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Exodus 13:17-15:21: God Gloriously Delivers Print E-mail
Sunday, 09 August 2009

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Glory is given to the victor.  It is more glorious to win a battle than to lose one.  It is the athlete who wins the game that we prize.  It is the business man who wins the client that gets the promotion.  It is the student who excels in their studies that we award with scholarships.  Granted, this is not always true, there are times when the victor is not given the glory, but normally, depending on the circumstances, we are shocked and even offended when the victor does not receive the spoils (as the saying goes).  We expect for glory to be given to the victor.  The Bible presents our God as the Victor.  The theme for one of our VBSís is ĎGod always wins.í  He is always the victor and so all glory belongs to Him.  Even in circumstances where it might seem like He is losing, He is still the victor.  The last book of the Bible (Revelation) makes it clear that God will win in the end.  Yet, this is not the only place where we see that message.  Many stories make it clear that God always wins and therefore deserves all glory.  The story of the crossing of the Red Sea is one such story.

We have seen over the past few weeks that Godís dealings with Egypt and Israel is a story of judgment and provision.  God has judged the Egyptians and provided for the Israelites.  This morning we see that this is a story of deliverance.  In 13:17-18 we read that God is leading the people out of Egypt toward the Red Sea.  This is not the expected route, but this is where God wants His people to go for the purpose of avoiding war.  Yet, there is more to this selection of route than simply God leading the people away from battle.  He is actually controlling the circumstances to triumph victoriously over the Egyptians.  He will show Israel (and the world) that He always wins.  He will put on display the fact that He is indeed worthy of all glory.  So then, how exactly do we see the glory of the Lord in crossing the Red Sea?  Let me mention two ways as we walk through the text this morning.

First, God gets glory by delivering Israel.

The first fifteen chapters of Exodus are telling of Gods deliverance of His people Israel.  He has heard their cry (2:23-25).  He has sent the plagues to convince the Pharaoh to let them go (12:29-32).  Yet, now the Lord has led them to the Red Sea and we find out quickly that they are in trouble, or at least thatís how they interpret the circumstances.  Pharaoh has brought out his army and they are determined to bring Israel back.  So, how does Israel respond to all of this? 

Well, unfortunately, they respond in the same way we have seen them respond before (6:9).  We have already seen that the Lord led them the way He did to keep them from facing war and becoming discouraged (see 13:17).  Yet, look at their response to the situation at the Red Sea in 14:10-12.  They apparently do not have very good memories.  Just a few chapters ago they were grumbling and complaining against Moses due to the harshness of their slavery.  Now, after the Lord sent all the plagues and provided the Passover lamb, they grumble again.  They would have been perfectly content to keep serving the Egyptians.  They seemingly fail to understand that the Lord is on their side.  One commentator notes: ďThey have still not learned that their circumstances are not the final standard on which to view the work of GodĒ1 (italics original).

Yet, in spite of their doubt, the Lord will get glory in this situation.  Look at 14:13-18.  Moses rebukes the people and tell them to look to the Lord.  The Lord speaks to Moses and makes it clear that He will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen.  The Lord will get glory in this situation.  He will deliver His people.  He started the task of delivering them and He will see it through.  Even thought the people conclude that they are trapped, the Lord tells Moses that He will make a way for them through the Sea.  He will split the waters and they will walk through on dry ground.  Sound crazy?  Well, thatís exactly what the Lord does.  Look at 14:19-22. 

The Lord set the barrier of His angel between Israel and Egypt.  Then He separated the waters and made them a wall on Israelís left and right.  The ground was dry so that they could march through to the other side.  The Lord delivered His people by creating a path through the Sea.  The people praise the Lord for their deliverance in 14:30-31.  Likewise, Moses goes on to sing a song of praise to God for delivering the people.  Look at 15:13.  God is glorified for delivering His people at the Red Sea.

Second, God gets glory by defeating the Egyptians.

The deliverance of Israel is not just a matter of getting them out of Egypt.  Otherwise, the Red Sea story might not exist.  No, the Lord is not just going to get glory because He delivered Israel, He will be glorified for His defeat of Pharaohís army as well.  Look at what He says to Moses in 14:1-4.  The Lord will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host.  This is the same language that is used in 14:17.  The Lord is going to get glory for the defeat of the Egyptians.  Yet, how will He defeat the Egyptians?  I mean, we have read of His deliverance of Israel, but what about the defeat of Israelís enemies?  How will this happen?  The Lord is going to harden Pharaohís heart so that he and the Egyptians will keep pursuing Israel. 

