Revel in God's Work
Imagine the scene; you’re traveling with all you have. You have your clothes and your belongings bound up in bags. You have your household kitchenware and all your money and jewelry packed up. You are carrying as much food as you can, as well as all your family livestock.
The army of Egypt is in pursuit. Itcame to a halt within striking distance. They set up a staging camp.
Then your leader, Moses sends word around;
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. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
As the message was being passed around the camp. The presence of God moved from being in front of our camp to behind. The cloud blocked the way. The army can’t cross. We are protected for now.
Then wind began to blow from the east. It blew, and blew and blew.
Night fell. The pillar of cloud took on its nightly fiery appearance.
The wind kept blowing from the east across the lake.
You try to get some sleep.
You sleep fitfully.
What if the fiery cloud doesn’t stop the army? What if they launch a sneak attack at night? What happens come day break?
You can’t sleep any more. You quietly wander around the camp.
The wind is still blowing. You look out across the lake. You can make out in the darkness a channel forming in the water. A chasm. the water is being held up on either side. You can faintly make out parts of the bottom of the lake appearing below. The relentless wind dries the ground as it appears.
Then there is a flurry of activity in the camp. It’s a wake up call.
“Wake up, get packed! We’re moving.”
You gather your family and you secure all your belongings.
In the hour that followed, in the darkness of the early early morning, we prepared to move again.
We formed into our traveling column and we began to move. We went the only way open to us, forward into the lake.
The wind howled. The bottom was dry. We marched down into the lake with everything we had. Our families, our livestock, everything we have marched down into the watery chasm in the dim predawn light.
The army behind us spotted the movement. They saw our escape though the lake.
We were on the move, we were coming up out the other side.
The hoard of chariots gave chase.
They would not let us go.
They pursued us.
They were defiant.
The first of their chariots entered into the lake, on the same path we had just trod. The chariots seemed to be making great headway at first. Perhaps they would catch us?
Then there was a shout! One of the chariots was bogged in the lake. There was confusion. The hoard of chariots was now well within the lake, but they slowed. Their progress came to a halt as they became stuck in the mud.
There you sat, on the far side of the lake staring down in the dim light at an entire army stuck at the bottom with walls of water on either side.
They seemed so small now. The army appears almost insignificant. Helpless. Remind me why I was afraid of this lot again?
You see Moses standing at the waters edge, looking down at the scene below. The sun was beginning to peak over the horizon.
Moses raised his staff, silently.
The water began to flow. Then the water gushed.
The water sloshed back into place, covering the struggling army. They were buried beneath the waves. They disappeared from sight. They were gone.
The sunlight’s rays began to warm the earth, shining down, illuminating a clear calm lake.
There was no army. There was no pursuit. There was not a chariot to be seen.
Then you wonder; “What kind of God is this? Who is this God of ours that can do that?”
Your fear grows, though this time you are not in fear of an army, your fear is of this God who has plucked you out of the hands of the enemy. Even so, you are overcome with relief!
You feel the joy wash over you.
You feel the tension give way to the feeling of victory!
We are free!
We are saved!
We are Israel, and our God triumphs over all!!
This causes for celebration. You can’t help yourself. You rummage through your pack and grab you tambourine. Who would have thought you would need this so soon hey?
There was a procession forming up behind Miriam, and you joined the throng with all the other women. You break into dance. You sing and shout! What a great day for your people! This will go down in history! We will never forget God’s triumph this day!
As you dance and celebrate, Moses opened his mouth and with a booming voice, he began to sing...
This is where we are going to hang out this morning, in the moment between. Where God’s people Israel have just witnessed a massive miracle, but before they continue to walk in faith into the desert. They have escaped the clutches of Pharaoh, and joy and peace washes over them. Relief and rejoicing abound. We’re going to tarry here with Israel as they take a moment to worship their redeemer! They Revel in God’s Work.
What does it mean to “revel” well, we will see that in our passage to come, but it’s the idea of taking great pleasure or delight, or to make merry; indulge in boisterous festivities. A wild party would be considered “revelry”, however there is a way to revel without the immorality or bad behavior. Sometimes Christians have been so afraid of things getting out of hand in our praise and worship that they prize stony-faced solemnity over feeling and expression. We all know what it’s like to experience dry and emotionless worship, by ourselves and at gatherings like this. Hopefully this passage will help stave off heartless worhship and help us take great pleasure and delight in our saviour.
When you read through the lead up to this passage, the Songs of Moses & Miriam are not surprising. You don’t read through the story of deliverance and get surprised by the song and merrymaking. Of course you’re going to break into song and celebration if you’ve just seen a whole enemy army defeated before your very eyes!
