Celebrate!!!

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God is worthy and deserves our worship for who He is and what He has done.

Exodus(37) (Part of the Rescued(36) series)
by Marc Webb(77) on May 26, 2024 (Sunday Morning(345))

All-Powerful (Omnipotent)(17), Faithfulness(17), Glorifying God(7), Honor(2), Praise(5), Worship(26)

CELEBRATE!!!

In 1792 a group of settlers traveled to Africa. There were more than a thousand of them, all of African descent. Some had worked as slaves on American plantations. Others had served as soldiers in the British army and then moved north to live in Canada. Together they planned to resettle what is now Sierra Leone, on land purchased as a Province of Freedom. The settlers were all professing Christians. When they reached Africa, they marched ashore singing a hymn by William Hammond: “Awake, and sing the song Of Moses and the Lamb! Wake every heart and every tongue, To praise the Saviour’s Name.… Sing on your heavenly way! Ye ransomed sinners, sing! Sing on, rejoicing every day In Christ, the eternal King!” It was an appropriate hymn to sing. The settlers had been released from captivity, they had crossed the sea, and now they were entering their promised land. So they sang of the prophet Moses, who brought Israel out of Egypt. They also sang to Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who had set them free to serve God in a new land. God had done such a great thing for them that it called forth a song of praise. They couldn’t contain their celebration as they sang of who the Lord is and what he had done for them.

In our scripture this morning, in Exodus 15:1-21, we are going to see another group of slaves who have been released from captivity, have crossed the sea and are now ready to start out on their way to their Promised Land. When these slaves were finally free, on the other side of the sea, they sang a song to the Lord, about the Lord and for the Lord. God had set them free so that they could worship him in a land all their own. And in celebration they brought forth a song of praise for who the Lord is and for the great thing he did for them. That brings us to our big idea this morning that God is worthy and deserves our worship for who He is and what He has done.

Let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for being with us this morning. Pour out your Holy Spirit on us and give us insight into your Word. Use it to teach us, to rebuke us, to correct us and to instruct us in righteousness. Let us hide it in our hearts so we may not sin against you and may it guide us on the path of our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our first point is God’s Victory found in verses 1-5. This is what God’s Word says, “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. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 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.”

The word “then” lets us know that what comes next is because of what came before. And what came before was the Lord bringing the Israelites through the Red Sea on dry ground and the destruction of the Egyptian army. The song opens with identifying who sang the song and why. Moses and the Israelites sing a song of praise to the Lord, because of that mighty act which brought him victory over the Egyptians. This song has been called many things. The Song of Moses, The Song of Salvation, Song of the Sea, Song of Triumph, Song of Redemption, Song of Victory, to name a few.

This was probably a spontaneous celebration by the people because now their salvation, God’s power and God’s presence had been made real to them. The only proper response they could give was praise and worship to the Lord for who he is and what he had done for them. Moses and the Israelites sing because the Lord is worthy and he deserves it. He is the one true God and the only one worthy to be highly exalted and lifted up. Notice that the song never mentions Moses and what he did but only Yahweh and what he did. Worship should always be focused on the Lord and never on human beings. When we worship, it should always be to and for an audience of one. This is the first song, psalm or hymn recorded in the Bible. The name “Lord” or his pronoun is mentioned ten times in this section as they sang to the Lord praising Him for their deliverance. It was something they could not have done for themselves. The Lord is highly exalted because he has “hurled horse and driver into the sea. Hurled” gives the sense of being slung violently from a “slingshot.” The word used for “Lord” in verse 2 is translated “I Am.” Moses was bringing attention to the promises given to him at the burning bush and the awesome name of the Lord. ​​ 

