Keys of the Kingdom - Part 1

Scripture: Hebrews 11:24
The discovery of King Tut's tomb remind us about another young man who was destined to be king of Egypt until his life took a different turn. Moses was found as a baby and taken into the palace to be trained as a Pharaoh. But God had other plans for him.
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When I visited Egypt my mind was captured many times by those scenes reminiscent of some of the great stories of the Bible. As we sailed along the River Nile, I thought about the baby Moses hid in these waters in the bulrushes, papyrus reeds in the ark or little basket called an "ark of bulrushes" that his mother had carefully prepared to save his life. I thought of the daughter of Pharaoh who had found him there. Hatshepsut was her name. We see still her fabulous and lovely temple there across from where ancient Thebes was situated, 400 miles up the Nile River, near the modern city of Luxor. There by the temple at Karnak she had erected two giant pillars of granite, called obelisks, to her glory. She had reigned and ruled over Egypt as a Pharaoh herself for a while and it was within her power to give her throne to Moses if he had wanted it.

Then there was the large granite tablet between the paws of the Great Sphinx by the pyramids of Gizeh across the river from Cairo. There on that Stele is engraved the story of a prince who unexpectedly became the next Pharaoh of Egypt. His brother and father had died unexpectedly. This corroborates the Bible story of the Passover experience when the eldest son was slain by the destroying angel and the father, pursuing the hosts of Israel died at the Red Sea. All of these things remind us of the thrilling stories of the Bible. We see the pyramids, they are only a faint image today of what they once were, their polished marble sides glistening in beautiful whiteness in the sun. Today we see just the skeletons of those old pyramids. We see the proud palaces of Egypt, and what they must have been in Moses time can only be imagined. There are the treasures of King Tut's tomb in the Cairo museum. Those treasures are difficult to describe, the wealth is fantastic. King Tut, his tomb was the only one that was found undisturbed by modern archeologists, so that it's treasures might be preserved in a museum. All the rest had been discovered and robbed by the old tomb robbers of Egypt. But King Tut's tomb had been securely and successfully hidden. When it was discovered by modern archeologists the things that poured out of it amazed the world. It was front page news for a while. His burial vault, for instance, in that particular room where he was buried, where his mummy was located, was fantastic in it's wealth and art. First there was a great huge casket about the size of a garage. I think you could drive a car into it. It is completely covered with gold, inside and out, solid gold! And the gold is embossed with decorations and stories, hieroglyphics. The gold is overlaying the wood. Then inside that casket is another one just like it, only about four inches smaller in height and width. And inside of that is still another, and each one covered with a layer of gold like the first. Then there are three or four of these huge square caskets. And then inside that was slipped another casket, but this one is a mummy shaped casket. It is decorated with gold and semi-precious stones. Then inside of that was slipped another just about like it. This too is adorned with gold and semi-precious stones. Inside of that was still another casket, this one just about the size of a man and covered with even more rich and ornate material. Inside this was the king's mummy, King Tut's body covered with a solid gold mask of priceless worth. All of this fabulous wealth buried in the casket of one man. This was only part of it. In the ante-rooms around the casket room there were untold amounts of additional treasure. There were his gold chariots, golden sandals, golden chest with a lot of his things in it. There were his beds, throne, games, idols, weapons and hunting equipment. Most of these things were covered with gold or inlaid with gold and precious stones. Think of it! Rooms full of treasure! All of this in a man's tomb that history says was a ‘poor Pharaoh of Egypt'. He was one of the poorest Pharaoh's that ever reigned. He was just a boy when he died. Only reigned 12 years. You see when a Pharaoh took up the throne of Egypt he would start to build his burial place and the longer he reigned and the more he was worth the larger it would become and the more filled with treasures it would be. You see, they thought that the Pharaoh could take these treasures that were buried with him, and enjoy them in the next world. That was part of their heathen religion. What must the tombs of the wealthier Pharaohs have contained?

We saw those tombs too, we saw the size of the long corridors, it would take you some time just to walk through a tomb and look at all the rooms of a single Pharaoh. And these were all filled with treasure, history tells us!

Well, "the treasures of Egypt". They were of fantastic worth, and all of this kept reminding me of a text in Hebrews 11:24: "By faith Moses when he was come to years 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 treasure in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

The more you know about Egypt the more impressive this scripture becomes. The treasures of Egypt he was willing to leave.

I want you to notice here the things that Moses was willing to forsake, to leave behind him. First of all, the treasures of Egypt of which we have spoken. Wealth more than you and I could ever hope for. Satan offers us something if we will serve him. He ofttimes tempts us to think that if we'll ignore God's commandments, if we'll go on in our own willful way, that we will have more money and more of this world's goods and a little more fun and pleasure than if we serve God. But the Devil is a cheater. He's usually not even telling the truth about that. Jesus asks really the ultimate question: "What shall it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" That would be a fool's bargain, wouldn't it?

The truth is that the Devil doesn't come through with his promises, and most of us if we serve Satan end up with nothing but a heartache, headache and hangover. We don't even have any more of the "pleasures or treasures" of this world than if we had been serving God, maybe less of it.

Here is an instance, the life of Moses, where a man had an opportunity really to possess fabulous wealth and treasure. Moses might have had such treasure if he had decided to become the next Pharaoh of Egypt. But he forsook that.

