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The faith of Moses’ parents

February 2003 | by Don Fortner

 

Faith is a gift of God’s grace. It enables believers to look away from human terrors, and gives courage and boldness by enabling us to trust in God our Father, though we see him not.

 

In other words, faith prevails over fear. I do not mean that believers know nothing of fear. It is a sad fact – but a fact nonetheless – that we are all, at times, fearful.

 

But faith prevails over fear and says with David: ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me’ (Psalm 56:3-4).

 

We see this faith exemplified in Hebrews 11:23, where the Holy Spirit holds before us the faith of Moses’ parents. Theirs is an instructive, encouraging example for us to follow.

 

Moses hidden

 

‘By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents.’ The Apostle mentions the faith of both Moses’ parents. In his own account in Exodus 2, Moses mentions only his mother. Stephen, speaking before the Sanhedrin, mentions only his father. The writer to the Hebrews thus combines two inspired narratives.

 

Happy is that home where husband and wife, mother and father, walk together in faith and in the fear of God! Blessed beyond anything words can express are children born into such a home!

 

‘It is a happy thing’, wrote Matthew Henry, ‘when yoke-fellows draw together in the yoke of faith, as heirs of the grace of God; and when they do this in a religious concern for the good of their children, to preserve them not only from those who would destroy their lives, but corrupt their minds’.

 

Moses’ parents show us many things concerning faith.

 

Faith fears God

 

First, faith fears God. Pharaoh had given orders that every male child born among the Jews should be thrown immediately into the Nile and drowned.

 

Instead of complying with this evil command, Moses’ mother and father concealed their infant son for three months.

 

Without question, we are to be in subjection to the civil powers. We are to obey our divinely appointed rulers, no matter who they are (Romans 13:1-7).

 

But we have a higher authority than any earthly monarch – our God is our King – and ‘we ought to obey God rather than men’ (Acts 5:29).

 

Like those noble brethren in Daniel 3, we cannot do that which God has forbidden, no matter who demands it. And, like Peter and John in Acts 4, we must obey God’s will, no matter who opposes it.

 

Faith fears not man

 

Second, faith overcomes the fear of man. The fear of God makes the fear of man insignificant. ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?’ (Psalm 27:1).

 

Third, faith obtains God’s salvation. Deliverance came to Israel because Moses’ parents, believing God, hazarded their lives to do what they knew to be his will.

 

Fearing God, they obeyed his Word, though obedience might easily have cost them their lives.

 

Faith verified by works

 

‘Moses was hid three months’ – faith, fourthly, proves itself by works. Moses’ parents, like Abraham before them and Rahab after them, showed their faith by their works (James 2:17-26).

 

They concealed the birth of their son, not fearing the wrath of the king. From the beginning they showed greater concern for Moses’ soul than for their own lives.

 

They hid him for three months. Theirs was a persevering faith. No doubt they made many cries to God. Can you imagine the faith it required to put their baby in a basket and leave him to God’s sovereign care in the River Nile?

 

Yet such faith is both well founded and most reasonable. God preserves his own. Nothing can harm them, much less destroy them!

 

In the preservation of Moses we have an illustration of how God preserves his elect from infancy to the day of their calling (Jude 1).

 

Faith discerns God’s will

 

Fifth, faith discerns the mind of God. Their faith was not so much a parental act of love as the act of two people who believed God. What motivated the faith of these godly parents was what the Lord God had made known to them: ‘They saw he was a proper child’.

 

The Holy Spirit is not talking here about Moses being a physically beautiful child, too good-looking to murder! This was an act of faith.

 

They saw that Moses was beautiful to God – chosen by him to be Israel’s deliverer (Acts 7:20).

 

It is obvious from the book of Exodus that they taught him this from his youth (Remember, he was raised by his natural mother as well as by Pharaoh’s daughter; Exodus 2:7-10).

 

Had this not been a matter of divine revelation – something specifically made known to them by God – their hiding him would have been an act of desperation, not of faith.

 

They believed God’s word, the promise he had given to Abraham and Joseph, and had confirmed to them.

 

Faith looks to Christ

 

Sixth, faith looks to Christ. Moses himself ‘endured as seeing him who is invisible’ (Hebrews 11:27) and, by implication, the same must have been true of his parents.

 

They had a particular revelation from God. They had a firm faith in the deliverance of the children of Israel at the appointed time. That deliverance was accomplished through Moses, of course, but Moses himself was a type of Christ, and one also by whom the seed of the woman must be preserved.

 

Thus, ultimately, they trusted Christ. For Christ alone is the true Saviour of his people, and the one in whom Abraham had long before believed (John 8:56-58).

 

The Holy Spirit tells us specifically that the hiding of Moses was ‘by faith’. It was an act of faith – God-given, God-wrought, God-sustained, faith in the deliverance (and the Deliverer) of his people.

 

The principle of all their actions in the preservation of Moses was faith. The purpose of Hebrews 11 was not to honour men but to honour faith, and that in Christ.

 

Faith delivers

 

Seventh, faith delivers – it secures the blessing of God. We read: ‘they were not afraid of the king’s commandment’. Their faith was eminent in this respect – in the discharge of their responsibility under God, they did not fear the king’s command.

 

No doubt they were fearful, but not in such a way as to prevent the performance of their duty. ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee’ (Psalm 56:3).

 

Because they believed God, Moses’ parents secured for themselves, and for the nation of Israel, the promised blessing of God’s salvation. Israel was delivered, ultimately, by the faith of a godly mother and father!

 

Let us train our children for God, for heaven, and for eternity. Train them, first and foremost, by believing God ourselves, by making the will and glory of God the rule of all things in our lives.