The song describes five attributes of the Lord that they worship him for. First, they worship him because he is their strength. Notice that the Lord didn’t give them strength, he was their strength. Second, they worship the Lord because he is their “defense” or “might” or “song” depending on your version. The Lord not only fought for them but defended them as well. The word “song” gives the sense that the Lord is the reason for their song of praise and worship. Third, they worship the Lord because he has become their salvation. They recognized that they couldn’t save themselves but were in need of a Savior to bring them out of slavery and give them total freedom. Fourth, they worship him because he is their God and their father’s God. Now after first hand experience of what Yahweh had done for them, they profess that he was now their God and claimed the fact that he was also their father’s God. We all need to have our own personal faith. We can’t get to heaven on our parents’ or grandparents’ faith. Our faith is made personal when we believe that Jesus Christ died on a cross for our sins and rose again, that he took our punishment for sin, that we are broken before Him and we confess that we are in need of a Savior. This is what happened to the Israelites. The Lord saved them when they couldn’t save themselves and they professed him as their God and the God of their father Abraham. This was their confession of faith.

Fifth, they worship the Lord because he is a warrior literally meaning “man of war.” One of God’s names is Jehovah-Sabaoth which means “Lord of hosts'' or “armies.” This title is used 285 times in the OT reminding us that the Lord fought for his people as he promised he would. We are also reminded that the Lord is holy and just and is opposed to evil and anything that goes against his purposes and comes against his people. Stuart says, “They understood their God to be a warrior, one who would lead them into battle, who would fight for them during battles, and who would ensure their survival as his people.” The statement “the LORD is his name” clarifies the identity of the one who conquered the Egyptian army. He is none other than Yahweh, himself. Pharaoh claimed to not know who their God was, when Moses first came to him, but now, he did know His name.

The Lord was victorious as he hurled Pharaoh’s chariots and his army into the sea. In fact, he defeated Pharoah’s best officers by drowning them in the waters. Pharoah’s campaign to bring the Israelites back was a coordinated and thought-out military undertaking. Pharaoh didn’t just take a few men out to bring them back, he took the best of the best that he had, and the Lord totally destroyed them. In verses 4 and 5 there are four references to the sea including “deep waters” and “depths.” By commanding the “deep waters” to cover the Egyptians, Yahweh showed that he is the Lord of all creation. The word “depths” refers to the underworld where the Egyptian army was relegated after their drowning. The use of these words is confirmation that it wasn’t shallow water the Lord took the Israelites through but a deep sea. The Egyptian army, who opposed the Lord, sank to the depths of the sea like a stone thrown into it, never to be seen again. So Moses and the Israelites celebrated, praising and worshiping the Lord for who he is and for what he did for them which reminds us that God is worthy and deserves our worship for who He is and what He has done (Big Idea).

Our second point, God’s weapons, is found in verses 6-10. This is what God’s Word says, “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 will destroy them.’ But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.”

The song turns from singing about the Lord to singing to the Lord. We notice that the weapons the Lord used to defeat the Egyptian army were not the conventional weapons of warfare. The first weapon was the Lord’s “right hand” which was the hand of skill and power. The term “right hand” is used over fifty times in the Bible. In Psalms 45:4 it teaches us. In Psalms 48:10, it is full of righteousness. In Habakkuk 2:16, it is the cup of judgment. It is also a metaphor for divine power in action. ​​ Psalms 17:7 says, “Show me the wonders of your great love, you who save by your right hand those who take refuge in you from their foes.” And Psalms 60:5 says, “Save us and help us with your right hand, that those you love may be delivered.” The Lord’s right hand was “majestic in power”, and it shattered the enemy. The Lord is supreme over all things and subject to no other powers. He is mightier than anything or anyone else. The enemy, whether the Egyptian army in the present or an enemy in the future, would be vanquished and no longer pose a threat to God’s people. The Lord’s right hand also showed the “greatness of his majesty” which threw down those who opposed the Lord. This speaks to the beauty of how God threw the Egyptian army down. It was glorious and awe-inspiring. The second weapon was the Lord’s “burning anger” which consumed them like stubble. He took the leash off of his burning anger and forcefully set it in motion. Consumed like “stubble” signifies a rapid and complete removal from this life.

