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Afternoon Sermon: How May We Know There Is A God?, Baptist Catechism 3, Psalm 19

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Baptist Catechism 3

Q. 3. How may we know there is a God?

A. The light of nature in man and the works of God plainly declare that there is a God; but His Word and Spirit only do it fully and effectively for the salvation of sinners.  (Rom. 1:18-20; Psalm 19:1,2; 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 1:21-24; 1 Cor. 2:9,10)

Scripture Reading: Psalm 19

“TO THE CHOIRMASTER. A PSALM OF DAVID. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19, ESV)

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Introduction

The first three questions of the catechism are very foundational.

If you remember, question one asked “Who is the first and chiefest being?” Answer: “God is the first and chiefest being.” Truly, there is no question more foundational than this. Here we confess that there is a being who is above all other beings and is the source of all other beings, both in nature and in grace. 

Question two then asked, “Ought every one to believe there is a God?” Answer: “Everyone ought to believe there is a God, and it is their great sin and folly who do not.” Soon we will learn that belief in the existence of God is not the only important thing for us to believe. No, we must believe the right things about God, ourselves, and the Savior that God has provided for us now that we are fallen into sin. But belief in the existence of God is most foundational. It is impossible to please God if we do not first believe that he exists. And to deny his existence, either in the mind and heart or in practice, is the root of all foolishness. 

Question three is also very foundational. It addresses, in brief, the question, how may we know? Have you ever thought about the question, how may we know? Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that deals with questions about knowledge. How can we know things?, is a most fundamental question. In particular, our catechism is asking, “how may we know there is a God?” The answer that is given is brief but very profound. “The light of nature in man and the works of God plainly declare that there is a God; but His Word and Spirit only do it fully and effectively for the salvation of sinners.“

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Revelation

If I had to choose one word to sum up what is said in response to the question, “how may we know there is a God?”, it would be the word “revelation”. We may know that there is a God (along with many other true things about God, ourselves and this world that he has made) because of revelation. We may know true things because God has determined to reveal the truth to us. 

And how has God revealed the truth to us? Three things are mentioned in this short little answer. One, God reveals the truth of his existence to us through the light of nature that is in man. Two, God reveals the truth of his existence to us through his works. And three, God reveals the truth of his existence to us (along with many other things) through his word.

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The Light Of Nature In Man

When our catechism speaks of the “light of nature in man” it refers to the fact that God has made man in such a way that he knows there is God who is to be worshipped. Have you noticed that all men do have this impulse to worship? It has been this way throughout the history of the world. Men and women everywhere feel compelled to honor a god. They pray, they observe holy days, they seek to order their lives in a way that honors their god. Humans have been made in such a way that they know inwardly that God exists. 

You say, well what about the atheists? Two things: One, it is my observation that there are very few true and consistent atheists in the world. In my experience, you will often find even those who claim to be atheists praying to god in times of trouble. Two, those who are true and consistent atheists must work very hard to suppress the truth about the existence of God that is in them. This is what is described in Romans 1 where Paul writes, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:18–20, ESV). If someone is an atheist, either intellectually or practically, they must “suppress the truth” regarding the existence of God continuously. 

So what is it about the makeup of man that testifies to the existence of God? Well, we know that men and women are made in the image of God. God created man in such a way that man may relate to God. Man is able to reason. We have a conscience. We know right from wrong intuitively. All of this has been distorted by the fall, of course. And as I have said, men do suppress this truth that is within them. But there it remains nonetheless. 

So God reveals the truth regarding his existence in man. 

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The Works Of God

Secondly, the truth regarding the existence of God is also revealed in the works of God. Hear or catechism again: “The light of nature in man and the works of God plainly declare that there is a God.” So then, man inwardly knows that God exists. And he also knows that God exists as he observes the works of God in creation, providence, and for some, in redemption.

God reveals himself in his work of creation. Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.” (Psalm 19:1–2, ESV)

God also reveals himself in his works of providence. When we speak of God’s providence we are referring to his governing and upholding of the world that he has made. God created the heavens and the earth, and he does also maintain them. 

My son was telling me about a childhood friend of his who said, I don’t believe in God. I believe in science. That sounds so silly to me. What is science except for the observation of the natural world? And if men would be honest about their observations I think they would confess that the created world screams that God exists. There is so much evidence for design. Where did this universe come from? How is it so orderly? How is it sustained? So much can be said about this, but I think you get the point. God’s works of creation and providence testify to his existence. 

So too his works of redemption. All men may observe God’s works of creation and providence. Not all have observed God’s redemptive works. In fact, very few have. Think of the Exodus. Many Hebrews and Egyptians saw God’s mighty deeds. But their number was very few in comparison to the whole of the human race. Think also of the life of Christ, his death, and resurrection. Those who beheld his glory were relatively few. Nevertheless, God’s works of redemption do also testify to his existence. 

But notice the limitations of these forms of revelation. What do they reveal? They reveal that God exists. Again, “The light of nature in man and the works of God plainly declare that there is a God”. This is why God’s works of creation and providence are called general revelation. They come to all men generally, and they reveal something general, namely that God exists, he is powerful and worthy of praise. But that is as far as we can go.

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Word And Spirit

Lastly, our catechism tells us where full and saving knowledge of God may be found: ‘but His Word and Spirit only do it fully and effectively for the salvation of sinners.”

How may we come to know God truly and unto the salvation of our souls?

One, we must listen to God’s Word. God has revealed himself, not only in nature, but he has spoken. 

Hebrews 1:1 says, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.” (Hebrews 1:1–2, ESV)

So then, God has spoken through the prophets. He has spoken supremely through his Son. And we have a record of these words in the Holy Scriptures, which are the written, inspired, and inerrant, Word of God. 

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Conclusion

I hope you can see that the question, how may we know? Is truly foundational to all of life’s questions. And it is clearly foundational to a document that’s purpose is to teach us what to believe about God, man, and what it is that he requires of us. 

Q. 3. How may we know there is a God?

A. The light of nature in man and the works of God plainly declare that there is a God; but His Word and Spirit only do it fully and effectively for the salvation of sinners.  (Rom. 1:18-20; Psalm 19:1,2; 2 Tim. 3:15; 1 Cor. 1:21-24; 1 Cor. 2:9,10)

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Discussion Questions: Exodus 16

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AT HOME OR IN GOSPEL COMMUNITY GROUPS

Sermon manuscript available at emmausrbc.org

  • Why must we have following the Lord as our highest aim, and not comfort and safety? What difference will this make in the Christian life?
  • Contentment does not equal complacency. Discuss. 
  • Why is thoughtful and faithful Sabbath observance crucial for Christian sojourners?
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Morning Sermon: Exodus 16, Manna From Heaven

New Testament Reading: John 6:22-41

“On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, ‘Rabbi, when did you come here?’ Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.’ Then they said to him, ‘What must we do, to be doing the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’ So they said to him, ‘Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’’ Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.’ So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’” (John 6:22–41, ESV)

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 16

“They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, ‘Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.’ Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.’ So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, ‘At evening you shall know that it was the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against the LORD. For what are we, that you grumble against us?’ And Moses said, ‘When the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD.’ Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Say to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.’ And as soon as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the people of Israel, they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’’ In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Gather of it, each one of you, as much as he can eat. You shall each take an omer, according to the number of the persons that each of you has in his tent.’’ And the people of Israel did so. They gathered, some more, some less. But when they measured it with an omer, whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack. Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, ‘Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.’ But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them. Morning by morning they gathered it, each as much as he could eat; but when the sun grew hot, it melted. On the sixth day they gathered twice as much bread, two omers each. And when all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, he said to them, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD; bake what you will bake and boil what you will boil, and all that is left over lay aside to be kept till the morning.’’ So they laid it aside till the morning, as Moses commanded them, and it did not stink, and there were no worms in it. Moses said, ‘Eat it today, for today is a Sabbath to the LORD; today you will not find it in the field. Six days you shall gather it, but on the seventh day, which is a Sabbath, there will be none.’ On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, but they found none. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and my laws? See! The LORD has given you the Sabbath; therefore on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Remain each of you in his place; let no one go out of his place on the seventh day.’ So the people rested on the seventh day. Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Moses said, ‘This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’’ And Moses said to Aaron, ‘Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the LORD to be kept throughout your generations.’ As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept. The people of Israel ate the manna forty years, till they came to a habitable land. They ate the manna till they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (An omer is the tenth part of an ephah.)” (Exodus 16, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Stories are powerful, aren’t they? In the scriptures, we find many different genres of literature. There are books of history, books of wisdom and poetry, and books that contain straightforward teaching. We are to learn from all of these literary styles as they present truth to us, each in their own way. Here in the Exodus, we find wonderful narratives or stories. 

