Psalter Numbers: 71, 299, 211, 317
Beloved saints in Christ, Genesis 3:15 records God’s first promise to save His church from sin, by sending a Mediator. We call this the “mother promise.” The Old Testament Scriptures mention four typical fulfillments of this promise: first, the deliverance of the church in the flood; second, the deliverance of Israel through the Red Sea; third, the glorious kingdom of David and Solomon; and fourth, the return of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon. Each of these events were moments of salvation, pointing to the full salvation of the church in Christ.
Exodus 14 records the second of these typical fulfillments, the deliverance of Israel in the Red Sea. Israel was saved, for her enemy, the host of Egypt, was destroyed! No longer could Pharaoh afflict Israel. So, when Christ returns, Satan and his hosts will be completely destroyed. But already in Christ’s death on the cross, and victory over death, Satan’s power over us is destroyed and we are made alive unto God.
This is a wonder of salvation. A wonder it was that Israel could pass through the Red Sea on dry ground, and that the Egyptians, trying to do the same thing, were drowned. A wonder it is, that Jesus Christ shed His blood to save us, who were by nature His enemies, from the power of His arch-enemy, Satan. But these wonders God has performed on behalf of His people, freely of grace, because it pleased Him.
When the church sees these wonders, the church sings. So we have in our text the song that Israel sang, as she stood on the eastern shores of the Red Sea and saw the bodies of the Egyptians washing up on that shore, and knew that she was fully delivered from them.
We title this song, “The Song Of Moses.”
This is a fitting title, first, because the song was first sung, if not written, by Moses himself. We read in verse 1, “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord.” Evidently Moses led the singing and he gave the words to be sung and all Israel joined in singing it.
Second, the title is fitting because the song contains prophesies of the future, which no Israelite could know of himself, apart from God’s revelation. But God always reveals Himself to prophets, and Moses was the prophet of God to whom this prophesy was revealed.
Third, the title is fitting because it is the title that the apostle John gave this song, by inspiration, in Revelation 15. There John records a song that the glorified saints in heaven are singing. He calls it “The Song of Moses and of The Lamb.” To which song of Moses does he refer? Other songs of Moses are recorded in Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 90. But the song of Moses in Revelation 15 refers to the song recorded in our text. Both songs, that sung in heaven, and that recorded in our text, are songs in which the whole church sings praises God to for His destruction of the enemies of the church, and salvation of His people.
If the church in the Old Testament sings this song, and if the church in heaven sings this song, the church today ought to sing it too. We examine this song in order to make it ours. Do you understand the victory over sin that you have in Jesus Christ? Do you see that our victory over sin in Christ was typified in Israel’s salvation at the Red Sea? Then as Israel sang, so must we. Let us examine this text under the theme:
I. A SONG OF VICTORY
This song was sung after it was clear that Israel had been given the victory. Fittingly, therefore, victory is the very key note of the song. The song begins with these words, verse 1: “Sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Then Miriam with her company of women sing that same line, again and again, as a refrain. We read in verse 21, “And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” When we read, “She answered them” we have the idea of two choirs, the large choir singing the song with all of its words, and another choir, Miriam and the women, singing the refrain again and again at various points. This refrain sets forth the key note of the song – the victory that God gave Israel.
Victory implies war. The song also speaks of war. In verse 3 we read, “The Lord is a man of war.” How we need to be reminded of this! War characterizes God. He is not merely one who will go to war, if provoked, who will defend His cause. Rather, God is a Warrior. He will certainly go on the offensive for His cause and on behalf of His people. If we should ever oppose God’s cause, we must know that God will war against us. Why is God called here a “man of war”? The emphasis does not fall on the word man – for we know that God is not a human. Rather, the emphasis is on the word “war” – the Lord is a warring God. His entire Being is one of valor and courage and strength. We would speak this way to a person whom we are encouraging in a battle: “Be a man. Be tough. Be strong.” The Lord is a courageous warrior. That is the sense.
The song then refers to the war just fought, from the perspective of the enemy, Egypt, in verse 9. “The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.” Egypt warred against God, but she warred willingly. She gave herself over to that war with all the power she had in her, and with a heart that was absolutely intent on destroying Jehovah’s people, and Jehovah Himself. In that war she became boastful. Remember again, the song contains revelation. By inspiration, Moses writes what Egypt said. And they said, as they went into the Red Sea, “We will overcome Israel. We are stronger. We are better!” Jehovah gives over to such blind folly all those who oppose Him. He hardens their heart, makes them self-confident, and makes them boast in their pride – only to show them that, when they fight against Jehovah, they cannot stand a moment. So the song continues to speak of how easily Jehovah destroyed His enemies, verse 10: “Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.” Of course, Jehovah’s destruction of Egypt was a wonder. In sending the waters back over the Egyptians and drowning them, Jehovah displayed His power. Yet this verse indicates that, although it took power to overthrow the wicked, it was not at all difficult for God to do so. He easily drowned in the Red Sea those who opposed Him. “Thou didst blow with thy wind” as though a breath of His mouth destroyed them. Remember that when Christ comes again, He will destroy Satan, “with the breath of his mouth.” Martin Luther said in his hymn, “One mighty word shall fell him.”