And the fuel for bringing his power to bear against Pharaoh and the Egyptians was their enslavement and cruel treatment of God’s people and the drowning of Israelite babies in the Nile River. God’s punishment was appropriate as he drowned their people for drowning his people. The third weapon was the “blast of the Lord’s nostrils.” This blast or wind was not random but used to fulfill God’s purposes. In the Bible, nostrils can be translated as anger so with the “wind of his anger” the Lord piled the waters up and they stood firm like a wall and the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea. These phrases describe the walls of water on either side of the Israelites as they walked through the Red Sea on dry ground. This continues to confirm the miracle of separating the waters of the sea. It wasn’t a “retaining wall” that he created in the midst of the sea but huge, tall, walls of water. It also confirms the Lord’s mastery over the elements. Earlier in verse 5 we saw his mastery over the waters now we see his mastery over the wind. The wind is his to command and he does it as easily as we breathe in and out. He commands the winds and the seas, and they obey. The Lord’s anger reminds us of what the Egyptians had done to God’s people. Because the Lord is holy, he hates sin and because of his righteousness, sin must be punished.

Next, we see the attitude and the arrogant claims of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. They believed it would be easy to pursue and capture them. That they would divide the spoils and gorge themselves probably meaning they would take back all that the Egyptians had given them when they left Egypt. They were expecting a fight, but arrogantly confident they would win. Pharaoh boasted that his hand would destroy them, but his hand was nothing compared to the right hand of the Lord. Pharaoh was a lot of “hot air.” All the Lord had to do was breathe and the sea drowned his army. The wind of destruction took them down as quick as a lead weight in the mighty waters; a variation on the stone in verse 5.

The Israelites were so overjoyed at what the Lord had done for them that it caused a celebration of praise and worship, about the Lord, for the Lord and to the Lord. And we should do the same. When was the last time you gave the Lord honor, praise, worship and glory for the great things he has done for you? When was the last time you celebrated those things? If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you can celebrate your salvation which is freely given to you. (Big Idea). That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to Praise and worship the Lord for what he has done in my life.

That brings us to our third point, God’s character, found in verses 11-16. This is what God’s Word says, “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? “You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies. In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; 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.”

In this section we see God’s character. First, he is incomparable. Psalm 86:8 says, “Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.” And Psalm 89:8 says, “Who is like you, Lord God Almighty? You, Lord, are mighty, and your faithfulness surrounds you.” The Lord is the one and only true God. He is supreme and sovereign over everything and everyone. The emphatic repetition of the rhetorical question “Who is like you?” makes the forceful statement that there is no one like the Lord. Moses and the people sing of three things that confirm this. One, he is “majestic in holiness.” His beauty is seen in that he is good and always does what is right. He is set apart, unique and absolutely pure and just. Two, he is “awesome in glory” meaning that his power and might are impressive. He is rightly to be feared and should be praised. When we think about the Lord, who he is and the miraculous acts he has done, we should stand in awe, and it should cause us to be overwhelmed with reverence for him. Three, he is wonder-working. He does the supernatural, the miraculous and the amazing. He is so powerful that all he has to do is stretch out his right hand and the earth does his will. In this passage we have seen the Lord command the wind, the sea and now the earth expressing the totality of God’s power. In verse 12, the word “earth” again refers to the underworld, speaking of the Egyptian’s judgment by the Lord.

The second characteristic of the Lord is his unfailing love. The Hebrew word is “khesed.” There is no one English word that can describe all that “khesed” is. It can be translated “mercy,” “grace,” “love,” “goodness,” “kindness,” “loving-kindness,” “steadfast love,” and more. The idea behind “khesed” is that the Lord is passionately loyal to his people even though he is superior to them, and they are undeserving. This points to the covenant that the Lord will make with Israel in Exodus 34. He will guide them and lead them as their king because he has redeemed them for His purposes. He is to be their God and they are to be his people. Cole says, “God is seen as the ‘redeemer kinsman’ of his covenant people, Israel.” The third characteristic is the Lord’s strength. The Lord’s strength is seen in two ways. One, he will guide them to his holy dwelling. The dwelling is holy because the Lord’s special presence will be there. This could be talking about three places, Sinai, Canaan, or the Jerusalem temple or maybe all three. It has always been God’s plan to dwell with his people and to someday take them home to be with him. John 14:3 says, (Jesus is talking to his disciples) “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” Spending eternity with the Lord is what redemption and salvation brings to all believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 3:18 says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.” The Lord is strong enough to lead his people to Sinai, Canaan, Jerusalem and eventually to Heaven.

