February 5, 2020
"By faith Moses . . . considered abuse suffered for the Christ to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to the reward. By faith he left Egypt, unafraid of the king's anger, for he persevered as though he saw him who is invisible" (Hebrews 11:24-27). There's more than one thing that's strange about the way the author of Hebrews interprets the story of Moses. First, Hebrews says that Moses was unafraid, though Exodus 2 clearly says that after Moses killed an Egyptian, "Moses was afraid and thought, 'Surely the thing is known.' When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh" (vv. 14-15). Doesn't that sound like Moses ran away from the king in fear? Second, Hebrews 11:26 says Moses suffered abuse for the Christ, though Jesus wouldn't be born for at least another twelve hundred years. Did Moses really know that by leading God's people out of slavery he was preparing the way for a future Messiah? What gives the author of Hebrews the license to reinterpret Exodus like this?
Moses did promise that "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people" (Deuteronomy 18:15), but there was more about Moses that pointed ahead to the Messiah. In John 5:39, Jesus says that all "the scriptures . . . testify on my behalf." If that's true, then all of Moses's story must relate in some way to Jesus. So, the writer of Hebrews implies that Moses persevered through conflict with Pharaoh, endured the grumbling and defiance of the Hebrews, and put up with the harsh trials of life in the wilderness because "he was looking ahead to the reward." The parallelism in the next line hints at what reward Moses looked forward to: "He persevered as though he saw him who is invisible." Moses' reward wasn't going to be earthly treasure or comfort, but Jesus who is the "image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15). This is how Moses suffered for Christ even before Jesus had been born.
From this perspective, we can see Moses as an exemplar of faith in Christ even though Jesus' life, death, and resurrection were still centuries away. Likewise, we may face trials or difficult situations that leave us squinting as we look to the future, wondering what God's doing. In those times, these verses from Hebrews encourage us to persevere in faith, trusting that Jesus remains our reward, as well.
Grace and Peace,