Advent Devotion for January 4
Candle Lighter says: “It was by faith…”
Response: “It was by faith...”
SCRIPTURE: Hebrews 11:23-31
23 It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.
24 It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 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. 27 It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. 28 It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.
29 It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.
30 It was by faith that the people of Israel marched around Jericho for seven days, and the walls came crashing down.
31 It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
SOME THOUGHTS: Have you noticed something interesting here? Moses thought it “better to suffer for Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt.” This was 1400 years before Christ! Did Moses know about Christ? Let’s take a step back and walk our way through this passage. The Jewish people held Moses in the highest regard. After all, he was the one who spoke to God on their behalf. He was the one to whom God gave the Law. He was the one who led the greatest event in the Old Testament, the Exodus. God’s hand was clearly on Moses…from the very beginning. His parents were godly people who heard the voice of Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God revealed to them that Moses was an unusual child. Their conviction was so strong, they defied the law of the land—which was to kill all Jewish baby boys. (Remind you of King Herod?) Moses learned of the Lord from his parent’s faith and his true identity in spite of being raised in a pagan society. Then we come to this verse about “suffering for the sake of Christ.” At this time in history, Egypt was a world power in military might and wealth. Moses, the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter, chose to leave that world to identify and suffer with his own people. Rather than look to this world, Moses kept his eyes on the one who is invisible, his God, believing in the ultimate redemption of the promised Messiah. (Moses was an Old Testament Christ figure. The parallels are everywhere.) Pushing forward by faith keeping his eyes on the invisible is the point the writer of Hebrews is driving at. The people to whom he is addressing were sorting through their faith in the midst of rising persecution. He is seeking to encourage them through these examples. He takes the most esteemed person, Moses, followed by one of the more infamous persons, Rahab, the Gentile prostitute. The Scriptures always remind us of her former profession. (James 2:25, Matthew lists her in Jesus’ genealogy) Why bring that up again? It is to remind us that anyone at any station in life can be redeemed through God’s grace. And that a troubled past does not short circuit a fruitful and significant future. God is never done with His children.
MUSIC: How Great Our Joy by John Rutter (YouTube)
PRAYER: Give me, O Lord, a steadfast heart, which no unworthy affection may drag downwards; give me an unconquered heart, which no tribulation can wear out; give me an upright heart, which no unworthy purpose may tempt aside. Bestow on me also, O Lord my God, understanding to know you, diligence to seek you, wisdom to find you, and a faithfulness that may finally embrace you, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
—Thomas Aquinas, 1225-1274