Amram and Jochebed, the parents of Moses, displayed great faith when they refused to fear and obey the edict of Pharaoh to kill all the Hebrew boys but rather hid and saved their son (Ex. 6:20; Heb. 11:23). Later, as today’s passage explains, Moses showed the same faith-motivated courage when he went out from Egypt, not fearing the king (Heb. 11:27).
Here, of course, the author of Hebrews refers to Moses’ leading the people of Israel out of Egypt in the exodus (Ex. 12:33–42). After the death of the firstborn in Egypt, Pharaoh finally released the Israelites from slavery (vv. 29–32). Since Pharaoh earlier said that he would let the Israelites go but then reneged (8:8–15, 25–32), Moses could have put the exodus on hold, assuming reasonably that Pharaoh would change his mind and come after them. Yet, Moses did not let the real possibility of danger keep him from trusting God’s promise to redeem His people (3:15–22). He led them out anyway. True faith does not let the threat of peril keep us from obeying the Lord.
Immediately before the exodus, Moses by faith also kept the Passover, sprinkling the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels of the Israelite houses, which spared the Israelite firstborn sons from death (Heb. 11:28; see Ex. 12:1–32). This took great faith in God’s promise, for the means of rescue promised was not as evident a display of divine power as the earlier plagues. All Moses had was the word of the Lord that He would indeed save Israel by means of the blood, but as we have seen, true faith is always satisfied with God’s words. John Calvin comments, “It might have seemed strange, that Moses should set a few drops of blood, as a remedy, in opposition to God’s vengeance; but being satisfied with God’s word alone, that the people would be exempt from the scourge that was coming on the Egyptians, he did not hesitate.” Thus, Israel was spared.
The final example of faith in today’s passage takes us to Exodus 14, where the Israelites crossed safely through the parted Red Sea but Egypt’s army was drowned (Heb. 11:29). Both Israel and Egypt started the path through the sea on dry land, but the path remained only for Israel; God brought the sea crashing down on the Egyptians. The Egyptians went through the sea not because they trusted God but because they wanted to destroy Israel and saw an opportunity to do so. Those who try to follow the path of God’s people without trusting in the Lord will likewise be destroyed (Matt. 7:21–23).