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Exodus 15:22-27; Bitter Waters Sweet

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110327_exodus15_22-27.mp3

03/27 Exodus 15:22-27 Bitter Waters Sweet

From Worship to Discontent

Last time we watched as the Lord saved his people. They saw his great power, they feared the Lord, they believed in the Lord, and they sang his praises. God is victorious; he is the source of strength; the theme of worship; he is rescuer; proven faithful; warrior, fighting for us; he is self-existent; all powerful; conqueror; he is rightly proud; he is justly angry; he is unrivaled; incomparable; totally set apart; awe-inspiring; he is active in power; he is our faithful lover; our purchaser/ redeemer; our caring guide; he dwells with his people; he is the perpetual king. 72 hours after they see their enemy crushed by God at the Red Sea, after they had praised his awesome attributes in song, now they are grumbling. It did not take God very long to get his people out of Egypt. As we will see, it takes much longer to get Egypt out of his people. But God is faithful. God saved his people by sheer undeserved grace. Now they must learn to walk by faith in that same grace. Here we see an amazing example of his grace toward undeserving people.

15:22 Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.

The first observation we can make in this passage, is that Moses made the people set out from the Red Sea. They had just seen great victory, and we often want to camp out in the place of victory. But God was guiding by fire and cloud. And he was guiding into the wilderness. The people were understandably reluctant to follow. But God’s purpose was that they move from bondage to Pharaoh into glad service to their true King. They must learn what it is to walk with God and serve him, and that is a lesson that must be learned in the desert. God’s aim was that his people know him, that they know the LORD, and some of God’s attributes are only taught through difficult circumstances. This day they will learn a new name for their God.

We must not be too quick to judge the Israelites. Three days in the desert with no source of water would be disconcerting. They were traveling with families and flocks to water, and a three day supply would be a lot to carry. When water came into sight, they would drink whatever remained and prepare to refill. When they discovered that this water was undrinkable, they panicked. They targeted Moses, the visible representative of God, and they grumbled. They complained. They murmured. The root of this word means ‘to stay the night, to remain, abide, or dwell’. They camped out on their problem. They focused on their situation. They dwelt on their lack and it consumed them. All they could talk about was what they didn’t have.

Ruth and Naomi

The place was named Marah because the water was bitter. Marah is the Hebrew word for bitter. And bitter circumstances made bitter Israelites. There is another naming in the Old Testament, not of a place, but of a person who named herself ‘Mara’

Ruth 1:19 …And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” 20 She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. 21 I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the LORD has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

Naomi’s name meant – ‘my delight, beauty, or pleasantness’. She asked that her name be changed from ‘delight’ to ‘bitterness’. She said:

Ruth 1:13 … for it is exceedingly bitter to me for your sake that the hand of the LORD has gone out against me.”

Ruth and her family had moved from Bethlehem in Judah to Moab because of famine. They remained in Moab for about ten years. Her husband and both her married sons died. Her life was bitter, and she blamed God. ‘The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. The LORD has brought me back empty. The LORD has testified against me, the Almighty has brought calamity upon me. The hand of the LORD has gone out against me’. She dwelt on her painful circumstances and delight was changed to bitterness. But this was not the end of her story. When she began to see the big picture, she exclaimed ‘…the LORD, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!’ (Ruth 2:20). Out of Naomi’s bitter circumstances comes the most beautiful picture of redemption we have in all of the Old Testament. The women whom she asked to call her ‘bitter’, by the end of the story say to her “Blessed be the LORD, who has not left you this day without a redeemer, and may his name be renowned in Israel! He shall be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age, for your daughter-in-law who loves you, who is more to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.’ (Ruth 4:14-15). Bitterness was turned to beauty again as Naomi became the great great grandmother to David the King.

Hebrews and James

The author of Hebrews argues that God’s discipline is evidence of his love toward us, and that ‘for the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.’ (Heb.12:11) He goes on to say:

Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;

Bitterness is a highly infectious cancer that spreads rapidly and brings death. God provides bitter circumstances to train us in his grace. We can be teachable and allow it to blossom into righteousness, or we can allow bitterness to fester and erupt in a rottenness that contaminates those around us. Painful circumstances are evidence of God’s grace, an undeserved kindness to keep us looking to him, trusting in him, depending on him. Bitter circumstances can keep us from becoming self-sufficient and complacent and unbelieving. This is how James can write:

James 1:2 Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Will you look at your bitter circumstances, or will you look through you bitter circumstances? God provides us with circumstances to train us, to test us, to prove us. We can be patient and teachable, keeping our eyes on God and believing that he loves us and has good in store, or we can focus on the circumstances and putrefy in our own bitterness to the harm of those around us. Bitter circumstances do not cause bitterness. They only bring the bitterness that is already in our hearts to the surface so that we can see it and deal with it. Amy Carmichael, missionary to India (1867-1951) wrote:

For a cup brimful of sweet water cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, however suddenly jolted.” (Amy Carmichael, If p.46 cited in Jim Wilson, How To Be Free From Bitterness, p.15)

This is what Jesus told us:

Luke 6:45 The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

This was a test

God had saved them and they had seen and believed in him, but now he was sending them into the wilderness, sending them a test to shake them, to see what was really in them.

