Psalm 145 says, I will extol you my God and my King and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is unsurczable. Amen? Amen.
Let’s pray together.
Father, as we consider the things that we have just sung, our hearts are in awe and humbled, that even as a baby, you were reaching out for me. What a lyric. Father, we consider the reality of Christmas and our hearts cannot help but respond.
Jesus, that you did not need to leave thecomfort of heaven in your glory and your power and your strength. You had everything that you needed in perfect community with the Father and with the Spirit. But because of your great love for us, you chose to leave the comforts of heaven, to be born not into a palace but into a feeding trough, not into the royal family but to a humble carpenter and his wife to be. Not with great fanfare and trumpets at the palace but with the angels of heaven, sharing news with lowly shepherds.
And you would live the perfect life that we could never live. And you would die the death that we deserve to die for our sinfulness. And three days later you would rise from the grave to show us to prove to the world your power over sin and death and to give us the offer of new life, both in this life but most perfectly in the life to come. And we did nothing to earn or deserve this. In fact, you did all of it while we were still your enemies. So what more can we say than to join the psalmist in saying great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. His greatness is unsurchable. Hallelujah to you! We thank you and we ask all this in the powerful name of Jesus. Amen.
Well, you can have a seat. We’re going to go through a couple rhythms this morning. We find ourselves in Exodus 15. And it’s the song of Moses. And I see a few divisions in the song of Moses, different ways that he worships or adores or shows gratitude back to God. So what we’re going to do this morning is we’re going to mirror Moses gratitude instead of me just telling you about it and then saying okay, get out there and show gratitude this week. We’re going to try and do it in real time. So I’ll preach a little section. There’s going to be a time of personal prayer and reflection and then we’ll sing. So we’re going to learn about what Moses writes in his song. We’re going to sing that song back to God personally and then we’re going to sing that song back to God corporately.
The other night my wife and daughter went to Texas Roadhouse. Those roles, man, can I get in a man? So my son and I were doing some father-son stuff. The girls went out and then the next day I hear my wife on the phone. She says, can I please talk to a manager and I thought, oh boy, you know what that means, right? All of us have had that conversation. And everybody knows. Can I please talk to a manager? Means whoever you are on the phone, you can’t solve my problem. So instead of us wasting our time chat chatting, I just need to talk right here, manager, because they can fix my problem.
And then my wife goes, I want to make sure that the young man that served our table gets the tip that he deserved. And she went on to say, I checked my receipt in my email and the tip that is shown on the receipt is not the tip that I gave him. And I don’t want him to think that he did a poor job. He did a wonderful job. And so she actually processed another credit card, you know, debit or whatever it is so that the young man could get his tip that he deserved. And I was really impressed. I was like, look at my wife. Being awesome, right?
But it started me thinking about this time of year particularly because like, so there are two types of people in the world. Type A is the type of people who you get your wapper with no tomatoes and then you get home and you find a has tomatoes on you and you drive back to Burger King. And I think all of you are crazy because the wapper is still hot. Just take the tomato off. But then you’re like, it’s got tomato goo on there. See, I am like, you’d have to put arsenic in my burrito for me to go back. It’s like, whatever’s in there, we’ll work it out.
But my wife, well, we actually, it was so funny because we had this conversation last night. She goes, hey, are you going to take that back? And I go, no. It’s not worth my time and effort to take that back. And I’ve learned that no, that if I say that, she’ll take it back for me because she can’t stand taking it back. She can’t stand. I’m like, it’s, it’s, it’s, it was $3. It will cost you more time and effort than to take it back, right?
But here’s the, as we talk about these things, you know, some funny jokes. Here’s what I think happens sometimes in our life or regularly in our lives. When people do their job correctly, they don’t get your, they don’t get gratitude. They, we just expect them to do their job correctly. When they hear from us is when they’ve done something wrong. Right? When was the last time you were at the drive-through when you go, wait a go, guys. Wow. That was so fast. These fries are so hot. There is no tomato on this whopper. Give yourselves a round of applause, right? Or like, buddy, the elf. Way to go, everyone. World’s best cup of coffee. Right? We’re not, we’re not like that. That’s why it’s funny. We only share the things with people that we’re not happy about. And unfortunately, this rhythm can spill into our relationship with God. We go to Him when we want, when we need, when things are sideways, and we’re in the valley, but the rest of the time, we just sort of treat Him like He’s doing His job. Like if things are good, why give thanks? He’s just doing what He’s supposed to do. Take care of me.
And we find ourselves here in Exodus, where I think Moses gives us a pattern for gratitude. So here are a couple of questions to consider as we head into our message and our time of worship today. Do you praise as much as you plead? So when your conversations with God, you praise Him and thank Him and lift Him up and show gratitude as much as you ask for things. Do you express gratitude as much as you express need? Do you bless Him as much as you beg Him? In an excellent article on the subject in Christianity today that I read this week, here’s what Kent Dunnigan and Ben Wayman say.
