Faith That is not Afraid

Review our yearly theme for 2010 – a study of Hebrews 11 entitled “The Just Shall Live by Faith” The detailed study of faith has taken us from the familiar definition of faith in verse 1-3, to the profound examples of faith from the O.T. :

  • JANUARY: Vs. 1-3: Faith that Hopes and  Understands
  • FEBRUARY: – Vs. 4-6: Faith that Pleases God  (Abel & Enoch)
  • MARCH – Vs. 7:  Faith that Condemns the World (Noah)
  • APRIL: – Vs. 8: Faith That Doesn’t Know Where it is Going (Abraham)
  • MAY: – Vs. 9-16:  Faith that Waits (Abraham, Sarah, all that died in faith)

June , July & August focus on the faith of Moses, Israel’s premier leader and lawmaker.

  • JUNE: – Vs. 23 – Faith that is Not Afraid (Moses’ parents)
  • Read Hebrews 11:23 – 3 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s command. Moses was certainly a man of enormous faith.  But this verse speaks about his mother and father, a man named Amram, and his wife, Jochebed.  The events surrounding Moses’ birth provide a valuable lesson on the character and activity of faith.

I.  The Activity of Their Faith: Read Exodus 2:1-10 – Moses was born to Hebrew parents in perilous times. The Israelites were enslaved, and the Egyptian Pharaoh, out of fear, had ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the male Hebrew children as they were born.  (read Ex. 1:15-22).  But the midwives refused to obey the order because they feared God more than Pharaoh.  So he ordered that all the male children be thrown into the Nile.

A.  The Hebrew text describes the actions of Moses’ parents to save their child as being done “by faith”.  What does that mean?  How did they display faith?  Consider first what happened.- The Activity of their faith.

1.  Jochebed & Amram “hid their son from the Egyptians for 3 months in their home.  But after awhile he became impossible to hide, so, as good parents, they did what they had to do to save their child.  Jochebed constructed an “ark” or chest made of papyrus coated with Nile mud and pitch (tar).  She put the baby in the small vessel and placed him in the water among the reeds along the bank of the river.  Miriam, from 10-12 years old, was placed as a watchman over the baby.

2.  Pharoah’s daughter found the ark with the baby inside. She had compassion on the crying infant, recognizing he was a Hebrew.  Miriam appeared at just the right moment with just the right words – “Do you need some help?  I know a woman who can help you take care of this baby.”

3.  End result – Jochebed received her son back, and Moses was protected from the sentence of death, and raised in the wealth and provision of Pharaoh’s household.  Stephen recounts in Acts 7:21-22 – But when he was set out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son. 22 And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds.

4.   Do you think this was all coincidence? What are the chances?  It is easy to recognize the providence of God in this matter. The text indicates that God was specifically blessing the Hebrew midwives because of their courage, and that He was trumping all of Pharaoh’s efforts to weaken the Israelites.  Does the statement that Moses’ parents hid their child” by faith” indicate that God had spoken to them on the matter (faith comes by hearing the word of God)?

5.  Consider two important lessons about faith revealed here:

a.  Faith in not foolish.  Jochebed’s actions were not  foolhardy. She was acting in a rational way to provide for her son’s survival. She made the ark to float, put it in a controlled situation, and trusted God to provide. Faith does not require us to act recklessly.

b. Faith is rewarded.  In the end God took care of Moses, and his parents. God can work things out in ways we can never anticipate.  God not only saved Moses from Pharaoh’s evil plans, but He made Pharaoh pay the bill – Pharaoh’s daughter paid Jochebed wages for caring for her own son!  Sometimes God makes Satan pay the bill for doing God’s work.

  • Consider Burton Coffman’s assessment of this event:   No tale of romance ever described a plot more skillfully laid, or more full of interest in the development.” What a bundle of miracles is here! With all of the precision and skill required to land a man on the moon, God here landed the future deliverer of Israel in the very palace of the evil ruler who had become God’s antagonist. Not only was Moses’ life saved, he was endowed with royalty, became a presumptive heir to the throne of Pharaoh himself, received the most thorough and exalted education available in the world of that era, and in infancy was nursed by his own mother who received wages (!) for the service. Surely God Himself ordered every detail of this episode! (from Coffman’s Bible Commentary, Copyright © 1971-1993 by ACU Press, Abilene Christian University. All rights reserved.)