I’ve tried to convince you in previous sermons that these stories are not ordinary stories. They are not mere history, nor are they myths or legends. No, these stories are divinely inspired stories. They contain true history. And the historical events they recount are a part of redemptive history. These stories tell of the mighty deeds of God that he worked in the accomplishment of our redemption. These stories are powerful. Not only do they tell us about what happened in the past, they also reveal the truth about God, his plans, and his purposes. These stories even teach us about living a life of faith, for these things that happened to Old Covenant Israel happened to them for our instruction. That is what the Apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:11. We would be wise to pay careful attention to these stories, therefore, so that we might learn to sojourn well.

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Christian Sojourners Must Have Following The Lord, Living For His Glory, And The Advancement Of His Kingdom As Their Highest Aim

The first principle that I wish to draw from our text for today is that Christian sojourners must have following the LORD, living for his glory, and for the advancement of his kingdom as their highest aim.

You will notice that Israel enjoyed the refreshment of the 12 springs of water and the 70 palm trees of Elim for a time, but soon the LORD led them off into the wilderness again. That is what verse 1 tells us. Israel “set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the people of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 16:1, ESV). So, they were refreshed for a time at the oasis of Elim, but they were not to remain there, for Elim was not their destination. The LORD’s will was to sanctify them further in the wilderness, to enter into a covenant with them, and to lead them on to the promised land. 

I would imagine that some (perhaps many) within Israel were hesitant to leave Elim. They knew that they were surrounded by a wilderness that was vast, desolate, and harsh. Elim was a comfort to them. At Elim there was safety. But notice this: Israel was redeemed from Egyptian bondage, not to pursue a life of comfort and safety, but to follow the LORD wherever he led. 

The same is true for you and me, brothers and sisters. Our highest aim must be to live for God, the glory of his name, and the furtherance of his kingdom. We cannot allow our natural desire for comfort and for safety to be the driving force of our lives. No, we must live for higher purposes. We must be willing to leave the comfort of the springs and shade of Elim if it is the will of the LORD to lead us into the wilderness again. Following him, living for his glory, and the advancement of his kingdom must be the thing that drives us. 

Perhaps you have noticed that the Christian life has a rhythm to it. God, in his mercy and grace, does bless his people with times of refreshment and ease. But he does also lead us through times of testing. I’ve experienced this rhythm personally. I’ve experienced it in the family. And I’ve experienced it in the church. The Christian life ebbs and flows. There will be times of travail, and there will be times of refreshment. And it seems to me that the LORD knows just what we need at any given moment. We are tested by the trials and tribulations of life. And it is during those times of testing that God’s people grow. But the LORD knows our limitations. In his mercy, at just the right time, he leads us to the springs of Elim to be refreshed there by the water and the shade. And then, in his mercy, he leads us into the wilderness again to move us onward towards the promised land. 

Are you ready for that journey, brothers and sisters? Are you prepared to follow the LORD wherever he leads? Are you ready to experience the rhythm of refreshment and testing through trial as we sojourn towards the promised land? 

You know, one of the most important things for us to have on this journey is proper expectations and desires. If our expectations and desires are set on comfort and safety, then we will not sojourn well. It will be difficult for us to leave Elim to journey in the wilderness again. And while in the wilderness, we will likely grumble and complain. But if we are following the LORD, living for his glory, and the advancement of his kingdom is our highest aim, and if we properly expect to experience times of difficulty and times of refreshment in the LORD, then we will likely sojourn well, for our eyes and hearts will not be fixed on the transient things of this earth, but on things of lasting worth.  

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Christian Sojourners Must Pursue Contentment As They Trust The LORD For Their Daily Bread

The second principle that I wish to draw from our passage today is this: Christian sojourners must pursue contentment as they trust the LORD for their daily bread. As we will soon see, Old Covenant Israel was called to do this in a very literal way, but the principle certainly applies to us too. Christian sojourners must pursue contentment as they trust the LORD for their daily bread.

In verse 2 we read, “And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness…” (Exodus 16:2, ESV). Grumbling or complaining was a major problem in Israel. You would think they would have been filled with gratitude given what the LORD did for them to rescue them from oppression in Egypt. But no, they grumbled and complained continuously. As I said last Sunday, the theme of grumbling ties the three stories of Exodus 15:22-17:7 together. Israel grumbled time and time and time again. One almost gets the impression that the LORD wishes to warn his people about this great sin! And no, it is not an overstatement to say that the sin of grumbling is a great sin. When a person grumbles and complains they reveal that their hearts are filled with ingratitude and discontentment to the point of overflowing. 

And no, I am not saying that we are never allowed to talk about our troubles, heartaches, and disappointments with others. That is not grumbling, at least not necessarily. But it is a fine line, isn’t it? To grumble is to complain. Grumbling emanates from a discontent and ungrateful heart. And so I ask you friend, are you a grumbler? Are you a complainer? You may need to pause and reflect upon this question later today. Are you a grumbler before God? Is your heart filled with discontentment and ingratitude before God? 

Notice that Israel did not grumble directly to God, but to Moses and Aaron. This is unusually how it goes. We grumble and complain to others. Or perhaps we grumble and complain against our leaders. But really our complaint is against God. Moses sets this straight with Israel in verse 8 where he says, “the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the LORD” (Exodus 16:8, ESV). When we grumble about our circumstances to ourselves or to others, the LORD hears it and he knows that the complaint is against him.

It is a great sin to live in God’s world, to enjoy the blessings that he graciously provides, and to complain against him. This is true for all men, and it is even worse for the redeemed of God to grumble and complain, for we ought to see that in Christ we have our every need met.

So why did Israel grumble? Look at verse 3. They complained that they had no food, saying, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (Exodus 16:3, ESV). 

Notice two things:

One, Israel exaggerated the goodness of the past. As they reminisced about life as slaves in Egypt they said, do you remember how wonderful things used to be when Pharoah would roll out the all-you-can-eat buffet for us? Give me a break! Pharaoh was nowhere near this generous to them. And whatever he did feed them, he fed them so that he might work them to the point of exhaustion. But this is what ingrates do. They look to the past, or they look to others living afar off, and they say, do you remember when? Or, if only… And they fail to count their blessings in the moment. 

Two, notice that Israel exaggerated the direness of their current situation. Oh, “that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt”, they said. Really, Israel? Things are so bad that it would have been better that you had died in Egypt? That seems a little dramatic to me. 

You know, it’s interesting that in the next episode Israel grumbles against the LORD again because they have no water. Listen carefully now to 17:3: “But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17:3, ESV). Did you catch that? The Hebrews still have livestock. So they were not out of food, were they? They had flocks. They could drink the milk and eat the cheese and meat of their livestock. But here they claim to be near death from hunger. 

Ingrates will exaggerate the goodness of the past or the goodness of others afar off and they simultaneously exaggerate the badness of their current situation. This is what Israel did. 

Psalm 78 also helps us to see that this was what happened. Psalm 78 comments on the Exodus event and the wilderness wanderings and it says, among other things, that Israel “tested God in their heart by demanding the food they craved” (Psalm 78:18, ESV). Did you hear that? They demanded, not the food that they needed, but the food they craved. And the same thing is said in verse 29: “And they ate and were well filled, for he gave them what they craved” (Psalm 78:29, ESV). In other words, Psalm 78 portrays Israel’s grumbling as being about their wants, not their needs. And perhaps you have noticed that most of our grumbling is about wants, not needs. 

