By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Heb. 11:24–26)
Everyone loves a reward—if they are good rewards. It strikes me that nearly every business offers some sort of reward program. From restaurants to clothing stores to movie theaters and certainly the travel industry, everyone offers rewards. But those rewards are quickly spent and fade away. Some airlines promote miles that never expire, but once you use them, they are gone. According to our text in Hebrews 11, Moses was looking forward to a reward. Yet, unlike the materialistic rewards that so quickly fade away, the reward to which Moses was looking was one that never would—for the reward was God Himself.
Hebrews 11:24–26 tells the story of when Moses grew up and became a man. This is a fast-forward scene in the narrative of Hebrews 11. The previous scene depicted Moses as an infant, and the miraculous grace by which God providentially spared his life from Pharaoh’s death decree. Since then, Moses had grown up, ironically, in Pharaoh’s own house. He was a son of privilege. Before him lay all the glory, splendor, and indulgences of Egypt. As a son in Pharaoh’s house, he could have almost anything he wanted. He was a prince before a prosperous nation. The Pharaoh’s shadow rested over Moses and protected him from the blighting heat of Egypt’s sun, but it also set before Moses a life of ease and pleasure. Moses was living the dream.
People in such circumstances easily forget who they are. Privilege and pleasure often numb the senses in ways that make the sufferings of others a distant reality that is all too easy to ignore. But not Moses. According to Hebrews 11:26, by God’s persevering grace, when Moses grew up, he did not forget who he was. In fact, when Moses grew up, he became even more self-aware. He realized that he was not only a son of privilege, reared in Pharaoh’s house, but he was also a Hebrew, a son of Israel, a descendent of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and thus a member of the suffering people of God.
The next scene is hard to imagine. Moses, with the world before him, set aside a life of comfort and ease in Pharaoh’s house and chose rather to identify with the people of God. It is noteworthy that as far as we can tell, no one pressured him into this decision. It was not a choice born of guilt or manipulation but rather a sincere and willful choice Moses made “by faith” (Heb. 11:24). Faith is a strange thing. It makes people embrace things they cannot see and yet trust to be a reality. Faith makes people go where their senses might not lead. By faith, Moses not only set aside a life of comfort and ease in Pharaoh’s household but also embraced the suffering of the people of Israel. He chose not simply to wear their shirts and play their music; he chose to suffer with them, “choosing rather to be mistreated” (Heb. 11:25). Israel was a suffering people. They labored vainly from dawn to dusk as others not only ruled them but enjoyed the fruit of their labors. The Israelites were slaves, lacking the rights and protections that all humans made in the image of God should enjoy. Even more, they were the chosen people of God, yet at this time, it was hard to look at them and see God’s blessing and provision. When the people of God were at their lowest point, it was then that Moses came down from his princely throne to identify with them. This is great faith! But it raises the question, Why would Moses do this?