The song in our text mentions the war, in order to emphasize the victory. Israel has had the victory, but Israel does not claim the victor. Rather the victor, the song says, is Jehovah God. “The Lord is a man of war: the Lord is his name. I will sing unto the Lord for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” Israel is not singing, “Look what we did.” Israel is not singing, “Look what a stroke of luck.” Israel is not singing, “What a coincidence.” Israel is acknowledging that Jehovah God gave her the victory.
That note of victory ought to characterize the songs that the children of God sing today. That is the note that the church in heaven sings. Notice Revelation 15:1-4: “And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy; for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgements are made manifest.” That Jehovah God is the victor, is the occasion and the subject of the song. God has the victory over the beast, and the beast’s image, and the beast’s mark, and over the number of the beast’s name. Without trying to explain all the symbolism, notice that the beast and image and mark and number of his name, all represent the boastful pride of anti-Christ, saying, “I will be worshiped. You will bow down to me and do what I say. And then all will go well with you.” Over that proud, boastful spirit Jesus Christ has the victory.
This note of victory should characterize the songs we sing, beloved. Of course, this note of victory will not always be the key note of every song. We sing of many other benefits of salvation in Christ, and of many other attributes and works of God, too. But we who know that in Christ we have the victory over the power of sin, should sing victoriously! Knowing that our God performed victories in sending Christ into our flesh by the virgin birth, and raising Christ from the dead; and knowing that on the basis of these wonders, we are regenerated by God’s Spirit, freed to serve God – we should sing of this wonderful victory of God.
Remember that these victories of God include the victories which we have every day over sin. Though delivered from the power of sin by Christ, Satan tries to bring us back into bondage again. He did so for Israel, too – Israel was given permission to leave Egypt, but then Pharaoh decided to bring her back into bondage again. This is a picture of Satan trying to bring us who are redeemed by Christ back into bondage again, through temptation. Also in these instances the child of God is given the victory. When we stand in the name of God, with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, and fight Satan with that Word, we will have the victory. Satan will not bring us again to bondage. Of these victories let us sing. Notice this stanza from Psalter #424: “Sing, Sing a new song to Jehovah, for all the wonders He hath wrought. His right hand and His arm most holy, the victory to Him have brought.”
So are these the kinds of songs we really do sing? Or do we sing the world’s songs? The world’s songs are not victory songs. Some of their songs are filled with despair and gloom, and speak of the hopelessness of the godless life. These songs we ought not sing, who have been redeemed from the power of sin. Other songs of the world speak of a hope and victory, but it is not one which is found in Christ. Again, the child of God says of those songs, “They are not victory songs.” The world does have its class of songs called victory songs. At college basketball and football games, the bands play their fight songs and victory songs. But also the victory of which these songs speak is so trivial compared to the victory that we have in Jesus Christ.
Beloved, let us sing songs of a spiritual victory obtained for us by God through Christ, and let these be the songs that are in our tape players right now, and the songs that are on the CDs that we own, and the songs that we have in our heart. For songs of this victory over sin, are songs of praise to God.
II. A SONG OF PRAISE
In praise, Moses and Israel sing of some of God’s attributes. His power is clearly on the foreground, as verse 1 indicates: “I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” We find other references to God’s power in the song, too. Verse 6: “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed to pieces the enemy.” Not only is the word “power” found there, but also the term “right hand.” A hand is an instrument of power, and the right hand is generally more powerful than the left. God’s right hand is a reference to His power. Also verse13 speaks of God’s power in saving His people: “Thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.”
God’s power is that attribute of God according to which He is able to do everything that He pleases. All His wonders show His power. They show that His power is matchless. When Israel sang of God’s power, she also sang of Jehovah being supreme above the idols. “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?” There was that time in their history, in their sojourn in Egypt, when they wondered if the gods of Egypt were not actually more powerful than Jehovah, and if Jehovah had not actually forgotten them. Here they make their confession, in answer to those wonderments, that Jehovah is the only and powerful God. Pharaoh’s gods were powerless to deliver him from the Red Sea, but Jehovah has redeemed His people. The songs of God’s children ought to make known God’s power.
Another attribute mentioned in songs of praise to God is that of His mercy. Verse 13: “Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed.” Mercy is that attribute of God according to which He is faithful in His love toward His people, pities us in our distress, and redeems us from affliction. Also regarding this attribute, Israel must have wondered: Does God really have mercy? Has He any pity for us in our afflictions?” Now they know the answer. “In thy mercy thou hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed.” He saw their need, and sent Moses. He spared them most of the plagues, especially that last one, the destruction of the firstborn son, because the blood, typifying the blood of His own Son, was painted over their doors. He opened up a path through the Red Sea and led them through it, and closed the waters upon the Egyptians. All of this manifested His mercy, His compassion which fails not. For such mercy He is worthy of praise. Let us sing of His mercy!
