Many people today believe themselves to be righteous on the basis of being enrolled in some local church and attending services when it is convenient. I was talking with a man just today who expressed hope that the recent baptism of an acquaintance would be effective in delivering him from the dread onus of alcoholism. Man puts much stock in formal rituals and external acts of piety. God required Old Testament Israel to participate in a number of such activities. But the book of Hebrews gives us the proper perspective on Old Testament rituals, as today’s text on Moses demonstrates: “By faith he [Moses] kept the Passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them” (Heb. 11:28).
Mere external works are of no eternal value. As the opening paragraph suggested, mere religion does not please God and affords man no redemption, no righteousness, no merit. Though it is speaking in terms of charity rather than faith, the thirteenth chapter of I Corinthians demolishes the idea that religious activities, good works, or even self-sacrifice are meritorious. Mother Teresa may have done many good works in the eyes of men, but they were without eternal merit before God so far as righteousness is concerned. Paul’s statement is unequivocal: “And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity [the outworking character of the indwelling Christ], it profiteth me nothing” (I Cor. 13:3). Moses kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood “by faith.” Faith was the critical component of those acts without which they would have been worthless. On numerous occasions, God told His people that He was rejecting their sacrifices and offerings because they were mere religious acts that they performed while living in sin. Faith is both the foundation of salvation and the fountain of all acts and activities before God.
Faith believes God—His every word. Moses believed God. He believed that God could and would send the death angel and slay the firstborn of every man and beast in Egypt in one night. He believed that the only way of escape was that which God had revealed. He believed that a lamb had to be slain, that its blood had to be applied to the doorposts and lintel of the each house, that the lamb had to be roasted and eaten in its entirety, and that they had to eat it clothed for a hasty departure. Many of those requirements were peculiar, if not completely astonishing, to the flesh, nor did they necessarily make sense to the unsanctified mind. Nevertheless, Moses believed all that God said.
Faith obeys God—His every word. Moses obeyed God. The Bible knows nothing of a faith that does not result in obedience. It would not have been sufficient for Moses to acknowledge that what God said was true and needed to be done. It would not have been sufficient for Moses to intend to do what God had commanded. Had an Israelite acknowledged the truth of Moses’ words from God but failed to slay and eat the lamb and apply the blood as directed, he would have awakened in the morning to the grievous sight of his dead firstborn son. True faith transforms lives and energizes actions. James understood this truth when he declared that “faith without works is dead” (2:26). He was not suggesting that works saves but that faith produces works as surely as the sun produces light. Just as the existence of the sun absolutely results in the emission of light, so the existence of faith results in the production of obedience to God’s Word. Hebrews records this brief biography of Moses, not because our actions should replicate his but so that our faith might replicate his. Moses believed every word and obeyed every word. Does our faith pass muster?
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