What are we to do concerning our needs, brothers and sisters? We are not to grumble and complain against the LORD, but in faith, we are to pray to the Lord saying, give us this day our daily bread.

And what are we to do concerning our wants? Well, we are to pursue contentment in life as we wait upon the Lord to give and to take away as he sees fit. 

We are to pursue contentment, brothers and sisters. As the Apostle Paul says, “godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Timothy 6:6–8, ESV). 

Don’t confuse contentment with complacency, brothers and sisters. It is right for the people of God to work hard and to seek to advance or to improve their situation in life. This applies to work, to money, to housing, and to things political and cultural. Pursuing contentment does not mean that we must be complacent and inactive. No, contentment resides within the heart. To be content is to be grateful. To be content is to be satisfied. And it is the one who is content in the heart who is in the best position to speak and to act for the betterment of his position in life, or the betterment of society. 

The one who is content in the heart before God will be filled with life and love, joy, hope, and peace. The one who is discontent in the heart will be filled with dourness, darkness, and depression. Compare and contrast the two, brothers and sisters. And tell me which soul is better positioned to improve their station in life or to impact society in a positive way? It should be clear to you that contentment does not mean complacency. To the contrary, those who maintain contentment in the heart are in a position of strength to speak and to act for their own good and the good of others. Not to mention the fact that a content heart – a heart filled with life and love, joy, hope, and peace –does glorify God, for true contentment is rooted in him and in our trust in him.        

What I have just said can be applied to many things, but I think can sense what I am alluding to, brothers and sisters. The culture is rapidly changing. The politics can be maddening. This plague of authoritarianism that seems to be sweeping the world is concerning. But those in Christ must trust the LORD. We must pursue contentment even in these things. We must not grumble and complain, but sojourn on in trustful dependence upon God for our daily bread. It is so very crucial, brothers and sisters, for you have to have joy. And joy – true joy – cannot be manufactured. It will emanate from the heart that is full of faith and content in God. 

Philippians 4:12 came to mind. There Paul says, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12–13, ESV). Isn’t that beautiful? What is the “secret” to thriving in every season of life, in low times and in times of abounding, in plenty and in hunger, in abundance and need? The secret is having your roots sunk down deep into God and into the Christ that he sent. He is to be our source of satisfaction and of strength. That is what the words, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” mean. 

So why did the LORD provide Israel with these game birds and this manna to eat? They were not truly starving (at least not yet). It was their cravings, not their needs, that drove them to grumble against LORD. Why did he bless them with this food? The birds were driven to them by a strong wind only once, but the manna was provided for them continuously, day by day, for 40 years! Why did the LORD give it? 

Well, because he is merciful and kind. And also, to teach Israel (and us!) to live in trustful dependence upon the LORD for their daily needs. Whenever Israel would go out to gather the manna they would be reminded of the LORD’s daily provision. In fact, a jar of this manna was to be kept by the priests as a kind of memorial to God’s faithfulness for future generations. 

Isn’t it interesting that this provision of manna was designed by God to function as daily bread? What was it? We don’t know for sure. The text says that “it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31, ESV). Sounds good, doesn’t it? It may have been a natural substance, but it functioned in a supernatural way. The LORD provided it in great abundance. It was to be gathered daily. If too much was taken it would rot and stink. And it appeared daily, not for a week or two, but for 40 years. But here I am drawing your attention to the way in which the LORD designed the manna to function as daily bread. The LORD could have made the manna to last a week or a month. But he willed that it last a day. And so I am saying that the purpose of the manna was not only to feed Israel but to teach them about the faithfulness of the LORD and for them to live in daily dependence upon him.   

What can we learn from Israel’s experience? One thing is this: Christian sojourners must pursue contentment as they trust the LORD for their daily bread. 

*****

Christian Sojourners Must Rest In The LORD As They Honor The Sabbath Day And Keep It Holy

The third principle that I wish to draw from our passage today is that Christian sojourners must rest in the LORD as they honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy.

I said that the manna was daily dead bread. That is true, with the exception of the weekly Sabbath day. The Old Covenant people of God were to honor the Sabbath day on the seventh day of the week, which we call Saturday. According to this text, Israel was to gather double the manna on Friday  so that they would have enough for Saturday, for on Saturday no manna would be provided. The people of Israel were to rest on the seventh day and they were to worship. If the people of Israel attempted to gather more than they needed for the day on the other days of the week, it would rot and stink, but not the bread for the Sabbath day. A double portion was to be gathered on Friday and it would last through Saturday. 

So then, the LORD used the manna to feed Israel, to teach Israel to trust the LORD for daily provision, and to teach them to honor the Sabbath day to keep it holy. The manna was provided for them on days one through six. On day six, the Israelites were to gather a double portion, for on day seven no manna would be provided. That is quite a training program for Sabbath keeping, wouldn’t you say? Through the provision of manna on six days and the withholding of it on the seventh, God taught Israel to honor the Sabbath day. 

It is interesting to note that Israel was expected to keep the Sabbath day before the law was given on Sinai and before the Mosaic Covenant was ratified. I mention this to counter those who would claim that weekly Sabbath keeping was unique to the Old Mosaic covenant. It was not. The Sabbath command was first given, not to Israel through Moses, but to Adam in the garden. Israel was to honor the Sabbath day before the law was given on Sinai, before the Old Mosaic covenant was ratified, and before Israel took possession of the land. Yes, the weekly seventh day Sabbath would play a very special role under the Old Mosaic economy. Many other holy days would be added to the weekly Sabbath through Moses. But it wrong to assume that the weekly Sabbath day was unique to Old Covenant Israel, and therefore not for us. In fact, Christ taught his disciple how to keep the Sabbath. He taught it’s true meaning. He changed the day when he rose from the grave. And the New Testament does explicitly say that “there remains a Sabbath rest [Sabbath-keeping] for the people of God…” (Hebrews 4:9, ESV).

This is why I have said that Christian sojourners must rest in the LORD as they honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. Old Covenant Israel was to honor the Sabbath day as they sojourned in the wilderness. They were to cease from their labor, they were to rest and to worship. And New Covenant Israel is to do the same as we sojourn. Yes, the day has changed, for Christ, in whom we rest now and for all eternity, has lived, died, and risen from the grave. The day has changed for good reason, but the pattern of six and one remains. Christian sojourners must honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. This they must do, not as a mindless ritual, but as a means of thoughtfully and faithfully resting in Christ.

The Sabbath day for Israel and for us is a day for physical rest, and it is also a day for spiritual rest. It is a day for drawing near to God. It is a day for listening to his Word. It is a day for reorienting our lives around him, for gathering with the faithful, for being reminded of the LORD precious and very great promises, and of the work that Christ has accomplished for us. The Sabbath day is a holy day uniquely suited for setting the mind and and the heart on God, on Christ, and on our eternal inheritance in him. The Sabbath day is essential for Christian sojourners. 

Don’t neglect it, brothers and sisters. Set aside your work on this day. Set it aside for the whole day. And set aside your recreations too. Honor this day as holy. Set your mind on God and the things of God. Be refreshed by the assembly of God’s redeemed. Stop neglecting the fellowship, brothers and sisters. Prepare for the Lord’s Day Sabbath. Long for the Lord’s Day Sabbath. And then keep the Lord’s Day Sabbath holy.

You know, one thing that never ceases to amaze me is when Christians neglect the basic things that God has provided for them and then wonder why it is that they struggle in their sojourning. I see Christians struggling with sin, with anxiety, with anger, with discontentment, etc. but I notice that they often neglect the fellowship of the believers on the Lord’s Day, or are quick to leave after the benediction is read. Where are you off to, brothers and sisters? What’s the rush? What is keeping you from worship in the morning and in the afternoon? Have you not prepared for the Lord’s Day? Is there not six days of the week for work and for recreation, for chores, birthday parties, for watching football, and all the rest? Why not honor this day as holy as the Lord has commanded? Why not come to worship in the morning and in the afternoon? I trust that you will be refreshed if you do. More importantly, I trust that the Lord will be well pleased.     

