“Moses had faith. Faith was the mainspring of his wonderful conduct. Faith made him do as he did, choose what he chose, and refuse what he refused. He did it all because he believed.
God set before the eyes of his mind His own will and purpose. God revealed to him that a Saviour was to be born of the stock of Israel, that mighty promises were bound up in these children of Abraham, and yet to be fulfilled, that the time for fulfilling a portion of these promises was at hand; and Moses put credit in this, and believed.
And every step in his wonderful career, every action in his journey through life after leaving Pharaoh’s court,—his choice of seeming evil, his refusal of seeming good,—all, all must be traced up to this fountain; all will be found to rest on this foundation. God had spoken to him, and he had faith in God’s word.
He believed that God would keep His promises,—that what He had said He would surely do, and what He had covenanted He would surely perform.
He believed that with God nothing was impossible. Reason and sense might say that the deliverance of Israel was out of the question: the obstacles were too many, the difficulties too great. But faith told Moses that God was all-sufficient. God had undertaken the work, and it would be done.
He believed that God was all wise. Reason and sense might tell him that his line of action was absurd; that he was throwing away useful influence, and destroying all chance of benefiting his people, by breaking with Pharaoh’s daughter. But faith told Moses that if God said ‘Go this way,’ it must be the best.
He believed that God was all merciful. Reason and sense might hint that a more pleasant manner of deliverance might be found, that some compromise might be effected, and many hardships be avoided. But faith told Moses that God was love, and would not give His people one drop of bitterness beyond what was absolutely needed.
Faith was a telescope to Moses. It made him see the goodly land afar off,—rest, peace, and victory, when dimsighted reason could only see trial and barrenness, storm and tempest, weariness and pain.
Faith was an interpreter to Moses. It made him pick out a comfortable meaning in the dark commands of God’s handwriting, while ignorant sense could see nothing in it but mystery and foolishness.
Faith told Moses that all this rank and greatness was of the earth, earthy, a poor, vain, empty thing, frail, fleeting, and passing away; and that there was no true greatness like that of serving God. He was the king, he the true nobleman who belonged to the family of God. It was better to be last in heaven, than first in hell.
Faith told Moses that worldly pleasures were ‘pleasures of sin.’ They were mingled with sin, they led on to sin, they were ruinous to the soul, and displeasing to God. It would be small comfort to have pleasure while God was against him. Better suffer and obey God, than be at ease and sin.
Faith told Moses that these pleasures after all were only for a ‘season.’ They could not last; they were all short-lived; they would weary him soon; he must leave them all in a few years.
Faith told him that there was a reward in heaven for the believer far richer than the treasures in Egypt, durable riches, where rust could not corrupt, nor thieves break through and steal. The crown there would be incorruptible; the weight of glory would be exceeding and eternal;—and faith bade him look away to an unseen heaven if his eyes were dazzled with Egyptian gold.
Faith told Moses that affliction and suffering were not real evils.—They were the school of God, in which He trains the children of grace for glory;—the medicines which are needful to purify our corrupt wills;—the furnace which must burn away our dross;—the knife which must cut the ties that bind us to the world.
Faith told Moses that the despised Israelites were the chosen people of God. He believed that to them belonged the adoption, and the covenant, and the promises, and the glory; that of them the seed of the woman was one day to be born, who should bruise the serpent’s head; that the special blessing of God was upon them; that they were lovely and beautiful in His eyes;—and that it was better to be a door-keeper among the people of God, than to reign in the palaces of wickedness.
Faith told Moses that all the reproach and scorn poured out on him was “the reproach of Christ;”—that it was honourable to be mocked and despised for Christ’s sake;—that whoso persecuted Christ’s people was persecuting Christ Himself;—and that the day must come when His enemies would bow before Him and lick the dust.
All this, and much more, of which I cannot speak particularly, Moses saw by faith. These were the things he believed, and believing, did what he did. He was persuaded of them, and embraced them,—he reckoned them as certainties,—he regarded them as substantial verities,—he counted them as sure as if he had seen them with his own eyes,—he acted on them as realities;—and this made him the man that he was. He had faith. He believed.
Marvel not that he refused greatness, riches, and pleasure.—He looked far forward. He saw with the eye of faith kingdoms crumbling into dust,—riches making to themselves wings and fleeing away,—pleasures leading on to death and judgment,—and Christ only and His little flock enduring for ever.
Wonder not that he chose affliction, a despised people, and reproach.—He beheld things below the surface. He saw with the eye of faith affliction lasting but for a moment,—reproach rolled away, and ending in everlasting honour,—and the despised people of God reigning as kings with Christ in glory.
And was he not right? Does he not speak to us, though dead, this very day? The name of Pharaoh’s daughter has perished, or at any rate is extremely doubtful.—The city where Pharaoh reigned is not known.—The treasures in Egypt are gone.—But the name of Moses is known wherever the Bible is read, and is still a standing witness that ‘whoso liveth by faith, happy is he.'”
–J.C. Ryle, Holiness: Its Nature, Hindrances, Difficulties and Roots (London: William Hunt and Company, 1889), 200–203.