In this article, let us consider some of the characteristics of Moses, Israel’s great leader. In Hebrews 11:24-27, the inspired writer employs a number of verbs which describe the actions of this noble leader of Israel. These terms become a real index to the character of Moses. Let us observe four of these action verbs.
Moses “Refused” (Hebrews 11:24)
One of the most forceful words in the English language, and yet one most difficult to release from the tongue, is the word “no”. It is such a challenge for some of us to master this simple word, yet at a very critical point in history, Moses said, “No!” Note the reading: “By faith Moses when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter….” (Hebrews 11:24).
Moses “Chose” (Hebrews 11:25)
Unlike the animal kingdom, God has seen fit to honor humans beings with the ability to make true choices (Joshua 24:15). We do not operate out of mere instinct; rather, we make hundreds of conscious decisions every day of our lives. Some choices are rather inconsequential; others are of greater importance – for better or worse. The character of a person is revealed in the choices he or she makes in life. So it was with Moses. It must have appeared to the carnal mind that Moses had taken leave of all common sense when he chose to identify himself with a band of foreign slaves (the Hebrews), rather than to retain his inheritance steeped in the advantages of Egypt (Exodus 2:11).
So Moses “chose” to cast his lot with afflicted Israel, rather than to defile himself with the pleasures of sin. He was a man who obviously had “counted the cost” (Luke 14:28). Moses knew that sin could be “pleasurable” (Hebrews 11:25), but he also was convinced that sinful pleasure is short lived. What a commentary on the fabric of this man in that he chose to “set his affections” upon the spiritual realm rather than the the fleeting pleasures of the physical realm (cf. Colossians 3:1-2).
Moses “Discerned” (Hebrews 11:26)
The inspired writer declared that the choice of Moses, to resist the life of pleasurable wickedness in deference to a spiritual destiny, was due to the fact that he was “esteeming” (KJV), or “accounting” (ASV) the reproach of Christ to be greater than the treasures of Egypt. The word “accounting” in the Greek denotes basically to reflect, to weigh the options before making a choice (to discern).
Let us briefly consider the phrase, “the reproach of Christ.” Moses contemplated the reproach (abuse or defamation) that would be brought upon the (coming) Messiah. To deny that Moses had any concept of the promised Christ, as some have done, is wholly unwarranted. The longing for the “Anointed One” was an abiding joy in the heart of every faithful Hebrew, and doubtless, at some early point, this teaching had been communicated to Moses. This glorious hope was obviously factored into Moses’ decision to join his Hebrew people.
Moses “Endured” (Hebrews 11:27)
As we read the story of Moses’s life, we see that he made some serious mistakes in his forty-year wilderness journey. In spite of his frail humanity, the significant thing about Moses is that “he endured”. The Greek word “kartereo” gives us the idea of steadfastness. This character trait is the key to achieving victory in any goal of life. How was Moses able to endure or remain steadfast? Through the eye of faith, Moses kept on “seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). Nonetheless, Moses “saw” the Lord as he observed God’s mighty deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. He “saw” the Lord in the sustaining hand of His mercy during the wilderness wandering, and in personal communication with the Lord, i.e. “face to face” (Exodus 33:11; cf. Deuteronomy 34:10).
Moses was truly a remarkable person with an exemplary godly character. Nowhere else in the scriptures has that portrait been captured in such a condensed package as in Hebrews 11:24-27. Let us study this text carefully, and be encouraged by the great character of Moses.