“Exposing the Exodus”
The God of Mercy! – (Chapter 15 Verses 15-1-22)
The constant theme of this beautiful song of triumph is God himself. Who he is, his uniqueness (Deuteronomy 6:4). His majesty and his activity on behalf of his people whom he has redeemed. It is a call to us to consider much the God with who we have to do with, “the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). It is not just the past, the present but the future also that is his. There is prophetic vision here (v13-18). This is the reason we ought must trust him because all is in his good and strong hand. What God has done in the past is a guarantee of the promised land to the people of Israel. And is a guarantee of the real promised land, heaven itself, of which Canaan is a type, for us today. Already the nations are a tremble because Israel is on the march (v16). Remember when the spies got to Jericho and were hidden by Rahab and what she told them? “Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt” (Joshua 2:8-10). Just as declared here (v16). All that is required of us to trust him, “he delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him, we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Corinthians 1:10). Because it is impossible for his enemies and ours to separate us from him (Romans 8:35-39). We can all as God’s people join in heartily and sing this song, with a resounding finale, “The LORD will reign forever and ever” (Exodus 15:18). The song has a very definite purpose, as should all that we sing in praise to God. This is not just to give the congregation an emotional fix until they gather again to praise God. Nor it’s purpose so Miriam and the other musicians can get their gear out and use their “gifts.” It is theologically sound, it is sober, it is thrilling, it fits the occasion, their foes have just been overthrown, once and for all. When they were faced with what they thought was an impasse, and there was no hope, and why? Because they did not exercise faith. To live with a God-consciousness takes the effort of faith. It is only when we do so we can live in peace. The sovereignty of God is not just a theological concept, it is a practical reality. If we truly believe God is sovereign that will affect how we react to all the stuff life has to throw at us.
So this is a proper response (v20-22). Worship! It was Miriam and the other women-folk with their tambourines that led this particular offering of praise. It is worth noting that the Old Testament worship of Israel is cultic, this is not New Testament worship, neither can you project this into the New Testament church. But you certainly can project the heart response into the New Testament church. Surely if the Lord has redeemed us at the cost of his Son’s precious blood, then our call as his gathered folk, is to stand up and bless the Lord. For we are the people of his choice, and so with heart and soul and voice to praise and thank the Lord. Not just simply going through the motions of a worship service, but as the New Testament has it, in Spirit and truth (John 4:24). This is our reasonable service, our spiritual worship, “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2). Because the Lord has delivered us from our worst enemy, our sinful selves. Alas God’s temporal blessings, as we walk through this vale of tears, doesn’t remove all our trials, there is always more to come. In fact, they may well increase, they often do. He saves us now in the midst this earthly scene, but then he begins to teach us, to discipline us. As we come to the concluding verses of this chapter we see Israel faced with yet another test of their faith. Three days into the desert and no water is a serious situation. What will they do, what should they do, what would you do? It seems as they violently assail Moses they demand of him what only God can provide.
“Daring to be like Daniel”
The Courage of Faith – (Chapter 1 Verses 8-21)
As the young Daniel makes this courageous stance we might as the question, what’s wrong with the food and drink of Babylon? Do we all need to be vegetarians, vegans and teetotallers? Doubtless amongst the Jewish community some would have deemed Daniel to be somewhat Pharisaical, over scrupulous. You’ll recall from the New Testament how tight the Pharisees were, yet still they were defiled. They were so religiously particular while at the same time plotting murder. No, it’s not that with Daniel. Remember what the agenda is here with the Babylonians. The plan is get rid of the tradition of the fathers out of the minds of Daniel and his colleagues. They want to eradicate the biblical worldview, mindset. The is the reason for the change of names, cultural norms, even their diet. Babylon wouldn’t be acquainted with the modern mindset today, that religion is a private matter, to be kept to oneself. The life of Daniel is permeated with religion, he walks, talks and breathes it. God has his hand on this young man. The Babylonian culinary delights offered to Daniel is food that was first offered to idols. Each meal would have been a ‘holy’ meal, offered to the gods of Babylon. Of which of course, there were many. An idolatrous sacrament. So to both eat and drink this food offered to them would have been to eat and drink to the glory of Babylon’s gods. It is for this reason that Daniel refuses, he is consecrated to God, devoted to the true and living God. This is a biblical attitude after all is not? And not just within the four walls of a church building. Whether we buy or sell, whether we build or plant, whether we eat or drink, whatever and wherever we do it, we do it all to the glory God (1Corinthians 10:31). It is the devotion of our entire lives to God, this is our reasonable, or spiritual service. “I appeal to you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2).
