Captured And Captivated By Christ: Hebrews 11:23-28 – Looking To The Reward

Grace For The Journey

We are studying through Hebrews and are in chapter 11, this great “roll call of faith.”  The writer is telling us about the faith of so many Old Testament saints, people he describes at the beginning of chapter 11 as “elders,” who had “obtained a good testimony,” a good testimony because they lived by faith.  They lived by faith, they were saved by faith, so they died in faith.

Imagine if you were one of the Hebrew Christians hearing this letter read for the first time.  In all the previous chapters, chapters 1-10, you have been heard how the new covenant supersedes the old covenant, how the new covenant is better, and how all the sacrifices of the old covenant and all the accoutrements of the old covenant point forward to the new.  And you have heard that Jesus Christ is better, better than the angels, better than the prophets, better than anyone and anything.  Yet, the believers of the Old Testament lived in a time before the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.  

Naturally, you may wonder then about the salvation of these Old Testament believers.  If they lived prior to the coming of Messiah, how were they saved?  What of Noah, Abraham, Moses, and so on.  How were they made right with God if salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone?

The writer of Hebrews does just as Paul does in Romans 4.  He teaches that believers like Abraham and Moses were saved the same way as we are today.  Old Testament believers exercised faith looking forward to the promised Messiah.  By faith they looked forward to a Christ who would come.  We believers today, living on this side of the cross, by faith look back to a Christ who has come.  The believers under the old covenant hoped in things not yet seen, things yet to come.  

Just as the old covenant pointed forward to the new covenant, just as the sacrifices in the Old Testament pointed forward to the supreme once-for-all sacrifice of the Son of God in the New Testament, so the believers of the Old Testament looked forward by faith to the fulfillment of the promises to come in and through the Messiah revealed in the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ.

What the writer does in chapter 11 is to set all these old covenant believers in historical and chronological context.  He begins at creation at the beginning of the chapter, and goes from Adam and Eve’s son Abel, to Enoch, to Noah, to Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph – and all the while showing that each of these Old Testament believers looked forward by faith, living by faith as they looked forward to the promises of God, embracing the redemptive purposes of God ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the One the writer calls in chapter 12, “the author and finisher of our faith.”  

Yesterday we left off at verse 22 where the writer mentions Joseph.  Joseph was a great leader in Egypt, providentially an Israelite, yet second-in-command to Pharaoh the king.  But, to paraphrase the opening chapter of Exodus: “that was then and this is now.”  When Joseph dies, a new Pharaoh comes along that does not know Joseph.  The new Pharaoh did not care about the history, nor about how God worked through Joseph.  Times have changed in Egypt.  The new Pharaoh forces the Israelites into slavery.  Fearing they had become too numerous to control, the new king even commanded the death of all babies who were born male.  If Israelite babies were born who turned out to be male babies, Pharaoh commanded that they be drowned in the Nile River.  Pharaoh believed that by killing the male babies, there was no way then that the Israelites could become too powerful for him.

This goes on for 40 years, for 40 years God’s people have been living in bondage.  In the secret counsel of God’s redemptive purposes and plans, He raises up a new leader, a leader named Moses.  Moses is a pretty prominent name in the Bible.  We mentioned last time about Abraham and how he gets the most coverage in chapter 11, the most press.  Abraham was and is the father of many nations.  If we are saved, we are in that family line.  We are children of God because we are sons of Abraham.  But Moses is a pretty big guy, too.  Moses authored the first five books of the Bible, the Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy.  Moses is mentioned over 800 times in the entire Bible.  Of those over 800 times Moses is mentioned in nearly half of the 66 books of the Bible, 31 of the 66 books from Genesis to Revelation.  

What does Moses’ name mean?  Moses’ name means “to draw out” because Pharaoh’s daughter drew him out of the Nile River.  One day God would use Moses to “draw out” His people from bondage in Egypt.  One of the key phrases in this passage is found in that last few words of verse 26 where the writer describes Moses as one who “looked to the reward.”  He looked to the reward.  

