Sermon for Sunday, July 4th, 2021 at First Presbyterian Church at Unionville, NY (BPC)
Old Testament reading:
[Exo 15:1-21 ESV] 1 Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying, “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. 2 The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3 The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name. 4 “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. 5 The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. 6 Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. 7 In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble. 8 At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up; the floods stood up in a heap; the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. 9 The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them. I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’ 10 You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. 11 “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? 12 You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them. 13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. 14 The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. 15 Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. 16 Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. 17 You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. 18 The LORD will reign forever and ever.” 19 For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. 20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
New Testament reading:
[Rev 15:1-4 ESV] 1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. 2 And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire–and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
[Luk 1:46-55 ESV] 46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50 And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55 as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
We often sing when we are happy. Song can be the joyous response we have when something grand happens in our life. Or simply the response when we get that coveted free day and quiet time. Many sing in the shower, or in their car on the way to work. We sing when we are happy and singing even makes us happier.
There are likewise times in the Scriptures when the people of God burst out in singing his praises.
One of those occasions is here with the “Song of Moses” giving praise to God after the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea and deliverance from their enemy; the Egyptians.
I. The Song of Moses
God’s work is for this purpose: that the people might worship Him.
That is the entire purpose of the exodus – that the Israelites were saved in order to give Glory of God.
And so we now find a true high point in the spiritual history of the people of God.
Here, Moses and the people sing praises to God. It is called the Song of Moses, but it is really—as the text tells us—the Song of Moses and The People. They all sing together. They sing the praises of God.
But, you might ask, Why are they singing praises to God?
They sing for two main reasons:
One, In praise of God in the crossing of the Red Sea
Two, In praise of God for Who He is. (REPEAT, ONE AND TWO)
A. In praise of God in the crossing of the Red Sea
The People of Israel were helpless in the face of oncoming army of Egyptians and their mighty chariots. They were hemmed in, surrounded on three sides by water and from the fourth side the army of Egypt came upon them.
But the Lord delivered them. (REPEAT: But the Lord delivered them)
He, as a cloud of smoke and of fire kept the Egyptians at bay and later brought them into mass confusion and fear as their chariots bogged down in the mud.
Then too God delivered the Israelites through the parting of the Red Sea waters and the subsequent un-parting as the waters closed over and upon the armies of Egypt.
Thus Moses and the people are singing praise to God for their crossing of the Red Sea.
It is ultimately a song of Victory. And this is a victory that the Lord has won for the people. It is God and God alone who has won the day. And so the people are singing His praise because … God has saved Israel. He has delivered them and now they are inspired to sing.
They are praising God because they are standing on the other side of the Red Sea, completely emancipated from their former masters, never to be caught in the grip of the Egyptians ever again.
So their emancipation turns to celebration, for God has triumphed mightily.
And it is indeed God’s victory, not man’s. The people have walked where God has led them; they have followed the pillar of Cloud and of Fire and have gone through the path made for them in the parting of the Red Sea waters. In all of this God has led them. It is He who has brought them safety.
The people will soon be complaining about lack of water and the lack food. This pinnacle in the spiritual life of Israel will soon fade into complaining. But for this moment there is great praise to God for His victory and His deliverance.
Praise God for the Chariots sank like bricks into the sea.
Praise God for survival, for a new lease on life, for freedom, for a nation of our own, for escape from the enemy, for His protection. Praise God for His mighty deeds.
APPLICATION: Praise God at All times
This type of praise is what we want to have. That is, not just praising God for a moment, but being fully in a praising relationship with Him. We should not be like the Israelites, at one moment praising God and the next complaining. We are to live in joy, praising God’s name for His mighty deed and for who He is.
In his mightiest of deeds, in His own Son Jesus Christ, God has rescued us from the domain of darkness and delivered us into His Kingdom.
We have all the more reason to praise God. More reason than even the Israelites. For not for only have we received earthly protection, but we have also the promise of eternal life.