The attitude is wrong that says we recognise the church is God’s domain, but what goes on, or what we do outside is our own business. Business is business, it’s our own lives, keep off. There can be no compartmentalising of the life of faith, Jesus Christ is Lord, and Lord of all, or Lord of nothing at all. Wonderfully and amazingly Daniel, though just a youth, about fourteen at this time, recognises the danger of compromise. You mustn’t compare today’s fourteen-year-olds in the West with a fourteen-year-old Hebrew lad back then. At the age of twelve, a Hebrew lad would be expected to be mature enough to be about his father’s business. The immaturity we see in Western youth is the result of the madness of sin. Daniel will know no compromise, he does not want to be estranged from his God by offending and breaking his commandments. Thus his faith is put into action at the dining room table, both sensibly and compassionately too, I might add. For Daniel would be aware that this man, appointed to be his tutor, his life could well be at stake (v9-10). The compassion note was God-given. So Daniel empathises with the man, he lets him know that he appreciates his dilemma and suggests an alternative. “Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief of the eunuchs had assigned over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Test your servants for ten days; let us be given vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then let our appearance and the appearance of the youths who eat the king’s food be observed by you, and deal with your servants according to what you see” (Daniel 1:11-13). The young Daniel acts according to his faith, but not rashly, foolishly, but with wisdom and maturity beyond his years. O for God to raise up young men and women such as this in our churches in the West today.
“Exposing the Exodus”
The God of Justice! – (Chapter 15 Verses 15-1-22)
The history of redemption is often called a drama. This here is the original soundtrack. The first three verses are about God and his glory. The next verses, four to twelve are about what he has done. The king’s very own words condemn him (v9). He was God-defiant, self-centred, note the repetition of the word ‘I’ in verse nine. He was the one who ended up destroyed, everlastingly. And so God’s people sing triumphantly of the divine perfection in his administration of justice. Take note will you, that it was God’s work, he drowned them in the sea (v4-5). It wasn’t natural causes as some liberal scholars would have us believe. Neither was it human causes, it was a divine act of judgment. But before you accuse God of being harsh remember this was a man who was spoken to by God, who saw the mighty, miraculous works of God. This was the man who was responsible for the harsh, oppressive, unjust treatment of the Hebrews. This was the man commanded the Hebrew children to be drowned, was it not fitting that God should drown him? A pretty fair transaction don’t you think? In Egypt, the natural order was deified. They worshipped the sun, the moon, the stars, the river Nile, the entirety of creation but not the Creator. It was the natural order that became Pharaoh’s death. The nation that embraces false religion is a nation facing death. This was a ruler and nation that stood in defiance of God (v6-9). The majesty of God was violated. The original language here expresses that of a demolition job, God brought down the entire structure of the nation of Egypt. There was nothing but dust and rubble left. God had pledged to his people freedom and the promised land. Pharaoh in his defiance dared to say no. We must understand how black this sin is, it is a great evil. Every sin is, but to stand in deliberate, conscious defiance of the Almighty when he is clearly speaking to you and demonstrating his mighty power, is to invite serious trouble, very serious trouble. This Pharaoh did, and this Pharaoh got.
The wrath of God against the ungodly is a constant state of mind, “for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Romans 1:18). It’s not a case of God getting uptight, flying into a rage and lashing out. That’s how we sinners operate. No, it is a constant, even attitude of holy displeasure that hangs over the ungodly. The only thing that will remove that wrath is the all atoning blood of God’s Son Jesus Christ (John 1:29), nothing else. This holy displeasure was displayed here in the Red Sea in this act of justice upon the Egyptian forces, and the same wrath hangs over natural born sinners today. This is an act of divine vengeance, retributive justice (v10-12. And we, as Christians, ought not to be making excuses for God’s justice nor denying it. Lest he deny us (Matthew 10:33). The evil is displayed as strong, but God simply blew upon it (v10). This should be a great comfort to the believer, especially in times of much evil. “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). For many Christians in our day, their God is way too small, their Jesus is too nice. Believe me, he is good, always, but he is not always nice. And our God is strong, mighty, almighty to deliver his people in the day of evil, and he will deliver. He is majestic (v11). His holiness is an awesome concept, “and one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts” (Isaiah 6:3-5)! For those who believe in his Son, have experienced his lovingkindness, who love him, his character inspires awe, fear i.e., deep respect, worship, and trust. Worship him, the Triune God today, fall down before him, love and adore him!
