Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord : "I will sing to the L ord , for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him--my father's God, and I will exalt him! -- Exodus 15: 1-2 (NLT)
Can we picture the scene? After 400 years of slavery and oppression, God delivers the Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Capping it off by parting the Red Sea so the waters stood up and allowed God's people to cross on dry ground and then closing the walls of water over the enemies of God and sweeping them away. Whenever I read this account I can't help but think of the movie, The Ten Commandments, and the great line by Pharaoh -- "Their God"is God." Hallelujah! Now with the Egyptians washed away and the people finally free, the people of Israel break into song! The first 18 verses of this chapter is the full song of praise unto the Lord but for today, let us look at what we can unpack from the first two verses for our lives.
Because beloved, we too were once in slavery to sin and this world was our Egypt. We lived under the yoke of oppression as well until the Lord delivered us from bondage and set us free! He may have had to part some Red Seas in our lives as well to make this happen. He may have had to crush some enemies under the weight of the wave of His mighty hand. Like the Israelites before us, we too should be breaking into song and praise to God for all He has done in our lives, starting with our deliverance. This gets lost sometimes in the popular versions of Christianity today. Charlatans and snake oil salesmen have infiltrated the house of God and stand behind pulpits across this country to tell you how much God wants to give you when the discussion needs to be about all that God has already given us. We are developing a generation of spiritually illiterate, petulant Christians who think that God is nothing more than a blessing dispenser for our whims. If God did nothing else for me I would still owe Him everything. Because I remember my Egypt. I remember my Red Sea.
The song from the key verses start with a simple enough statement -- I will sing to the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously. The first lesson for us today is that this is never about us! Have you ever heard a preacher or Christian who had themselves as the hero of every story? Sure there is lip service paid to the Lord but they suffer badly from "me-ism" disease. They have become the Pharisee from the famous parable:
"Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: "I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don't cheat, I don't sin, and I don't commit adultery. I'm certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.' -- Luke 18: 10-12 (NLT)
That is eight references to himself in one prayer! The truth is we couldn't do anything before Christ and we cannot do anything now without Him. The Bible says that God will not share His glory with anyone. Whenever we experience victory in our lives -- the victory is the Lord's! We give praise to God because He is always worthy! Once again, this is not being taught correctly in the modern church where we see an over emphasis on what God is going to do instead of what He has done. This leads people away from praising God and instead we see congregations that are greedy instead of thankful. Blessings are always something they are waiting for instead of what they already have. This is nothing new beloved. These very same Israelites would test God's patience over and over again. Constantly grumbling against God and Moses -- actually complaining that they missed their slavery! Don't we do the exact same thing? How many times have we heard people bemoan all that they had to "give up" for God? All the "fun." All the sin that was slowly killing them. The Israelites eventually come to the border of the Promised Land and they send 12 spies out. They find the land is indeed flowing with milk and honey but that there were giants living in the land. Joshua and Caleb focused on who God was and insisted they could take the land with the Lord on their side. They remembered Egypt. They remembered the Red Sea. But the other ten grumbled and spread a bad report because they focused on the giants and not God. Here was the result:
But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle. And the Lord said to Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? Will they never believe me, even after all the miraculous signs I have done among them? I will disown them and destroy them with a plague. Then I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they are!" -- Numbers 13: 10-12 (NLT)
How quickly we forget the miracles God has already done in our midst. How quickly we want to believe the negative report and think fondly of the slavery our lives used to be. One story that always amazed me was the second miraculous feeding Jesus performed. In the 14th Chapter of Matthew's Gospel, we see Jesus feed the 5000 (which was really more like 15,000, including women and children). He did so with 5 loaves of bread and two fish and had 12 basketfuls left over. In the very next chapter, indicating not too much time had elapsed, He is faced with a crowd of over 4000 people and He tests the disciples by asking them to feed the people because He was concerned about them traveling home. Forget Egypt? They forgot what had just happened!