Choosing to Live by Faith: Living with Uncertainty
June 5, 2022
In Malaysia there is a relatively small group of people (59,000) called the Semai. They might be fairly typical of what you might think about a Southeast Asian culture: they are sustained economically primarily through farming and hunting, they live in small, isolated camps on mountain slopes at high altitudes, and they grow mountain rice, millet, and maize. One of their core cultural values is that they want to eat to the point that they feel full. One writer described them this way:
[The Semai] may represent the most non-violent and conflict-averse society on earth. Anthropologists posit that after enduring a century of predation by Malay raiders and slavers, they developed a sense of “learned helplessness”; because it didn’t seem possible to fight back, they adopted a pattern of fleeing from threats and surrendering to domination.
The Semai continue to instill this approach to life in their children, teaching them that the world is full of threatening forces beyond their control. Learning to get along, even if it means tolerating out-of-line behavior, is prized, and any argumentation, anger, or assertiveness is suppressed. Because they can lead to aggression, competitive games are banned. Encouraged to be fearful, children are repeatedly taught one overriding maxim: “It is safer to be cautious than brave.” [AoM]
Maybe that last phrase resonates with you: “It is safer to be cautious than brave.” Maybe that even sounds wise or “right.” It is safer to be cautious. Who wants to take risks? Is that right? Is that right for the believer? In a life of uncertainty, hardship, and risks, should caution be the attribute that directs us?
That was part of the temptation of the persecuted believers to whom the letter of Hebrews is addressed. As a persecuted people, they were considering giving up their faith in Christ and returning to Judaism. If they did, they reasoned, their persecution would stop; it seemed a wise decision and approach.
The author uses a variety of means to encourage them to persist with Christ, trusting that Christ would provide and care for them. One means he uses is to give them a series of short biographies of people from the OT who maintained their faith despite a variety of hardships. One of those men was Moses (11:23-29).
In the first verses about him (and his parents) that we looked at last week, we saw that there were both external and internal pressures that tempted him to conform to ungodly principles and entice him away from believing in God. In the rest of the examples from his life we will see this morning that there are a variety of uncertainties in life that need to be navigated. From Moses we learn —
To live by faith, purposefully choose Christ in every uncertainty.
The world was not safe for Moses. The world was not safe for the Hebrew readers to whom this letter was written. The world is not safe for us. Dangers of various kinds (particularly spiritual dangers) surround us virtually every day. The temptation will be to be fearful and give up Christ for the sake of safety. The life of Moses (and three particular evidences of his faith) provides three examples of how to fight fear with faith…
- Combat the Fear of Persecution by Looking at the Person of Christ (v. 27)
- Combat the Fear of Death by Looking at the Blood of Christ (v. 28)
- Combat the Fear of the Unknown by Looking at the Glory of Christ (v. 29)
Download the rest of this sermon on Hebrews 11:27-29.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.