“Exposing the Exodus”
The God of Glory! – (Chapter 15 Verses 15-1-22)
A glorious song of praise is offered up to God for this mighty deliverance. And for God’s judgment upon Israel’s and God’s enemies. “The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: he shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked. So that a man shall say, Verily there is a reward for the righteous: verily he is a God that judgeth in the earth” (Psalm 58:10-11). They express themselves in a way that is very natural to their Hebrew culture. It is praise as praise should be, there is nothing man-centredness, no glorification of man. All the praise is to God alone. It is in recognition of the personality, the supremacy and holiness of Almighty God. It is in praise of his vindictive, retributive justice. It is a Divinely inspired song, for it is not in squeamish man to write such concerning the justice of God. The glorified saints in heaven, they know better (Revelation 20:1-6). It is for us the people of God confirmation and remembrance also. It is prophetic in that it reminds the church of its final victory of Satan and the defeat of the AntiChrist (Revelation 15:1f). It is a reminder for the church too as she also struggles and battles with her enemies through the wilderness of this barren world. The victory over Satan is ours and Golgotha assured us of that, “having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it” (Colossians 2:15). This song of praise unto the Lord is for this victory over Egypt, the then world-power, Pharaoh who is a type of the Antichrist, and Satan who is the architect of all evil (v1). The first thing they do when delivered, they sang a song of praise to God. This is fitting. All inanimate creation sings (Job 38:7). The king of Israel does (Psalm 40:3). The ransomed of the Lord do, their sighing and sorrowing us turned to singing (Isaiah 51:11). How has Israel’s victory been wrought? By the blood of the Lamb and the power of Almighty God. The latter most conspicuously displayed in both the land of Egypt by signs and wonders and lately by means of the Red Sea.
They sing of the trustworthiness of their God (v2). He proves able to deliver, again and again, “giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Colossians 1:12-13). He alone is our salvation and does not the experience of such salvation lead us to glad, grateful confession of God as our deliverer and our salvation. This God is our God, he is the God of all history, he is our faithful covenant Lord, never changing, always the same. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17). He acts for his own, takes issue with our foes, deals with the powers arrayed against us, both persons and powers of evil. Our God is a warrior God (v3). To his enemies, he is a terrible, fearsome warrior (v3). This is an aspect of God’s character ignored by and large, seldom made mention of. The often sickly sentimentality expressed as love is of the flesh, not faith. Israel is looking and singing from a divine perspective here, this is Spirit inspired praise! God is the faithful performer of what he promises, “the Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” (Exodus 14:14). And did he not? Here is the practical proof, Israel has, as he promised, been delivered. As Joshua would tell Israel much later on, “and ye know in all your hearts and in all your souls, that not one thing hath failed of all the good things which the Lord your God spake concerning you; all are come to pass unto you, and not one thing hath failed thereof” (Joshua 24:14). Nor ever shall. Trust him!
“Exposing the Exodus”
The Destruction of Egypt – (Chapter 14 Verses 15-31)
The deliverance of Israel spells judgment for Egypt. Zion is redeemed by judgment. We see this time and again through redemptive history. The last plague poured out upon Egypt broke their power, their resistance. But they are still not humbled. There may be fear, there may be sorrow and grief but without the sorrow that leads to a biblical repentance, the end is more God hardness, “for godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2Corinthians 7:10). The further hardening is evidenced by their recovery from the fear caused by the last plague. Now they are in hot pursuit of the Hebrews again (v23). And that to their certain and final destruction (v23-25). Pharaoh’s intelligence service informs him that the Israelites are trapped. But after what he has already seen, i.e., the power of God at work in destroying his nation. And Egypt’s infrastructure razed to ground zero. Plus what he sees here before his eyes ought you would think to at least warn him of imminent danger. But here is the fury of blind rage against the Almighty (Psalm 2). The wind, the walls of water, the darkness, the manifestations of the wrath of God are screaming in his face! Blinded by enmity against and hatred of God (Romans 8:7). The awful black raging look of Jehovah is upon the Egyptians (v24). He is about to strike in wrath. Their fall is great (v26-28). Again the rod of Moses is lifted (v27). The walls of water begin to crumble and fall, the Egyptians try to turn back but it’s too late. God shakes off his enemies in the raging waters of the Red Sea, overtaken and swallowed up in judgment. O don’t leave it too late, “now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2Corinthians 6:2). “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him“ (2Corinthians 5:11, 20-21). God is glorified in both the salvation of his people and the judgment of the wicked. “The Lord hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil” (Proverbs 16:4).
