Run after things that bring you close to God. Run from what doesn’t.Hebrews 11: 24-28
Pastor Nathan Buch
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 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. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
It’s been just a few weeks since the Olympics ended. Whether you are an avid watcher or an uninterested observer, you probably heard about some result from a race of some sort. Maybe it was the swimming or biking, distance racing, or track and field. When you heard the results there were some things you took for granted. To win a race, especially at the Olympic level, the racers need to do everything they can to run the best race that they can. They cannot have a letdown or misstep along the way. To win they have to chase after the important things that will help them win.
The chase is much longer time than the time from the beginning to the end of the race. The racers take years of preparation to get to this point. They train while practicing, chasing after the best condition to have the best race. They train while eating, chasing after the best nutrition for the proper nutrients and energy. They train mentally, chasing after the mindset that will lead to victory.
We take for granted that the person did everything to win, not that they set out to lose the race. We don’t expect they will take a wrong turn on purpose, they will false start on purpose, do the wrong swimming stroke, ride the wrong bike, or walk when they should be running. When they are trying to win, that wouldn’t be very smart. Which brings us to our faith life. Paul describes our life of faith as a race. He tells us to strive to win the race of faith, not to sabotage ourselves by running after sin, temptation and the things of this world. Our faith life might be the only race that we run where we sabotage ourselves because of the sin that is in our life. In the Word of God before us this morning we take a look at Moses. We see the writer to the Hebrews tell us that Moses showed during his life that he was running after the things which would bring him closer to God and away from the things that would take him away.
Moses is probably one of the best known people of the Bible. The Bible tells us so much about his life. Although his parents were told to kill the new born boys, they hid him and kept him alive. Then, when he was too old to hide easily, they placed him in the basket in the river. There God guided Pharaoh’s daughter to find him and adopt him. God was still with Moses leading him in his life. Knowing that Moses was an Israelite baby, Pharaoh hired an Israelite woman and her family to care for him until he was old enough to enter the Pharaoh’s house. God guided the hiring and Moses’ own mother and family were able to raise him until he was a young man who was able to enter Pharaoh’s house.
During that time Moses’ parents would have made sure that he was raised to know the true God and to believe in God’s promised Messiah. But his life would change as soon as he entered the household of Pharaoh to be raised in the ways of Egypt. We don’t know exactly where this daughter fell in the line of Pharaoh. Moses probably wasn’t anywhere near the line of Pharaoh’s succession, yet, he was royalty, which placed him about 99 percent of the people in Egypt and certainly much better than the slave nation of Israel he was from. Because he was royalty, Moses would have gotten the best education, he would have been treated with the same honor and respect as any other royals , and he would have had access to all the things that royalty had to offer.
For many years, his life would have been lived in luxury becoming comfortable with all the things that money can buy and all the conveniences that were part of life.
If you had the choice a path in life, which would you choose? Would you choose a pathof royalty, where you have everything you want and more, where servants wait on you hand and foot, people know who you are because they see you in the news, where you may even be worshiped as a god?
Or would you choose the life you have right now? You work for the paycheck, you might struggle to make ends meet, you wait until the noise in the car is really loud before you take it in to be fixed, and no one really knows who are except for your family and maybe a few friends.
Maybe we have dreamed of that first life. A life more power, or money, or fame, or a better this or that. That life sounds amazing when we have the struggles in our own life. More power would mean that we don’t have to fight with our boss, maybe we could be the boss and tell others what needs to be done. More money would mean that the bills could be paid, the vacations planned and taken, with no fear of the credit card bills which are coming, more fame would mean that people would notice us and do things for us, doors would be opened for us because of who we are. Even if we haven’t dreamed quite so big, we have definitely dreamed about a better this or that which would solve a problem or a trouble that we are having.
Not many of us have ever had to make that choice, we have never had to think about what a choice like that would mean for our life and our faith. But Moses did. When we remember the life of Moses, we see that he knew where he was from. He walked among the Israelites, even though he was royalty. He saw how they were treated as slave and the Lord led to him to understand that it was wrong. We remember Moses thought he was acting with justice when he killed the Egyptian guard who was mistreating one of the Israelites. When he ran from the justice of Egypt, it certainly didn’t look like he was going to be the leader of Israel. The writer to the Hebrews shows us that God was guiding Moses, building Moses’ faith, even as these events happened, to walk in His way to the things that would bring him closer to his God. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. 26 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. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
What would a writer say about your life if he were writing about your choices? He chose to follow the way of money and never had time to bring his family to the Lord? She chose the call of sex and excitement and chose to run after another instead of being faithful to the marriage she had? He chose the chains of pornography over the freedom of purity? He chose a life of greed and selfishness over a life of contentment? She chose to be lazy and never make use of her gifts rather than to praise God with the way she lived? They chose a life that was easy, a life where they turned from the truth of God’s Word in order that they could be selfish, greedy, adulterous and /or immoral. They chose to live in the way of the world and chase after those things instead of seeking the things of God.
Isn’t that what we have really seen in our Gospel readings from the Bread of Life sermon? So many excuses and denials simply because the people wanted to run after the things of the world and live in their sin and unbelief and not run after the things of God.
This was such a problem that Jesus turned to the disciples and asked them a simple question “Do you want to leave too?” Jesus was asking the disciples a question of faith? What do you want to run after? Do you want to run after the things of God, or the things of the world?
Peter gives an amazing statement of faith: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus, where else would we go? Who else would we listen to? You are the one who is sent from heaven, who is teaching us the way to eternal life. Nothing and no one else can do that for us.
What an amazing faith God worked in Peter that he was able to say this. This is the same faith that the writer to the Hebrews tells us God worked in the heart of Moses. Moses could have filled his life with the best of everything and never had to toil and work a day in his life. He would never have had to live under the name of Israelite, slave, as long as he held onto to place in the world. But that life of royalty, surrounded by all the money, power and authority of Pharaoh’s family would not save Moses. In fact, there were many temptations that came along with that life that could easily lead Moses away from his Lord.
Those are the same temptations the devil puts in our way today. Money brings the temptation to place our trust in it and find safety and comfort in it. Authority and power bring with them the temptation to crave more and to use that power incorrectly Possessions and things bring the temptation of complacency and discontent, if someone has more.
By the faith that the Lord worked in his heart, Moses followed the Lord. The Holy Spirit led him, by faith, to be the leader of Israel. By faith, he followed the Lord’s command at the first Passover and placed the blood on the doors and the angel passed by. By faith, he led the people from Egypt to the land of Canaan which he had never seen.
This is the same faith that God wants to work in our hearts. God wants us to look to him for all of our earthly and not to run after the things of this world and trust in them. More importantly, God wants to work in us a faith which looks to him and him alone for the word that point to Jesus alone as the way to eternal life.
May God give us the faith to continue to grow in the Word. And, as we face temptations, troubles and trials, to flee from the temptations of the world to pursue the life of thanks and faith that the Lord wants.