April 7, the Twenty-Sixth Day of Lent

April 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.

-Hebrews 11.26-

Yesterday we looked at the negative reason behind Moses’ rejection of Pharaoh’s family. We saw that he came to the understanding that if he did not, he would be living in sin. In v. 26, the author of Hebrews presents the positive reason for why Moses  chose as he did – the reason Moses said, “Yes, I will do this,” rather than, “No, I will not do that.”

The author of Hebrews says that Moses chose to suffer “for the sake of Christ.” This is an interesting choice of words; after all, Jesus was not born anywhere close to Moses’ time. So why does the author say this?

Through the entire book of Hebrews, the author constantly sets up comparisons between the Old Covenant of God and Israel and the New Covenant brought about by Christ. He does this in a variety of ways; he talks about priests, sacrifices, genealogies, rituals, and many other aspects of Judaism that the reader would have been familiar with. However, he consistently demonstrates how Christ is superior to these things and fulfills them. Moses is mentioned from time to time as the greatest intermediary between God and Israel; the greatest priest in the history of the Jews. The author will often point out that Moses, as great as he was, was just a forerunner to Christ’s coming.

As a forerunner, Moses was preparing the way for Christ, even if he did not realize it. Therefore, when he chose to suffer alongside of his people, his sufferings and his work were to help prepare the way for Christ. Even though Jesus would not be born for hundreds of years and many generations, Moses still lived in anticipation of Jesus’ coming – even if he did not understand it in those terms.

What is the “great reward” that the author mentions? It is the redemption of humanity, brought by God in Christ. The author of Hebrews begins to tie the blessing of Abraham in Genesis 12.1-3 together with Christ’s life and death which saves the world. Moses did not know that the promise would be fulfilled in this way; however, he knew that the fulfillment of the promise was superior to whatever Egypt and Pharaoh’s family could offer him. Therefore, he was willing to suffer. Matthew Henry says that, “Suffering is to be chosen rather than sin; there being more evil in the least sin, than there can be in the greatest suffering.”

Contrary to popular belief, suffering is not always a bad thing. Many times, when we suffer, we are tempted to find the quickest way out of the situation. Certainly no one likes to suffer; however, suffering does not necessarily mean that we are in the wrong place. In the case of Moses, the suffering actually meant that he was in the right place. When we suffer, how do we respond? Do we assume that we are in the wrong and seek the fastest way out? Or do we respond as Moses did and see our sufferings as part of a life that seeks to bring God’s Kingdom to Earth?

As we journey through Lent together, may we look past our sufferings to God’s promise.

“Dear Lord, thank you for the example of Moses. I confess that I have often chosen what was comfortable or easy instead of what you had for me. Please give me the ability to discern your guidance in my life, the wisdom to choose correctly, and the grace to remain where you have called me. As I encounter others who are suffering, please give me grace to encourage and support them where there are as well. Amen.”

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