A dog lover once told about his dog Jake.  He is a three-legged dog because he thinks standing in the middle of the road is a good idea, even when cars approach.  But his family loves Jake.  He shares that they love to give their dog treats, little rewards.  They will hold one of the treats up and the dog fastens his gaze upon it, his eyes are fixed on that treat.  He says they can move their hand up and down and the dog will move his head up and down like a yo-you.  They can act like they are throwing the treat into the living room and the dog will look forward by faith into the living room!  He knows by experience that before long, the thing he hopes for will come to pass.  Eventually the family member will throw it into the living room and Jake, looking to the reward, runs into the room, and takes the treat.

There is something for us to learn in the way Jake fixes his eyes upon the reward.  His gaze cannot be broken.  He looks to the reward the way we should look to Jesus.  Captured and captivated by Christ, our eyes fixed upon the Author and Finisher of our faith.

I want us to talk about looking to the reward in today’s blog.  We will make our way briefly through these few verses and then I will give you three to four takeaways. 

Verse 23 says, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command.”  Most of us know Moses’ name, but I will bet few of us know the names of Moses’ parents.  They are Amram and Jochebed.  I do not know any guys named Amram nor any ladies named Jochebed.  But that was their names.  The writer says that they saw Moses was a “beautiful child” and no doubt he was – every parent feels that way about his or her child, right?! – yet this may also mean that they knew there was something “special” about this child.  Rather than obey the king’s command to have this little boy thrown into the Nile to be drowned by the Egyptians, they managed first to hide Jochebed, hide her giving birth to the baby, and then kept him hidden for three months until he could be kept hidden no longer.    

Exodus 2 teaches that when Jochebed could no longer hide him, she took a little basket made from a papyrus plant, daubed it with asphalt and pitch – so as to waterproof it – and she put baby Moses into it and laid it among the reeds by the riverbank.  You can read more about this later from Exodus 2.  If you do, you will read how Pharaoh’s daughter providentially discovered the little wicker basket and the little baby inside the basket and that she raised the child as her own.  It is actually kind of cool that Moses’ sister Miriam was nearby and watched everything happen and volunteered to find a nursing mother for the baby and goes and gets Moses’ mother Jochebed!  But the point of the writer here in Hebrews 11 is that Moses’ parents acted in faith. 

Verse 24, says, “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.”  He could have remained in Egypt all his life, living in the comforts of Egypt and under the protection of the Egyptian rulers.  He is raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  Nothing bad could happen to him.  But he did not want to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  Moses knew that he was an Israelite and, at some point as he was growing up in Egypt, he made the decision not to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He was one of the people who served the one true and living God.  And he knew that he was to be their leader. 

That is why verse 25 says, “Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing(temporary) pleasures of sin.”  He chose to live among his oppressed people rather than enjoy the passing, or temporary, pleasures of sin, namely all the pleasures and treasures of Egypt.  

You can go back and read Exodus 2 for the background but there is an account given there when Moses sees a fellow Israelite being beaten by one of the Egyptians.  Moses intervened and killed the Egyptian.  And when Pharaoh found out about it, he sought to kill Moses, but Moses fled to a place called Midian where he remained for 40 years.  He was 40 when he left Egypt and spent 40 years away.  He was not ready for leadership when he was 40 and required 40 more years before God would use him to “draw out” His people from Egyptian bondage.

Secular business leaders say you should never make a lateral move.  Do not leave one position for another position of equal status and value.  If you are going to leave one company be sure it is a move up in pay or power.  Well, Moses was not a secular leader.  He made a move that was not even lateral that, in the world’s eyes, was a downward move! 

The point the author is making is that Moses could have remained comfortable in Egypt.  He could have not sought to identify with his own people, the Israelites.  Even though he was raised the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, he did not leverage his royal position to get out of trouble.  He could have appealed to Pharaoh’s daughter and sought an interview with her father the king and explained the situation about the Egyptian beating up on the Israelite and probably would have been forgiven.  But he did not chose that route.

Rather, he chose to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin-sin being namely the pleasures and treasures of secular Egypt as the next verse indicates.  Verse 26 states, “Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.” The word “esteeming” means “regarded, thought of, calculated.”  The term is a bookkeeping kind of term, and indicate that he calculated that the reproach of Christ was more valuable than the treasures of Egypt.  He would rather suffer the reproach of Christ. 