Then it says he refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter. Most any human being enjoys fame, honor and greatness, they enjoy power; Moses could have had all this! People would have bowed down to him and worshiped him as a God. He might have had power to command anything his imagination could wish. He could have commanded other nations, for Egypt ruled the then known world. Moses might have had all this if he had been willing to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, the Prince of Egypt. But he wasn't Pharaoh's daughter's son and besides that, he was a Jew, one of God's children. He was an Israelite. Moses knew he had been preserved for a purpose. Moses chose not to be called the Son of Pharaoh's daughter. He gave up much of worldly honor and glory when he made that decision.

Then the Bible tells us that Moses forsook the pleasures of sin. We may think that the pleasures of sin available back in old Egypt were not nearly so enticing as the pleasures of sin tempting us today. But I think a little more knowledge on that subject will change our opinion. Egypt had a lot of the pleasure of sin. We may think that they lived rather primitive back in those times, thousands of years ago, but that's not true, for instance, we saw in the ruins of ancient Egypt the plumbing and the facilities for convenient living much as we have today. We may think that these things are modern, but that's not so. We saw them also in ancient Greece, dating clear back when Homer wrote the Iliad. They had inside plumbing, running water, and sewer system, very similar to what we have today. They were a people of tremendous craft and art, and civilization. History tells us that the Egyptians made cloth so fine and delicate that a complete gown for a woman could be folded up and tucked into a thimble. I don't know how modest it was, it was probably quite sheer, but that they could make it shows they were capable of very fine art. They were able to do some things that even modern science has not yet discovered how they did it. For instance, they were able to temper brass as hard as steel, so it could be used as a razor. We saw a razor made of brass in the museum there in Cairo. They also used tempered brass to chisel stone and marble. Think, too, of their great genius in building the great pyramids, the temples at Karnak and the Great Sphinx. And they certainly knew something about indulging the lusts of the flesh. The Pharaoh's of Egypt had unlimited power. They could satisfy any desire they might imagine. And Moses, if he had decided to go for the pleasures of sin and for the thrills of fleshly indulgence, there was nothing that he might not have been able to command. He could have had anything that money could buy or that power could command in order to indulge the lust of the flesh. No matter what a sinful heart might imagine, the Pharaoh of Egypt had the power to make it a reality. For instance, history tells us, we find it in the clay tablets, that Amenhotep III sent letters out to the vassals of his kingdom, "If you don't send to me in next year's shipment of young ladies for my harem, girls more beautiful and younger than you sent the last time, I will make war on you again." That is what the clay tablets say! In other words it gives you just a hint of the sinful pleasure that those Pharaoh's had the power to command.

I want you to realize somehow the temptation that was held out before Moses. He could have had every allurement that the devil could offer. It was there before him, it was within his grasp. When Moses made the choice between the throne of Egypt and serving God it was a choice just about as wide as you can imagine. On the one hand, a king on the most powerful throne of the world. On the other, a slave with a persecuted people. His people, the Israelites were not in a position next to the throne. They were in bondage. Moses himself had been saved by a miracle, for the boy babies of the Hebrews were being cast into the Nile River. In their tragic oppression they were being forced to make bricks without straw. They were under a terrible yoke of bondage and slave driving taskmasters. Moses did not choose between two approximate positions.

He forsook all Egypt had to offer. And what did he choose? Well, the Bible says he would rather suffer affliction with the people of God. "All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution", we're told. And this was no different in Moses' time than it is today. He chose to suffer ill treatment with the people of God, and he suffered with them. He was put to fear, to hunger, to burning heat in the desert sands, to thirst. Moses had all the trials and hardships that the children of Israel had as he led them out of Egypt across the burning deserts to Sinai and from there into the promised land. He suffered with them that 40 years in the wilderness. Moses knew all the suffering of God's people for he had a part in it. And then he even suffered more than they did because they themselves made it rough on Moses. They murmured and complained and mutinied and revolted and did everything they could to make his life miserable. You know, you can understand that statement, "He suffered ill treatment with the people of God" in more than one way: He suffered along side of them, and he also suffered at their hands. He suffered with them alright in both ways.

And Moses bore reproach for the sake of Christ. "Abuse suffered for Christ" it says in this translation. Yes, Moses suffered a lot of abuse. He accepted that. It was part of his choice. You see, this is what I'm trying to say today. When we decide to serve our Heavenly Father, to be a child of His, let's face it, there are some sacrifices, some sufferings. Nobody has ever tried to cover up the facts. Jesus didn't. He never promised a lot of soft living. He didn't say it would be easy. Jesus told us it meant sacrifice, He said, "He that is not willing to give up all that he has cannot be my disciple." He said if we are not willing to forsake even our loved ones and our family for His sake, we're not worthy to be His disciples. Jesus laid it right on the line. He told us it would mean sacrifice, possible persecution, perhaps even death. Jesus told us that if we were interested in the kingdom of heaven it would mean walking the narrow way that has few travelers. It's not popular. It's uphill, it's hard. "Few there be that find it". All of this is part of obeying God and turning our back upon the world with it's sinful pleasures. We must close now for today but this is not the full story. I'll be back tomorrow to talk about the joys of the narrow road.

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