moses - a faith that feared not man's command


In the May issue (p.15), we considered the faith of Joseph in relation to Heb 11:22, and his giving of the commandment concerning his bones, when making mention of the departing of the children of Israel. In coming to consider the faith of Moses according to the following verses of the chapter, we find that there are certain points in regard to Joseph which are either similar, complimentary, or that contrast with the case of Moses. In whatever way there are differences, however, the basis and motivation of faith in each case is seen to be the same.

Although Joseph was loved of his father he was hated of his brethren; this circumstance causing him in his youth to have been separated from his family. This at no time caused Joseph to lose his faith or integrity according his understanding of the purpose of God in him. Eventually, after much suffering he became ruler of the land of Egypt in all but matters concerning the throne itself (Gen. 41:39-41), thereby being the means of the salvation of his family and the civilised world of that time. In this, Joseph is seen as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ at his return to the earth, when in righteousness he will bring Just rulership to a world of evil and corruption. Joseph in having risen to a position of such high favour at death could have received a burial of honour in a pyramid or great temple. Joseph’s faith however, was such that future generations of archaeologists and tourists were not intended to investigate or to view a pyramid or temple of a son of Jacob. It is on this basis that Joseph’s faith is assessed, when on the approach of death he, “made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.”

In spite of the position to which Joseph had risen in Egypt he knew this was not his ultimate and only purpose according to the Divine will. He believed the promises that had been made to Abraham, knowing that his people had to leave Egypt and occupy the Promised Land, in which his bones were to be taken and buried. This also showed Joseph’s faith and belief in resurrection. His bones were carried throughout the wilderness journey in a heavy coffin for the people to have in view by way of exhortation on the basis of Joseph’s faith. They failed however to be motivated by that manifestation of faith, desiring to return to Egypt, resulting in the bones of the first generation being left to bleach in the wilderness, while those of Joseph were carried to, and buried, in the Land of Promise.


It is therefore appropriate that the next man of faith in this chapter of the Faithful should be the one who was responsible for bringing Joseph’s bones and his people out of the land of bondage, and to the borders of the Land of their inheritance. Just as Joseph was concerned about his coming out of Egypt (albeit only as to his bones), so Moses was to forsake Egypt. Egypt was the house of bondage, and it is significant that Paul used Joseph and Moses as examples for the Hebrews who themselves were returning to the bondage of the Law. There are five aspects of the power of faith in the life of Moses, the first of which is that which “feared not man’s command” (v 23), which in fact was manifested by his parents. Moses’ parents were Amram and Jochebed. Amram means high or exalted people and Jochebed speaks of Yahweh being in honour or glorified. It was Yahweh’s purpose to exalt Israel, and to be honoured and glorified in their being drawn out of Egypt under Moses, this being stated three times as they stood on the shore of the Red Sea. (Ex.14:14,17,18). The names of Moses’ parents are such that would have meant much to them according to what they certainly must have known was the Divine purpose in them. According to Ex 6:18, Amram was a son of Kohath, who was a son of Levi, and verse 20 of that chapter records that he married Jochebed, his father’s sister, and therefore his aunt – who also was a daughter of Levi.

It is significant that Moses is seen to have been born just at the time when Pharaoh decreed that all male Israelite children should be cast into the river at birth, after having failed to get the midwifes to kill them. We learn from Ex 1:7,8 that the children of Israel increased to such an extent that “the land was filled with them,” and that a king arose “which knew not Joseph.” Joseph, who had done so much for the Egyptians and the nations of his time, had been forgotten, but if he should also have been forgotten by the majority of his own people, he would not have been forgotten by Amram and Jochebed. From Exodus Chapter 1, we learn that as a result of Pharaoh’s original request for the Hebrew midwives to kill all their male children at birth, being ignored, (the midwives fearing God rather than man) the command to do so was extended to all Egyptians.

It is at this point that we read of Moses being born according to the significant wording of Ex 2:2 in that “the woman conceived, and bare a son”. The first time that conception is mentioned with particular reference to a son, is in Gen 21:2, concerning the birth of Isaac who Abraham was told was the true Seed of the Woman (Gen.21:12). So here again is seen a Seed of the Woman as a further stage of the outworking of the Divine purpose with man and the earth through a people called out for the Father’s purpose. Such is what we are intended to understand from Hebrews Chapter 11, and also to see in what Stephen brought to the attention of a later generation which opposed him, according to the record of his “defence” in Acts Chapter 7. The Spirit through Stephen tells us that “the time of promise drew nigh” (v 17). A further eighty years were to pass before Israel left Egypt, but here, in the birth of Moses, the preparation for that time is seen to begin. We are told that Moses’ parents saw that the babe was goodly, speaking of being, doing or making good. Stephen says he was exceeding fair (Acts 7:20), the marginal rendering being fair to God, and with the same Greek word being translated as proper child in Heb 11:23.