Stated a little differently, Christian sojourners must rest in the LORD, and one of the primary ways that we do this is through the observance of the Lord’s Day Sabbath. It is a day of rest for the soul.

*****

Conclusion

You know, one thing that has been implied throughout this semon but not yet stated explicitly is that Christian sojourners need Christ. We must be found in him by faith, living for the glory of God and the furtherance of God’s eternal kingdom through him. We must see that he is the true bread of life and the true drink for which every soul longs. We must know that he is our eternal Sabbath rest. 

Christian sojourners need Christ. We must be found in him by faith, we must abide in him and cling to him. I have told you that Christ is pictured everywhere in the events of the Exodus, and it is true. As Israel gathered and ate the physical manna, Christ the bread of life was portrayed to them. As they honored the Sabbath on the seventh they were to look forward to the coming of Christ and the rest that would be earned by him. As Israel partake of these earthly blessings they were simultaneously compelled to partake of the Christ that was portrayed to and promised to them by faith. And you and I are to do the same. As we sojourn in this world and experience the rhythms of the trials and refreshments of life, we are to cling to Christ by faith as we honor the Sabbath day to keep it holy and partake of the manna and the drink which God has set before us, in which the broken body and shed blood of Christ is signified. May we be found content in him, brothers and sisters.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 16, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 16, Manna From Heaven

Discussion Questions: Exodus 15:22-27

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AT HOME OR IN GOSPEL COMMUNITY GROUPS

Sermon manuscript available at emmausrbc.org

  • Why does the Lord not take us immediately to glory after we believe upon Christ? Why must we endure this time of difficulty in this world?
  • What is sanctification? 
  • How does God sanctify his people? 
  • Why is it so important for us to maintain the perspective that we are sojourners?
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Posted in Study Guides, Gospel Community Groups, Gospel Community Groups, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Discussion Questions: Exodus 15:22-27

Morning Sermon: Exodus 15:22-27, Bitter Water Made Sweet

New Testament Reading: Revelation 21:1–8

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.’ And he who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’ Also he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.’ And he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.’” (Revelation 21:1–8, ESV)

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 15:22-27

“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. When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah. And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’ 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, 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.’ Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water.” (Exodus 15:22–27, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

In this sermon series, I have tried to convince you that the Exodus event along with the wilderness wandering that followed it and the eventual conquest of Cannan by the Hebrews is to be viewed in a multidimensional way. 

One, we must view this story as historical. The book of Exodus is a historical book. It tells us about what God did for the Hebrews in the days of Moses to deliver them. It tells us about how the LORD went with his people to provide for them and to guide them in the wilderness. These things happened, that is my point. We must approach the book of Exodus as history. 

Two, we must see that the person of Christ and the work of Christ were revealed ahead of time in the Exodus event. In other words, the redemption that the LORD accomplished for the Hebrews was a type or a foretaste of the greater act of redemption that the Messiah would accomplish. The Hebrews were delivered from Egypt through the blood of the Passover lamb. They passed through the waters of divine judgment and emerged safely on the other side of the sea. The LORD was present with them, and he would continue to be. In fact, he would dwell in the midst of his people as he led them towards the promised land. And I am saying that person of Christ and the work of Christ was pictured or prefigured in an earthly way in these historical events. Remember that Jesus the Christ was introduced as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He was hidden in Egypt for a time and was brought out as an infant. Just as the LORD demonstrated his power over nature and the so-called gods of Egypt, so too the Christ demonstrated his power over the same through the working of mighty deeds. Christ also passed through the waters of divine judgment – not the waters of the sea, but the waters of death – and he was brought safely through to the other side in his resurrection (Christian baptism is a  picture of this, among other things). After rising from the dead and after ascending Christ gave the Spirit to indwell his people as they sojourn towards the promised land. Here I am simply reminding you of what I have said before. The Exodus was not just another common event in a long succession of events in the history of the world. No, it was special, for in it something of the person and work of Christ was revealed. This truth may be observed in the Exodus story itself, but it is made especially clear by the teaching of the New Testament. 

Three, we must see that there is a correlation between the experience of Israel in the Exodus event and the experience of all who have faith in Christ. When I say that there is a correlation I mean that in some ways Old Covenant Israel’s experience matches the experience of all who have faith in the Messiah even to this present day. Of course, in many ways, the experience of the Hebrews who lived in the days of Moses was utterly unique. Only they were brought out of Egypt. Only they were led into the wilderness toward Sinai, etc. But at the same time, their experiences established a kind of pattern – a pattern familiar to all of God’s faithful. Think of it. In Christ, we too have been redeemed from bondage. In Christ, we too are sojourners (we live in this world, but this is not our home). In Christ, we too will enter the promised land – not Canaan, but the new heavens and earth, the heavenly and eternal city of Jerusalem. I’m saying that Israel’s experience in the Exodus mirrors ours. Theirs was earthly, ours is spiritual. So there is much for us to learn. I’ll remind you of what Paul the Apostle wrote regarding this correlation between Israel’s experience and ours. Speaking of Exodus events he wrote, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Corinthians 10:11, ESV). Stated simply, things that happened to Old Covenant Israel are meant to instruct even those of us who live now under the New Covenant. 

So let us consider our passage for today with these things in mind. 

*****

Those Who Are Redeemed Must Sojourn

We have come now to the portion of the book of Exodus that is about Israel’s sojourning in the wilderness. To sojourn is to dwell temporarily in a place that is not your home. We may refer to the Hebrew’s stay in Egypt as a time of sojourning. In fact, the scriptures do this. In Deuteronomy 10:19 we find this law given to Israel: “Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” So yes, Israel sojourned in Egypt. They lived there for a long time, but they were strangers there. And after the LORD delivered Israel from bondage, he led them, not immediately into  Canaan, which was the land that was promised to them, but into the wilderness to sojourn there for a time.

In Exodus 15:22 we read, “Then Moses made Israel set out from the Red Sea, and they went into the wilderness of Shur…” (Exodus 15:22, ESV). The wilderness of Shur is to the East of Egypt in the northern part of the Sinai in what is today northern Saudi Arabia. This wilderness is vast, rugged, and in the days of Moses, it was very sparsely populated. From there Israel would go south. Canaan was to the north! But the LORD led Israel to the south to wander in the wilderness for a time. 

And this is the first thing that I wish to draw your attention to this morning regarding our text. The LORD did not immediately lead his people into the promised land of Canaan, but into the wilderness. Israel would sojourn in that thirsty land. In fact, we know they would remain there for 40 years because of their disbelief. But even before that, it was the will of the LORD to lead them, not directly to Canaan, but into the wilderness to sojourn there. We are to see that Israel went into the wilderness, not because they were lost, but because the LORD led them there in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. 

So here a pattern is established for us: those who are redeemed must sojourn. Stated negatively, the pattern is not from redemption to glory, but from redemption to sojourning to glory. 

Here is how Old Covenant Israel experienced this pattern: they were redeemed from Egypt, they sojourned in the wilderness for a time, and then they entered Canaan, which was the land that was promised to them. 

And here is how New Covenant Israel experiences this pattern: we have been redeemed by the shed blood of the Messiah from the domain of darkness, bondage to sin, and the fear of death. The new heavens and earth is our home. Our inheritance is the heavenly city of Jerusalem. But we are not there yet, are we? We are sojourners. We live here in this world, but we confess that this is not our home. We long for the world to come. We must view ourselves as sojourners, brothers and sisters. The pattern is this: from redemption to sojourning to glory. We are sojourners now.

This is what Peter calls us. He writes to Christians saying, “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11–12, ESV).

The writer to the Hebrews speaks of our sojourning when he says, “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:14, ESV).

So just as Israel was to be ever mindful of the fact that they were not at home while in the wilderness, but were sojourners, so too we must be ever mindful of the fact that we are not at home, but are sojourners in this world. We are just passing through. 