Two, we see his strength and power as he strikes fear into the hearts of the nations. The nations will hear what the Lord has done for his people, and they will tremble. They will fare no better than Egypt when they encounter the Lord and his people. The nations mentioned are roughly in the order the Israelites will encounter them. The Philistines will be gripped with anguish. Anguish is the word used for the mental and physical effects of being terrified. The chiefs of Edom will be terrified causing them to be distressed and dismayed when confronted by the Israelites. The leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling and the people of Canaan will melt away because terror and dread will fall on them. The fact that the nations heard what the Lord had done to the Egyptians is confirmed in a number of OT passages. In Exodus 18:10-11, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law says, “Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians and out of the hand of Pharaoh … now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods.” In Joshua 9:9, the Gibeonites said to Joshua, “Your servants have come from a very distant country because of the fame of the Lord your God. For we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt. And hundreds of years later, in 1 Samuel 4:8, the Philistines said, “Who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? These are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.”

The fourth characteristic is the Lord’s power. By the power of his arm, he will make them as stone. He will petrify the nations and they will be so scared that they will not be able to lift a hand against his people as they pass through their territory. Just like the Egyptians sank like a “stone” the future enemies of Israel will be as “still as stone.” “Pass by” could be alluding to the Israelites passing through enemy territory or crossing the Jordan River in Joshua 3 which leads into the Promised Land. The Israelites are God’s chosen people, a nation created by him and redeemed by him for his purposes. As we continue to study Exodus, we will notice that the Israelites do not defeat their enemies as easily as this passage suggests. But Moses is writing these words from God’s perspective and from His perspective their enemies will be conquered. Moses wanted the Israelites to see their future from God’s point of view not their own. The battle belongs to the Lord, and he has promised to fight for them. They need not worry or doubt. This is good for us to remember as well. We must keep our focus on the Lord and not our circumstances. It’s hard to do but it is necessary if we are not to be swayed by Satan and the world. We have been promised a heavenly home spent with God and Jesus for eternity. We need to persevere and trust in the Lord because the end is never in doubt.

Now we come to our final point, God’s Promises, found in verses 17-21. This is what God’s Word says, “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. “The Lord reigns for ever and ever.” 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 the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

In this section we see the promises that God made to his people for their future. He will lead them into the Promised Land that he has set apart for them and will plant them on the mountain of His inheritance. The mountain of His inheritance is Mount Zion, the hill in Jerusalem where the temple would be built. Mount Zion will be the place, the sanctuary, he will make, where he would dwell with his people. This verse is looking ahead to that time. The words “you” and “your” are used five times in this one verse. Being planted on the mountain was solely the Lord’s doing. Israel had nothing to do with it; they only followed the Lord as he led them to it. Two, the words “inheritance”, “dwelling” and “sanctuary” describe the land in religious terms because the place he was leading them to, was where they would worship the Lord and fully get to know him. Up to now they didn’t fully “know” the Lord. They had been in captivity in a foreign land with foreign gods. Now he was leading them to a place where they could fully know Him and worship Him as their ancestors did and to a land that was their own. This would fulfill the covenant promises of descendants and land made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In verse 18, the song ends where it began: with its focus on the Lord. The Lord is their victorious king, and he will reign forever and ever. ​​ This emphasized the sovereignty and eternality of the Lord. Who the Lord is, and his attributes have been celebrated in this passage. He is incomparable, sovereign, eternal, majestic, awesome, wonder-working, all-powerful, loving, and faithful. Just as in the beginning, the song ends with a joyful outburst of praise to the Lord for who he is and what he has done for his people. We, also, as God’s people, need to spontaneously and joyfully burst out in praise and worship for who the Lord is. (Big Idea). In fact, I would like to do that right now as we praise the Lord for who he is. Just shout out an attribute of God that you want to praise him for. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to praise and worship the Lord for who is. This should be an ongoing celebration of praise and worship, not just one and done.

