It is here that we see what Moses saw—the invisible. By faith, Moses “endured as seeing him who is invisible.” This well-chosen language is likely a combined commentary on two things. First, in Exodus 3, Moses saw the burning bush atop a mountain. From there, God spoke to Moses and commissioned him. Moses received his marching orders from a God whose voice Moses could hear but whom Moses could not truly see. At the moment, Moses began to follow the God who was present, sovereign, and invisible—the God of Israel. The second thing resting behind this verse is what Moses saw during the plagues. It is interesting that the author of Hebrews makes no reference to the plagues other than the climactic plague—the Passover (Heb. 11:28). Thus, the author of Hebrews basically takes us from the time Moses chose to identify with the people of Israel to the time Moses was leading the people of Israel out of Egypt—and doing so unafraid of the anger of the king.
Again, we ask the question, What changed Moses and made him unafraid? Moses saw God. He did not see Him visibly, but he saw Him fulfill His promises through the miracles (plagues) He performed. He saw a very proud and threatening Pharaoh slowly bend the knee before Him who is truly King of kings and Lord of lords—the God of Israel. He saw the magic and witchcraft of Egypt fall like toy soldiers before Jehovah Raffa, “the Lord our banner.” He saw a people who sat in darkness witness a great light—the light of the world. Moses may not have seen God in se (in His person), but he saw God in His work of salvation.
We have seen the same.
According to the author of Hebrews, we see God through the finished work of Jesus Christ, who has fulfilled all that sweet, saving work that the ministry of Moses dramatically previewed. The ministry Moses began has been perfected in Jesus Christ, who is greater than Moses in every way (Heb. 3). This is because Jesus was the God who spoke to Moses in the flesh. Jesus was and is fully God and fully man. In the days of His pilgrimage on this earth, He was truly man, though sinless. He knew what it meant to live under the imminent threat of death, and not only did He perfectly and submissively obey His Father’s will, He also did so while looking to the reward He was earning for Himself and for us—heaven itself. Moses endured what he did in order to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt and into a land of rest; Jesus endured what He did in order to rescue us from our sins and bring us into that heavenly Zion that belongs to those who have saving faith in Him (Heb. 12).
How does the story of Moses’ faithful endurance benefit us, people who so often struggle with fear and often live as slaves to it? It is in seeing what Moses saw—our God who is present, sovereign yet invisible. And we see Him by looking to the finished work of Jesus Christ. We hear His voice speaking to us a sure word of promise in Scripture, which is “living and active” (Heb. 4:12). We do not have to see God in order to have faith sufficient to overcome our fears, but we do need to hear His assuring voice, which reminds us, as the Heidelberg Catechism so warmly states, that “we are not our own, but belong to him, body and soul.” It is true that few things can cripple us like fear; but it is even more true that nothing can strengthen and embolden us like faith in the promises of God.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series on faith and was first published on August 30, 2019. Previous Post. Next Post.