15:25 …There the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, your healer.”

This was a test. You just sang that God is victorious, that God is sovereign over his enemies, that God is sovereign over the waters. Now will you live like you sing? Will your deeds and your attitudes match your words? They were self-centered, and focused on their own needs and what they could see. They had been three days in the desert with no source of water and they began to fear. They saw water and put their hope in what they saw. The water was bitter and they lost all hope and grumbled. God is gently lifting their eyes to look at him. Get your eyes off yourself and your problems and look to me! Your problems are simply a stage for me to show myself strong on your behalf. Listen listeningly to YHWH your God, do what is right in his eyes, give ear to his commandments, keep all his statutes. Get your focus off of you and your perceived needs and get your focus on God and what he wants. Become God-centered in your thinking and feeling. God allows our needs to go unmet to teach us that what we really need is him. He gives us wants to teach us to want him more.

Amazing Grace

God gives his people a promise. If you remain in relationship with me, I will not judge you like I judged the Egyptians. I will not give you what you deserve. I will deal with you out of my grace.

God’s grace is amazing in this passage. So quickly after God’s sovereign rescue of his people at the sea, they are grumbling and complaining, hearts filled with bitterness rather than praise. There is not a word of rebuke here from God. God met their grumbling with provision, with promise and with revelation. God provided for their immediate need. God showed Moses what to do and the bitter water was made sweet. God met their grumbling with a promise. He promised escape from judgment based on relationship. He met their grumbling with self-revelation. He responded by teaching them a new name for himself. He said ‘I am YHWH-Rapha or Jehovah-Rapha, the self-existent one, our Healer; our Physician. This is not the name I would expect in this context. God provided them with a basic need. I would expect ‘Jehovah-Jireh’, the Lord our provider. He is promising exemption from judgment; I would expect YHWH-El-Rakhoom, the Lord our merciful God. Instead we have Jehovah-Rapha – the Lord our healer, our doctor. In Ezekiel 47 this same word ‘rapha’ ‘heal’ is used to describe bitter water becoming fresh. The water is healed of its bitterness. God promises to put none of the diseases on the people in relationship with him that he put on the Egyptians. When we look at the ten mighty acts God unleashed against the Egyptians, most of them would not be described as diseases. Only the sixth plague, boils, and possibly the tenth, the death of the firstborn, could be described as sicknesses or diseases. But what God said he would do throughout the narrative was to cause their hearts to become hard. This fits well with the bitterness we see in this passage. God is the healer of bitter waters, and he is the one who heals our sick hearts that are callous toward God and are consumed so easily with bitterness and self-centeredness. Praise God he is a physician of sin-sick souls! He has the wisdom to properly diagnose my condition, and he has the power to apply the cure. We see this so beautifully in Jesus, the Great Physician.

When some people carried a paralyzed man on his bed to Jesus, Jesus responded ‘Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven’ (Mt.9:2). When a religious leader in Israel came to him under cover of darkness impressed by his miracles, Jesus saw his heart and said to him ‘you must be born again’ (Jn.3:7). When a disreputable sinner came to a well to get water, Jesus pointed her to himself as the source of living water that would satisfy her deepest longings (Jn.4). He confronted the unbelieving Jews who refused to hear him, to honor him, to come to him, to believe in him, to set their hope in him so they can have life (Jn.5). Jesus confronted the crowds who were following him for a free lunch “do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” (Jn.6:27). To the Jews who boasted in Abraham he said “everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin… if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (Jn.8:34-36). To a woman grieving the death of her brother, Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (Jn.11:25-26). When a condemned criminal who was being executed confessed his own sins and recognized the sinlessness of Jesus and cried out to him, Jesus said “Today you will be with me” (Lk.23:43). When Thomas was wrestling with doubts about the resurrection, Jesus said to him “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe” (Jn.20:27). Jesus, the Great Physician, can see right into the sin-sick condition of our heart and give us himself as the cure.

The Tree

Did you notice how the bitter waters were made sweet?

15:24 And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

The Lord showed Moses a log. In Deuteronomy 21:22-23, this same word is translated ‘tree’ and it is a means for execution of someone convicted of a capital crime. This verse is quoted by Paul in Galatians:

Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us––for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”––

Moses threw a tree into the bitter waters and they were made sweet. Jesus became a curse for us by being nailed to a piece of wood. He redeemed us from the curse of the law by paying the death penalty we deserve with the price of his own perfect life. He turned God’s curse into a blessing for us. Peter puts it this way:

1 Peter 2:24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

The tree that brings healing to hearts bitter with the guilt of sin is the cross. Jesus, the Great Physician, bore our sins, sins of hard heartedness, bitterness, self-centeredness, pride. He bore our sins in his body on the tree. Because of his wounds he is YHWH-Rapha, the Lord our Healer. When the cross is applied to us, it brings death to the bitter bondage of sin, and makes us alive to God in his righteousness.