This signifies the salvation of the church and the judgment of the world. It is a down payment a guarantee of what is to come at the end of the age. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat” (2Peter 3:10-12). The ruin of the ungodly will be great, “he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:49). Pharaoh heard, Pharaoh saw the manifestations of God’s power but he would have none of it, he perished and took his army down with him. Now amongst God’s people there is both fear and salvation (v29-31). Noah and his family were saved in the judgment upon the then world by a flood. Israel is saved here in the judgment of Egypt is delivered by the hand of God. Times are often dark for God’s covenant people, seemingly hopeless even. But God has promised, he has pledged himself to us and his promise of a future paradise, the real promised land is not empty hope. Jehovah, our faithful covenant Lord, remains true to his name, faithful. He always and always will deliver his church. Here typically through the Red Sea, in reality through Christ and his finished work, our only hope of salvation (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Behold! The sufficiency and salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 7:25). Who has the ability to deliver his elect in every circumstance 0f life and whatever the world has to through at us? Only believe (Mark 9:23)!
(© James R Hamilton, written Spring, 2015)
“Exposing the Exodus”
The Divine Glory – (Chapter 14 Verses 15-31)
The sheer logistics of this move is a nightmare without the added threat of the Egyptian armies coming at the people of Israel. They hit the panic button. But that doesn’t alter anything, it’s not only unproductive it is destructive, paralysing. The thing to do is to stop and think, and think in terms of what God has said and promised. This way you begin to see and realise the sufficiency and the trustworthiness of God. That way faith is also encouraged and strengthened for the future. Of course, it’s the Devil who seeks to destroy our faith and peace. Our safety is in the Lord. There is some irony in the complaints of Israel (v11). They appear to be obsessed with death, they have been living for too long amidst the tombs and pyramids of Egypt (Proverbs 8:36). There is no true and saving faith with these people at this juncture in their history, the New Testament appears to affirm that. Jesus destroyed most of them (Jude 5). It is only the gospel that reverses this obsession of and terror of death (John 11:25). If anyone has a problem with the signs already performed in the Exodus account, they will have mega problems with this one. Faith needs a promise, this they have (v14). And command needs obedience, go forward (v15). Faith must see the invisible, the salvation of the Lord (Hebrews 11:8). This is a dead end, an impasse, no way out. Only faith, only believing in God. There is a divine impatience with is servant, “wherefore criest thou unto me” (v15)? It’s a time for action not praying. This in faith life is where you move from the theory to the practical. Both are necessary and important. If the theory isn’t right the practice won’t be. We need to study, meditate, engross ourselves in the theory, in God’s word. Only then are we ready for action. The thing is these people have heard and seen enough, they ought by this time to be trusting in God. This is a test to see to discover faith. There are times when God takes and leaves us in extremities for this end, to test and to discover faith before he puts forth his hand to deliver. See the book of Job for example. See the trials of the apostles (2Corinthians 1:8-9).
God would have us look to him, do what he says, even when it seems beyond us. Then he works, opens a way, and we get the benefit, our faith is increased (Hebrews 11:29). Otherwise, our pilgrim walk would be by sight and not faith (2Corinthians 5:7). The Lord begins to open up the way, but not completely, each step forward is a fresh step of faith (v16). Such is the way of faith in any generation, even now. Yes, there is fear, confusion, sometimes totally baffled, but God isn’t. He always knows what he is doing and going to do. It is afterwards, we look back afterwards, then understand what God was doing. We must keep in mind that God is doing things here, he is judging Egypt and he is delivering Israel. Yes, unlike me God can do more than one thing at once. Both are for his own glory (v17-18). The Egyptians would not plough into the see were they not blinded, “God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear” (Romans 11:8). The secret counsel of God’s purposes are being worked out here, that is, “the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth” (Romans 9:11). There is a double sign, miracle here. Israel, God’s covenant people are saved (v13a). Egypt, i.e, the unbelieving world is destroyed (v13b). The full final weight of God’s justice falls on Egypt. If men will not serve the Lord they will be judged. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish Psalm 1:1-6).