Ultimately, there will be good times and there will be bad times. This was true for the Israelites, and is true for us. Thus, while we should praise God for the blessings He gives us, we should even more praise Him simply for Who He is, our Great God.
That is what we find in the Song of Moses. It transitions from praising God for the victory over the Egyptians to then praising Him for who He is.
The first ten verses of chapter 15 focus on this Red Sea episode and especially the destruction of the chariots. And at the end, in Verses 19 to 21, it also talks about the horse and his rider being thrown into the Sea.
Then there is a section in verses 14 to 18 which is in reference to the battles ahead and the fear of those peoples in the lands where the Israelites will be heading. The Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, Canaanites are melting away in fear because of hearing of what God has done for the Israelites. And there is the promise to the Israelites that they will be brought in to that land and be planted on the mountain.
The promised land. It will not be a fleeting experience. Rather, they will be planted there. Permanently settled and growing in that spot!
And so there is praise of God for what He has done and for what He will do.
But in verses 11 through 13 we find that they are praising God for Who He is.
B. In praise of God for who He is.
Let’s read those verses again:
11 “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? 12 You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them. 13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
Indeed, “Who is like you, O LORD?”
This is clearly rhetorical. The answer is obvious. Who is like you? NONE. There are none that are like God.
God is “majestic in holiness.” He is separate from all others and above all others. Awesome in his glorious deeds, and doing wonders.
One theological term for this is “incomprehensibility.” Though we can know much about God, as the Scriptures reveal Him to us, God in His totality is yet incomprehensible to us. His ways are above our ways. We will never exhaust learning about Him. He is infinite, wise, holy, just in all His ways and in all His attributes.
Thus God is deserving of praise. And we are to praise none other. We are to give glory to God … and none other.
We should praise His name when a victory is won but also when we feel defeated. For, though ups and downs come upon us, He remains God. His steadfast love continues forever. And He has redeemed us … eternally. And He guides us by His strength … at all times.
Thus we too, like the Israelites, are to praise God.
And if you sing hymns as frequently as I have become accustomed to — or perhaps even more frequently — you may find yourself spontaneously singing them during your day, bringing Glory to God and brightening your countenance, bringing joy to your heart.
II. The Magnificat of Mary
The spontaneous singing for joy in the Scripture is not limited to this “Song of Moses.” We have in our Gospel reading another song of spontaneous joy. It is called “Mary’s Song of Praise” or “The Magnificat”
The context is that Elizabeth—Mary’s Cousin—who is pregnant with John the Baptist came and visited Mary. And John jumped for joy in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried to Mary “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!”
In response to this—and to the angel having told Mary that she would birth the messiah—she breaks into song.
This too is a song of victory.
51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52 he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; 53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.
And it too is a song of praise for who God is:
“Holy is his name.”
“His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.”
Thus Mary praises God for what He is doing and has done, but also for Who is He.
That is to be our song of praise as well. Unending praise of God whose love for us has no end, no bounds.
There is no moment where it is wrong to praise God. From our greatest days to our deepest struggles, we are to always give praise to God for who He is.
We are to be inspired to sing His praise at all times.
As the hymn says: Come let Sing unto to the Lord, new songs of praise with sweet accord, for wonders great by him are done; his hand and arm have victory won.
Finally, we see that the Song of Moses — or songs of that same praising nature — are not one-off occurrences.
In the book of Revelation we see in John’s vision that even in the world to come, in the New Heavens and New Earth that people will again be singing the song of Moses.
3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! 4 Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
(Remember that? Moses is a Servant, a servant of God.
And the servant of God works for the Lord AND sings his praises while doing so!
The song of Moses is a song about the amazing deeds of the Lord and a song about who He is. He alone is holy, just, and true.
What a glorious model for us. Serving the Lord while singing His praises!
And what a glorious eternity there is, enjoying God, worshipping Him, and singing His praise, forever.
We look forward to that day, but we also pray that we enjoy our hear and now, praising God in this place and wherever we find ourselves; whether in good times or in bad.
Let the Song of Moses be our Song. Let us always praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Amen.