#5 (THE "COURAGE" SERIES)
"THE COURAGE TO SUFFER LIKE MOSES!"
TEXT: Heb. 11:23-29
INTRO: It is so moving to watch people be sworn in as citizens of the United States of America. They come from many different countries, they may look a certain way or have a certain shape of color depending on what country they have come from ... but when they become citizens of the USA they no longer are foreigners, they instead take on the responsibilities and laws and the privileges of this country, now they are Americans!
They may still rightly call themselves Germans, French, Africans, Asians, etc., but they now are really Americans! Their new citizenship makes new demands on their life. If America goes to war against their native land they would be called upon to fight against their original homeland. This happened to my own father William Marquardt – he had been born in Germany but as a child in the early 1920’s was brought to this country by my grandparents who became American citizens along with him. During World War 2 my father who was now a citizen of the USA joined the U.S. navy and had to fight against the German people – called upon to fight against his original homeland country and people … and he did! He was first an American, second a German -- and because America was at war with Germany he fought against his own former country.
This is what happens to us when we become Christians; we become citizens of God's kingdom. We are then first and foremost Kingdom citizens, with certain responsibilities and laws that we live by that take precedent over any other earthly citizenship.
If we were ever asked to renounce our faith in God we would have to choose which citizenship to live by, if we chose God we would find ourselves at that time having to suffer for our faith in God. Do we have the courage to suffer if it came to that? Moses found himself in just such a dilemma … and he had to choose which kingdom to identify with and then pay the price for it.
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us that we must have the courage to suffer for Christ when we find ourselves in the position of having to choose to live by God's laws or man, to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God makes higher demands on our lives.
I. THE GREAT CHOICE! 11:23-26
A. Parental 11:23
1. Egypt was not the kingdom that God's people were to model -- two people (Amram and Jochebed – Moses' parent’s name) had to make a decision, the laws of Egypt dictated that all male children born to Jewish people were to be cast alive into the Nile.
a. Amram and Jochebed however lived by the laws of the kingdom of God first, so they broke the laws of Egypt rather than destroy human life in this way.
b. They quietly hid Moses for 3 months ... they knew he belonged to God and that God had a purpose for his life.
c. They did not accept the view that babies were considered a nuisance and should be destroyed, such was the view of this secular government.
d. The purpose of this law was to control the population! (Not unlike most abortions done today!)
e. They led no great political revolt nor chose a path of violent protests; instead they found a creative way to save life themselves, by keeping Moses alive.
2. They finally did obey the letter of the law and so put Moses in the Nile, but with protection and a plan to preserve his life, not to end it.
a. He was taken by the house of Pharaoh and raised as an Egyptian; in fact he was in line for the throne as Pharaoh!
b. He grew up however being nursed by his own mother and she taught him about God's people and who he really was!
B. Personal 11:24-25
1. By faith, Moses when he had grown up was faced with an all important decision, to consider himself a part of this world or a part of God's world; no parent could make that choice for their children once grown, it was Moses’ choice now!
a. He had all the benefits of being royalty and an Egyptian citizen.
b. But instead of choosing to be an Egyptian he chose to be identified with God's people though they were suffering and hard pressed!
c. This was no easy decision to make!
2. His choice was not based on sentiment or out of a desire to be big shot, he could be the next Pharaoh of Egypt if he wanted power and prestige, it was a genuine desire to identify himself with God and His people!
a. How many people become Christians only because they see it as a nice sentimental thing or to look good in society, or for some other personal benefit?
b. Why did you choose to become a Christian?
c. He didn't pick God so that all his problems could be miraculously solved, in fact it only compounded his problems!
3. He chose God because he wanted to serve, this would mean accepting the suffering that came with choosing God when the laws of God conflicted with the laws of Egypt!
a. Would you hold to your faith if your life or the quality of your life were in jeopardy?
b. Many Christians in the world face this dilemma every day of their lives!
c. Is your courage to live for God only based on comfort?