II.  The Character of their Faith: Why did Amram and Jochebed do what they did? We might easily say that they wanted to save their son’s life. The natural instinct would be to do whatever you needed to do.  But I am convinced that it was more than that. The Hebrew text gives two motivations:

A.    “Because they saw he was a beautiful child”the word for “beautiful” here means “proper” or “handsome”. It would seem to indicate that Moses was a good looking baby.  Some suggest that this was considered a sign of divine favor.  That may be all that is indicated in this description – They did what they did in part because their son was a beautiful child.  I believe they also recognized the beauty of human life. They were unwilling to take a life just to conform to their culture’s morals or decrees.

1.  But Stephen’s remarks in Acts 7 seem to indicate that he was also beautiful to God.  Acts 7:20 – “at this time Moses was born, and was well pleasing to God;”   The NIV says..”At that time Moses was born, and he was no ordinary child.” We know from this perspective that God had chosen Moses to do great things. He was certainly no ordinary child.  Moses’ parents recognized, through their faith in God, that God could protect and bless their child.

2.  True faith includes the recognition of God’s ability to fulfill His purposes even in the most difficult circumstances.  This child was beautiful to God and He could preserve him. Your child is also. Do not lose faith in God’s power to save the children.

B.  “They were not afraid of the king’s command” – Their decision to hide their child was risky.  Pharoah was certainly willing to kill Israelites who proved insubordinate.  Stephen says Pharaoh was forcing Israelite parents to thrown their babies out, so they would not live. (Acts 7:19) Others among their number were complying with the order.  But Moses’ parents were not afraid.

1.  Courage is a vital part of faith. Obedience to God is always antagonistic to the world we live in. There has always been a price to pay.  Do you have the courage to obey God no matter what?

a.  Daniel’s friends in Daniel 3 – The King Nebuchadnezzar had decreed that everyone had to bow down to the golden image he had set up. When it was discovered that Shadrach, Meschach and Abed-nego had refused to bow down, they were called to answer for their disobedience.

  • Dan 3:14-18 – 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up? 15 Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?” 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
  • Faith is not the Pollyanna assumption that God will make things better somehow, or that He will not allow me to suffer.  These men recognized that the King had no jurisdiction over their conscience, and they had no reason to fear him.  If God saw fit, He could rescue them, but if not, their decision was the same. They would obey God.

b. The Apostles in Jerusalem: Acts 4:18-20So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them,”Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.  20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 5:29 – But Peter and the other apostles answered and said:”We ought to obey God rather than men.

c.   Fear is the enemy of faith.  It paralyzes us.

  • God calls on us to give, and we are afraid we will not have enough for ourselves if we do.
  • God calls on us to speak boldy, but we are afraid we will be ridiculed or rejected.
  • God calls on us to pray and mediate on His word, but we are afraid to invest the time.
  • God calls on us to get involved, but we are afraid we will fail.
  • God calls on us to put our minds on heavenly things, but we are afraid to take our eyes off of the earthly things
  • Matt 10:27-3127 “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.  30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  31 Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Conclusion: Amram and Jochebed are not the most well known folks in the Bible. But the writer of Hebrews includes them in this prestigious list of the faithful. Their courageous actions of faith provided real dividends for God’s people.  There are many just like them in the church today. They are not well known and do not have positions of leadership. They just live by faith, not fearing the consequences of their faithfulness, but fearing only God.

Tonight we will look closer at the place of fear in the life of the Christian.  As we have seen here, fear is the enemy of faith. But fear is also the center of our faith in God.

Do you have the courage to do what God says?  It takes more for some than others.  But the level of commitment is the same. God requires you to abandon sin and follow Him all the way.

  • Mark 16:16 –  16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.