Saturday, 23 March 2019
…esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward. Hebrews 11:26
The author now builds upon the previous words concerning Moses’ refusal to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. Taking this verse with the previous verse, and with that thought in mind, it says –
“choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward.”
In this verse, the author notes Moses’ “esteeming the reproach of Christ.” There are several major views on what this means. The first is that Moses understood that the promise of restoration made in Genesis 3:15 was to come through the Hebrew people. With this knowledge, he chose to suffer affliction with them, esteeming the reproach of Christ.
Another view is that he simply suffered the types of sufferings that Christ suffered. In this, he would be a picture of Christ to come, but without any purposeful intent on his part.
A third option is that the author of Hebrews is using this wording in relation to the general sufferings that were expected in the course of exercising one’s faith. As Christ is the epitome of any such example, the term, “the reproach of Christ,” is simply an idiomatic expression which conveys the meaning for any and all who suffer because of their faith.
The only option which matches the intent of the passage is the first. Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction.” The author has selected words which demonstrate that Moses made intentional choices with an end view in mind. It was because of who the Hebrew people were, and his understanding of their role, that he willingly made his choice. This is made clear in Exodus 2:11 where it says, “And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren.”
In his response to this, he killed the Egyptian, rejecting his adopted status because he esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt.” As an adopted Egyptian, he could have joined in pounding on the Hebrew, laughing it off as an exercise in fun, and then gone home to his treasures. But, in having known about the promise, he looked forward to the promise instead.
This is all the more certain, because the Greek includes an article which is unfortunately disregarded by both the KJV and the NKJV. It does not say, “the reproach of Christ,” but rather, “the reproach of the Christ.” It is not a general statement concerning a shadowy representation of Moses and Jesus, but a definite anticipation of the Christ to come. Moses knew Christ was promised, he looked forward to that promise, and instead of being content with the earthly treasures he already possessed, “he looked to the reward.”
Moses understood that the anticipation of Messiah was man’s highest goal. Nothing else in this life compares to what is anticipated in the promise of Messiah. It must be so because the promise was made at the very fall of man. If a promise has been made for something, until the promise is fulfilled, it is the highest anticipation of anything which comes in that same category.
For example, if one enjoys soda and is given all of the types of soda on earth to drink, and he is given a promise of the best soda coming at some future point, then that is the highest anticipation. All the other sodas will be enjoyed only with a view to the best which is yet to come, because they cannot compare to the promised beverage of delight.
In the promise of Messiah, coming right at the fall of man, it is thus implicitly a promise which exceeds anything since the fall of man. In His coming is the promise of all things better than that which exists prior to His coming. And in His coming, the highest benefits of all will be realized. Moses “looked to the reward” of Messiah, and he forsook the temporary, earthly, and wholly deficient treasures which could never satisfy.
Life application: What are you willing to give up for Christ? What challenge is too great? What loss is unacceptable? Jesus said it as clearly as is possible –
“For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:26
Outside of Christ, there is no other ticket, no other avenue, no other payment for the soul. Moses, although not fully understanding the mystery of Christ, knew enough to accept disgrace for His sake. He knew there was a reward for his faith and his faithfulness. And so he stepped away from the riches of Egypt, which are no riches at all, and into the true wealth of his Creator.
If you have accepted Christ, what are you willing to give up that He may be glorified? People are dying in foreign lands without ever hearing of Jesus. A thousand languages on earth still don’t have a single verse of Scripture in their own language. People are walking by churches without ever being invited in to hear the good news. When you go out today, think on the “walking dead” you encounter and have compassion. Eternity is a long time. The soul without Christ is an unimaginable horror. In all you do, leave the comfort of your riches and look forward to the life which is truly life. As Paul so beautifully said it –
“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. 8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ…” Philippines 3:7, 8
Jesus, You have given us the examples of faith which are pleasing to You. Included in these is that of Moses. He walked away from the greatest wealth the world had to offer. But that was no wealth at all compared to the surpassing wealth of sharing in You. May we be so moved to follow You wherever we are led! Amen.