By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible. – Hebrews 11:27

By faith we know that Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but even further than this, we know that by faith he forsook Egypt. He left it all behind. Some think there is an error here in the Bible. They claim that Moses did leave Egypt because he feared Pharaoh. The text says he left and did not fear Pharaoh. So which is correct?

Moses left Egypt twice. The first time it was after he had killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew (see Exodus 2:11-15). As he fled it was specifically because he did fear Pharaoh and the consequences of his sin. The second time he left Egypt he did not fear Pharaoh, for the second time he left he was leading the people to freedom from their bondage after witnessing the ten plagues and the power of God.

What was the difference between these two situations? The first time Moses was depending upon himself to help his people his own way. The second time he was depending upon God to deliver his people. Think about it as we compare these two occasions. We will see the difference between fleeing Egypt and forsaking Egypt.

Fleeing Egypt

Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew and he killed him for it. He hid the body by burying it in the sand. He was a murderer, and while he thought he had gotten away with it and that no one had seen him it became evident the next day that he was seen and that people did know what he had done.

He had tried to act as the deliver of this Hebrew by striking the Egyptian. But when Pharaoh heard about it he was ready to kill Moses. He was forced to flee for his life. Depending on his own power and his own thoughts he tried to help a fellow Hebrew. The result was sin and shame. The same thing results any time we try to do God’s work our own way. When we forsake depending on Him and try to deal with life on our own, we always end up in sin and shame.

Jesus said He is the vine and we are the branches. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). Likewise, Moses on his own could not save even one Hebrew without bringing down the wrath of Pharaoh. How could he save all the people if he could barely save himself?

Forsaking Egypt

The text says that after he fled and spent 40 years in Midian, after he matured in his faith and learned to walk with God, after these things God called him to go back to Egypt to save the people – all of them.

As he returned to face a new Pharaoh and lead the people of God out of bondage he went depending upon God, even hesitant because of his own weaknesses. Moses, when God told him to go to Egypt, at first did not want to go and even made excuses. He could not speak well, the people would not believe him, no one would know who God was, and Pharaoh would not let the people go.

God promised to work wonders and signs and bring about the freedom of Israel from the bondage of Egypt. When God had done exactly what He said He would do and Moses led the people out, this time he did not flee, he forsook. The word “forsook” means to purposefully leave behind. He did not flee in a moment of emotion, panic, and fear without thought. He purposefully left, taking Israel with him.

When Moses depended upon himself he just messed things up. When he patiently learned to depend upon God, God did wonders and Moses led the people to freedom and the fulfillment of the promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They forsook Egypt for the Promised Land.


Moses was able to lead like this because he had learned to endure. Forty years in the desert teaches one patience if anything. As Moses had waited on God and grown in his walk with God he had learned to endure. It says he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.

Moses knew God. Here is Hebrews 11:1 for us in real life – faith is “the evidence of things not seen.” Moses endured and learned to depend upon God as though he could see the invisible. How is this possible? Faith gave him eyes to see and ears to hear what God had to show him.

He endured the wilderness, forty years at a time, twice. He endured the challenge to Pharaoh, the plagues, and the Exodus. He became a great prophet, leading the people to freedom and giving them the Law written by God’s own finger. He led them to deliverance and freedom. He endured by faith.

Where once he was fleeing for fear, now he was forsaking in faith. Who are we depending on today? Self? Others? Or God? Self will deceive, others will fail, but God is able. Trust Him today.

(tomorrow: Covered)