Examples of persevering, saving faith abound during the era of the patriarchs, so the author of Hebrews devotes many verses to describing the faith and the faith-fueled actions of Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph (Heb. 11:8–22). The next major figure in biblical history is Moses, and his life offers many noteworthy illustrations of faith. The author of Hebrews turns there next, but he begins by looking not at the faith of Moses himself but at the faith of his parents, Amram and Jochebed (Ex. 6:20).
Hebrews 11:23 turns to Exodus 2:1–10 to show us the faith of Moses’ parents. He tells us that they hid Moses for three months “because they saw that the child was beautiful,” for Exodus 2:2 says that Moses was a “fine child.” Neither text tells us precisely what Amram and Jochebed saw in Moses that made him so “beautiful” or “fine,” but it was common in Jewish interpretation to say that there was something about Moses’ appearance that told his parents that he was special. They understood, by faith in the God of Israel, that Moses would play a special role in the salvation of the Israelites, and they knew that they had to protect him. Stephen reflects this understanding as well, saying a bit more about what it meant for Moses to be “beautiful” in his speech to the Jewish authorities. Moses, Stephen notes, was “beautiful in God’s sight” (Acts 7:20). Whatever the handsomeness of Moses’ appearance, what made Moses beautiful was that our gracious and loving Creator favored him.
Amram and Jochebed saw that Moses was special, so they knew that they had to hide him from Pharaoh’s murderous designs. In this act of hiding, they acted by faith, not fearing the king’s edict that all the male Hebrew babies had to be killed (Ex. 1:22). Here we should not think that Amram and Jochebed’s hearts were entirely free from fear. Obviously, they were afraid for Moses’ life; otherwise, they would not have tried to shield him from Pharaoh’s ire. But they loved their son, and although violating Pharaoh’s decree carried with it severe penalties, they nevertheless broke his unjust law. Their reverent fear of God and respect for His moral law was greater than their fear of what the king of Egypt might do to them.
People who trust in the Lord will be afraid from time to time, but their fear of the Lord overcomes their fear of men. Trusting the Lord, they do what is right, even when it means disobeying powerful rulers who command them to do what God forbids.