We’ve been going through the Book of Exodus. And last week, Tony actually preached on Chapter 14. He said he was helping us learn biblically what freedom requires. It requires us to be still. It requires us to take responsibility and know that God cares for you and has a plan for you. But we… See more
We’ve been going through the Book of Exodus. And last week, Tony actually preached on Chapter 14. He said he was helping us learn biblically what freedom requires. It requires us to be still. It requires us to take responsibility and know that God cares for you and has a plan for you. But we still have to stay active. Today, we’re going to be taking a deep dive into Chapter 15.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s happened up to this point. God has just brought the enslaved Israelites out of Egypt. Then he split the Red Sea to get the Israelites to safety and put an end to the Egyptian army by closing the Red Sea over them in chapter 15. We see Israel after going through all of this, is having a wild time. And now they’re freed. They’re now on a journey in which they aren’t sure of where they’re going. This is the beginning of a journey that will take them wandering through a desert for about 40 years. After having travelled for the first three days through the scorching desert, they end up at their first pit stop in search of water. They find a well with water, but come to find out that it wasn’t fit to drink because the water was bitter. They were saved from one problem and soon after they faced another, a lesser problem than what they faced while they were fleeing the Egyptians. But still a significant issue in between the start of their march and them finding water. We are given twenty one beautiful verses of song.
And I found this strange that after the Israelites were freed from slavery, all this chaos is interrupted. Despite the trouble that they faced, they now sing and they praise despite the uncertainty of their future. It’s also amazing that this is actually the first song in Scripture’s. I’m confident that what we’re going to read today is the key to how we properly handle the fact that life has what so many of us could feel like, an unfair rhythm going from hills to valleys. Good news to bad news. Sunny to rainy. Victory to defeat. Passing one class to failing another one. Getting a promotion that you’ve worked really hard for but now you can’t spend any time with your family showing love. Someone being born the same day that someone dies.
We also go and try to learn life hacks to make things easier for us. But then other things become more difficult. It can feel like everywhere we decide to invest our time or effort, our money or our feelings it’s not giving us the return that we envisioned. Life has this way of making us feel like it’s about to turn on us at any moment. The good and the bad moments come and go as they please. They can’t be predicted with the greatest detail. So, it feels unfair. We would all agree that no one wants to be trapped in these negatives. But I’ve been learning that life is a lot more than pursuing mountaintop moments or pursuing personal accolades, but it’s more of the continued opportunity to accept the hopeful moments God gives us, regardless of the current rhythm of our life.
Hope has no expiration date. The question then becomes: what does it take to cling to this hope?
I believe the answer is laced throughout Chapter 15 of Exodus. Like Israel, despite the countless issues, because of Him, we always have more reason to cling to hope than we do to cling to our current past or future issues. This song gives us 3 core ways to remain or become hopeful.
Pause, ponder in praise. Take time to slow down on a heart level, on a mental level, and think about what God has done in your life and praise him.
Let me give you some context before we dive into Chapter 15. So there’s 21 verses but before these 21 verses of the song, there’s a bunch of details of things that are going on with them up to this point. They have just witnessed the Red Sea split. And they’re about 2 million in total that have crossed the Red Sea safely on dry ground. Soon, after they finished crossing, they witnessed the army that’s chasing them, the Egyptians. They were crushed by the waters that were just being held up by God. They’ve just witnessed and participated in one of the greatest miracles to ever happen while also seeing their greatest problem be drowned by God. The nation that was pressing them for generations gone.
The protection of God on full display with the Red Sea returning to its original state.
There is now no chance to return to the place or the things that they’ve been freed from. But that wasn’t a cause for concern. Instead, with Israel’s newfound gratitude, peace, joy and thankfulness, they begin to sing united in song.
Now, a good portion of us know that feeling of singing a song after we’ve seen God move. It’s like our praise levels go up. And so I don’t know anybody that’s been able to sing with 2 million people after watching God move in this kind of a way. But I believe that Exodus 15 versus 1 to 21 have given us the opportunity to see that there’s not enough time to just sit and worry. But there’s time to pause, ponder and praise. So read along with me. We’re gonna be an Exodus 15, like I said, versus one to twenty one.
So it says here, “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: ‘I will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted. Both horse and driver He has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense, He has become my salvation. The Lord is a warrior; The Lord is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. Your right hand, Lord was majestic in power. Your right hand Lord, shattered the enemy.
In the greatness of Your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed Your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood up like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils. I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand destroyed them.’ But you blew with Your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you–majestic in holiness, revered with praises, performing wonders?
You stretched out Your right hand, and the earth swallowed them up. With loving devotion, You will lead the people you have redeemed with your strength. You will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the dwellers of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; trembling will seize the leaders of Moab; those who dwell in Canaan will melt away, and terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of Your arm they will be still as a stone until your people pass by, O Lord, until the people you have bought pass by.
You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of Your inheritance–the place O Lord, You have prepared for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, Your hands have established. The Lord will reign forever and ever!’ For when Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them. But the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.
Then Miriam and the prophetess, Aroon’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang back to them; ‘Sing to the Lord for He is highly exalted; the horse and rider He has thrown into the sea.'”
This is a beautiful song. There’s a bunch of amazing truth revealed in this heartfelt passage. An impressive thing about the themes in this song is that they were actually spoken about a few chapters ago in Chapter six of Exodus. Let’s go out and read that, Exodus 6. It’s six versus, 2-8.
It reads, “God also told Moses, ‘I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob as God Almighty, but my name the Lord I did not make Myself known to them. I also established My covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land where they lived as foreigners. Furthermore, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant. Therefore tell the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord!'”
So now they’re seeing this actually come into fruition. They’re seeing ‘OK, God has said this to Moses. A while ago and look where we are now. He came through.’.
They’re reminded that God intended for them, for Israel to get to know Him better. And it’s happened. They got to know God through His actions, through the plan that He had. God was clear about His intentions, but He wasn’t super clear of the methods that He would use. He didn’t break down the plagues that were coming, that they would only have effect on Egyptians. He didn’t explain the route that they were going to take was going to lead them to a sea that had no boat for them to get into and cross. He didn’t explain that the sea would split and all of them would make it across on dry ground and that after that happens, He’s going to get rid of their biggest issue. But He got them through.
After this, Israel did three things. The three things that I brought up earlier. They paused, they pondered, and they praised. If we follow that order of operation, we will see time and time again that the Lord makes a way. I’m sure we would all love a clear list of what God’s plan is for us, that it would just fall on the floor in front of us while we’re out for a walk or something. And I’m sure that you would just want to know what your future has.
You would want to know what college is gonna accept you. Does the company that you currently work for actually plan to commit to you for long term? Will you ever be married? Will the people in your family ever become Christians? When will we all be able to meet again?
And although we don’t have those answers, we do have more than enough scripture to remind us what God’s intentions are. And it’s no different from His intentions here with the Israelites. That we remember, that we will know, and that we will believe He is God. Him being a waymaker is one of the most repeated themes throughout all scripture. He makes a way when there is no way. This is consistent. This is a consistent theme through all the Bible.
The Israelites were just running away from the Egyptian army on their horses. But take a second to close your eyes and imagine this.
Imagine being there 2 million people in total trying to run away from danger. Panicking, running for their life. You’re watching over your family. You’re trying to guard children from being trampled by the other people running in the same direction. The elderly are also being cautious. Families are trying to make sure that everyone from the family is there and accounted for. They’re trying to make sure no one is missing and nobody is hurt. The amount of anxiety, the fear, the pressure, the cautiousness that they must have felt had to have made it super difficult to just believe what God said earlier.
But it’s amazing to see that God actually came through, and that’s where a lot of these lyrics within this song stem from. Beyond the first line of this song is brought up numerous times the way that God handled the Egyptians at sea, solidifying who God is to the Israelites. And these verses there, it’s depicted that God took care of horse and rider. And every time that that’s mentioned, it’s describing how God did a complete job of handling Israel’s enemies. It wasn’t just the resources that they used for war. It wasn’t just the horses or their chariots that were destroyed. It was the people using those things as well. The moment of watching these Egyptians be overtaken by the sea, then later the Israelites see them actually wash up on shore.
Here’s a moment that was super clear to them, that God is really protecting them and God really is establishing them the way He said He would. A display of protection that God provides for them, handling an enemy like Egyp,t makes way to establishing in their hearts that God really is for them to find a way through all of this, they had to follow the lead of God through Moses. The song also depicts how they were led by God’s unfailing love, a love that has no potential, no capability, and no plan to fail the people he’s redeemed. That same love is something they have deeper confidence in as he leads them into their future that they don’t know what’s to come.
One thing they know that the surrounding nations will hear of how God made a way for them. And He used the strongest army at the time as an example of this. The ways God has created for each of us have purpose. The timing, the physical location, the people involved, the pain, the encouragement, the needs, the feelings, the thought processes, the failures, and the growth–it leads us to be planted where He is for eternity. Yeah, life on earth we can grow tired of it. One day we’re excited. One day we’re not, ebbs and flows in our feelings and our thoughts.
All that was broken down when God made a way. Because this song is written, we can see the Israelites remember. But that memory created moments before them led them to pausing, to pondering, and to praising.
In what ways during this quarantine time have you been able to truly take a wholehearted pause to deeply think about the ways God has made for you throughout your life? Maybe you’re on the couch, on your bed, as I asked that question and you thought to yourself, ‘It’s been tough. I don’t I don’t want to pause. I don’t want to pray. I haven’t been able to do those things.’.
And I can relate emotionally to this. Quarantine has been very difficult for me to the point where when I first started working on this sermon, I read through this song and I was confident I wasn’t going to use it. I was confident. I was just going to focus on the end of Chapter 15 and just focus on the bitterness that I can relate to. And I felt like I had nothing to celebrate about. I felt the opposite of what this song is conveying. The thing that that weighed most on my heart and on my mind were the cancellations caused by COVID, like my mother and brother were going to come down to celebrate their birthdays with me.
But then Disney shut down and then that was canceled. A leadership retreat was going to happen and I was going to be able to see one of my great friends from Gainesville and I was gonna be able to spend time learning from a bunch of great leaders, canceled. An opportunity to visit an old ministry that I used to lead and do a lesson for them, cancled. The plan that I had from my one year dating anniversary? You guessed it. Canceled.
I was straining my eyes on what didn’t go my way and going blind to what was going God’s way. Exodus 15 helped me realize I wasn’t spending enough time focusing on who the Lord is. When you stop and think and give glory to God for who he is, the past things that he’s gotten you through, and when you remember that, it solidifies the thoughts of how truly amazing it is to be a part of His plan. Look at how the Israelites described who God is to them personally.
They described Him by saying He is exalted. He is my strength. He is my song. He is the source of the power, the source of the reason for them to praise at all. He has become my salvation. They were indicating how before He wasn’t, before God wasn’t this deliverer to them. But after being delivered this time, He now is their salvation.
We can all relate to this at one point in life, we didn’t know we needed salvation at one point in life. We might have even felt we didn’t need it from Him, that we can supply enough deliverance for ourselves. But in this moment, God put in perspective that His deliverance is way beyond our mental capacity and it’s worthy of embracing.
It then goes on to say that He is their God. Now, these Israelites had parents that would bring them up, understanding what faith is, faith in God, understanding, ‘Hey, here’s this story. Here’s what we’ve seen. Here’s what we’ve heard.’ But now they’re saying ‘He’s my God, He’s not just my father’s God. He’s not just my mom’s God. He’s mine. I’ve witnessed what he’s done. It’s no longer just the stories I’ve heard from mom and dad. It’s personal. I claim you as my God.’.
And this is amazing. And so He’s also a warrior, one who’s willing to fight and defend, one who has never lost and He never will. The Lord’s name is Jehovah, the Existing One. They clarify that they’re finally getting to know God the way that God had intended. And they’re realizing He’s majestic in power. They’re realizing that no one is like Him. He is awesome in glory. There is nothing and no one who can compare. He will reign forever and ever. That means He reigned then and He is reigning now.
This portion of scripture reminds me of a time when I was coming home from the gym. I was about 30 seconds away from my apartment and I had to stop because there was a bus picking up some elementary school students. And so I realized there was only one dad that was out there with this group of elementary school students. And as the bus left, the dad stayed there waving as as the bus was leaving. And so while I drove by the bus was already a good bit away. He was still standing outside looking at it as his child was driving the way to be able to go to school. And I thought, ‘wow, like that display of love is something that when I was that age, I didn’t appreciate.’ So I started to think about my mom. I finished pulling into the neighborhood I park and I just think about how my mom used to take days off from work so she could take me to my first day of school and encourage me before I go into this new year. And she would give me a kiss on my cheek and it would leave like the lipstick stain and I was so embarrassed and I would wipe it off. But my mom was showing me love. But in that moment, I wasn’t accepting her love. I wasn’t accepting what she was doing.
I was like, ‘Mom, why would you do this? Like, the kids are gonna make fun of me.’ And then even as I grew up, my mom would still do things like that. My mom would drop me off at a friend’s house and say, ‘I love you’ as I’m trying to get out of the car. And I would slam the door quick, because I didn’t want her to embarrass me in front of people. But when I saw that father standing out there loving his child, I thought about her. I was like, ‘I didn’t appreciate what she was doing back then because I didn’t take time to stop. I didn’t take time to pause, to ponder of what my mom was doing.’.
And in a very similar way, if we stop thinking of what God has done and we don’t think about those things, we won’t remember what he’s trying to do, that it’s all because of His love. When I saw this, I felt heartbroken. I felt like man, ‘Momma, years have gone by and I haven’t said anything to you.’ And all I could do in that moment was call her and just encourage her. I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunity to understand what she was doing. I knew who my mom was. I just didn’t pay attention to what she was doing. I didn’t remember what she had done in the same way.
We’re always being loved by God. We just don’t have the reminders to get us to pause, to think, and to pray sometimes. But I hope that this passage is a catalyst for you to be able to do that. I hope that it’s a catalyst for you to be able to do this prioritze praise.
As we come to a conclusion, I just really want to encourage you, church in the midst of life’s trials, past, current and future ones having trouble to praise is something that I can relate to. Emotionally, it is tough. But try today. Go outside. And if you don’t want to go outside, go by your window. Look out and listen. Look at the details that you see that God has created and listen to the details of what God has created to make those noises.
Exodus 15 reminds us of the character and actions of God. There’s always been more cause for hope than there has been for pain, sadness or stress. You can fill in the blank. All of these are valid trials, though. But I pray Exodus reminds us of the hope that we have in what Christ has done on the cross. That is what helps us to remember that this life is temporary. And if that’s true, then so are our problems.
Pause, ponder, and praise. Stop to remember the ways that He’s made for your life and know that He’s making more. Take time to think about what He’s done, in the hope that He’s already given, and praise Him.