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The Gospel According to Exodus  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  1:09:56
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Exodus 15:1-21 “Response” Welcome // Prayer // Scripture Reading [Greeting Time] I love the response of this church body when we say “Go on and greet those around you.” You respond with gusto. You’re so excited to greet one another. I love your response each week. Think about how you respond to various events: At a local basketball game, our response is to stand and cheer, or maybe to yell at the referee. We recently watched some local youth basketball. I sat there in awe of how well the kids played (the older boys and girls just absolutely dominate—they’ll win by 20-30 points, sometimes more). My response is typically to sit there in awe; it’s incredible. It’s so much fun to watch our kids play and see them develop their skills; we have some talented young athletes in our midst. Recently, my most vocal response was watching the 3-grade girls play a couple weekends ago: Abi, Jena, Briley. They were up against a 4th-grade team. It was back and forth, coming down to the wire. They were playing hard (and a little rough). Jeff coaching from the side. Jena was shooting lights-out, every time she threw the ball up and it went it, my response was to stand and yell “JENAVIEVE!” They went ahead in the last minute and won the game. It was one of the most exciting things I’ve seen. Final score 7-6. Incredible. Think about responses to various events: When someone asks: “Will you marry me?”, the hopeful response is “Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!” When the officer pulls you over, comes up to your window, and asks, “Do you know why I pulled you over?”, the typical response is, “No, officer. I have no idea. Everything okay?” When you hear the Good News of Jesus Christ, when you think about what God has done for you, there are several proper responses: Accept: come to Jesus, put your faith and trust in Him, follow Him. Perhaps you’ve accepted Him and put your faith in Him, but haven’t made your public profession of faith. Here’s the thing: the baptistery is all ready. It’s filled up and even heated-up. Here’s some water; what can stand in the way of your being baptized? Nothing! You’ll dry off. I’ll jump in with you. Belong: participate, be a part, make a commitment to attend worship and Sunday School; join a small group/fellowship group we’re getting ready to launch. Contribute: Give your time, talents, money, service to the Lord; it’s all His anyhow. Disciple: passing on your faith, sharing your faith with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family members. Disciples (students of Jesus) make disciples. I’ve been lax in this. I’ve been sidetracked by lesser things, distracted with various items on my pastoral “to-do list”. And I’m sorry. I owe you more. We must respond to Him, to His call. Accept Him. Belong. Contribute. Disciple. àWe, along with Moses and the Israelites, must respond to what God has done and is doing; we respond by singing (generally, daily/weekly). Singing is our individual and corporate response to what God has done and is doing. So this morning, we are going to sing as part of the sermon. Or the sermon is going to span the songs we sing. It’s all worship, after all. It’s going to be a little different, I grant you; but I’m anxious to worship, excited to worship. This is the musical portion of Exodus: "The Song of Moses and Miriam”—your Bible might have a heading that says something similar: "The Song of Moses and Miriam” We love musicals, Meghann and I. In fact, one of my all-time favorite movies is a musical: The Sound of Music. We actually dropped everything one Saturday night when we realized that a friend had never seen it before. We sat down and made them watch it immediately. True story. Fair warning: If you come to our home and we find out you haven’t watched The Sound of Music or dislike The Sound of Music, we will remedy that post haste. This—Exodus 15—is the musical portion of Exodus. We don’t know the tune of this song; there’s no audio recording of it. But we know the content—what its focus is—and that’s really the most important part of any song, especially for the Church, for those of us who follow Christ. Exodus 15 magnifies God, the One who brought them out of slavery and saved them from the Egyptians, the One who opened the Red Sea so that His people could walk through on dry ground, the One who drowned the Egyptians in the same sea. As I said last week: “In salvation, God displays His glory, delivers His people, and destroys His enemies.” So the people of God sing of their salvation here in Exodus 15—they respond to Him by singing about God’s glory, about their deliverance, about the destruction of their enemies. So the people of Israel lift their voices and sing to the Lord. Notice the order: First, the Israelites saw God save them. Then they put their trust in Him as their Savior. Finally, they sang to His glory (which is the entire purpose of the exodus, that His people would be free to worship Him). This song was their spontaneous, jubilant response to His grace. It focuses exactly on what it should: who God is and what He has done. They sing to Him because He deserves their songs (this is why we sing, by the way). We don’t sing because we like to sing; we sing because He deserves our singing. We don’t keep from singing; we sing because He deserves our singing. We don’t sing this song but not that song; we sing because He deserves our singing and our songs. Sing your heart out (even if you don’t care about singing). Sing your heart out (even if you don’t care for the songs). Sing your heart out, because He deserves your singing. Men, let me speak to you for a moment. Can I encourage you to sing, to sing out, to sing with all your heart? I have vivid memories from childhood of my dad singing his heart out in church when most men wouldn’t. Was my dad a great vocalist back then then? Is my dad a great vocalist today? Does my dad sing with gusto, with his whole heart, with emotion and love for the Lord? Men of God, for the glory of the Lord and all He’s done for you, for the benefit of your children and the young men in the room, sing. Let them see you sing your heart out to the Lord, because He is worthy. Moses steps up and leads the singing. He, and all the Israelites (men, women, children), sing this song. They sing to the Lord, for He deserves their praise. Exodus 15:1–6 NIV 1 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. 