Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God - With those whom God had chosen to he his people - the Israelites. They were then oppressed and down-trodden; but they were the descendants of Abraham, and were those whom God had designed to be his special people. Moses saw that if he cast in his lot with them, he must expect trials. They were poor, and crushed, and despised - a nation of slaves. If he identified himself with them, his condition would be like theirs - one of great trial; if he sought to elevate and deliver them, such an undertaking could not but be one of great peril and hardship. Trial and danger, want and care would follow from any course which he could adopt, and he knew that an effort to rescue them from bondage must be attended with the sacrifice of all the comforts and honor which he enjoyed at court. Yet he “chose” this. He on the whole preferred it. He left the court, not because he was driven away; not because there was nothing there to gratify ambition or to he a stimulus to avarice; and not on account of harsh treatment - for there is no intimation that he was not treated with all the respect and honor due to his station, his talents, and his learning, but because he deliberately preferred to share the trials and sorrows of the friends of God. So every one who becomes a friend of God and casts in his lot with his people, though he may anticipate that it will be attended with persecution, with poverty, and with scorn, prefers this to all the pleasures of a life of gaiety and sin, and to the most brilliant prospects of wealth and fame which this world can offer.
Than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season - We are not to suppose that Moses, even at the court of Pharaoh, was leading a life of vicious indulgence. The idea is, that sins were practiced there such as those in which pleasure is sought, and that if he had remained there it must have been because he loved the pleasures of a sinful court and a sinful life rather than the favour of God. We may learn from this:
(1) that there is a degree of pleasure in sin. It does not deserve to be called happiness, and the apostle does not call it so. It is “pleasure,” excitement, hilarity, merriment, amusement. Happiness is more solid and enduring than “pleasure;” and solid happiness is not found in the ways of sin. But it cannot be denied that there is a degree of pleasure which may be found in amusement; in the excitement of the ball-room; in feasting and revelry; in sensual enjoyments. All which wealth and splendour; music and dancing; sensual gratifications, and the more refined pursuits in the circles of fashion, can furnish, may be found in a life of irreligion; and if disappointment, and envy, and sickness, and mortified pride, and bereavements do not occur, the children of vanity and sin can find no inconsiderable enjoyment in these things. They say they do; and there is no reason to doubt the truth of their own testimony in the case. They call it a “life of pleasure;” and it is not proper to withhold from it the appellation which they choose to give it. It is not the most pure or elevated kind of enjoyment, but it would be unjust to deny that there is any enjoyment in such a course.
(2) it is only “for a season.” It will all soon pass away. Had Moses lived at the court of Pharaoh all his days, it would have been only for a little “season.” These pleasures soon vanish, because:
(a) life itself is short at best, and if a career of “pleasure” is pursued through the whole of the ordinary period allotted to man, it is very brief.
(b) Those who live for pleasure often abridge their own lives. Indulgence brings disease in its train, and the volaries of sensuality usually die young. The art has never been yet discovered of combining intemperance and sensuality with length of days. If a man wishes a reasonable prospect of long life, he must be temperate and virtuous. Indulgence in vice wears out the nervous and muscular system, and destroys the powers of life - just as a machine without balance-wheel or governor would soon tear itself to pieces.
(c) Calamity, disappointment, envy, and rivalship mar such a life of pleasure - and he who enters on it, from causes which he cannot control, finds it very short. And,
(d) compared with eternity, O how brief is the longest life spent in the ways of sin! Soon it must be over - and then the unpardoned sinner enters on an immortal career where pleasure is forever unknown!
(3) in view of all the “pleasures” which sin can furnish, and in view of the most brilliant prospects which this world can hold out, religion enables man to pursue a different path. They who become the friends of God are willing to give up all those fair and glittering anticipations, and to submit to whatever trials may be incident to a life of self-denying piety. Religion, with all its privations and sacrifices, is preferred, nor is there ever occasion to regret the choice. Moses deliberately made that choice; nor in all the trials which succeeded it - in all the cares incident to his great office in conducting the children of Israel to the promised land - in all their ingratitude and rebellion - is there the least evidence that he ever once wished himself back again that he might enjoy “the pleasures of sin” in Egypt.
“Again we held an evening meeting at Brother Farnsworth's. The Lord helped Brother Andrews that night, as he dwelt upon the subject of suffering for Christ's sake. The case of Moses was mentioned, who ‘refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.’ Hebrews 11:24-26. LS 180.1
“Meeting commenced Monday at 10 A.M. Again the condition of the church was dwelt upon. With the most earnest entreaties we pleaded with them to be converted to God, and face right about. The Lord aided us in the work. Our morning meeting closed at three or four in the afternoon. All these hours we had been engaged, first one of us, then another, earnestly laboring for the unconverted youth. LS 180.2
“Tuesday evening I spoke an hour with great freedom. Brother Andrews talked in an earnest, touching manner. The Spirit of the Lord was in the meeting. Angels of God seemed drawing very near, driving back the evil angels. Minister and people wept like children. We felt that we had gained ground, and that the powers of darkness had given back. Our meeting closed well. LS 180.3Read in context »
In this work Moses was drawn nearer to the Chief Shepherd. He became closely united to the Holy One of Israel. No longer did he plan to do a great work. He sought to do faithfully as unto God the work committed to his charge. He recognized the presence of God in his surroundings. All nature spoke to him of the Unseen One. He knew God as a personal God, and, in meditating upon His character he grasped more and more fully the sense of His presence. He found refuge in the everlasting arms. MH 475.1
After this experience, Moses heard the call from heaven to exchange his shepherd's crook for the rod of authority; to leave his flock of sheep and take the leadership of Israel. The divine command found him self-distrustful, slow of speech, and timid. He was overwhelmed with a sense of his incapacity to be a mouthpiece for God. But he accepted the work, putting his whole trust in the Lord. The greatness of his mission called into exercise the best powers of his mind. God blessed his ready obedience, and he became eloquent, hopeful, self-possessed, fitted for the greatest work ever given to man. Of him it is written: “There hath not arisen a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face.” Deuteronomy 34:10, A.R.V. MH 475.2Read in context »