Hebrews 11 Moses is commended for turning his back on the passing pleasures of sin- he was raised in wealth and privilege, a lot like me. But he chose to be identified with the Hebrews, the slaves- which reminds me of Mother Teresa, not me.
Moses. His parents defied the law and did not allow their newborn son to be killed. Then they place him in a basket in a river and he floats down to Pharaoh’s daughter and is adopted, nursed by his own birth mother. Saved. Grows up in Pharaoh’s house. A place of significant power.
But Moses knows who he is. He is a Hebrew. And he sees that the Hebrews are enslaved and in need of rescue.
Interestingly Moses leaves the Pharaoh’s house. (In fear and desperation.) He tried to stand up for the Hebrews in his own power- killing a man who beat a Hebrew. But that didn’t gain the confidence of the Hebrews and put him in a bad place with the Egyptians.
It’s tempting isn’t it? To believe that Moses was in a position of strength in the house of Pharaoh, and that from there he could have done some good for the Hebrews.
How many times have you believed that? That you were in a position of strength and had some way of accomplishing something, for God, for others…
What does Solomon call it? Vanity? What do you understand vanity to mean? In the context of ecclesiastes it means vapor or breath. The New King James notes explain vanity to be like “the rapidly vanishing vapor of one’s warm breath in cool, crisp air. Pursuing wealth, honor, fame, various pleasures is similar to desperately grasping at air.”
It is thinking: From my position of strength I will do something.
But God showed the vanity in that didn’t he? Moses, outside Pharaoh’s house, removed from that power, showed the Pharaoh’s “power” to be vanity. The rapidly vanishing vapor of one’s breath. Because Pharaoh had no power.
God has all the power. God.
From our (very limited) perspective, it might have seemed that Moses was saved in the river, to be placed in the Pharaoh’s house, where all the power was, so that God could use him to deliver God’s people.
But that’s not how it worked. God actually used Moses from outside Pharaoh’s house. Commanding him to do impossible things. Make impossible claims. Defy the power of the land and threaten him in ways only God could see through. How’s that for taking a risk? There was no way Moses was going to be able to protect himself if it went bad. And by going bad I mean if God didn’t do what he said he’d do.
James warns us of pride, vanity, boasting. James 4:13, Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit.” Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.”
I always forget that middle part. I read it: If the Lord wills, we will do this or that. But no, it is…
If the Lord wills, we shall live.
If the Lord wills.
If the Lord.
Be careful. We get carried away with our very limited perspective and we forget that what we see is not all there is, in fact, what we see is not most of what there is. What we see is vapor.
The only way to be in a position of strength is to be in the one who is strength, God.
But keep it real. Even in God’s arms, you and I are no more threatening or powerful than a saucy three year old scolding from the safe and strong arms of his daddy.