In verse 19, we have a summary of what happened in chapter 14. The Lord drowned the Egyptian army in the sea, but the Israelites walked through on dry ground. In verse 20 we have the first mention of Miriam by name. She is identified as Aaron’s sister and is called a prophetess. A prophet or prophetess was someone who the Lord directly spoke to in order to give a message to his people. Miriam is the sister who watched over Moses as a baby when he was placed in the Nile River by his mother and was able to convince Pharaoh’s daughter to have his own mother wean him. The celebration doesn’t stop at the end of the song. Miriam picks up a timbrel or tambourine and celebrates with all the women. They pick up tambourines of their own, follow her dancing as she sings the song to them. This again is a spontaneous and joyful celebration of praise and worship.

The song Miriam sang is almost exactly word for word as the opening phrase of the Song of Moses in verse 1b. “Sang” literally means “answered” and gives the sense of a call and response or chorus to what Moses and the Israelites were singing. Miriam taught the song of Moses to the women as she sang, ensuring that the song would be sung in every Israelite family and home. Everyone descended from Abraham or new to the nation would know the story of their peoples’ redemption and salvation by heart. The song would be repeated again and again to remind them of God’s great and miraculous deliverance at the sea. The point is also made that the women as well as the men were involved, meaning that the “song of salvation” is for all of God’s people. Israelite men, women and children were all saved by the Lord, and all needed to praise and worship Him for who he is and what he had done for them.

The title of the sermon today is Celebrate because Moses and the Israelites were so overcome with joy, relief and emotion for what God had done for them that they couldn’t contain it. They sang and danced and played instruments to the Lord, for the Lord and about the Lord. As we approach paying off the tax debt and bank loan, we need to think about how we are going to celebrate. It is imperative that we celebrate, praising and worshiping the Lord for what he has done for us. It has been miraculous and supernatural, and he deserves all the honor and glory for it. And what’s cool, is it isn’t the first time the Lord has come through for this church. He has always been faithful and always will be. This is just the next time and each time he is worthy and deserving of our worship for who He is and what He has done for us. (Big Idea). So, be on the lookout for how we will celebrate that. That brings us to our last next step which is to Celebrate along with my church family the Lord’s deliverance from our tax debt.

We started with a group of slaves who had been set free, crossed the sea, and entered into their Promised Land singing and celebrating. Today, we saw the Israelites who had been set free, had crossed the sea, and sang the song of Moses in celebration. And this Song of Moses echoes all the way to the Book of Revelation chapter 15, where a multitude has come from great suffering, has experienced great victory, stands on the shores of a great sea, and sings a song of praise and thanksgiving of deliverance and victory. I like what Spurgeon says, “It is obvious, then, from the plentiful allusions to this song in holy scripture, that it is full of deep spiritual significance. It teaches us not only to praise God concerning the literal overthrow of Egypt, but to praise him concerning the overthrow of all the powers of evil, and the final deliverance of all the chosen.”

Revelation 15:3 shares three elements with Exodus 15. One, the focus is on God and what he has done. Two, God’s everlasting rule is glorified. Three, the nations fear God. God’s deliverance is not just about saving a group of people but asserting his right to rule over all creation. The Song of Moses and the people’s celebration is a picture of the eternal singing and worship that we will enter into when Christ comes to make all things new. That is the very vision that John received in Revelation 15:2-4 and I would like to end reading those verses and then echoing Exodus 15:18. This is what God’s Word says, “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 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. 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.” And Exodus 15:18, “The Lord will reign for ever and ever.”

As the ushers prepare to collect the tithes and offerings and the praise team comes to lead us in a final song, let’s close in prayer: Lord God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, I worship you for your perfect Word. Help us to take it and apply it according to your Holy Spirit’s prompting. You are worthy and deserving of our worship at all times for who you are and what you have done; not only in our individual lives but in the life of your church here at Idaville. May we never forget it and continually celebrate it. In Jesus’ name, Amen.