By Dr. Roger Barrier, Crosswalk.com
While I was reading through the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11, the author challenged our faith by describing Moses’ renunciation of the treasures of Egypt in exchange for poverty with the people of God. It seems like we are not seeing much renunciation in the American church today.
Do you agree?
Yes! I agree. It seems to me that many Christians are adopting a worldly lifestyle, chasing the attractive, temporal things of the world instead of renouncing them in favor of those things which are eternal.
The author of Hebrews uses Moses’ renunciation as a guideline. He places the principles out front where we can’t miss them.
We need to look carefully at these principles because the choices that Moses faced are the same as the ones that we face today.
Let me answer your email with a look at Moses ’principles of renunciation.
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking forward to his reward. (Hebrews 11:24-25)
1. A Godly Family Is Helpful in Preparing Us for the Work of Renunciation
You are fortunate if you were raised in a godly family. It is somewhat easier to make the right choices when your mom and dad were godly and functional.
However, even if your mom and dad weren’t that good, God can certainly use other people in your life, as well as Bible study, prayer, discipleship, and a number of other tools to build within you great character and a godly lifestyle.
By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw that he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the King’s edict. (Hebrews 11:23)
The Jews in Egypt were becoming so numerous that Pharaoh feared a rebellion. He sent out a decree to drown every newborn male child in the Nile River. The penalty for hiding a baby was death.
But by faith Amram and Jochebed, Moses’ parents, refused Pharaoh’s decree. They risked their lives for Moses’ sake.
Then, by divine providence, his parents placed him in a small basket and floated him down the Nile River where he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. She was so enraptured with the child that she took him home and raised him as her own. She even chose Jochebed to be the nursemaid for Moses! He was raised in two successful families.
As we study the life of Moses, I am most impressed with his parents. They had only a brief exposure to the child, from birth to 12 years, and they shaped Moses’ character in an indelible way.
Faith cannot be inherited. But it can be instilled. Miriam received it. Aaron received it. Moses received it. Joshua received it. Caleb received it.
I still remember coming into the den early in the morning and hearing my dad on his knees in prayer. I don’t suppose you ever get over that.
2. Evaluate the Issues Involved
Moses was a famous man in Egypt. History records that he was next in line to be Pharaoh. He had everything going for him. Egyptian education… riches… military commander.
When the Ethiopians invaded Egypt and were threatening the capital of Memphis, oracles were consulted and Moses was entrusted with the command of the royal troops. He took the field, routed the enemy, captured their principal city, Marol, and brought home great spoils of victory.
Yet, there is no sphinx in Egypt in his honor. No pyramid. No mortuary temple that bears his name. These were people who honored their dead! The Egyptians had a saying. “To speak the name of the dead is to make him live again.” Where is Moses’ sphinx? His pyramid?
There is none! Why not? Because of what is written for us in Hebrews 11:26; “There came a day in which he decided no longer to be called the Pharaoh-Elect.”
We all at one time or another will experience a little taste of greatness. It feels so good … but it doesn’t last.
I remember playing basketball in junior high. When I left the ninth grade, I looked at the record board on the gym wall and nine of the eleven records were mine. When I came back the next year and looked at the record board, I saw that I only held five. I came back two years later, and someone had lost the record board.
Moses considered the power and prestige that would come to him as Pharaoh. He knew that those things wouldn’t last forever.
Moses evaluated the treasures of Egypt.
The world is too often concerned about prices instead of about values. The truth is, the price tags are all confused.
Moses evaluated the pleasures of sin.
David probably had great fun with Bathsheba. But he saw his family disintegrate before his eyes because of it—murder, rape, rebellion, and death. He had great fun with Bathsheba, but I bet that he wouldn’t do it again.
Moses evaluated what it would cost to save of his own people. Was it worth it?
At the burning bush, Moses encountered God Himself—in that moment he knew following God’s call would be worth everything.
3. Make the Right Choice
An unbelieving Egyptian, looking at Moses, would conclude that this prince had everything worth living for: prestige, authority, wealth, an exciting future.
But Moses looked at these same things and decided that they were cheap! He wanted neither the pleasures nor the treasures of Egypt because he had something far better—an intimate relationship with God and a home in heaven.
So, Moses came to the conclusion that the renunciation of Egypt was the only option.
He evaluated what it would be like to be Pharaoh with all the power and prestige that goes with that position. However, God is not interested in how much money we have, what family we are from, how much education we possess, or our position in life. God is interested in how well we live by faith.
However, the choice to follow Jesus is never an easy thing. And the closer we come to the cross, the more exacting become His demands.
One day, Jesus preached to a crowd of 20,000 the toughest sermon that He ever preached. He shared, “Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no part in me.” He was preaching about commitment.”
One by one, 19,988 people walked away until only 12 were left. With a heavy heart, Jesus asked, “Will you go away, too?”
Peter replied, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of life” (John 6).
Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” provides a perfect allegory of the choice involved in following Christ.
The heroine is Portia, a beautiful and wealthy heiress. Many suitors of noble birth wanted to marry her. However, her father proposed a test to select her husband. Three chests were prepared, and she would belong to the one who selected the correct chest.
The Gold Chest was inscribed with these words, “Who chooses me will gain what many men desire.”
The Silver Chest was inscribed with these words, “Who chooses me shall get as much as he deserves.”
The Lead Chest was inscribed with these words: “Who chooses me must give and hazard all he has.”
Which would you choose?
A multitude of suitors soon arrived.
Many chose the Gold Chest. Inside was a skull!
Several chose the Silver Chest. Inside was the picture of a fool.
Finally, Bassanio arrived and evaluated the three chests. Finally, he chose the Lead Chest. Inside was a picture of Portia.
Bassanio chose the winning chest and won the hand of Portia in marriage because he was willing to give everything he had for the sake of the one that he loved.
This is to be our attitude toward Christ. And whoever chooses Christ must give all he has.
Several years ago, the treasures of King Tutankhamen were paraded around the United States. Unbelievable riches were found in his tomb. But what the average person doesn’t know is that Tutankhamen was just a fifth-rate Pharaoh. He was at the bottom of the totem pole. He was a nobody.
Read the inscriptions of some of the prominent Pharaohs. His collection paled in comparison.
So, we can go to a museum and see a fine collection of mummies. Moses could have been one of them. Instead, he earned a berth in God’s Hall of Faith.
Well Luke, I really appreciate your email. I hope that everyone is encouraged to renounce the things of the world in order to live a godly life in Christ Jesus.
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/fergregory
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his 35-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Editor's Note: This Ask Roger article features insights from Roger's daughter, Brie Barrier Wetherbee, a sought-after Bible teacher and conference speaker, author, analyst, and Christian theologian.
Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].