Sing to the Lord
Compline: Prayer at the Close of Day
Sing to the Lord
1. For his greatness
2. For his grace
Text: Exodus 15:1-18
Who could compare a journey with such an incredible series of events? The people of Israel had just been eyewitnesses to 10 of the most powerful and horrific plagues one could ever imagine. The Nile River turning to blood. Infestations of frogs, gnats, and flies. Livestock dying. Boils. Hail. Locusts eating every crop in sight. Darkness covering all of Egypt except Goshen where the Israelites lived. Then the Israelites were ear-witnesses to the worst of them all as they heard weeping and wailing across the land from every parent whose firstborn son had died.
With Egypt in turmoil and Pharaoh devastated, the Israelites plundered the Egyptians and fled into the desert. Yet on their way powerful Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army after them. Six hundred of the best chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt and all the army of this world superpower set out in angry pursuit. The Israelites were trapped. The Red Sea was sprawling out before them. The Egyptians were barreling down on the backs that they had whipped and beaten just days before.
What were they going to do? Where were they going to go? Did God bring them out to the desert to die? Moses responded: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
At the direction of God, Moses turned and raised his staff and stretched out his hand over the sea. Suddenly a strong east wind rushed over the sea. The waters ripped apart and formed massive walls with a clear path of dry ground down the middle. Two million Israelites began to march through this watery passage, gazing with dumb-founded awe at the masses of water that held their place high above them.
They safely crossed through the Red Sea and turned to watch as Pharaoh’s army and chariots chased down the same path. Suddenly wheels started to lock up. Wheels and feet began to sink into the sand. The Egyptians were utterly confused and terrified. But before they could retreat, Moses stretched his arms back over the sea. With tsunami-like force the massive walls of water crashed down on the army and buried in a watery tomb every last soldier, horsemen, horse, and chariot.
It would be the biggest myth and lie of all time—had they not been experiencing it themselves. Now they stood looking back across a sea of serenity. No enemies pursuing. No danger in sight. No more slavery. No more oppression. They were bound for the land that God had promised. So they sang this song:
“I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; 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. “Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O 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 firm 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.
“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? You stretched out your right hand and the earth swallowed them.
“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 upon them. By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone—until your people pass by, O Lord, until the people you bought pass by. You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, O Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established. The Lord will reign for ever and ever.”
To think that just before this they were terrified and complaining that God would not deliver them from their danger! God showed them first hand what even a fraction of his greatness could do.
Our life situations are so much different 3,500 years later. But we do have real fears. We do have real terrors. We feel like our backs are up against the wall. How are we going to get through this? How will we make it? How could things ever get better? Why am I suffering through this? Why is God allowing this? Things might have been bad before, but they weren’t this bad! I would rather suffer like I did before rather than have it this bad right now! What is God doing?
The Israelites muttered those very complaints immediately after witnessing 10 impressive plagues. How could they forget? That wasn’t the end either. That was only the beginning. In fact, the very next story in Scripture after this song of Moses records how the Israelites grumbled and complained that they had no water to drink. They had just walked through the Red Sea on dry ground! How could they forget? Read the Old Testament account again. It’s the same thing over and over. God comes to the rescue with his impressive greatness. Then the Israelites forget and slide back into sin. How could they forget?
And how could we forget the greatness of our God? The same God who sent 10 ominous plagues, the same God who drove apart massive walls of water, the same God who destroyed an entire army in one watery swoop is the very same God who watches over and protects us. If he can work his grand plan through all those little events in the lives of Joseph, Moses, and the Israelites over 400 years of slavery, so he can also work his grand plan for us in all the little events of our lives.
God might show his greatness to us in grand displays at times. God might show his greatness to us in little and subtle ways at times. But God is watching. God is protecting. God is guarding and keeping. God has his loving plans in mind.
Join the Israelites. They sang this song of Moses and recounted God’s greatness in the mighty things he did to Pharaoh and his army by destroying that army and protecting his people. Join the Israelites in recounting the mighty deeds of God in your life. Sing to the Lord for his greatness.
What would you do if you were God though? You flashed greatness and power like the world had rarely ever seen. You rescued your people from 400 years of slavery and led them toward the land you had promised. But then on the banks of the Red Sea they whine and complain and are paralyzed with doubt. If you were God, would burn with anger and let Israel try and fight Pharaoh on its own? Would you raise the massive walls of water and then crash them down on Israel, not Egypt? Then they would learn not to complain!
Yet mercifully God not only showed his greatness to the people of Israel. He showed his grace. In compassion he forgave their sins, delivered them from their enemies, and led them on toward the promised land.
So Moses and the people rightly sang: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation . . . In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, O Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.”
The Lord’s most awesome display of greatness was actually not in the incredible, astounding miracle of dividing the waters and crushing the enemy. The Lord’s most awesome display of greatness was in his unfailing love that saved and redeemed his people and promised to bring them to the promised land of Canaan and finally the promised land of heaven.
As we struggle through our every day battles against troubles and suffering and pain and heartache and temptation and persecution, we can put our hope and trust in the Lord’s greatness and protection. But along the way, like Israel, as we continue to stumble and fall into sin, the Lord will show the grandeur of his greatness in his unfailing love and grace.
Sin after sin God forgives. Sin after sin God washes away with the blood of Christ like he washed away the Egyptians in the sea. Sin after sin God redeems us from and leads us onward as his children to the promised land of heaven. Yes, join the Israelites. Sing to the Lord for the greatness of his grace.
Our journeys seem meek and weak compared to the astounding series of events that Moses and the Israelites experienced. Yet our journeys are still real. They are still important. They are still filled with similar pains and struggles and worries and doubts.
But we also have this in common with Israel: The Lord is our strength and our song; he has become our salvation. Our Lord will reign forever and ever. So sing to the Lord for his greatness and his great grace. God was with his people in the past. God is still with his people now. Sing in joy to the Lord.
Posted on August 30, 2012, in Church, Sermons and tagged 10 Plagues, Church, Deliverance, Egypt, Exodus, Exodus 15, Israel, Moses, Pharaoh, Red Sea, Redeem, Salvation, Sermons, Sing, Song of Moses, Ten Plagues. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.