Galatians 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Oh, let Christ the Great Physician cure your heart today!

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

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March 27, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 15:1-21; The Song of the Sea – Worship

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110320_exodus15_1-21.mp3

03/20 Exodus 15:1-21 The Song of the Sea

God’s stated purpose in the exodus was to make himself known. They Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD; you shall know that I am the LORD; I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his hosts.

Exodus 9:14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.

‘I could have done it differently’ God says. ‘But I do things the way I am doing them so that you may know that there is none like me. I am doing this for the good of my people and for the fame of my name in all the earth.’

Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.”…

Exodus 14:18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

God is out to get glory for himself. He is out to display his power, so that his name will be proclaimed in all the earth. God is out to display his sovereign uniqueness, his unmatched supremacy. We are told to stop being afraid of anyone but God, to be still and stop stirring up dust that obscures God’s glory. We are told to be spectators of God’s great salvation as God works salvation for us. The LORD fights for his people. God acts alone for our salvation. We have only to be silent.

Exodus 14:13 …“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

The prophet Isaiah puts it this way:

Isaiah 64:4 From of old no one has heard

or perceived by the ear,

no eye has seen a God besides you,

who acts for those who wait for him.

We have seen God take his people out of Egypt. God’s people were unbelieving, complaining, fighting against God’s plan, questioning God’s wisdom and capability. They cried out for help, but when God stepped in to help, they didn’t like how he was helping. God was acting for their good, but they didn’t know what good was. They considered slavery in Egypt better than the presence of God in the wilderness. They needed their sense of ‘better’ re-calibrated. But praise God, he took his grumbling doubting complaining discontented argumentative people and he saved them anyway! He saved them without their help or cooperation. He saved them in the most inconceivable way. He saved them by himself. Chapter 14 concludes:

14:30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

I wish I had a recording of this song as it was originally sung. The bible tells us that there were about 600,000 men, besides women and children (Ex.12:37; 38:26; Num.1:46). I’ve sung with a group of pastors at the Minneapolis convention center numbering close to 2,000 and it was ground shaking and heart stirring. This is exponentially more, 300 times more men than that – and that’s not counting the women and children that were part of the crowd. I wonder how it happened – if it started with Moses at one end of the multitude and slowly mounted and spread and reverberated back until all were belting out at the top of their lungs worship and praise to their awesome God. Remember, these are the people that were gripped with terror as Pharaoh’s army overtook them by the sea and they had no hope and no way out. These are the people who saw God supernaturally part the sea and make a dry path for them to escape from their enemies. These are the people who saw with their own eyes the highly trained military of Pharaoh pursuing them into the sea, the same people who saw God crush their enemies under the sea so that not one was left. The text says the LORD saved Israel that day. They saw, they feared, they believed. And then they sang. Let’s try to hear them as they respond to God’s awesome salvation with worship.

15:1 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.”

Worship. Worship is an act of adoration or affection; declaring the worth of God to God. Worship, although not limited to singing, often finds expression in singing. We proclaim the truth about God and the things God has done in an emotionally charged celebration that we all vocally participate in.

It has been said that songs of worship are the take-home theology of the church. As you’re doing the dishes or disciplining the kids or celebrating God’s provision or facing a great trial, whether you start humming the tune or full-on belting out the words when no one is there to hear you, if the song is solid, you are rehearsing your theology and declaring your doctrine. Music is powerful. Two days from now you probably won’t remember much of what I’ve said this morning, but you might catch yourself humming a tune that we sang this morning. Sometimes I find myself whistling a hymn that I haven’t sung for over 20 years.

So I want to look at this song and ask the question ‘what makes a good worship song?’ What patterns do we see in this song that we could follow to enhance our worship of God?

Is it even legitimate to take this song as a good example to follow? I think we are justified in taking this song, because this song gets sung again. This song is sung in heaven.

Revelation 15:3 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.”

What’s not in this song?

Let’s start by looking at what’s missing. What is absent from this song? Me. I am missing. The song begins “I will sing; I will praise; I will exalt him‘ and it quickly forgets about self and focuses on God. I am not the center of the song. It is personal; it comes from my heart. But this is God-centered worship. In Miriam’s refrain the declaration ‘I will’ is left off and it becomes an imperative command; sing! Everyone, sing to the LORD. God is the subject and the object of the song. It is a song about God and it is sung to God. This song is characterized by an utter forgetfulness of self.

Psalms 115:1 Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory,

for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!

God here fulfills his purpose of making himself known and getting glory for himself. His people forget about themselves, their successes, their fears, their failures. They sing about God.

What does this song say about God?

So what does this God-saturated God-centered song say about God? We could divide it into two main categories: who God is and what God does.

Who God is

This song celebrates who God is. God’s people declare the character and nature of God. They sing the attributes of God.