This is the natural response for Israel when they see a physical army judged and overthrown, it should also be our response when we see our greater enemies overthrown! Our enemies of Sin, Death & the Devil are destroyed and dismantled by Jesus; our natural response is to Revel in God’s Work.
The Song of Moses will show us how to Revel in God’s Work in 5 key ways. These 5 ways will inform our worship, giving us clues on who we worship, what we worship Him for, why we worship and even how worship can take place.
1. Reflect on what God Does (vs1-10)
1. Reflect on what God Does (vs1-10)
The first way to Revel in God’s Work is to Reflect on what he does. This is evident thoughout this whole passage, but it is very clear in the first 10 verses where Moses gives a poetic replay of what has just happended before their very eyes. Moses isn’t just thinking about God in some abstract way; he is recounting what God has literally done in their sight, and he says “I will sing to God because of his victory”. Dive into the text with me and have a look at the first 3 verses;
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. 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. The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.
See how Moses can respond in praise because of what God did? God threw the horse and rider into the sea, therefore God has saved us, therefore I will praise him.
How does Moses know that God is his strength? Because he has seen it happen. He knows what God has actually done, how he brought about victory, and that leads to exultation. What God did makes Moses grow in his trust and faith and worship.
You would hardly be surprised if someone trusted a trustworthy person. God demonstrates through his works that he is our strength and salvation and the worthy object of our worship.
Think about when you go to make a big purchase, you know, like a car or a fridge. If you’re in a position of being able to choose between several options you will usually look up reviews and stories about the different brands. If you go onto a product review website and look through the user reviews you might find someone who had a problem, and then they will recount whether or not the manufacturer repaired it, how easy it was to get it fixed, whether of not they were reluctant, etc. Then we usually make up our minds based on how the company has reacted in the past. Their past failures or successes will be what secures their reputation and public trust. Right now no one trusts VW because of the news they deliberately evaded emissions regulations. Their past failure has undermined their trust and public perception.
We all have brands, or people, or systems we trust because they have helped us escape a sticky situation on the past, or they have delivered for us in our hour of need. The thing is, as much as we sing the praises of Microsoft or Apple or Google or whatever else, we know that these corporations and products will still lest us down, it just that we prefer the ones that are least likely to let us down.
When it comes to spiritual matters, there is someone who will never let us down. And that’s the case for Moses here. He sings the praises of God, their God, the LORD, because he has not let them down. He did not let them down when they were stuck in Egypt, or when they were leaving, or when the army was approaching, or when they were walking past the walls of water. God didn’t let Moses’ forefathers down either, so he can turn in trust and praise towards God.
He reflects on what God has done, in the past, and before his very eyes that night.
So then Moses Goes on to recount the destruction of the Israelites in the sea. We won’t look at the details, given that we just covered the story last week, but you can see clearly how Moses is careful to illustrate how each part of what happened that night was attributed to the mighty hand of God. There is no doubt about who is the author of the judgment poured out on Israel.
It is worth noting here, that as we revel in God’s work, we revel in both Judgment and Mercy. Moses is both praising God for what he has done in Rescuing Israel, but also for destroying Egypt. Often times I think we like to dwell on the mercy and grace and forgiveness of God without seeing it in contrast to Judgment, Wrath and Destruction. God’s mercy is only salvation because we need rescue from something. His mercy means that there is also judgment. All throughout scripture God is praised not only for his abundant mercy, but for his triumphant judgment, just like it is here.
Moses breaks into glorious praise for God because on the one hand he destroyed the Egyptians and on the other he saved Israel.
As we reflect ourselves on what God has done to rescue his Church, remember that he did it by overcoming our enemies. He defeats Satan by Judgment. He defeats Death by Destruction and he defeats Sin by substituting Jesus to receive our suffering. And he will judge the world.
Reflect on what God has done through Jesus Christ to save us from the demonic hoards and their deceptive leader. Reflect on the way God deposes the rebellious. Reflect on the way that God has cast our enemies into the seas of chaos. Reflect on the way God has incarnated himself as Jesus to shatter the enemy. Turn to God and say:
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy. In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
Revel in God’s Work…
2. Realise who God is (vs11-12)
2. Realise who God is (vs11-12)
Next way to revel is to Realize who God is. That is to know who God is in his person and character. We already got a hint of this earlier where Moses said
The Lord is a man of war; the Lord is his name.
Moses isn’t just describing what God has done, but he also describes God’s Nature, his characteristics and attributes. God is a Man of War! He has the personal name YHWH!
There’s more, look at the description in vs 11-12 with me;
“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them.
