might think that any one of them would cause Pharaoh to let the Israelites go. Instead, they only strengthened Pharaoh’s resolve. He would not let them go. Now, God told Moses that he would send another plague. The Lord would strike down the firstborn sons throughout the land. The people of Israel would be safe if they killed a lamb and painted its blood on the doorframes of their houses. You might think that there might be at least a little doubt in Moses’ mind. After all, there had been nine plagues before this one? What was going to make this one different? However, Moses trusted God and the people painted their doorframes with the lamb’s blood and, while eating their Passover meal, waited with sandals on their feet and their staffs in their hands. They were ready to go. Why could they have this confidence? The reason is that God had promised it, and, by faith, they trusted in that promise. Their faith was rewarded. They were set free from their slavery and started off to the Promised Land.

We, too, are waiting for deliverance. We are waiting for that time when we will be set free from all that makes life so difficult. We are waiting for that time when we will live in the peace and security of heaven. Truth be told, there are times when it might appear that it will never get here. We run into one problem after another. There is so much sadness. We struggle. How can we know that there actually is deliverance at the end of it all? The answer, again, is “by faith.” This faith isn’t some sort of wishful thinking. We know that it will happen. We know this because of the blood of the Lamb of God, that was poured out for us on Calvary’s cross. We know this because Jesus rose from the dead. He promised us, “Because I live, you also will live.” (John 14:19) Jesus’ resurrection assures us of our resurrection. Jesus further promised us, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2&3) Because we have these promises of God, we are like those ancient Israelites, who ate their meal, ready to go. Through the eyes of faith, we eagerly await our final deliverance.

It is important that we go in for regular checkups for our eyes. When we do so, the optometrist determines what must be done so that we can see clearly. It is even more important that we continue to check the eyes of our faith. To help strengthen our spiritual eyesight, we need to make sure that we are in constant contact with God through his Word and the sacraments. We want to make sure that we can see through all the distractions in life and remind ourselves what is truly important. Through the eyes of faith, we can focus our attention on God and not on the things that make us afraid. We lift the eyes of faith and see the Promised Land that is waiting for us. We thank our God for giving us these eyes of faith to see all the blessings that he has for us. Amen.