The Preacher now turns to Moses, second only to Abraham in the Jewish reckoning of saints. You will remember that Pharaoh had ordered the genocide of the Israelites telling the Egyptians to throw every Hebrew baby boy into the Nile. When Moses was born his parents hid him and ultimately gave him up for adoption (so to speak) by a clever ruse to Pharaoh’s daughter. It was a risky plan to say the least and his parents could only save him by losing him (how their hearts must have ached). But the outcome was that Moses lived forty years in the household of Pharaoh, a Hebrew among Egyptians, received an excellent education, and no doubt lived in luxury—until he killed an Egyptian for beating an Israelite some forty years later and had to flee to Midian (Exodus 2:1-25; Acts 7:17-29).
But when the Lord called Moses forty years later to return to Egypt and stand before Pharaoh—a shepherd before a mighty king—and say, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go’” (Exodus 5:1), though reluctant, Moses went at great peril. The Preacher summarizes all of this saying, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”
There’s a whole Bible in this passage; it speaks of making hard choices in the light of certain consequences and choosing God’s will and His way, indeed, God’s people, over the comforts of this life in the hope of future reward—the reward being life with God. Moses had it made in the palace, but he chose to heed God’s word which resulted in liberation for God’s people. But it also included living in tents, governing a “stiff-necked” and rebellious people (you know, like us), and doing it for forty years. He didn’t get to see the earthly Promised Land; but that’s okay, he saw a land that far exceeded Canaan. And even better than that, he saw the One who promised both lands, the One who makes any land worthwhile.
“Please, show me your glory,” Moses said. And God showed one-nth of it (Exodus 33:18). But when he died, God showed him the whole as He will for all those who put aside the things of this world for the world to come. “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life” (Psalm 27:4). Yea, Lord, let it be.