ILLUS: A MAN HAD BEEN INVITED TO A COSTUME PARTY AND WITH METICULOUS CARE HE HAD MADE HIMSELF INTO THE IMAGE OF THE DEVIL, COMPLETE WITH HORNS. WHILE DRIVING TO THE PARTY, HIS CAR BROKE DOWN RIGHT BY A BIG TENT MEETING WHERE REVIVAL SERVICES WERE BEING HELD. HE APPROACHED THE BACK OF THE TENT TO GET HELP AND WHEN HE ENTERED THE TENT, UPON SEEING HIM, PEOPLE BEGAN TO FLEE IN FEAR THINKING THE DEVIL HAD ACTUALLY SHOWED UP! ONE LADY AS SHE TRIED TO FLEE TRIPPED OVER A CHAIR AND THE "DEVIL" WENT OVER TO HELP HER OUT, JUST AS HE REACHED OUT A HAND TO HELP HER SHE PROCLAIMED, "SATAN, I KNOW THIS LOOKS BAD BEING HERE FOR THESE REVIVAL MEETINGS, BUT IT'S NOT WHAT IT SEEMS, EVEN THOUGH I'VE BEEN A CHURCH MEMBER FOR 20 YEARS I'VE BEEN ON YOUR SIDE ALL ALONG!" HER TRUE CITIZENSHIP REVEALED ITSELF WHEN THINGS WERE LOOKING TOUGH! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
4. Moses understood the decision he made, he had the courage to suffer the consequences of living for God in a secular society!
a. This choice would bring him into direct conflict with the nation he lived in, and at times the laws of that nation!
b. He could have chose the pleasures of sin, his other choice was being mistreated as a slave, he chose to be a mistreated servant first, a ruler second!
c. He desired to be on God's side first!
ILLUS: DURING THE DARK DAYS OF THE CIVIL WAR ABRAHAM LINCOLN HAPPENED INTO A CHURCH SERVICE DURING WHICH THE MINISTER WAS ASKING THE LORD TO BE "ON OUR SIDE, TO GIVE THE VICTORY TO OUR SIDE." AFTER THE SERVICE LINCOLN SAID TO HIS COMPANION, "AS FOR ME, I HAVE LEARNED TO ASK BUT ONE THING OF THE LORD ... NOT THAT HE BE ON OUR SIDE BUT THAT I MAY BE ON HIS SIDE." – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. Moses had now made the personal choice to be identified with God and His people, this meant he adopted the laws and responsibilities that came with that kingdom.
a. Did you know that becoming a Christian means you live differently than the world?
b. Did you know that being a Christian means you have a different set of values than the world?
c. Did you know that being a Christian means you are always on call to serve the Lord whether it is convenient of not?
C. Prize 11:26
1. Moses was looking ahead to a better reward than the treasures of Egypt!
a. In fact, not long after Moses and Israel left Egypt, Egypt ceased being a world power never to rise again to such greatness.
b. Yet, those of God's people are now in a great kingdom, one whose glory will yet reveal itself in fullness on this earth, a kingdom whose glory will never be rivaled by any other!
2. Moses did not consider the temporary nature of the kingdom of Egypt worth sacrificing for, he looked for something better, spiritual benefits in a lasting spiritual kingdom!