Amram and Jochebed saw something outstanding in their child, this being seen to go beyond normal parental love and expectation. It is apparent that according to their spiritual understanding, and no doubt Divine revelation, they knew their child was very special according to the Divine purpose. As a result they would have been conscious of their particular responsibilities in regard to their goodly and Divinely fair child. So it was by faith that they hid the child for three months, not being afraid of the king’s commandment that he should have been cast into the river at birth.

The child in being hid for three months was, according to Stephen’s revelation, “nourished up in his father’s house three months” (Acts 7:2). He was nourished up and cared for in the ecclesial household. The time came, however, when he could no longer be hidden, and by way of casting a challenge at Pharaoh’s decree that all male children should have been thrown into the river, they put the child into an ark of bulrushes, and placed it in the river which was intended to have taken his life, this being at a spot frequented by Pharaoh’s daughter.


The fact that God had demonstrated His protection of the family for three months, it is seen that when the ark had been placed in the river, the parents’ faith continued, the child’s sister, no doubt Miriam, being set to watch and to await the next act of Yahweh. The result was that in his formative years Moses was cared for in the ecclesial household, his mother even being paid for the privilege by a daughter of a father who had commanded his death. Perhaps at the age of twelve he commenced another education in Pharaoh’s household, it being in the purpose of God that he should also have been educated in the ways of Egypt. Stephen tells us that he, “was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.”

Being adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter had not only saved Moses’ life, but stood him in good stead for dealing with the Egyptians when the time came for Israel’s departure. Joseph’s experience had been similar. He too was brought up in the ecclesial household, only to be cruelly separated from it in his youth, this being for a purpose as he was to tell his brethren when they were eventually brought together again, telling them that, “God did send me before you to preserve life.” So it was with Moses. Stephen speaks of Moses as having been cast out (Acts 7:21). The same Greek word is translated expounded in Acts 11:4 in which Peter relates to the other apostles his experience in connection with the conversion of Cornelius, the record saying that Peter, “rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them.” Peter expounded it by casting or setting it forth before those to whom he was speaking, doing so in such a way as to portray it as a mission, the mission in his case being associated with the call of the Gentiles. Similarly, therefore, in Moses being cast out, or cast into the river by his parents, he is seen as having been cast forth, or sent forth by way of a mission which, as a result of faith in Divine revelation, they knew lay before their son. It was indeed a case of faith on their part that had no fear of a man’s command, that faith having come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:7).

The lessons are there for ourselves; we need not fear any commands of men so long as we have faith in the whole purpose of God according to His Holy Inspired Word. In this particular aspect of faith, those who are parents are called upon to bring up their children in the nurture of the Truth. When they become of age it is for them to make their own choice between the things of the Spirit, and the things of the flesh. It was at that stage that Moses is seen to have been one who made the right choice.


The second of the five aspects of the power of faith in the life of Moses is specific to himself, and is that of his overcoming of worldly honour and praise. In Heb 11:24 we are told that “when he was come of years” he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” This is seen to be the result of his upbringing in the ecclesial household. It is said that the definite article is not in the original Greek in relation to Moses refusing to be called Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter, and that the intention is that he refused the official title, Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter, a title that would have put him in line for the Egyptian throne. Joseph had been next to the throne; he had held high office in Egypt, but it had been in the purpose of God, that purpose having been to bring Israel to the stage at which it now stood. Joseph made it clear, however, that he had no attachment to Egypt, and Moses was the one who was to see that Joseph’s bones were not left in Egypt. Joseph’s bones were still somewhere in Egypt to be seen by way of exhortation and remembrance of his faith. By way of contrast it is significant that so far as the Egyptians were concerned, we are told that the Pharaoh of this time “knew not Joseph” (Ex 1:8).

It is apparent that there came a time in Moses’ life when there was a crisis, and he had to decide whether or not to place himself in the position of being officially declared heir to the throne of Egypt. It was by faith that he refused, and according to the Greek this means that he disowned the title Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter, thereby renouncing the bestowal of man’s honour, in favour of honour from God. Again it was a case of hearing, and hearing by the Word of God, rather than the word of man, also of accepting what is promised by God, rather than that which is promised by man. Moses action in this respect can be seen to stem from the background of his parents of the tribe of Levi. Moses natural and adopted parentage therefore is as the Seed of the Woman is to the Seed of the Serpent.