The song of praise now rises above the mention of specific attributes, to a glorious contemplation of the being of God Himself. “Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like unto thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Who is like unto thee?” The holiness of God is mentioned. He is consecrated to Himself in love and does all things to the glory of His name. His fearfulness is mentioned. Those wonders He performs in saving His church and glorifying His name should bring you and me to fear and reverence Him. “Who is like unto thee, O Lord?”
Is this our song? Do we sing songs which speak of the greatness of our God? Do we often think of His greatness, throughout the week? Many a man ignores God, and sings of his own greatness. Do we sing the praises of men? Or do we sing: “Who is like unto thee, O God, among the gods, among the idols, among every other being in which men place their trust?”
The song praises God for yet one more thing: the fear which the nations will have, who hear of the wonder of Israel’s salvation. Verses 14-16: “The people shall hear, and be afraid: . . . Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.” Here the song becomes prophetic. Israel is note merely imagining what might be the result of their wonderful salvation; rather, Jehovah is prophesying through Moses of what will happen: Palestina, Edom, Moab, and all the inhabitants of Canaan, will be afraid.
And they were! Remember that Rahab said to the spies who were spying out the land: “We heard what God did for you in Egypt, and we were afraid.” Remember that, when Israel asked Edom’s permission to pass through her country on their way to Canaan, Edom refused? It is because she was afraid. Remember that Balak, Moab’s king, knew he could not fight Israel in his own strength or power. He hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel, for he knew that his only hope of defeating Israel lay in turning Israel’s God against Israel. He was afraid of Israel, so long as her God blessed her.
So these nations would indeed hear, and be afraid. Not only the weaker among them, and not only the women and children, would be moved to fear by hearing what God did for Israel. Verse 15 of our text reads: “Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them. . . they shall be still as a stone.” The nobles and warriors would be afraid!
Of this fear of the nations, the saints in heaven sang, in Revelation 15: “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgements are made manifest.”
Is our motivation for singing to Jehovah, that of praise? And does this praise arise from gratitude, for the victory God has given us? Don’t you think that Israel, standing on the banks of the Red Sea, knew thankfulness in a way she had never known it before? Then, how knowledgeable are we, and how thankful, for the victory God has given us? Do the songs we sing, and the way we sing them, manifest this thankful praise?
Then let me address one point about our singing which, admittedly, the text does not mention in so many words. This point regards the volume with which we sing. I say the text does not speak to this point. Nowhere do we read how loud Israel sang. But I do not think they hardly moved their lips. Do you? If they were thankful, if they wanted their praise to be known and heard, then they must have lifted up their voices loudly! Do we, when we sing? Why is it that sometimes we can sing the songs of the world louder than the songs of Zion? Do we consider it a shameful thing to sing the praises of Jehovah? The fact is, the songs which we sing the loudest, are those we like the best, and those which we are really singing from our heart. Which songs do you sing at the top of your lungs? Let it be songs of praise! And it will be songs of praise, when we sing the songs of victory and praise, in faith.
III. A SONG OF FAITH
Moses’ song was a song of faith. That faith came to manifestation in several ways. First of all, Israel confessed God to be her Savior. Verse 2: “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” This is a personal confession of faith: “ The Lord is my strength and my song, he is become my salvation: he is my God.” Every song we song is a confession of what is in our heart. Sometimes we forget that or even ignore it. A father might say to his son, “Son why are you singing that song? Do you know what the words are?” And son says, “Dad, it’s just a song. Don’t be so worried about it.” To which dad must say: “But, son, we sing what we believe. If we believe that the Lord is our strength and song and is become our salvation, let us sing about that, and not sing anything that denies it.”
This faith came to manifestation, secondly, in another prophetic element, found in verses 17 and 18: “Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. The Lord shall reign forever and ever.” In faith, Israel looks ahead and sings of the fact that God will bring her through the wilderness into Canaan and plant her in the mountain of His holiness and in His sanctuary. Much about the fulfillment of this prophesy Israel did not understand. But they believe the prophesy as certain, nonetheless. The Lord delivered her from Egypt, didn’t He? When the Lord begins to save His people, He will surely complete that salvation. He did not take Israel out of Egypt to die in the wilderness, as they so often thought. By taking them out of Egypt, He was assuring Israel that He would bring her to Canaan.
That earthly Canaan, we remember, was a type of the Canaan to which we are traveling, the heavenly Canaan. Our songs must acknowledge this, too. In viewing Christ’s death as victory over our enemies, and in singing God’s praises for this victory, we manifest our faith that God is going to plant us in the mountain of His inheritance, and in His sanctuary in heaven. So the song recorded in Revelation 15 is like that which we will one day sing, when we arrive at our destination. But the songs we sing already in this life ought to show that that is our destination.
We must sing songs of faith! Have you faith? Do you believe in God, and in Christ, and His word of salvation in Christ alone? Then sing! Sing the great hallelujah chorus: Praise Jehovah!
- Passage: Exodus 15:1-21
Rev. Douglas J. Kuiper (Wife:Teresa)
Ordained: November 1995
Pastorates: Byron Center, MI - 1995; Randolph, WI - 2001; Edgerton, MN - 2012; Professor, PRC Seminary - Sept. 2017
Address1055 Lumina Dr.
State or ProvinceMI