This is what we read of in 14:5-9.  Look at that with me.  The Lord told Moses what was going to happen and it is happening.  The Pharaoh regrets letting Israel go and decides to pursue them in the wilderness.  Thus, he gathers his chariots and his horses and his army and they set out to recapture Israel.  They catch up with them in the place where the Lord told Israel to camp.  The stage is now set for a show-down.  The Egyptians appear to have the upper hand, but as we have already seen, the Lord will deliver Israel.  Yet, what will happen to Egypt?  How will the Lord get glory over them?

The Lord answers in 14:23-29.  Look at that passage with me.  After Israel passes safely through the Sea on dry ground, Egypt continues to pursue.  God has hardened their hearts and they are not going to let Israel go.  Yet, when they try to cross the Red Sea, everything changes.  The Lord throws them into confusion and their chariots begin to get stuck in the midst of the Sea.  At this point they realize that they are in trouble.  They exclaim: Let us flee from before Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.  Yet, it is too late.  They have rebelled against the Lord and pursued His people long enough.  The Lord is going to put a stop to their rebellion.  Thus, He commands Moses to lift up his hand over the sea and He causes the water to drown the Egyptians.  The text tells us that of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.  The Lord is victorious.  Pharaoh and the Egyptians tried to rebel, but their rebellion ultimately led them to destruction at the Red Sea.  They did not know the simple truth that God always wins.

Godís victory over the Egyptians at the Red Sea is the main subject of Mosesí song of praise that we are memorizing.  He sings to the Lord and rejoices in the fact that He has triumphed gloriously.  This victory at the Red Sea is the central act of redemption for Israel in the Old Testament.  Mosesí song is not the only song that is recorded about it.  The people of Israel believed that Godís victory was worthy of song and so they sang.  They sang of His defeat of Egypt (15:1-12) and of its impact on their future deliverance in the land of Canaan (15:13-18).  The women joined in singing this song of victory to the Lord (15:19-21).

Of course, we could ask: why all this singing?  Why interrupt the story with a song?  Because Godís acts of redemption need to be sung.  We saw last week that they needed to be remembered and here we see another way of passing on His glorious acts of redemption to the next generation: by singing of them.  Godís people should sing of His work of redeeming them.  So, Moses sang and glorified God for delivering Israel and defeating Egypt. 

We see in this text a pattern for God getting glory.  I would summarize it this way: God is glorified by defeating His enemies and delivering His people.  We see this pattern over and over again in the pages of Scripture.  He defeats the Canaanites and delivers His people into the Promised Land and all glory is given to Him (see the book of Joshua).  He raises up David to defeat Goliath and delivers Israel from the Philistines being the God to whom the battle belongs (see 1 Samuel 18).  He defeats the priests of Baal and delivers Elijah, getting glory as the God who answers by fire (see 1 Kings 18).  The Lord is glorified by defeating His enemies and delivering His people.

Of course, this is most clearly seen through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.  In this case, the Enemy is not simply some other nation of people, but is in fact sin, Satan, and death.  In order to defeat these enemies, the Lord took on flesh and became a man.  Jesus was obedient to the Father in every way and gave His life willingly at the cross.  Because our sin was so great and God is so holy, a terrible price had to be paid to gain victory.  Jesus had to suffer in our place, become our substitute, bear the wrath that we deserved, and die, to defeat our enemies.  This is what He came to do and this is what He did. 

Yet, how do we know that He really did defeat these enemies and gain victory over them?  Three days after His death, the Father raised Him from the dead.  He is now exalted as the victorious One who has conquered even death.  As Paul tells us: We have been made alive by God and forgiven in Christ, since He canceled the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.  This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.  He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.  Death defeated, our sins forgiven, the rulers and authorities put to shame.  This is what God has done for us in Christ.  God has defeated our enemies and delivered His people.  All of those who repent of their sins and believe in Christ can know this victory.

And the amazing thing is that God has done all of this for His glory.  Just as His glory was connected to the delivering of Israel and defeating Egypt, so is He glorified by the defeat of sin, Satan, and death and the deliverance of the Church.  His glory is tied to our redemption.  So trust in Him this morning.  Be confident in your deliverance, not because of your worthiness, but because of His glory.  And just as Moses and Miriam did so long ago, lift up your voice to sing songs of praise to the God who gloriously delivers.  He is worthy of our praise for he has triumphed gloriously!!  Amen.

1 Peter Enns, The NIV Application Commentary: Exodus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), p. 273.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Friday, 21 August 2009 )

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