The writer here is reminding us that Moses looked forward by faith to the Christ who would come. 

Hebrews is a very Christocentric epistle,

A very Christ-centered letter.  

The writer has been showing us

From the beginning how all things

Find their fulfillment in Christ,

All things point to Jesus.

Moses himself would later write the prophetic words about the coming of a new kind of prophet, the anticipated Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:15, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”  And the Bible teaches that this prophet is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the one in whom all the promises of God are fulfilled (2 Corinthians 1:20).

The last part of verse 26 tells us, “for he looked to the reward.”  What was “the reward?”  It was not the Promised Land.  We might think so at first, since Moses was the leader of God’s people to lead them into the Land of Promise.  But remember that Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land.  It was the land beyond the Promised Land that held his gaze.  It was the eternal city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God; the city where Jesus Christ sits upon the throne and all the promises of God find their “Yes” in Him. 

Verse 27 says, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”  He forsook Egypt when he fled to Midian and he forsook Egypt again 40 years later when he led the Israelites out of Egypt.  Exodus 10:28 tells us, “Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me!  Take heed to yourself and see my face no more!  For in the day you see my face you shall die!”  By faith Moses forsook Egypt.  He left, “not fearing the wrath of the king.”  How?  “For he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”  This is what Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen” and Colossians 1:15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” are telling us.  As Moses saw the unseen God, living by faith, so he saw the fulfillment of all the promises of God.  Because of this faith, Moses “did not fear the wrath of the king.”  He did not fear the king’s wrath when he left Midian and he did not fear the king’s wrath when he left 40 years later when he prepared to lead the Israelites out of Egypt during the Exodus. 

There is a reference to this in verse 28, “By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them.”  The background for this is found in Exodus 12.  God sends the Angel of Death, the Destroyer, throughout Egypt as judgment upon the unbelieving Egyptians.  And God preserves the lives of the firstborn of the Israelites through the institution of the Passover.  God commanded His people to take the blood of the Passover lamb, the lamb sacrificed for the Passover meal, and sprinkle it over each Israelite’s door posts and lintel, the beam across the top of the door posts.  And when the Destroyer, the Angel of Death, moves throughout Egypt, he will “pass over” the people who are “under” that blood.  God’s people were spared from, and saved from, the judgment of God because they were under the blood of the Passover Lamb.

In closing I want us to look at what these verses teach us about:

What Faith Values . . .

There are four things that faith values greatly.  Four things that faith values as better than and more superior to the value of opposing things by contrast:

1) Faith Values The Word Of God Over The Word Of Men – Verse 23.

In verse 23 the Bible says that Moses’ parents “were not afraid of the king’s command.”  Mature faith, strong faith, tested faith, does not fear the king’s command.  Mature faith values the Word of God over the Word of Men.  This is what the Bible says in Psalm 118:6, a verse quoted by the writer of Hebrews later in the last chapter, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear.  What can man do to me?” (Hebrews 13:6).

Mature faith does not fear.  Mature faith values the Word of God over the word of men. Whatever God says in His Word, if we will do it, He will honor your obedience. 

Moses’ parents put their faith

Not in the king’s command,

But in their King’s commands.

Do what God says and He will honor your faith.  Every . . . Single . . . Time!

2. Faith Values The Pains of Suffering Over The Pleasures Of Sin – Verses 24-25.

Mature faith understands that suffering is part of the Christian experience.  Suffering is part and parcel of Christian living.  When you look closely at verses 24 and 25 you see a connection there: refuse and choose.  Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, which included his refusing to enjoy the comforts and protections of Egypt because – verse 25 – he had made a choice; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God.  In other words, he was able to refuse sin because he had made a deliberate decision to align himself with God and His people.

You have got to make a choice.  Do you want to do the right thing or enjoy the passing, temporary, pleasures of sin? 

Faith and sin are mutually exclusive. 

They do not go together. 

You will either walk by faith

Or you will walk in sin.

Note that there is a kind of pleasure involved in sin.  See that as a warning!  It will not last forever and when it is over all you feel is regret and shame.  The passing pleasure of sin is fleeting, temporary, and fugacious.  Like a drug that provides a kind of euphoria but robs you of lasting joy.