ILLUS: YEARS AGO A MAN BY THE NAME OF ROGER BABSON WAS VISITING ARGENTINA AND WAS ABLE TO VISIT WITH THE PRESIDENT OF THAT COUNTRY. AS THEY SAT IN THE SUN PARLOR OVERLOOKING A RIVER THE PRESIDENT SPOKE, "MR. BABSON, I HAVE BEEN WONDERING WHY IT IS THAT SOUTH AMERICA, WITH ALL IT NATURAL RESOURCES, IS SO FAR BEHIND NORTH AMERICA, DESPITE THE FACT THAT SOUTH AMERICA WAS SETTLED BEFORE NORTH AMERICA?" THE PRESIDENT WENT ON TO TELL HOW THE FORESTS OF SOUTH AMERICA HAD 286 KINDS OF TREES THAT COULD BE FOUND IN NO BOOK OF BOTANY. HE SPOKE OF THE MANY RANCHES THAT HAD THOUSANDS OF ACRES OF ALFALFA IN ONE BLOCK. HE MENTIONED THE IRON, COAL, COPPER, SILVER, AND GOLD MINES OF THAT CONTINENT. HE POINTED OUT THAT SOUTH AMERICA'S GREAT RIVERS HAD WATER POWER THAT RIVALED NIAGARA. WITH ALL THIS AS A PRELUDE, THE PRESIDENT ASKED, "WHY IS IT THAT, WITH ALL THESE NATURAL RESOURCES, WHY IS IT THAT SOUTH AMERICA IS SO FAR BEHIND NORTH AMERICA?" MR. BABSON KNEW THE ANSWER, BUT BEING A GUEST HE WANTED THE PRESIDENT HIMSELF TO GIVE THE ANSWER, SO HE ASKED THE PRESIDENT WHY HE THOUGHT IT WAS THIS WAY. THE PRESIDENT HAD A VERY INTERESTING ANSWER, HE SAID, "I HAVE COME TO THIS CONCLUSION, SOUTH AMERICA WAS SETTLED BY THE SPANISH WHO CAME HERE IN SEARCH OF GOLD, BUT NORTH AMERICA WAS SETTLED BY THE PILGRIM FATHERS WHO WENT THERE IN SEARCH OF GOD." – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. Moses desired something better than Egypt and its earthly treasures and power, he sought a better kingdom with spiritual treasures ... and today he is not disappointed!
II. THE GREAT CHALLENGE! 11:27-29
A. Perseverance 11:27
1. Moses understood that if he was to be in God's kingdom rather than Egypt’s he would have to take a stand, a stand that would put him right in the middle of things!
a. He would thus have to accept the consequences of standing up for God!
b. No matter the ridicule, no matter the hostility, he would have to stand up for God’s kingdom -- but he wouldn't have to stand alone!
2. Moses was able to persevere because he had a large fellowship of others who stood with him!
3. His first attempt he acted alone and when he felt alone he fled for fear, it was only after he returned 40 years later and had the support of Israel that he stood against Pharaoh.
a. This support was extremely important!
b. Even his brother Aaron stood with him when he returned!
4. When he tried alone he failed, but when he stood with God's people he was able to succeed!
ILLUS: DURING THE MEMORABLE RETREAT OF THE FRENCH FROM MOSCOW, THE SOLDIERS FROZE TO DEATH BY THE HUNDREDS. IT IS SAID THAT AT NIGHT THEY GATHERED AROUND ANY COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL THEY COULD FIND AND MADE A FIRE. THEN, GATHERING ROUND IT AS CLOSELY AS POSSIBLE, THEY LAY DOWN TO SLEEP. IN THE MORNING, AFTER A BITTER NIGHT, THOSE IN THE OUTER CIRCLES AROUND THE FIRE WERE FOUND FROZEN TO DEATH. THEY WERE TOO FAR AWAY FROM THE SOURCE OF HEAT, FROM THE CENTER OF THE FIRE. THOSE ON THE FRINGE NEVER MADE IT! THE CLOSER TO THE FIRE THE BETTER THEY SURVIVED TOGETHER! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. It probably was not so much Pharaoh that Moses feared as it was trying to go it alone!
a. It states here that he was not afraid of Pharaoh, but he did run away in fear according to Exodus, so he feared something! Perhaps it was that he feared he was alone or that Israel wasn't willing to follow him right then!
b. But ... he persevered in the desert, and when the time was ripe for them to follow Moses God called him back, and now with Aaron's help they would all rally around him for help!