Does it sound strange for me to talk this way? After all, this is our hometown, isn’t it? After corporate worship, we will all go home. It must have been obvious to Israel in the wilderness that they were sojourners. There was nothing permanent about their situation. But you and I live relatively settled lives. In fact, we enjoy a great deal of stability and comfort. But there is a danger in these blessings. We may forget that we are sojourners. The homes we live in are not our homes. This city is not a lasting city. This world is not the world that will be for all eternity, for when Christ returns he will make all things new. This world will be renewed, filled with the glory of God, and established in glory forever and ever. If you are in Christ united to him by faith, that is your home. Presently, you are a sojourner. 

Tell me brothers and sisters, do you have the mindset of a sojourner? Sojourners must still be concerned with the details of their day-to-day life. They must eat and drink, raise their children, and seek to serve the Lord in the land that they find themselves in. But the sojourner will also live with a degree of detachment from the land of their sojourning. As the sojourner goes about their business they will be ever mindful of the fact that this is not home. This will affect their priorities and investments. Though they may love and appreciate the land of their sojourning, their longing will be for home. This is why Jesus speaks to sojourners saying, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19–21, ESV)

Those who are redeemed must sojourn, and we are sojourners now. 

*****

One Purpose Of Our Sojourning Is Sanctification

The second thing that I wish to draw your attention to is that one of the purposes of our sojourning is sanctification. 

Perhaps the question has already come to your mind: why didn’t the LORD lead Israel straight to Cannan? Why the wilderness wanderings? That’s a good question, isn’t it? Why did the LORD permit Israel to experience so much trouble in that desolate and dry land? And perhaps you have wondered the same thing concerning the Christian life. Why this life? Why the sufferings of this life? Why not immediate glory for the one who has faith in Christ? Many things can be said about this, but the truth that I wish to emphasize this morning is that one purpose for sojourning is sanctification. 

By sanctification, I mean growth in faith and in godliness. Sanctification is that process wherein God renews us “in the whole man after the image of God, and… [enables us] more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness” (Baptist Catechism 38). And I am saying that one of the primary purposes for sojourning, both for Old Covenant Israel and for us, is sanctification.

God sanctifies his people as they sojourn. And how does he do this?  It is often through testing. You know this to be true. Growth comes when we are tested. This is true of our muscles. This is true of our minds. And it is also true of our faith, hope, and love. Spiritual growth comes through testing. 

In verse 22 we learn that Israel “went three days in the wilderness and found no water.” This was no minor inconvenience, but a serious problem. The Israelites had certainly carried water with them, but now they were about out. This great multitude would soon perish without a substantial source. The people must have felt great anxiety about this. It would be terrifying to be caught in the wilderness with no water.  

In verse 23 we read, “When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter; therefore it was named Marah”, which means bitterness. When they found this pool of water they must have felt great relief. But as they tested the water they found that it was undrinkable. Their hope quickly turned to great despair. 

We must see this as a test of faith, brothers and sisters. In fact, verse 25 says that it was. “There he tested them”, the passage says. What would the people do? How would they respond? Would they trust in God? Would they remember what the LORD has done for them not long before? Remember, the LORD had demonstrated his power over nature in the outpouring of the ten plagues. He turned the water of the Nile to blood. And after the plagues, he parted the water of the Red Sea. Now the LORD tested them at Marah. Would the people remember the promises of God? Would they remember his past faithfulness? Would they trust in his sovereign power? Or would they lose it when faced with the threat of thirst in the wilderness? Verse 24 tells us: “And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘What shall we drink?’”

Notice that the word “grumbled” appears three times in a short span in the Exodus narrative. It appears here in 15:24. It will appear again in 16:2. There the people are hungry and “the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness…”  And the word appears again 17:3 where we read, “But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’” 

You are probably noticing a theme. This story that we are considering today along with the next two are about testing. After Israel was redeemed from Egypt they began to sojourn in the wilderness. And as they sojourned the LORD tested them three times concerning the provision of water, bread, and water again. By the way, can you think of someone else who was tested in the wilderness three times over? Christ was! He overcame the temptation, didn’t he? But what did Israel do when they were tested? They doubted and they grumbled against the LORD. I take this to mean that most grumbled, but I trust that the faithful ones among them were sanctified as the LORD proved himself over and over and over again. Soon we will see that the LORD provided water from a rock and manna from heaven. Here in the text that is before us today, we learn that the LORD made the bitter waters of Marah sweet.  

Verse 25: “And [Moses] cried to the LORD [notice, he cried, he did not grumble] and the LORD showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.” You can search for a scientific explanation for this if you’d like. I don’t think you’ll find one. Nor do I believe one is necessary. This entire Exodus story is punctuated by the miraculous works of God. And it is has been common in this story for the LORD to instruct Moses to use a physical item through which he works his miracles – a staff, dust thrown into the air, now a log. 

Here is what we know. The LORD demonstrated his power over the waters of Marah through Moses. He proved himself to be faithful once more. He provided for the thirst of his people. He turned that which was bitter, sweet. This he did for Old Covenant Israel through Moses, and this has done in an even greater way for all of his elect through Christ.  

Christ satisfies the thirst of all who trust in him. Everyone who drank the sweetened water of Marah was thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that Christ gives will never be thirsty again. The water that Christ gives becomes in us a spring of water welling up to eternal life  (see John 4:13–14).

And in Christ, all of the bitterness of life is turned sweet. For “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Even the bitterness of death is turned sweet for the believer, for Christ has removed the sting of death. For the believer, death is the gateway to glory.  

Brothers and sisters, it is imperative for Christian sojourners to remember these things as we are tested by the trials of life. 

Sometimes it feels as if we are sojourning in a dry and desolate place. The circumstances of life may lead us to think, there is no hope! There is no way out! But we must remember that the LORD is faithful. He has been faithful to us in the past, and he will be faithful to us in the future, for he has promised. He will preserve those who are his in Christ Jesus. He will bring his elect safely home. Between now and then, we must be full of faith. 

And at times it may seem as if the LORD has led us to bitter waters. That which we thought would bring satisfaction and refreshment in this life brings disappointment. Will we trust the LORD in our disappointments and despair? Will we believe that the LORD is able to make the bitter waters of this life sweet in Christ Jesus as he brings good from that which is evil and leads us through the waters into life eternal? Brothers and sisters, we must. 

Verses 25 and 26 are important. Starting in the second half of verse 25 we read, “There [at Marah] the LORD made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 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” (Exodus 15:25–26, ESV).

Notice a few things about this portion of the passage. 

One, here we learn that the LORD sanctified his people not only through the trial of the lack of fresh water in the wilderness but also through his word. Yes, he tested them through a difficult life experience but he also spoke to them. And this is how the LORD sanctifies us. Through experiences and by his word. 

Two, the lesson that he taught them was really quite simple. If Israel would diligently listen to the voice of the LORD their God, and do that which is right in his eyes, they would be blessed. None of the diseases that the LORD put on the Egyptians would be put on them. This implies that if Israel failed to listen to God’s word and to keep his commandments, they, like the Egyptians, would be cursed. Note this principle well. We will return to it in just a moment.  

Three, the LORD reveals himself to Israel here as their “healer”. The word healer can also be translated, “to make fresh”. It refers to the process of being restored to health or being made fertile. When the LORD said, “for I am the LORD, your healer”, he was saying, I am the one who has the power to make you healthy, fruitful, and prosperous. 

So then, here is the lesson that the LORD taught to Israel at Marah as he spoke to them after satisfying their thirst. I am here to bless you, to make you fruitful and prosperous as a people. But here is the condition: you must listen to my voice and keep my commandments. 

As you probably know, this little simple lesson would end up being central to Israel’s existence under the Old Mosaic Covenant. This principle – obey God and be blessed in the land, disobey and be cursed – would be the core element of the covenant that God made with that nation through Moses. If Israel was to be blessed and prosperous they needed to obey the law of God. This work’s principle was stated at Marah and it would prove to be foundational to the Old Mosaic Covenant. 