15:1 …he has triumphed gloriously; -risen risingly; gloriously triumphant; -the victor, conqueror

2 The LORD is my strength and my song, -supplier/source of strength; theme of my music, worthy of worship; Yah (shortened form of YHWH)

and he has become my salvation; -God who saves, rescues

this is my God, and I will praise him, -personal intimate connection

my father’s God, and I will exalt him. – historical tie – not a new god; legacy

3 The LORD is a man of war; -warrior; the one who fights the battle

the LORD is his name. -proper name YHWH not title; the one who is; self-existent

6 Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, -majestic force

your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. -supreme over adversary

7 In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries – multiplied excellency; pride –only being for whom pride is not a sin – throws down or tears down enemies

you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble. -fierce heat of just wrath

11 “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? -unrivaled; incomparable;

Who is like you, majestic in holiness, -gloriously set apart; totally separate; other

awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? -terrifying in fame or renown; awe inspiring; acting in extraordinary ways;

13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; -faithful lovingkindness; unfailing love toward his people; ‘goel’ redeemer – pays the purchase price, protects and rescues because of family obligation

you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. -one who leads to a place of rest and refreshment; mighty power; brings us apart to his dwelling place

16 Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, -inspires horrific terror; power is great in magnitude

till the people pass by whom you have purchased. -becomes the owner by acquisition; possessor

18 The LORD will reign forever and ever.” king perpetually from ancient times throughout eternity

God’s people celebrate in song God’s attributes; he is victorious; he is the source of strength; the theme of worship; he is rescuer; proven faithful; warrior; he is self-existent; all powerful; conqueror; he deserves to be proud; he is justly angry; he is unrivaled; incomparable; totally set apart; awe-inspiring; he is active in power; he is our faithful lover; our purchaser/ redeemer; our caring guide; he dwells with his people; he is the perpetual king. That is who he is.

What God does

The song celebrates not only the character and attributes of God, but the real historical actions of God. Let’s look at what he does.

15:1 for he has triumphed gloriously;

the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea. -thrown off /thrown down

2 and he has become my salvation;

4 “Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea, -thrown, hurled, shot

and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. -even the elite were drowned

5 The floods covered them; -primordial abyss, destructive chaos waters of judgment, ancient deeps

they went down into the depths like a stone.

6 your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.

7 In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; -tear down, beat down, destroy

you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble. -heat of his fierce wrathful displeasure -let go; as God demanded Pharaoh to send out his people

8 At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up; -anger; flared nostrils

the floods stood up in a heap; -running waters piled up

the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea. -primordial abyss thickened or curdled

10 You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; -wind, spirit, breath

they sank like lead in the mighty waters. -not just a marshy swamp!

12 You stretched out your right hand;

the earth swallowed them. -could mean sheol or the underworld; engulfed

God kills his enemies

What they are memorializing in song seems to be all about God destroying his enemies. God triumphs; throws down; hurls; covers with the deep; shatters; tears down; consumes with fury; flares his nostrils; congeals the abyss; immerses in the mighty waters; swallows his enemies up in the underworld.

Isn’t killing people mean? Doesn’t God have to follow his own commandments? The short answer is ‘no’. God is just. God is the judge. God says ‘vengeance is mine, I will repay’. It belongs to God to give life and to take life. That is his right, not ours. Remember, these are the sworn enemies of God. They had seen God’s mighty acts first hand. They could have joined with the Israelites in the mixed multitude as they left Egypt but they did not. Verse 9 chronicles in six ‘I will’ statements their rebellious attitude:

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.’

This is as they are pursuing God’s people into the parted Red Sea! They have demonstrated that they are persistently evil and unrepentant. God is not obligated to give them a second chance (or, in this case, an eleventh chance!) God as savior of his people now crushes his enemies so they can no longer pursue them. In a fallen world hostile to God’s purposes, YHWH must be a warrior. God’s anger against evil and his destruction of those who oppose him are inherent aspects of his majesty. God is just and will not tolerate evil. God is abundantly patient, but evil will be totally eradicated. That is something we should celebrate!

The song goes on to describe the terror that is planted in the hearts of the future enemies of Israel.

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.

God cares for his people

The song also talks about what God does for his own people.

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.

16 …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.

This is quite the switch from ‘you have led us out here to die!’ He leads in steadfast love. He redeems. He guides into his house. He purchases his people. He brings us in and plants us, roots us in his presence, the place he has prepared for us. He reigns.

Jesus

They sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. Christ our passover is slain for us. All of this points us to Jesus. Jesus is the victorious conqueror of sin and death and hell; he is the source of our strength; the theme of our worship; he is rescuer, God our savior; proven faithful; the warrior who fights for us; he is self-existent; omnipotent LORD; he is lifted up and seated at the right hand of his Father; he is justly angry and will tread the wine-press of the wrath of God; he will eradicate all evil; he is unrivaled; incomparable; totally set apart; awe-inspiring; he is active in resurrection power; he is our faithful lover; our purchaser and redeemer who paid for our sins at the cross with his own blood; he demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, while we were his enemies Christ died for us. Jesus is our gentle shepherd and caring guide who leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake; he is Immanuel, God with us, he goes to prepare a place for us; Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords and every knee shall bow to him and give him glory! That is who he is.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 14:1-31; God Alone Saves

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110313_exodus14_1-31.mp3

03/13 Exodus 14:1-31 God Alone Saves

Intro:

God’s purpose in the exodus is that he be known. God shows up to make himself known. He sets out to get glory for himself. God says ‘I will be known. I will be feared. I will be admired. I will act in such a way as to inspire awe and holy respect. I will get fame and honor and renown. I will not be slighted. I will be treated as weighty. I will be seen for who I am. I will get glory’.This is God’s purpose in the world.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Even when God’s leading does not seem to make sense, we can be confident that he is at work for his glory and for our good. Even when he leads us into a corner with no way out and then incites our enemy to rise up against us, we must trust that his ways are perfect. He is acting for our good and for his glory.