6. He saw God as greater than the Pharaoh of Egypt, with his eyes on God he kept his faith!
B. Performance 11:28-29
1. Faith must find expression to be real faith! And so the time came when he returned to do the job of the kingdom of God, it was time to combine FAITH and WORKS!
ILLUS: AN OLD SCOTSMAN WAS OPERATING A SMALL ROWBOAT FOR TRANSPORTING PASSENGERS ACROSS ONE OF THE LITTLE LAKES IN SCOTLAND. ONE DAY A PASSENGER NOTICED THAT HE HAD CARVED ON ONE OAR THE WORD "WORKS" AND ON THE OTHER OAR THE WORD "FAITH." CURIOSITY LED HIM TO ASK THE MEANING OF THIS. THE OLD MAN REPLIED, "I WILL SHOW YOU." DROPPING ONE OAR AND ONLY USING THE OTHER ONE HE OARED HARD ... AND OF COURSE THEY SIMPLY WENT IN CIRCLES. THEN HE SWITCHED, DROPPING THE OAR HE HAD JUST USED AND USING ONLY THE OTHER OAR, HE AGAIN ONLY WENT IN CIRCLES BUT THIS TIME IN THE OTHER DIRECTION. THEN HE PICKED UP BOTH OARS AND USING THEM TOGETHER BEGAN TO MAKE GREAT TIME AND SPEED ACROSS THE WATER. HE TOLD HIS PASSENGER, "YOU SEE, THAT IS THE WAY IT IS IN LIFE AS WELL AS IN THE BOAT." IT REQUIRES FAITH AND WORKS TO GET ANYTHING DONE IN THE KINGDOM OF GOD OR WE JUST GO AROUND IN CIRCLES! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
2. Moses understood that taking on the role of a servant in God's kingdom meant action and responsibilities:
a. Though God spared Israel the night the death angel passed over, He did so only if the blood of the lamb was applied!
b. Had Moses failed to apply the blood he too would not have escaped death!
c. By faith Moses kept the Passover and by faith HE ACTED!
3. Faith required expression or it would have been meaningless!
a. One cannot say that he or she is a Christian but then is unwilling to obey Christian responsibilities and values!
b. For one to believe in Christ one must also behave in Christ!
c. This doesn’t mean overnight perfection, but it should mean a progressive nature of conforming more and more into the image of Christ as time goes on.
4. It was not only Moses that had to act, it was also the people of God that had to act!
a. They had to choose to leave Egypt behind!
b. They had to choose to cross the Red Sea by faith!
* their later experiences proved that it was far easier getting Israel out of Egypt than it was getting Egypt out of Israel!
5. It is interesting to note that Israel and Egypt tried the same thing, they both attempted to cross the Red Sea but the results were very different:
a. Israel had no problems crossing; they did it in faith and obedience to God!
b. Egypt experienced disaster; they did it in anger and vengeance!
c. It matters not only what you do, but why you do it!
d. When the Egyptians attempted to do the same thing that God's people did they failed because they had not done it in faith!
(1. The world stills experiences this dilemma -- whenever it attempts to copy the spiritual results of the church it finds that it can not get the same results because it is not done in faith nor does it have a spiritual foundation for what it does.
(2. The reverse is also true, when the Church attempts to copy the world we don't always get the same results either, because God's kingdom works differently!
6. We must choose what kingdom we will primarily identify ourselves with, and then we must have the courage to accept the consequences of those choices!
CONCLUSION: Those who choose to become citizens of the USA must accept the responsibilities and laws of the USA. This new identity now takes precedence over their previous national origin. They will suffer if America suffers, and they will be blessed if America is blessed. Their life is now new! So it is when we choose to become citizens in God's Kingdom. WE must accept the laws and responsibilities of this new Kingdom. When our new citizenship brings us into conflict with the old we must be willing to accept whatever reproach comes with courage. WHERE'S YOUR CITIZENSHIP – AND DO YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO SUFFER FOR IT IF NECESSARY?