Christians living under the New Covenant who’ve had it ingrained in them that we are saved from our sins, not by works or through the keeping of God’s law, but by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone, might be troubled by the works principle found here. Listen again to the conditional nature of this arrangement: ‘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” (Exodus 15:25–26, ESV). The arrangement is certainly conditional. It is an if/then arrangement. But pay very careful attention to what is going on here. The offer is not forgiveness of sins, nor is it life eternal in the new heavens and earth, but blessings and fruitfulness on earth. 

What I have just said is key to understanding the works principle that is clearly present in the Mosaic Covenant. Was the Mosaic Covenant a covenant of works? In other words, did the blessings offered by God to Israel in that Covenant depend upon the obedience of the people of Israel? Yes, certainly! But the blessings offered were earthly blessings. If Israel obeyed the LORD, they would be blessed by the LORD in the land. If they disobeyed, they would be cursed and even vomited out of the land. How then could an Israelite be saved from their sins for all eternity? How could an Israelite inherit blessed eternal life in the new heavens and earth? In the way that you and I receive it! Not by good works. Not by law-keeping (for we have all violated God’s law in thought word and deed). But only by trusting in the promises made to Adam and later to Abraham concerning the Messiah. Do not forget that those same promises were entrusted to Israel in the days of Moses too. Those promises were not annulled or taken away when God entered into that Covenant of works with them through Moses. No, the promises of God remained. And salvation was obtained by the grace of God and through faith in the promised Messiah. But as it pertained to blessings on earth, the nation of Israel would enjoy them only if they were obedient. This is what Paul the Apostle says so clearly in the books of Romans and Galatians (see especially Galatians 3:17ff.)

Though you and I do not live under this works principle that was imposed upon Israel at Marah and later expanded under the Mosaic Covenant at Sinai, we may still learn from it and apply it. Think of it. What was Israel called to do as they sojourned in the wilderness? They were to trust the LORD and they were to obey him.   

Trust and obey… It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Christian sojourners are to trust and obey, trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey! It is simple, but it can also be very difficult for us given our frailty. We are so prone to forget God’s faithfulness, to doubt, to panic, and to even grumble against God as Israel did at Marah. And sometimes we struggle to obey his voice. But truly, this is where abundant life is found. We are blessed in Christ when we trust him and obey his word. As Christ said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:9–11, ESV)

Those who are redeemed must sojourn. One purpose for sojourning is sanctification. The LORD sanctifies us by his word and by testing us through the trials of life. And in this way, the people of God will learn to trust him and obey him with ever-increasing sincerity. 

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Those Who Sojourn Must Know The LORD Will Bring Them Safely Home

The final observation that I wish to make from our passage today is that those who sojourn must know for certain that the LORD will bring them safely home.

I draw this principle from verse 27 which says, “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water” (Exodus 15:27, ESV). If Marah signifies the trials and the testings of this life, Elim seems to be paradise by contrast. There was an abundance of water there – one spring for each tribe of Israel. And there was an abundance of trees too so that Israel might rest in their shade. After Israel was tried and tested in a dry and thirsty land, they were comforted and refreshed. And so it will be for all who are in Christ Jesus. 

After the sojourning of God’s people is complete Christ will return to make all things new. And all who are in Christ will be refreshed by “ 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, [they will eat of] the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree [will be] 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” (Revelation 22:1–5, ESV).

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Afternoon Sermon: What Do We Pray For In The Sixth Petition And Conclusion Of The Lord’s Prayer?, Baptist Catechism 113 & 114, John 17

Baptist Catechism 113 & 114

Q. 113. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?

A. In the sixth petition, which is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted. (Matt. 6:13; 26:41; Ps. 19:13; 1 Cor. 10:13; John 17:15)

Q. 114. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

A. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen,” teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise Him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to Him; and in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen. (Matt. 6:13; Dan. 9:18,19; 1 Chron. 29:11-13; 1 Cor. 14:16; Phil. 4:6; Rev. 22:20)

Scripture Reading: John 17

“When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (John 17, ESV)

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Introduction

This is the last Sunday of 2021 and you will notice that we have come now to the end of our catechism. Our custom has been to progress through the Baptist catechism together as a church once every two years. In this way the essentials of the Christian faith are taught to our members, young and old, with some regularity. There has been some talk of teaching through another catechism in this way. The other catechism that could be used by us is called the Orthodox Catechism. It is the Baptist version of a better-known catechism called the Heidelberg catechism. Who knows, we may come to study that catechism in two years’ time. For now, we will stick with the Baptist Catechism. I’d like to preach through the first third of this catechism, which I have not yet done, given that we started this custom of catechetical preaching on the Lord’s Day afternoon about 1 ½ years ago. The first sermon I preached on the catechism was on number 33. And so all of that is to say, we will conclude our journey through the Baptist Catechism today, and we will begin again on the next Lord’s Day, Lord willing. 

Questions 113 and 114 of our catechism deal with the last petition and the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer. By the way, don’t you appreciate the way that our catechism concludes with this emphasis on prayer? Sound biblical doctrine is laid down for us in the first third of the catechism, but the last two-thirds is especially practical (yes, I agree that all doctrine is practical, but you know what I mean). It is question 44 that asks, “What is the duty which God requireth of man? A: “The duty which God requireth of man, is obedience to His revealed will.” And this question does eventually give way to long consideration of the ten commandments. After that, we find material on the ordinary means of grace, the last of those being prayer. We’ve been considering the topic of prayer ever since question 105 which asks, what is Prayer? The answer is, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, believing, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.” What I’m trying to point out is this: our catechism is not only rich in doctrine, it is also practical. It tells us what we ought to believe, and it also tells us how we should live, according to the scriptures. I love it. I think it is a very useful tool for the people of God. 

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What Do We Pray For In The Sixth Petition 

So we have now to the sixth and final petition of the prayer that Christ taught his disciples to pray, which is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. 

The first petition is “hallowed be your name.”

The second is“your kingdom come.”

The third is “your will be done in earth as it is in heaven.”

The fourth: “give us this day our daily bread.”

The fifth: “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” 

And now the sixth: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” 

When we pray this prayer we are asking “that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.”

The world is filled with temptation, brothers and sisters. One of the benefits of praying this prayer daily is that we are reminded of this reality. When we pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, we are reminded of the fact that there is a right way and a wrong way, there is a narrow path that leads to life, and a broad path that leads to destruction. Not only this, we are reminded that we will often be tempted to stray from the right way. 

The world – that is to say, this sinful world and its ways – will tempt us. 

The Evil One will seek to lead us away. This is why Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8, ESV)

And our own flesh will often work against us. Yes, those in Christ have been renewed by the Spirit, but we do also confess that corruptions remain within us. 

So these are the three ways of temptation: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. When we pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, we are reminded of the reality of temptation, and we are able to prepare ourselves to walk in a sober, clear-minded, and alert manner.  

But you will notice that this is no mere reminder. No, in the sixth petition we make an appeal to God and we ask him to lead us, not in the wrong way, but in the right way. “

In the sixth petition, we are requesting that God would “keep us from being tempted to sin… or that he would “support and deliver us when we are tempted.”

Why the “or”? Well, sometimes the Lord’s will is that we be tempted and that we be strengthened through the ordeal. 

Can you think of an example in the scriptures where God permitted a man to be tempted? Think of Christ in the wilderness. God did not keep Christ from temptation, but he did keep him through it! 

And we know that God does permit temptation to strengthen, test, and prove those who are his. James speaks to this saying, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (James 1:12–14, ESV). Did you hear it?  “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life…” In this context, the trials are temptations. 

So our prayer is that God would either keep us from temptation or keep us through temptation. 

You will notice that this is what Christ himself prayed for in that prayer of John 17 which I read earlier – that his disciples would be kept. He prayed to the Father, saying, “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world… I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours… While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth…” etc. (John 17, ESV)

Jesus himself prayed for us that we would be kept, and when he taught us to pray, “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”, he was teaching us to pray that the Father would keep us.

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What Does The Conclusion Of The Lord’s Prayer Teach Us?

Please allow me to say just a few words about the conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer, which is “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen.”