In this passage, we will see the primary way God gets glory for himself. Our God is a God who saves. Here we are given such a clear picture of God our Savior – he alone saves his people.

14:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi–hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal–zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. 5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi–hahiroth, in front of Baal–zephon.

Tracing Israel’s Faith

Last time we looked at the progression of Pharaoh and the Egyptians as they were brought to recognize YHWH (or Jehovah – the LORD), God of the Hebrews. God said ‘the Egyptians shall know that I am YHWH’, and Pharaoh said ‘who is YHWH that I should obey his voice. I do not know YHWH’. After only the second plague, Pharaoh was asking Moses to ‘plead with YHWH for me’. By chapter 14, the Egyptians were crying out ‘let us flee …YHWH fights for them against the Egyptians’. Let’s look at how the faith of God’s people progressed as he revealed himself to them.

In chapter 1, we are introduced to some Hebrew midwives who feared God. Because they feared God, they disobeyed the Pharaoh’s orders, and God dealt well with them. By the end of chapter 2, the people are groaning because of their slavery and crying out for help. The text doesn’t tell us that they addressed their cry for help to anyone, but we are told that ‘their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant … God saw the people of Israel – and God knew’. God revealed himself to Moses in the wilderness in chapter 3, and called him into relationship with himself, sent him to bring the people out of Egypt and into his service. Moses is reluctant but eventually surrenders and goes and tells the people everything that God had told him.

Exodus 4:31 And the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the people of Israel and that he had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshiped.

But after Pharaoh rejects the initial demand of the LORD to release his slaves, and instead increases their workload to the impossible, the people run to Pharaoh and cry out to him for help. When Pharaoh refuses to listen to their plea, they curse Moses in the name of the LORD for stirring things up (5:21). In chapter 6, God gives Moses the good news of his promises to preach to his people, but, it says ‘they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery’ (6:9). From this point on, God steps in and acts on behalf of his people. He unleashes his mighty acts of judgment against Egypt, and he makes a distinction between Egypt and his people, exempting his people from the full force of the blows. He claims to do it:

Exodus 10:2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

God is working so that his people will know who he is. Not only is he working so that the Egyptians know that he is YHWH, but even his own people need to be taught his nature and character. God gives his people favor with the Egyptians so they are given whatever they need for preparation for their journey. God gave his people instructions for a feast that was to shelter them from his wrath and point them to Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The people here respond by bowing their heads in worship and obeying what the LORD had commanded (12:27-28). The Egyptians were brought to acknowledge YHWH and flee from him. The Hebrews worship and obey YHWH. Now they are following the visible manifestation of God as he leads them with cloud and with fire. Let’s see how they fare:

14:10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”

Faithless People and their Faithful God

Notice how faithless God’s chosen people are. They set their eyes on their circumstances and they fear. To their credit, this time they cry out to the LORD instead of Pharaoh, but then they start complaining. They accuse him of leading them to the wilderness to die. They act as if their rescue from slavery was a horrible thing. They say ‘I told you so’ – we told you to leave us alone to serve our old slave-master. And they look back to the good old days slaving over bricks and mortar in Egypt. You took us away from all we had ever known. It would have been better for us to stay. Better to have our children killed. Better to be beaten. Better to be crushed under the oppressive slave-master. Better to be afflicted with heavy burdens, oppressed by the cruel taskmasters. Better to be ruthlessly made to work as slaves. The bitter life of hard service in Egypt was better than this. They have the pillar of fire and cloud right in front of them, and they say slavery in Egypt was better! They have no faith in God’s promises. All they can see is the bad part of what they can see, and that most certainly means death. They leave God out of the equation, focus on their circumstances, and are consumed with fear and speak against God’s deliverance.

Can you believe this? After God’s ten mighty acts of power over Egypt and all their gods, leaving the land and the people ruined and devastated, after God clearly established his supremacy over all things, humiliated Pharaoh and emasculated his gods, after he has demonstrated his compassion and care for his people, making a distinction, fighting on their behalf, after Pharaoh had consistently demonstrated that he was a cruel and pitiless slave-master, God’s people still want to return to Egypt? This makes no sense. They cannot see beyond their immediate circumstances, they cannot trust in the promises of their faithful God, they turn everything upside down and make God and his chosen deliverer out to be cruel and their slavery to a godless tyrant out to be paradise. This is incomprehensibly stupid! Can you believe it?