God is above all gods! He is not just ‘one of’ the gods of the Egyptians or of another people group of the ancient near east. Moses question is almost rhetorical; “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?”
None. No one.
No other fake god, and no idol and no other spiritual being can come close to the LORD. He is above all, clothed in majestic holiness.
In order to Revel in God’s Work, we need to know who God is, not only what he has done. Someone might anonymously pay for your coffee one day at the local cafe as a sign of generosity. You know that person is generous by what they have done, but until you actually meet them, and find out their name and their identity, you cannot “know” them personally.
The same goes for God. We know of him by his mighty acts and glorious deeds, but in order to truly know him we must meet the persons of God. We must know his names and his position. We need to know his character and attributes as well as the way he acts toward the world.
Do you know the LORD? Do you know his perfections? Do you desire to have some comprehension of His glorious constitution? Why is God Majestic? How is he Holy? What does it mean that he is a man of war?
I fear for many of us here we are content to simply know him as God. We are content to know that there is Father, Son and Spirit and do not want to delve in anymore.
Oh! I wish that we would have a hunger to know this God! How can we realise who God is unless we seek him out and learn who he is? Who is this God who you trust for salvation? How would you describe Him to someone who asks, “what is special about your God?”
How can you worship well unless you know Him who you worship? How can you Revel in a God you do not know except by a few facts and explanations?
Seek him out! Endeavor to search for this God!
If you are serious about knowing God you must receive his Holy Spirit. We are broken and sinful; we cannot hope to receive and know him in our humanity unless he illuminates us by his Spirit. Ask for the Spirit if you want to know God. Jesus says;
And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
So I urge you, Realize who God is, so that you can better Revel in his Work. Unless you know him, your worship will always be remote and tangential.
3. Reverberate God’s Fame (vs13-16)
3. Reverberate God’s Fame (vs13-16)
I’ve entitled this third way “Reverberate God’s fame”. I know reverberate is not a word we use day to day, but I think it helps to explain the thought well.
What we want to do is reflect and proclaim God’s fame and honour and inspire fear of the Living God. We expect God’s mighty work to be heard of by others, and for them to kneel in submission to Him.
Let’s just read verses 13-16 and see how Moses Revels in God by reverberating God’s fame. He considers how all the future opponents of Israel will not be able to withstand God because they will be trembling in their boots! From v13...
“You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. 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.
Moses sings about the Fear of God spreading to all who stand in the way. Terror and dread fall upon them!
The story of God’s rescue will spread, others will hear about it and fear. We read later on when Israel near the promised land this comes true, the people are afraid because of what God did to Egypt. remember what Rahab said to the spies later in the story?
And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the Lord your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.
Can you blame them? The God of Israel dismantles a world superpower in order to protect his people. He bends the created world to His will. He destroys all those who stand in his way!
Moses envisions the terror and fear that will strike the hearts of all who hear, and he rejoices in it. It is a good thing that the fear of God spreads throughout the world. Everyone who opposed our God ought to know what they are getting themselves into!
I wonder if you have the same desire? Do you want others to fear God? God will lead His redeemed people in steadfast love, and guide them by His strength. That should terrify you!
What it meant for Egypt that God loved his people was that their country and army would be dismantled. What will it mean for our current day?
We love to say that God loves his people, and rescues them, but have you thought about the consequences of that? It means the opposite also remains true, that God does not love or rescue those who do not belong to Him. All who proudly stand against Him will fall in shame and humiliation.
This is why we want God’s fear to spread! We want people to know that our God is the LORD! We want all the nations to tremble, so that perhaps they will bow before him in willing submission.
I want my neighbor to know that it is a terrifying thing to be a sinner in the hands of an angry God. I want my unbelieving family member to tremble at the thought of facing God’s judgment. I want my work colleague to dread the day of their death, all in the hopes that they will be driven into the loving arms of our Savior who will cleanse their guilt and cover them with his own sacrificial blood.
I want the terror and fear of the Lord to spread, but with it I want the Gospel to spread, as the soothing balm which will heal our brokenness. The Gospel must go abroad into every tribe and tongue so that all may know the LORD.
Reverberate God’s fame by spreading the fear of the Lord that leads to repentance. Be an echo chamber of God’s mighty salvation and his terrifying wrath.
4. Receive the Promises (vs17-18)
4. Receive the Promises (vs17-18)
The fourth way we can Revel in God’s Work according to Moses is to Receive the Promises. This is the next part of the Song, and in fact it is the last part of the Song. He finishes by reminding Israel of God’s promises. He doesn’t do it in an wavering way either; he has no doubts that God will fulfill the promises.
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. The Lord will reign forever and ever.”