One, this conclusion to the Lord’s Prayer is almost certainly not a part of the original, but was added early in the history of the church as a way of… bringing the Lord’s Prayer to a conclusion. 

Two, though this conclusion is not a part of the original, it is scriptural. Listen to 1 Chronicles 29:11–13:  “Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name” (1 Chronicles 29:11–13, ESV). It seems that the traditional ending added to the Lord’s Prayer was drawn from this text. 

Three, though not a part of the original, the traditional ending does teach us to “take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise Him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to Him; and in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen.” Amen means, truly, indeed, or let it be so. 

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Conclusion

Q. 113. What do we pray for in the sixth petition?

A. In the sixth petition, which is, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,” we pray that God would either keep us from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted. (Matt. 6:13; 26:41; Ps. 19:13; 1 Cor. 10:13; John 17:15)

Q. 114. What doth the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

A. The conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever, Amen,” teacheth us to take our encouragement in prayer from God only, and in our prayers to praise Him, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to Him; and in testimony of our desire, and assurance to be heard, we say, Amen. (Matt. 6:13; Dan. 9:18,19; 1 Chron. 29:11-13; 1 Cor. 14:16; Phil. 4:6; Rev. 22:20)

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Discussion Questions: Exodus 15:1-21

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION AT HOME OR IN GOSPEL COMMUNITY GROUPS

Sermon manuscript available at emmausrbc.org

  • Discuss the fact that humans are able to sing. In what way is singing an even more fitting instrument of praise than speaking?
  • Beginning with Exodus 15, what are the songs of praise recorded in scripture about? What should our songs be about?
  • In the days of Moses the LORD accomplished Israel’s redemption, he judged the Egyptians, and he led Israel to indwell them. Compare and contrast this with what was accomplished by Christ. Do we have more or less of a reason to praise? Discuss.
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Morning Sermon: Exodus 15:1-21, The Song Of Moses

New Testament Reading: Revelation 15

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and amazing, seven angels with seven plagues, which are the last, for with them the wrath of God is finished. And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 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! 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.’ After this I looked, and the sanctuary of the tent of witness in heaven was opened, and out of the sanctuary came the seven angels with the seven plagues, clothed in pure, bright linen, with golden sashes around their chests. And one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God who lives forever and ever, and the sanctuary was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from his power, and no one could enter the sanctuary until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.” (Revelation 15, ESV)

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 15:1-21

“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. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. 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. 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. 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.’ You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. 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. 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. 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.’ 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.’” (Exodus 15, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

Our text for today begins with these words: “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD.” Because you and I are so accustomed to singing songs to the LORD, we might not think much of this statement. Again, the text says, “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD.”      

Have you ever reflected on the ability that humans have to sing? It really is a marvelous thing to consider. Humans can sing. We have this ability to utter words in a musical way. No other creature, with the exception of the angels, can do this. We say that birds sing, and indeed that is true. But they do not sing in the way humans do. Humans have this capacity to put words to music, to compose songs, and to communicate complex things to God and to one another in this way. Humans and angels are the only rational creatures created by God. And both angels and humans were created with this ability. 

Why did God make us in this way? Well, I am not saying that this is the only reason, but I am confident that the supreme reason is so that we might give glory to God with our voices. Yes, we are to give glory to God with our words. We are to speak to him in prayer. We are to give thanks to him with our lips. We are to testify to his goodness. But there is something special about singing. Singing joins the heart and the head in a way that speaking cannot. This is why the Psalmist says, “My heart is steadfast, O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!” (Psalm 108:1, ESV). And Paul the Apostle commands that believers “be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:18–21, ESV). 

I think it is right to assume that God’s people have always sung praises to him. By that I mean, I think it is right to assume that God’s people, from the days of Adam to the days of Moses, sang songs of praise to God, though we do not have a record of it. But here is the thing that I want you to notice: the record of the songs sung by God’s people begins here in Exodus 15. This song – the Song of Moses – is the first song recorded in the pages of Holy Scripture. And it is a song sung in response to the great act of deliverance worked by God to deliver the Hebrews from Egyptians.    

Note this: all of the songs of praise uttered by God’s rational creatures, whether of angels or men, are in response to the works and revelation of God in creation and redemption. We sing because God has revealed himself to us. We sing in response to the marvelous things that God has done.  

Did you know that the angels sang praises to God when he created the earth? Genesis chapters 1 and 2 don’t speak to this, but Job 38 does. There the LORD questions Job saying, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4–7, ESV). The point is this: the angels sang together in response to God’s work of creation. 

And throughout the scriptures, God’s people compose songs in response to his works of creation and redemption. 

Here in Exodus 15 Moses and Israel sing in response to the LORD’s work of redemption. 

In Judges 5 we find the song of Deborah and Barak which they sang when the Lord gave them victory over the enemies of God’s people, Jabin and Sisera. 

In 2 Samuel 22 we find a song composed by David composed in response to his deliverance from the hand of Saul and of all his enemies. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:1–3, ESV)

The entire Psalter may be described as a response to the self-revelation of God in creation and redemption.  

And take special notice of the songs of praise sung in heaven and on earth concerning the Christ at his birth, upon the completion of the work of redemption, at his resurrection and ascension to the Father’s right hand, and concerning his return, the final judgment, and consummation of all things. Read the Gospels to find an account of these praises. Read also the book of Revelation. 

One commentator (Rykan) has noted that the drama of redemption is a musical. I agree! And I will add that this musical comes to a crescendo in the finished work of Christ, his life, death, burial and resurrection, and his eventual return.

The point is this: God created humans with the capacity to sing. The highest use of this capacity is to give glory, honor, and praise to our Maker and our Redeemer. We are to sing praises to our God with all of our being. And the songs that we compose and sing to our God are in response to the revelation of himself in the work of creation and redemption. Here in Exodus chapter 15 we find the first recorded song in Holy Scripture. It functions as a paradigm of sorts for all other songs pertaining to the redemption of God’s elect. 

The song of Moses, as it is called, is divided into five parts. In verses 1-3 praise is offered up to the LORD. In verses 4-10 the defeat of the Egyptians is recounted. In verses 11-13 praise and thanks is again offered up to the LORD. In verses 14-16a something is said about the reaction of the future enemies of Israel – the nations will hear and tremble; dread will come upon the people of Philistia, Edom, and Moab; the people of Cannan will melt away as they hear of what the LORD did to the Egyptians. And then fifthly and finally, in verses 16b-18 a word is said about Israel coming into the land that God had promised to them and how the Lord would dwell in the midst of them in the sanctuary on his holy mountain. Our passage for today then concludes with a remark about Miriam. She was the sister of Aaron and Moses. She was probably the one who followed Moses down the Nile when he was placed in that miniature ark. She was the one who suggested to Pharaoh’s daughter that her mother nurse the child. Miriam, this sister of Moses and Aaron played a very significant role in the leadership of Israel. She is here called a prophetess. She, along with the other women, took tambourines and let Israel in the singing of this song.  “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’” (Exodus 15:21, ESV).

These five parts of the song of Moses may be summarized in three points. We see that in this song which Moses composed on the day when God delivered Israel from the Egyptians through the Red Sea, one, thanks and praise is given to the LORD for his deliverance, two, thanks and praise is given to the LORD for his just judgments, and three, thanks and praise is given to the LORD for his personal presence with his people now and forever. These will be the three points of the sermon for today.

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Give Thanks And Praise To The LORD For His Deliverance

First of all, let us see that the song of Moses moves us to give thanks and praise to the LORD for his deliverance.

Moses’ song begins with praise to the LORD for his deliverance. “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” (Exodus 15:1–3, ESV).

Notice three things about these verses.  

One, notice the emphasis upon the divine name, the LORD. I have said before that the book of Exodus is really about the revelation of the divine name, YHWH. The meaning of this name was revealed to Moses by the LORD through words as he appeared to him in the bush that was burning yet not consumed. And we are to see that the Exodus event itself was a revelation of the divine name. In other words, not only did God tell Moses and Israel who he is with words, he showed them who is through his actions – through the outpouring of the ten plagues and through the parting of the sea. Here Moses sings about it. He recounts what God has done for us… “the LORD is his name.”