I can. I can, because this is what I do every day. This is where I live. This is the battle I fight. Will I trust God who has proven himself faithful and wise and awesome and loving? Will I believe that he has good in store for me? Or do I think that God is keeping some good thing away from me? Do I fondle in my heart the fleeting pleasures of sin that I know only bring me back into bondage and will never satisfy but instead create greater emptiness and craving? I have tasted the sweetness of intimacy with God. I have seen evidence of his relentless love. And my heart is still prone to wander. Prone to doubt. Prone to disbelieve. This is who we are. This is the battle we fight. What should we do? We cry out with the Apostle “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom.7:24).

But praise God he does not give us what we deserve. Praise God it does not depend on me! Praise God that salvation is by grace alone! Praise God that, as Paul says:

2 Timothy 2:13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful–– for he cannot deny himself.

God would have been just to say ‘you liked Egypt so much? Back to Egypt you go!’ Praise God his faithfulness is not based on our fickleness but on his own reputation. God will remain true to himself.

Call to Stop Fearing and Stand Firm

14:13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

This is an amazing call to worship. First we are told to stop being afraid. In verse 10, when the Egyptian military was drawing near, it says the people feared greatly. They had an awesome respect for the skill and power and deadly force of the Egyptian army. By now, they should have had an even greater awesome fear and respect for their God, who decimated the Egyptians with blow after blow of his strong right hand. This massive horde of former slaves were no military match for the special forces of Egypt, but they should have seen that Pharaoh’s puny army was no match for the sovereign power of their Creator God. Jesus said:

Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (cf. Luke 12:5)

We are told to stand firm. Stand still. Stand your ground. Paul told the Galatian believers to stand firm in their blood-bought freedom.

Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

In the passage on spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, we are told repeatedly to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. …13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore…

Peter warns against the adversary and tells us to resist, firm in faith.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober–minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 12 … I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it.

We are not to be afraid. We are to stand firm – not in our own strength, but strong in the Lord and the strength of his might, firm in the faith – the belief that he loves us and is fighting for us, that he himself will by grace restore, confirm, strengthen and establish us. Stand firm in the true grace of God – standing, not on our rights or what we have earned, but standing firmly on the word of a God who gives good gifts to sinners at great cost to himself.

Call to Be a Spectator

Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today.

Have you ever thought about your salvation this way? We are spectators in our salvation. We are utterly incapable of even helping God out in our salvation. God works alone in salvation. We watch. We are the ones being fought over. We do not do the fighting. We do not do the work. He will work for you today. The LORD will accomplish your salvation.

Titus 3:4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy,

God is the one who saves. Subject, verb, object. God is the subject of the sentence. We are the object of his salvation. We are the recipient. God performs the action. We are described as ‘dead in the trespasses and sins’ (Eph.2:1); ‘slaves of sin’ (Rom.6:17); ‘foolish, disobedient, led astray, salves to various passions and pleasures’ (Tit.3:3). We are told to stand still and watch, because if we start scurrying around trying to help God out, we will only raise a dust cloud that will obscure his glory. We can contribute nothing of worth to our salvation. We are even told to repent of our righteous deeds:

Isaiah 64:6 We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment…

The author of Hebrews tells us that the elementary doctrine of Christ, the foundation that everything else stands on starts with repentance from dead works.

Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God…

If you are attempting to play a part in your salvation, if you are trying to help God out, STOP! Stop stirring up dust! Stop creating more dead works that you will have to repent of! Salvation belongs to the LORD (Ps.3:8; Jonah 2:9; Rev.7:10; 19:1) Take your place as a spectator to God’s salvation. Stop and look. Watch. ‘See the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you’

14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Hear what God is saying to you. You are loved. You are wanted. You are being fought over. Do you know how good it is to have someone who will fight for you? In college, I was being accused of something I did not do. I was being threatened with legal action. I was scared. Then I was called in to the office of the president of the college. He looked me in the eye across his big desk and asked me if I had done what I was being accused of. He believed I was innocent. He said ‘Rodney, if you get any more harassing phone calls, you let me know. I will go to bat for you.’

13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

Triumph Over their Enemies

They were looking at the situation all wrong. God had said he would harden the hearts of the Egyptians and cause them to pursue his people. God had promised to get glory over the Egyptians. If the Egyptian army had not shown up, if they were left alone in the desert, then the people should have wailed and cried out because God had not kept his word. Had the Egyptian army not come after them, they could be sure they would see them again. But because the Egyptians pursued them, as God had promised they would, they will never be seen again. God’s people will be free. Decisively free. Finally free. Free forever.

15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night. 21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

The LORD saved Israel that day. They saw. They were spectators. They saw their enemies dead on the seashore. They saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians. They did not lift a finger against their enemies. The LORD saved them by himself!

Salvation by Grace Alone Resulting in Faith

Here we see the response of the people to the great salvation that the LORD accomplished for them. They saw, they feared, and they believed. This is a beautiful example of salvation by grace alone. Grace is God’s goodness given to undeserving sinners.

Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

God’s people were complaining against God, wishing for a return to slavery when God intervened on their behalf. They were totally undeserving. God saved them anyway. That is salvation by grace alone. God’s salvation by grace resulted in their faith. They responded to God’s grace with fear and belief. His people were beginning in the path of wisdom. They were beginning to fear the LORD. They were beginning to see how awesome he is and it rightly terrified them. And they saw that he is on their side, fighting for them, and they began to trust him. They began to believe. God’s gracious salvation resulted in faith. God fought for them when they were ready to defect. God won back the hearts of his people.

Romans 5:10 …while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…

Jesus is Salvation

13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”

The Hebrew word translated salvation is [ hewvy] yeshuah. This is linked to the Greek name [Ihsouv ] Iesous given in the New Testament. It comes into the English as Jesus

Matthew 1:21 She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

March 13, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Exodus 14:1-31; God Gets Glory

http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20110306_exodus14_1-31.mp3

03/06 Exodus 14:1-31 God Gets Glory

Intro:

We’ve seen that God has good and wise purposes in everything he does. He is a God who keeps his promises. In his providence, he leads his people in the best path, and he gives to us the greatest blessing of his presence with us.

God is wise, his ways are perfect, he is always in complete control and he does all that he pleases. What he does is right and his plans for us are best. Sometimes we have difficulty seeing his design in our difficult circumstances. In this passage, which places the Israelites in an extremely difficult and desperate, dangerous, hopeless and helpless circumstance, God tells us his primary purpose for guiding the way he does. Here we are given a rare glimpse into the ‘why’ behind many of God’s mysterious workings.

13:17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. … 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

14:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi–hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal–zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so. 5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the mind of Pharaoh and his servants was changed toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his army with him, 7 and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the people of Israel while the people of Israel were going out defiantly. 9 The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and his horsemen and his army, and overtook them encamped at the sea, by Pi–hahiroth, in front of Baal–zephon.

God’s Purpose: Getting Glory

God is leading his people, unmistakably, visibly. And the way he is leading seems to make no sense. At least from a human perspective it makes no sense. He leads them into a corner where there is no way out, and stirs the heart of Pharaoh to pursue them. The special forces of Egypt overtake them as they are camped by the sea. We would have no idea why he is leading the way he is leading if he hadn’t declared his purposes to us.

3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

The Knowledge of YHWH

God’s stated purpose for his seemingly illogical plan is “I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD”. Throughout the book of Exodus, we have seen the self-revelation of God. God is making himself known. When God confronts Moses in the wilderness he declares:

Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.”’ 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.

I AM. YHWH. The self-existent one. He is the one who is. He is the essence of being. God wants to be known. God will be known. He will be remembered. He wants us to know his name, his character. Pharaoh offers an affront to the knowledge of God. Moses is sent to him in the name of YHWH.

Exodus 5:2 And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

And thus begins the challenge. Pharaoh refuses to acknowledge this YHWH God of the Hebrews. He defies God’s authority over his people. He refuses to bow. But the one true God will be known. He will be recognized for who he is. He will be acknowledged. Exodus is about God making himself known. This theme appears over and over again in Exodus, both with the people of God and with the Egyptians.

Exodus 6:7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Exodus 7:5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

Exodus 7:17 Thus says the LORD, “By this you shall know that I am the LORD: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood.

Exodus 8:22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.

Exodus 9:29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the LORD. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s.

Exodus 10:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.”

God means to be known. YHWH intends for all to recognize him for who he is, to know him by name, to stand in awe of his character. In chapter 14, what it means to know that he is YHWH is clarified and defined.

Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

Exodus 14:18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

To know the LORD is to know his glory. He says twice in this chapter ‘I will get glory’. God is setting the stage and acting in such a way as to get glory for himself. God means to be known by getting glory over the Egyptians. What is glory? A definition may be helpful.

Glory: a definition

Glo´ry Pronunciation: glō´rŷ;

n. 1. Praise, honor, admiration, or distinction, accorded by common consent to a person or thing; high reputation; honorable fame; renown.

2. That quality in a person or thing which secures general praise or honor; that which brings or gives renown; an object of pride or boast; the occasion of praise; excellency; brilliancy; splendor. [Webster’s 1913 Dictionary]

The Hebrew word here translated ‘glory’ is dbk kabad kaw-bad’

It literally means ‘to be made heavy’. This is the exact opposite of Pharaoh’s prideful words ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice? I do not know the LORD’. Pharaoh trifles with God, blows him off as if he were nothing. He does not take him seriously. God is weighty, there is mass to his personality, he is not to be taken lightly, there is gravity to what he says. His character is substantial. He is a force to be reckoned with. In Leviticus 10, two of Aaron’s sons got caught up in the moment. They didn’t take God’s commands seriously and approached God in worship their own way, not the way God had instructed them, and fire from the LORD came out and consumed them.

Leviticus 10:3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the LORD has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.”’ And Aaron held his peace.

God is heavy. God is weighty. God is not to be taken lightly. He is to be honored, he is to be respected. God is not to be taken casually.

