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IIIM STUDY BIBLE
<< Previous Note(s) Hebrews Main Page Next Note(s) >>

Third Millennium Study Bible
Notes on Hebrews 11:25-27

Pleasures of sin . . . treasures of Egypt - Hebrews 11:25-26

Moses from an earthly perspective had it all ("son of Pharaoh's daughter" Heb. 11:24), but made the decision to forfeit "the treasures of Egypt" and to suffer "disgrace for the sake of Christ." This was a matter of faith. In trials in which identification with Christ means expulsion from "the camp" (Heb. 13:13), believers must be willing - and will be made willing - to bear the disgrace Christ bore (Heb. 13:12-13). His example should encourage believers who have lost possessions and suffered insult for their faith (Heb. 10:33-34). Moses' choice exemplified the certainty of what he hoped for (Heb. 11:1), since he was looking ahead to his reward (Heb. 10:35; 11:6, 13). See WLC 99. Hughes succinctly states:

How could Moses turn his back on Egyptian delights and embrace the affections of his stigmatized people? The answer reveals his faith: "He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward" (Heb. 11:26). When Moses identified with Israel, he was aligning himself with the people with whom Jesus Christ had been identified from their inception. He had always been one with his people. "In all their distress he too was distressed" (Isaiah 63:9). Thus, Moses' identification with the disgrace of the Messianic people was an identification with Christ - he endured disgrace "for the sake of Christ."

"For the sake of Christ" is difficult to fully understand as we have no "direct" mention of Moses' knowing Christ the way New Testament saints did/do. Kistemaker has some helpful insights:

Moses had no idea of the person and work of Christ as we know Jesus from the pages of the New Testament. Moses had the promises God had given to his ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These promises related to the growth of the nation Israel, the inheritance of Canaan, and the coming of the Christ. Moses saw the fulfillment of the promise that Abraham's descendants would be "as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore" (Heb. 11:12; see also Gen. 15:5; 22:17; 32:12). And he realized that the time for the exodus and the return to Canaan was imminent. That he believed in the coming Deliverer is not in question. The problem of understanding the meaning of the word Christ centers on Christ's place in the context of the Old Testament.

Some commentators seek an explanation in symbolism. They point to the fulfillment of the prophecy in which God says, "out of Egypt I called my son" (Hos. 11:1) and see an identification of Christ with the nation Israel. Both of them came forth out of Egypt. Others understand the expression the Anointed (the Messiah) to refer in a collective sense to Israel (Ps. 89:50-51). Still others think that Christ accompanied the Israelites during the time of the exodus and the journey to the Promised Land (1 Cor. 10:4). Based on Scripture, all these comments are helpful in understanding the text at hand.

Calvin adds:

He also explains more fully what he means in this clause by the reproach of Christ, by what he has previously declared when he said, that Moses chose to suffer affliction with the people of God. He could not have otherwise avowed himself as one of God's people, except he had made himself a companion to his own nation in their miseries. Since, then, this is the end, let us not separate ourselves from the body of the Church: whatever we suffer, let us know that it is consecrated on account of the head. So on the other hand he calls those things the treasures of Egypt, which no one can otherwise possess than by renouncing and forsaking the Church.

He left Egypt, not fearing - Hebrews 11:27

Some interpreters - such as Bruce - take Hebrews 11:27 to refer to the first time Moses left Egypt. But Moses, after choosing to identify himself with his own people against the Egyptians (Heb. 11:24-25), killed an Egyptian and, because he "was afraid" (Exod. 2:14), "fled from Pharaoh" (Exod. 2:15). Therefore, it is more likely that this verse refers to the actual exodus, at which time Moses clearly was without fear. Moses grew in faith in the desert in his encounters with God (Exod. 3; 4). Moses acted in faith as seeing him "who is invisible." His faith reminds us of David's when he says, "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?" (Psa. 27:1). Moses was a man of faith, who told the people not to be afraid, to stand firm, and to watch and observe how the Lord fight for them (cf. Heb. 11:13-14). By God-given faith Moses was unafraid, for he knew that God was on his side.

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