Two, Moses describes the LORD as a man of war. The LORD is likened to a warrior. He is a God of action, a God of power and strength, a God who fights for his people to deliver them from evil. 

Three, this song of praise is in response to the deliverance that the LORD accomplished for Israel. This is also the theme of verses 11-13, which is at the very heart, or center, of this five-part song: there we read, “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. You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode” (Exodus 15:11–13, ESV).

Brothers and sisters, though you and I were not rescued from Egyptian bondage in the way that Old Covenant Israel was, this song of Moses may be sung by us in light of the redemption that Jesus Christ has earned for us. This is what Revelation 15 says. It is not those who were redeemed from Egypt, but those who have been redeemed from sin, Satan, and death, who “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!” This is not the song of Moses unaltered,  but the song of Moses advanced in light of the finished work of Christ. If the song of Moses is the seed, the song of the Lamb is the flower. The two songs are related to one another in this way. The song of the Lamb sung by the Saints in heaven is the full-grown and mature version of the other. 

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Give Thanks and Praise To The LORD For His Just Judgements

Secondly, let us see that the song of Moses moves us to give thanks and praise to the LORD  for his just judgments. 

We are more accustomed to giving thanks and praise to God for his deliverance than we are for his just judgments. We love to sing songs about the salvation that is ours in Christ Jesus. And I think it is right that our singing is weighted in this direction. But notice the emphasis upon God’s judgments in the song of Moses. 

The people praised the LORD, saying, “The LORD is a man of war; the LORD is his name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea, and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea. The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. 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”, etc.

These judgments of the LORD were just judgments. By that I mean, these judgments were right, for “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.’”

And for this reason, the LORD “blew with [his] wind…” The Hebrew word translated as wind is rûaḥ. It can also mean “spirit”. The same word is translated as “Spirit” in Genesis 1:2: “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” I think it is right to hear an echo of Genesis 1:2 in the words, the LORD “blew with [his] wind…” I continue… “the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.” 

This is a song about the just judgments of God. The people of Israel sang praises to God for the outpouring of his wrath upon the Egyptians. You would do well to notice that many of Psalms are about the outpouring of God’s wrath. And many of the songs found in the book of Revelation also carry this theme. 

What is my point? My point is that from Genesis to Revelation we see that God is a God of grace and he is also a God of wrath. God will be glorified now and for all eternity, not only for his grace but also for his just judgments.  This is what Paul famously says in Romans 9:24ff. “What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:22–24, ESV). Paul’s point is that God is right, and not wrong, to show mercy to some and to judge others. He would be right to judge all for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death (see Romans 3:23 and 6:23). And he is right to show mercy to some. He has this right, for he is God. And we know that he has maintained his justice while justifying sinners by sending Christ to pay for the sins of his elect. This is what Paul says in Romans 3:26.

Here is my question for you: I know that you are eager to give thanks and praise to God for our redemption in Christ Jesus, but do you also praise him for his just judgments? Moses did. Israel did. The Psalms do. The heavenly hosts sing praises to God day and night for his mercy and also his judgments. Consider the opening of the book of Revelation. In 1:7 we read, “Behold, he [Christ] is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7, ESV). The theme of God being glorified for his wrath is too big to ignore, brothers and sisters. It must be given a proper place in our doctrine and also in our singing.

Is it right that we should grieve over the thought of a sinner being judged? Yes, I think this is right. It is a reflection of the character of God. In Ezekiel 18:32 we hear the LORD say, “I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live” (Ezekiel 18:32, ESV). So there is a sense in which it is true that we, like God, should take no pleasure in the death of the wicked. But there is another sense in which God’s people must believe and confess that God’s judgments are good because they are perfectly just, right, and true.

*****

Give Praise To The LORD For His Presence With Us Now And Forever

So then, as we consider the song of Moses we should be moved to thank and praise the LORD for his redemption and for his just judgments in Christ Jesus. Thirdly, we should be moved to give praise to the LORD for his presence with us now and forever. 

In my opinion, these lines in the Song of Moses regarding the LORD’s presence with his people are the most beautiful and insightful. 

Verse 13 says, “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.” 

Verse 17 says, “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.” 

I say that these verses are the most insightful because they reveal the purpose of the work of redemption that the LORD had accomplished. The LORD rescued Israel from the Egyptians to dwell in the midst of them.  These people were redeemed to be God’s special possession. They would be his people and he would be their God in a special way. He would speak to them, give them his law, enter into covenant with them, and dwell in the midst of them, first in the tabernacle, and later in the temple which would be built on God’s holy mountain. God redeemed Israel to indwell them. 

But God’s indwelling of Old Covenant Israel was earthly and external. Yes, some had true faith in the promises of God. Yes, these enjoyed the internal operations of God’s Spirit just as we do under the New Covenant today. But God indwelt the nation in an external way. His glory filled the tabernacle and the temple, and the people were invited to draw near.

This principle of indwelling comes to a climax in the New Covenant. The members of the new covenant are those who believe. And all who believe truly are indwelled with the promised Holy Spirit. This is why Paul writes to Christians in Corinth saying, “What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, [now here are citations drawn from many Old Testament texts, including Leviticus 26:12 and Exodus 29:45] ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty’” (2 Corinthians 6:16–18, ESV).

The LORD rescued Israel from Egypt through Moses to dwell in the midst of them. 

This is even more true of the finished work of Christ. It is by virtue of the finished work of Christ and of the New Covenant, of which he is the mediator, that God dwells in the midst of his people, not externally in a temple of stone, but internally in the heart by his Spirit. 

Stated differently, the Exodus in the days of Moses and the Old Covenant that was transacted with Israel in those days brought about an external indwelling – the glory of God would be manifest in the pillar of cloud, on the mountain, and in the temple. But it is through the cross of Christ that sins were paid for and the Evil One was defeated so that God could dwell in the hearts of his people, making them into the temple of his Holy Spirit. All who had true faith in the Messiah in the Old Covenant and New, enjoyed this internal indwelling. 

The song of Moses was about this indwelling.  Again verse 13 says, “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.” And verse 17 says, “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.” 

But listen to how this theme of indwelling is greatly advanced at the end of the book of Revelation. Chapter 21 verse 1 says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:1–4, ESV).

*****

Conclusion

Please allow me to conclude now with a few reflections and suggestions for application. 

One, we should take our singing very seriously, brothers and sisters. The New Testament is very clear that singing is to be an element of our worship. We are to “[address] one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with [our] heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (Ephesians 5:19–20, ESV). I think it is right to say that the drama of redemption is a musical. God acts, and his rational creatures, both angels and men, respond to his works with songs of praise. We must sing, brothers and sisters. And when we sing, we must sing truth, from the heart, and in faith. 

Two, if we have not already done so we must make room in our minds and hearts for what the scriptures have to say regarding God’s wrath. Like God himself, we ought not “take pleasure” in the judgment of the wicked, but we must confess that it is good and right. In fact, the thought of God’s just judgments should bring a kind of comfort to the people of God. By that, I mean that God’s people should take comfort in the thought that God will judge with perfect justice and equity at the end of time. In other words, he will set everything straight, while at the same time showing mercy to undeserving sinners like you and me who are found in Christ Jesus. We must give praise to God for his just judgments, for this is right. 

Three, the Hebrews had good reason to sing this song which Moses composed given the marvelous act of redemption the Lord had accomplished for them. You and I have an even greater reason to sing, for Christ has come. He lived for us, died for us, rose for us, and ascended for us. He has promised to return for us, brothers and sisters. And so whenever we come to give God praise, let us sing to him being mindful of all that he has done for us through Jesus Christ. He has rescued us from the domain of darkness, has transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son. He indwells us now and will dwell in the midst of us for all eternity. 

To God be the glory

Great things He has done

So loved He the world that He gave us His Son

Who yielded His life an atonement for sin

And opened the life-gate that all may go in…

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 15:1-21, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 15:1-21, The Song Of Moses


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