Moses expects that God will bring Israel past all the people who stand in the way and establish them in the Promised Land. They will be like a fruitful plant in the presence of God.
Here imagery is used. Mountains are where ancient peoples thought the gods dwelt, and so to be planted on God’s own mountain is essentially to say they will return to the Garden of Eden with God. There God and His people will dwell together in peace and unity, and God will reign as the rightful Lord over All.
Now for Israel in Moses time, this has not had it’s full meaning come to pass. They do end up in the promised land, they do dwell with God with him in their midst at Mt Zion, but it was not a full and final reversal of the Scandal of Eden. The sinfulness in the hearts of Israel meant that they could not be established forever. God needed to deal with sinful hearts. Thankfully that is what he is doing even now! And we receive this promise too, that one day will will dwell securely with God forever in Paradise.
To Revel in God is to receive the promises he pours out on us. We know they will come true because God has kept all his promises in the past. There is no reason to doubt now. God kept his promises to Israel in the past, and he keeps his promises to the Church now. One of those promises is the Apostle John’s prophesy in Revelation;
And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God,
Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.
God’s people will dwell with him on the mountain in His presence. God’s people will be established there. God will reign for ever and ever.
I want you this morning to receive the promises of God. Revel in them. That joy and pleasure in the future God has in store for his Church.
Don’t doubt and worry. Nothing can separate us from the love of God! Nothing can tear his bride from his loving arms. The world may look like it is falling apart around us with insanity and immorality on every side, but God reigns forever. He sits enthroned on the cherubim. He is majestic in Holiness and none can be compared to Him. His might arm works salvation for his people, and he promised that to all who did receive him, who believe in his name, he gives the right to become children of God.
God will lead and deliver in his steadfast love. Revel in God’s work by Receiving the Promises. It will sustain your hope and inspire your worship.
5. Respond in Praise and Honour (& Dancing!!) (vs19-21)
5. Respond in Praise and Honour (& Dancing!!) (vs19-21)
In this last section we move on from the Song of Moses, and have a look at the Song of Miriam. Miriam shows us a beautiful response to the mighty deliverance of God; dancing and singing. She leads a procession of rejoicing, giving praise and honor to God. Read v19-21
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. 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. 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.”
Imagine the sight. I tried to paint a picture of it in our opening; the weary travelers have seen the victory of God, and they cannot help but break out in song and rejoicing. They revel in God’s Work by dancing and playing; responding to what God has done!
Here again we see that God is praised for his judgment of the army. His triumph is over the enemy is worthy of praise. This is the kind of response that is natural in a glorious victory!
This is no somber dreary worship session; this is vibrant and exultant praise! These women used their bodies in dancing and playing instruments to express their relief and rejoicing. They are celebrating!
This celebration is our final clue to Reveling in God’s Work. We ought to respond physically and emotionally to the Salvation of the LORD. Such a gift is something to celebrate and enjoy and rejoice in! Yet we don’t do it too well do we? We’re a bit worried about what the person next to us thinks. We’re concerned with the thoughts of others rather than with praising God!
The salvation of Israel was a mere shadow of our salvation. It was a entree to the greater and fuller meal that is Jesus! Our salvation is not of a single nation, but of a world! Our salvation is the rescue of our souls! Our salvation is in the overthrow of sin, death and the Devil!
Our response ought to be that much greater than Miriam’s because our cause for celebration is that much higher!
Sometimes the fact that we are removed from the physical events of our salvation can lead us to feel detached from the drama of redemption. But God performed his wondrous work of salvation before the 12 tribes of Israel as a foreshadow of the salvation he would perform in Christ before the eyes of the twelve apostles. This has all been recorded down for us, so that even if we were not there at the actual event itself, we can know who God is and what he has done. We can see our redemption vicariously through the eyes of Scripture.
How do you respond? Do you sit back, having heard the Gospel story a thousand times before? You may have been a Christian for decades, has redemption lost it’s shine? How will you respond this morning?
I encourage you to respond in praise and honor to God for the salvation given us in Christ! We will do that in a few moments in song, but it must extend beyond this Sunday morning. Do not be afraid to express yourself in song and dancing, but respond with the worship of a holy life too!
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.
I ask you to Revel in God’s Work as you proclaim the works of God with your lips! I hope that you may never loose the fervor to praise and honor God with your voice and your body and your way of life.
Bring it all together
Bring it all together
This moment in time
Revel in God
Reflect on what God has Done
Realise who God is
Reverberate God’s fame
Receive the Promises
Respond in Praise & Honour (& Dancing)
Continually worship him.
Jesus is our Merciful Judge - Mercy & Justice go side by side. Which will you receive?