Summary: This message speaks about the fact that it is more than a fish sign on the back of the car that identifies us as people of faith.
January 13, 2002 Hebrews 11:23-26
“More than a fish”
How do you identify a Christian? How do you identify a person of faith? Is a person of faith one who has read all of the “Left Behind” series and who has recently purchased a CD by a Christian recording artist? We’ve come up with all kinds of ways – t-shirts with Christian logos and sayings, WWJD bracelets and jewelry, and a myriad of Jesus bumper stickers.
The other day, I was driving down the road, and I saw a small sign on the back of the car in front of me. It was in the shape of a fish. The person who owns that car put it there to identify that family as a Christian family. Lately, I have noticed a few variations on that symbol as I have seen it on various cars. Inside some fish now are the Greek letters that spell fish – ichthus. There are also some fish out there that have feet growing out of them. This “evolved” fish identifies the person inside as a believer in evolution rather than in creation. It is the classic attempt of the world to take this Christian symbol and distort it to fit their own mold. Not to be outdone, Christian retailers then came up with the idea of a two-fish symbol – one small fish with legs attached symbolizing evolution and another larger fish symbolizing Christianity swallowing that smaller fish.
But just putting a fish small or large on the back of your car doesn’t necessarily identify you as a person who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ. It may just mean that you are religious or that you think it looks cool or that you want to fit in with a particular group.
All of the people that we have looked at so far here in Hebrews 11 knew what it meant to be identified as people of faith and to identify with and stand with other people of faith. But nobody knew it better than Moses.
And Moses knew something else too. He knew that there is a huge difference between being a person of faith and making it known that you are a person of faith. Moses had been a person of faith for a long time, but he didn’t make it known to all the world until he was 40 years old. Let’s see what that took. In the process, we’ll see what identifying ourselves as people of faith will take for us.
1. Identifying yourself as a person of faith means rejecting the world’s pressure. (vs. 23)
Moses was born into a world where identifying yourself as a person of faith was a dangerous thing. In Exodus 1, we are told of the horrible command which the Pharaoh of Egypt handed down to the people. Pharaoh became fearful because the Israelites were rapidly growing in number. He feared that if an enemy attacked Egypt, the Israelites would join forces with the enemy. So he subjected them to hard labor thinking that would slow down their rapid growth. The plan backfired. The Israelite population continued to grow and now at an even faster pace. The tougher the work, the more the Israelites grew in number. So Pharaoh came up with the plan of killing all the boy babies. He was going to destroy a generation. He told the midwives to kill the baby boys when they were first born. Maybe he wanted it to look like the boys were dying in childbirth because of natural complications. When that plan failed like the previous one, he decided on the direct route. He told all the people that every boy baby born to a Hebrew – an Israelite – was to be cast into the Nile River. He wasn’t willing to play around anymore. He wanted results.
Pharaoh’s fear caused him to commit gross sin. It was that same kind of fear that thousands of years later caused King Herod to kill all male children in the city of Bethlehem that were two years old and under.
Unconquered fear will always cause sin. It might cause blatant sinful actions such as murder, stealing or lying. But more likely, it will cause us to withhold actions that we should have done but failed to because of our fear – actions like speaking out for justice, spreading the good news, loving people that no one else loves, and working for the protection of those who cannot protect themselves.
Pharaoh yielded to his fear. Moses’ mother conquered her fear. She identified herself as a person of faith by not giving in to the pressure that the most powerful man in the whole world put on her. She showed her refusal to give in to this pressure by doing three things.