Casual Church?

Let me make an aside here. Our style in this church is fairly casual and informal. We invite anyone and everyone to come as they are. That could be good and that could be very bad. If we are casual in our attitude and approach to God, thinking that anything goes, if we have no healthy respect for God, no fear of God, then something is terribly wrong. We are invited to come as we are, but we are not invited to treat God casually. Why are we casual in our appearance? Part of it is practical – I don’t find a suit and tie particularly comfortable. But the main reason is theological. God sees right through what I’m wearing and he sees my heart. God is not impressed or distracted by outward appearances. Jesus pronounced a woe on the blind fools who clean the outside of the cup and dish but inside are full of greed and self-indulgence (Mt.23:25-26; Lk.11:39-40). I know that God is absolutely holy and does not tolerate sin. As a sinner, I know my only hope for standing in his holy presence is the inward transformation that God does in my life as a result of my relationship with his own Son, crucified in my place. It is a weighty matter to come into the presence of Almighty God. We must take God seriously. We must fear. We must tremble. So we will approach him on no other foundation than the blood-bought righteousness of Jesus Christ who died on the cross bearing the guilt of our sin and giving to us as a gift his perfect righteousness.

Getting Glory

God says ‘I will get glory’. I will be known and feared and admired. I will act in such a way as to inspire awe and holy respect. I will get fame and honor and renown. That is God’s purpose in the world.

Habakkuk 2:14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

Let’s watch how God gets glory in the text before us:

14:10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the LORD. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” 15 The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. 16 Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground. 17 And I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they shall go in after them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” 19 Then the angel of God who was going before the host of Israel moved and went behind them, and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them, 20 coming between the host of Egypt and the host of Israel. And there was the cloud and the darkness. And it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night.

Does God need the help of his people? They don’t even seem to be on his side. They are eager to defect back to their old slave master. One purpose of the pillar of cloud/fire was to protect his people from the sword of the Egyptians. I wonder if one of the purposes was to keep his people from one by one defecting back to the camp of the enemy. It says ‘it lit up the night without one coming near the other all night’. God here is acting alone for his glory.

14:21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 The Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. 24 And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, 25 clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” 26 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may come back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal course when the morning appeared. And as the Egyptians fled into it, the LORD threw the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. 29 But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 30 Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.

The Egyptians Shall Know

We see in these verses a fulfillment of God’s promise at the outset.

Exodus 7:5 The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”

Pharaoh has gone from ‘Who is YHWH that I should obey his voice? I do not know YHWH (5:2), to ‘plead with YHWH to take away the frogs and I will let the people go to sacrifice to YHWH’ (8:8). Pharaoh’s magicians acknowledge ‘this is the finger of God’ (8:19) and Pharaoh concedes ‘I will let you go sacrifice to YHWH your God’ but he continually tries to negotiate the terms of the exodus (8:28; 10:8-11, 24 ). In chapter 9, we saw among Pharaoh’s own servants:

Exodus 9:20 Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field.

Then in 9:27 Pharaoh confesses ‘this time I have sinned; YHWH is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong …plead with YHWH to stop God’s thunder and hail’ (9:28). Pharaoh’s own servants counsel him ‘let the men go, that they may serve YHWH their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?’ (10:7). Again Pharaoh confesses ‘I have sinned against YHWH your God and against you’ (10:16) and asks them to forgive his sin and ‘plead with YHWH your God to remove this death from me’ (10:17). In 11:3, YHWH gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, and Moses was great in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and the people. In 12:31 Pharaoh finally concedes to the demands of a total exodus ‘go, serve YHWH as you have said’. YHWH gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so they let them have what they asked, and the people plundered the Egyptians. But Pharaoh’s heart was again hardened and he with his army pursued and overtook the Hebrews. They even pursued them into the divided Red Sea. Now, finally, as they sense the supernatural hand of God fighting against them, they cry out:

14:25 …And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.”

‘Who is YHWH that I should obey his voice? I do not know YHWH (5:2). The Egyptians shall know that I am YHWH (7:5).

Exodus 14:4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD.” And they did so.

Exodus 14:18 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

The Gospel

God defends his glory zealously.

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

In Acts 12, when Herod dressed in royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered an oration, the people shouted ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ and it says:

Acts 12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last.

In Revelation 16, when God pours out his wrath on rebellious mankind, their sin is described as:

Revelation 16:9 …they cursed the name of God … They did not repent and give him glory.

In Romans, we are told:

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

We fall so far short of giving God the glory that is his due. But there is hope! Hope for us in Jesus:

2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

So the knowledge of the glory of God comes to us in Jesus Christ. When God opens our eyes that we are sinners in need of a substitute to pay our debt of dishonor to God, and when we see that substitute is his own son Jesus, and we run to his cross for help, our debt is covered and we are set free to live our lives now to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 6:19 …You are not your own, 20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Peter 4:11 …serves by the strength that God supplies––in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

1 Timothy 1:17 To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org

March 6, 2011 Posted by | Exodus, podcast | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment