Riches or Reproach?

Most of us know the story of Moses. Hid because of Pharaoh’s genocide when he was a baby, found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and raised in the palace. Moses was given every advantage of life in the most advanced nation of its day. Education, military tactics, wealth. It was all his. In fact, an argument can be made that his future could have included the throne of Egypt. There is some discussion about whether “the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” in Hebrews 11:24 was actually a technical phrase indicating Moses’ official status in the royal line. Regardless, Moses’ entire life as a child and teenager was racing toward an inevitable conflict between who he was being raised as and who he was meant to be.

Hebrews 11:24 tells us that Moses was faced with a choice. By faith, he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.” The language of verse 24 comes from the LXX translation of Exodus 2:11. Moses’ decision came at a very specific point in his life: the day when he was out walking among his people and he saw an Egyptian foreman beating an Israelite. At that point, Moses makes a moral decision between a greater current advantage or a greater future blessing. In that decision, he turns his back on Egypt. He refuses his royal status, and instead chooses to align with slaves. Why?

Verse 25 defines Moses’ choice. Moses knew something. He knew that the benefits of Egypt, though enjoyable, were “fleeting.” This word carries the idea of temporary or momentary. There weren’t going to last. But don’t miss the other descriptor: they were pleasurable. See, we often try to paint sin as something that makes one miserable. This is true in some cases, but the true deception of sin is that it is fun…it brings pleasure, but it’s temporary. It’s not going to last. A day of reckoning is coming. Moses understood this at some level, and when the time came, he chose “to be mistreated with the people of God.” He aligned himself with a life of struggle and suffering, but of eternal blessing. What would lead him to this decision? It was a wealth comparison…

“He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (verse 26). Egypt possessed treasures (a picture of immense wealth), and Israel brought reproach. But with that reproach came alignment with the people of God, the people of Yahweh. And with the people of Yahweh came the promise. The promise that one day a Messiah would come. A savior. One who would redeem His people and establish a kingdom that would never end. How much of this did Moses know in detail? We don’t know for sure, but we know that the theology of the Messiah would slowly be unfolded throughout the Old Testament. Moses knew enough. He knew that wealth cannot simply be measured by the number at the bottom of the checkbook ledger. He knew that the greatest reward imaginable is one that does not come in this life, but comes in a future king, and is bestowed by a future king.

Where are you? I am speaking metaphorically, but Egypt is calling every day. It offers riches and wealth and pleasure. It offers fulfillment of the desires of the flesh. Those who remain in Egypt feel good. They enjoy it. And it condemns them. We are called to something different. We are called to turn our focus and attention to a future reward. It’s not easy. We crave the immediate and the easy. We want the wealth of pleasure that this world offers. So let’s help each other. As the community of faith, let’s push each other toward that future reward and encourage those for whom the pleasures of Egypt are exerting their influence. That’s one of the reasons we need each other. We need brothers and sisters. We need the local church. So jump in…plug in, build relationships, and choose the reproach of Christ over the riches of Egypt.