2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3 The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. 4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. 5 The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. 6 Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy. Notice Moses and the Israelites sing to the Lord about what He’s done, but, in large part, they’re focusing on who He is—His attributes. He is highly exalted (gloriously glorious) He is strength. He is salvation. He is a warrior. He is powerful and majestic—majestic in power. And then, in verse 11, Moses and his backup singers ask these rhetorical questions: Exodus 15:11 NIV 11 Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? Who is like the Lord? The obvious and proper answer is: no one. There is no one like the Lord. Much later in the story of God’s people, a young mother named Hannah answers this question: 1 Samuel 2:2 NIV 2 “There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. Moses and the Israelites have first-hand experience with the fact that there is no one like the Lord. None of Egypt’s false gods or idols were any match for the Lord; the Lord showed Himself to be absolutely superior and unmatched. The Lord is majestic in holiness. He is awesome in glory. He, and He alone, works wonders. The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is His name. So we sing to our Lord and Savior for who He is; we praise His holy, unmatched name. And what a beautiful name it is—nothing compares, nothing in all the world. What a wonderful name it is, what a powerful name it is. We can sing these words and mean them, because they are true, true, marvelously true: “You have no rival, You have no equal, now and forever, God, you reign! Yours is the kingdom, yours is the glory, yours is the name above all names: what a powerful name it is!” [Song: What a beautiful name it is] àThe people of God sing about what God has done for them; literally, they sing about what the Lord has just moments ago done for them. They were just freed from slavery, just led out of Egypt, just delivered from their overpowering enemies, they just walked through the sea on dry ground, just watched as their enemies were swallowed-up by the same sea. All of this just happened. AND THEN MOSES AND THE ISRAELITES SANG THIS SONG TO THE LORD. They sing about what the Lord has just done for them, and about what the Lord will be doing for them. They know that the Lord is leading them to a specific place, for His specific glory, because He has promised. He has promised. And so it will be. They sing about what He has already (and just) done for them. And now they sing about what He has yet to do but is going to do: Exodus 15:13–17 NIV 13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. 14 The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. 15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; 16 terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone— until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by. 17 You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance— the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established. Notice the key word in these verses. I tried to emphasize it as I was reading; I tried to verbally highlight the word. Did you catch it? It’s the word “will.” They sing about all this stuff that will come to pass; they sing about everything that the Lord will do. Soon, God would keep His promise to lead His people to the Promised Land. Moses looked to the future, confidently expecting the days when God would lead His people to the land. He even traced the route that they would follow to Canaan. One by one all their enemies would be defeated: the Philistines, the Edomites, the Moabites, the Canaanites and every other “ites” the people would face—defeated. This—their singing about what God will do—is a prophecy of victory. We read about this victory in the book of Joshua. Moses was not describing random acts of violence. Moses is singing about the righteous acts of divine judgment. This is judgment God is going to exact because of His great love for His people. Moses prophesied that God would keep judging the nations until His people—the people He bought—make it to the place His glory dwells. God’s purpose is to bring His people home to live with Him. This is still God’s plan for His people. The mountain Moses and the Pips sing about here is Mt. Zion, the place where Jerusalem rests, where the temple of God will eventually be. But that place is just an earthly symbol of a heavenly reality: God’s temple in the New Jerusalem, the New Creation. Every day, the Lord brings more and more children into His family. And soon, all God’s people will be there to sing without end. We have this promise, sure and steadfast. God, who does not lie, has promised us a living hope. His people—those who belong to Him, not by nationality or deservedness, but those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ alone—His people have a God-promised future. God will do what He has said. We can take our stand and rest securely on His certain promises. [Song: Standing on the Promises] àMoses and the Israelites sing about what the Lord will do. It’s those promises that the people of the Lord depend upon. It’s these promises we depend upon. If we didn’t know that the Lord was for us and not against us, that He will never leave us or forsake us, that He is coming again to set the world at rights—if we didn’t have these promises, we would falter. We would fall. We would give up. But the Lord has given us His word, His promises. All of this—each of His promises—is based upon, founded upon the unfailing love of God: Exodus 15:13 NIV 13 In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. Because of His unfailing love for His people, the Lord acts. He does what He does, 1) for His glory, and then, 2) for the good of His people. By “unfailing love”, Moses means God’s covenant-keeping love, His absolute loyalty to His people, His faithfulness to His promise. This is the word hesed. Say “hesed.” It’s one of the most important Hebrew words in the OT. It means lovingkindness, steadfast love; grace, mercy, faithfulness, goodness, devotion. It’s used 240 times in the OT, and shows up often in the Psalms especially. This is, as Sally Lloyd-Jones puts it: “A Never Stopping, Never Giving-Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” Anyone who has known a “stopping, giving-up, broken, sometimes-, and for-a-bit-‘love’” can hold on to the fact that God’s love never stops. It never gives up. There’s never a break in His love. It’s always and forever. God has proved His faithful, unfailing love—His hesed—to His people over and over. Everything that has happened to this point in the book of Exodus was motivated by God’s unfailing love. He has kept all His promises to Israel—this is an expression of His unfailing love; all that He has done is borne out of His never stopping, never giving-up, unbreaking, always and forever love. Exodus 15:7–10 NIV 7 “In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. 8 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. 9 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 will destroy them.’ 10 But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. His anger, His wrath, His justice, the destruction of His enemies—all of this is a product of His love. He loves His people with this unfailing love, this hesed love, and so He protects them, keeps them, saves them, redeems them, and judges their oppressors. Let us praise the Lord for His unfailing love, the unfailing love He has for us—love that never fails, never gives up, never-ever stops. [Song: One Thing Remains] “His love never fails. It never gives up. It never runs out on me. On and on and on and on it goes.” I don’t warrant that kind of love. There’s nothing in me that does. What I deserve is God’s judgment, His wrath, His burning anger. The earth should shallow me up, along with all God’s enemies. That’s what I was—His enemy. The same is true for you, apart from Christ. And yet, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to Him through the death of His Son…and are saved through His life. It’s the unfailing love of God we celebrate as we come to this table. As you eat and drink, repeat those words we just sang: “God, your love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on me.” *Communion* *Offering* Exodus 15:19–21 NIV 19 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. 20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.” Miriam—the sister of Moses and Aaron—now picks up the song, the chorus, and sings. This song is an antiphon—a song with a call and response. So Miriam, having heard and even sang along with Moses and the people, having recounted what the Lord has done, Miriam has to sing. She grabs her timbrel and sings. I don’t know if you’re aware of this: we have our very own “Miriam” here with us this morning. We call her Dixie Vodry. She going to grab her instrument and sing to the Lord. [Song: Dixie Vodry] Exodus 15:18 NIV 18 “The Lord reigns for ever and ever.” This we know: the Lord reigns. He reigned triumphantly over Pharaoh and the Egyptians. And we, today, know that the Lord who reigned then, reigns now and forever more. He sits on His throne; we have nothing now to fear. And one day we will be with Him in the place He has prepared for His people. àThe people of God sing about what the Lord has done for them, individually and corporately. What has the Lord done for you? What’s your response to the Lord? How have you responded? Or have you responded? Now is the time. Today is the day. Respond to Him—accept Him, belong to His church, contribute to a local congregation, disciple. Moses and the Israelites found salvation in the Lord. The Lord was their salvation. So they praised Him. They had come to know the Lord by faith, and the Lord wanted to set their personal testimony to music; both Moses and Miriam sing the chorus: Exodus 15:1 NIV 1 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. Exodus 15:21 NIV 21 Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.” And they give this testimony: Exodus 15:2 NIV 2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. The prophet Isaiah sang the same tune: Isaiah 12:2 NIV 2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” The Christian sings the same song, only with slightly different words: “Jesus Christ is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation.” To know God in a saving way is to know Him in a personal way, and that means coming to Him through faith in Jesus Christ—the way, the truth, and the life. Everyone who knows Jesus will keep singing His praises until the end of the world. And then, on that great day, we will sing a new song. The apostle John records this in his revelation: Revelation 15:2–4 NIV 2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations. 4 Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” John was given a vision of what was to come. And this is what he heard: a song of praise to God for who He is and what He has done. As soon as we come to Christ, we join in the chorus of His people; this is our song. Now, for the time being, we are still in rehearsal. We are preparing for the grand finale when we will sing the everlasting song. This is our story, this is our song, praising our Savior all the day long! [Song: Blessed Assurance] 10
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