It was on this basis that he was called upon to make a choice when he was come of years, or was grown up. It is apparent that the teaching and influence of his natural, spiritually minded parents was such that Moses was able, and prepared, to make the right choice. Not only did he disown the honour of men, but he chose rather “to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb 11:25). The alternative which Moses rejected would have been to have enjoyed the pleasures of sin for a comparatively short time compared with eternity. It is the choice we have to make when we are confronted with the influences of the world and the offers of its ambitions. We can so easily, if only for a time, fall into the ways of the flesh. By coming to our senses and considering the hope that is set before us, the purity of the Truth, the holiness of the Father who calls us to His holiness, we cannot help but wonder how it is that we could have allowed ourselves to be led astray. The reason is that the pull of the flesh is powerful, and needs to be confronted with the two edged sword of the Word which has been allowed to work within us, and to affect our spiritual thinking.

There would have been wealth, honour and privilege for Moses had he accepted the offer of that which came to a devoted Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter, but this would have been only for a season. This implies that Moses saw in an association with his own people, even the people of God, a more lasting result, even that which is eternal. He had the same understanding as had Joseph in this respect. It would mean suffering affliction with his people, but it would bring forth something that would eventually be seen to be eternally desirable and spiritually beneficial. In this connection we can appreciate that Moses would have been seen as qualified and able according to the standards of Pharaoh and his court, and to be considered a suitable and desirable future heir to the throne. Such a situation has been the downfall of many in the Truth. In our working lives we are called upon to labour conscientiously and honestly, and as a result we might well be marked out for promotion. In all such circumstances we have to ensure that man’s desires and our own ambitions, do not take us away from a steadfast life in the Truth.

The means by which Moses came to, and held to, his decision was by “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” The Greek from which esteeming is translated has the meaning of that which has the leading place in the mind, thereby indicating that it was something that was of the greatest importance in Moses’ thinking and judgement. Reference to reproach speaks of insult or scornful insolence, this being a description of that which the Lord Jesus Christ was to suffer. It is therefore significant that the Spirit through Paul tells us that Moses had a deep understanding of the coming Messiah and his mission of redemption through sacrifice. Such was the thinking at the forefront of Moses’ mind, rather than the enjoyment of the riches that Egypt had to offer. He was prepared to suffer scornful insolence such as Messiah would be called upon to suffer, thereby associating himself with the coming Pre-eminent Seed of the Woman and with all for which that demanded by way of sacrifice, the ultimate recompense or reward being greater than anything Egypt could possibly offer. Such is the insight the Spirit through Paul gives of the character and thinking of Moses. This is not surprising because among the things Yahweh was to tell Moses to pass on to the second generation before their entry into the Land, was that He would, “raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee” (Deut 18:18). The words of Yahweh were to be put in the Prophet’s mouth, and he was to speak as he was commanded.

As Christ was in the mind of his Father from the beginning, so Moses was in the mind of God prior to his birth, and subsequently preserved for the Divine purpose that was in him; as Jesus came to save his people, so Moses was raised up for the same purpose, and to this end was called upon to suffer with and for them. Paul confirms that Moses had seen these things, which had caused him to come to his decision. He would have appreciated that the Seed of the Woman was to arise not in Egypt and its people, but in the Promised Land and of his own people. As Joseph’s bones were not to remain in Egypt, so Moses knew his purpose was not with that land.

In Hebrews Chapter 3 Jesus is presented as The Apostle, i.e., The One who was sent, with his position in relation to the house of David being compared with that of Moses. We are told that Jesus, “was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house,” that Jesus “was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honour than the house” (Heb. 3:2,3). Christ, on the basis of God manifestation, is regarded as the Creator and foundation of the house of David, a house made up of people, even the household of faith, or a New Creation. The fact that Moses is mentioned in relation to the work and glory of Christ, says much for the Divine estimation of Moses in this respect.

The final aspect of Moses’ faith in this respect according, to Heb 11:26, is that Moses “had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” The meaning of respect according to the Greek has the sense of looking away from everything else, as well as to intently regard. This second aspect of Moses’ faith therefore ends by telling us that his faith was such that he was caused to look away from all the worldly honour that could have been his, seeing this as but the enjoyment of sin for but a season, intently regarding and fixing his whole attention and objectives upon that which would obtain an eternal reward.

By way of summary we have seen three stages in this second aspect of Moses’ faith:

1 The renouncing of the call to be Son of Pharaoh’s Daughter, and all that that would have meant in power and privilege

2 The choosing of the affliction of God’s people, rather than the enjoyment of what would have been sin for a season

3 The esteeming of the reproach, or insult, of Christ as being more profitable than anything Egypt had to offer. May it be that we are encouraged to a strengthening of our faith by a contemplation of the example provided by Moses.

Ken Thompson