Faith values the pain of suffering to the pleasures of sin.  This point and the next are closely connected.  Faith values the pains of suffering over the pleasures of sin and . . .

3. Faith Values The Reproaches Of Christ Over The Riches Of Comfort – Verse 26.

To suffer at all is to suffer in some way share in the sufferings of Christ (Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 4:13).  Hebrews 13:13 says, “Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach.”  Donald Guthrie speaks of this truth when he says, “Those who identify with God’s people at once become the targets of God’s enemies.”  Remember this when you are insulted or made fun of because of your love for Jesus Christ.  It is not a popular position to follow Jesus.  Your faith may cost you a friend, or a position, or a relationship.  Remember to value the reproaches of Christ over the riches of comfort.

How?  Last part of verse 26 tells us, “for he looked to the reward.”  Like Paul in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” 

This takes us to the final thing faith values.  We have said the faith values the Word of God over the word of men, faith values the pains of suffering over the pleasures of sin, faith values the reproaches of Christ over the riches of comfort.  Finally . . .

4. Faith Values The Ultimate Reward Over The Immediate Reward – Verses26-27.

God’s Word tells us, by faith Moses “looked to the reward.”  Remember this is not the reward of the Promised Land, but the reward beyond the Promised Land, the eternal city where all of God’s promises are fulfilled in the final state of a glorious new heaven with Jesus Christ on the throne.  Moses “looked to the reward.”  The verb means to “look away” which implies a deliberate change of gaze, an intentional moving the eyes away to something far greater.  He looked away, and therefore endured “as seeing Him who is invisible” (verse 27).  Faith takes the long view.  It looks steadily and longingly at Him who is invisible, looking beyond the immediate, seeing by faith the ultimate.  The Message paraphrase puts it this way: Moses was “looking ahead, anticipating the payoff.”  

Do you live for the reward?  Do you anticipate the payoff?  Do you love Jesus more than anyone or anything?  Remember that is the main teaching of this letter.  Be captured and captivated by Christ.  Fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Look to Him.  Love Him.  Keep your eyes on the prize!

Tim Keller said something with which I agree.  He said, “You’re only as durable as the thing you love most.” 

  • If you love your job most, what will you do when you’re fired, laid off, or out-performed?  You come apart because you were wrapped up in your job.  You are only as durable as the thing you love most. 
  • If you love your family most, what will come of you when your family lets you down, deserts you, or disappoints you?  You are only as durable as the thing you love most. 
  • If you substitute anything or anyone for Jesus and true riches in Him, then you will come apart because everything else is weak by comparison to Christ.

The Bible says in Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” 

Do you know Him?  Are you saved by faith in Him?  Are you “in Christ” and is He “in you?”    You know when those Israelites years ago observed the Passover.  They ate the lamb that had been sacrificed.  The partook of the sacrificial lamb.  The lamb was in them.  As the Israelites applied the blood to the door posts and lintel all who were in that house were protected by the blood, literally under the blood of the lamb, protected from the Angel of death.

Jesus Christ is our Passover Lamb.  Isaiah prophesied of Jesus in Isaiah 53, referring to Jesus as one “led as a lamb to the slaughter” (Isaiah 53:7).  John the Baptist called Jesus “the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world.”  Jesus shed His blood so that all who are under His blood may be saved from the penalty of sin, saved from death into life everlasting.  Are you under His blood and are you right now living for Him?  

The Bible tells us that Moses “forsook Egypt.”  What do you need to forsake?  What do you need to let go, repent of?  Say to God right now, “I forsake my sin and I forsake my stuff and I turn to you.”  Some of you have questions about salvation.  Turn to Jesus Christ and be saved today.  God lived for you and died for you in Christ.  Be saved today by admitting you need and turning to Jesus and taking Him as your Lord and Savior.  For those of us who have received Jesus as our Savior and Lord, is our faith causing us to look unto Jesus and the great reality of our future life in heaven? 

This is God’s Word …

This is Grace for your Journey …

Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!

Pastor Terry

Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”

Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

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