Christians should be a grateful people, perhaps the most grateful of everyone. And considering the malaise of post-pandemic life, our embittered political polarization and the vitriolic cancel culture today, it’s hard to imagine a better time for us to double down on the value of gratitude. For Christians, of course, gratitude should begin and end with our thankfulness to God. And yet, many of us do not experience this with the kind of, and I love these qualifiers with the kind of frequency, intensity, and durability that seem appropriate given how extraordinary God’s benefits are. Why do we struggle to be consistently grateful to God even when we believe or at least say we believe that God is our ultimate and incomparable benefactor? One problem, he says, is inattention. We may know in an abstract sense that God is the greatest giver, but until we start paying attention to where God’s gifts show up, we’re not likely to experience gratitude.
So my hope this morning is that we would just take some time and pay attention to focus our hearts and minds on what God has done, on who God is, and what He will do. So open with me to Exodus, and I’m going to read the entirety of Exodus 15. To set the stage for us, God has just split the sea, and the people of Israel have walked through on dry land, and God caused the sea to go back in and fall on the chariots and the warriors of Egypt. So there is full and final deliverance, and Moses writes a song. And when there are songs, this is important when you’re Bible reading. We have some books of poetry, Job is poetry, Psalms is poetry, Proverbs, ecclesiastes. But when there is poetry in the middle of narrative, like in Exodus, it’s very important to pay attention because songs stuck in the middle of Hebrew narrative mean that you really want to pay attention to what just happened. So this deliverance is important, and we have the first song in the Bible right here.
Then Moses and the people of Israel sang the song, 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. He has become my salvation. This is my God, and I will praise Him. My father’s God and I will exalt Him. Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh 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 sat down into the depths like a stone. You’re right hand O Lord, glorious in power. You’re 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 hands shall destroy them. You blew with your wind and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like you, O Lord, mighty 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 through 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 Pharaohw ith 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 the rider he has thrown into the sea.
So I see three divisions. The first division is that Moses praises God for whathe has done in the past. Moses looks back and he says, I will sing to Yahweh for he has triumphed gloriously. It’s curious, isn’t it, not that God delivers his people from Egypt and sends them into a dead end. There are different pathways that they could have taken, but God leads them to a sea. They have no boats. Probably a couple million people altogether,women, men, children, they’re not swimming across. And I think it’s curious, right, that we think God often delivers us out of whatever it is that we’re in to an easy place. But for the Israelites, God leads them out of Egypt and into a difficult place where they must continue to rely on him. And we lose the awe of what has happened here. He split the sea apart. Like we’ve heard that something like me, we hope, yeah, I saw the movie, acouple of them actually. But I can’t imagine what that moment was like. He split the sea apart so they could walk across on dry land. If there was any doubt as to who is the victor here, it is settled at the Red Sea. Yahweh alone is the victor.
And then we see aftert he colon, the semi colon, the horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea. See God’s victory is not only a solo effort. He needs no help from anybody to split the sea and to deliver his people. It’s a solo effort, but it’s also a complete effort. The horse, the means of war, and the rider, the maker of war. So why Moses says it this way. He hasn’t just dealt a little bit with things. God has dealt fully and finally with Pharaoh and his chariots.
We look back to Exodus 14:23 and it says the Egyptians pursued and went in after them into the midst of the sea. How many of Pharaoh’s horses, all Pharaoh’s horses and his chariots and his horsemen, verse 28. The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, all of the hosts of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.
And there’s also some interesting verbiage in here that kind of harkens us back to show that God is greater than Pharaoh and all of the gods of Egypt.
Exodus 15, verse 7. In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrow your adversaries, you send out your fury, it consumes them like stubble.
You remember that? It’s interesting right that Moses would use this word that is used when Pharaoh takes the straw away and they have to go gather all of the stubble. God consumes them like stubble. Or, verse 8, at the blast of your nostrils, the waters piled up. Like why would Moses say it that way? If you remember a few weeks ago when I preached, we talked about God’s patience and the Hebrew phrase is long of nose. But if you’re patient, you’re long of nose because that’s where we kind of, like your nose runs hot if you’re angry. So if you’re long of nose, you have a long fuse and we learned about how God is patient with us. But Moses uses, he isn’t saying he just blows from his nostrils. So God’s patience with Pharaoh has been exhausted. And now we see happen to Pharaoh, what happens to all of God’s enemies at some point. His patience ceases and he blows from his nostrils and defeats his enemies. Moses praises God for what he has done.
You know, every once in a while, if there’s somebody new to our church or I’m having lunch with somebody, I’ve not really connected with before, I get an opportunity to share my story. And it might be about my conversion, how God brought me into his family. It might be about the way that I met my wife. It might be about the adoption story with our children or something else. But it’s good for my soul because I look back and see what God has done. I can get so focused, so myopic on the problems and the struggles and the difficulties right in front of me that I fail to look back and see God’s goodness in my life. And so I want to encourage us with this first, thee nd of this first unit in real time, right now, don’t wait until later to look back and to consider the things that God has done and to thank him. The ways that he provided for you, when like the Israelites, you were trapped and you didn’t see a way out. The ways in which in his grace, he allowed pain and suffering to be filtered into your life, to teach you a lesson and to increase your reliance on him. The ways that he maybe surprised you with a blessing that you didn’t ask for and didn’t see coming. The ways that he turned evil for good, a dark situation into light, or for the ways that he comforted you in grief and sorrow.
So we’re going to take a few minutes and you can pray by yourself. If you’re with a spouse or friends from your life group, you can turn in just for a moment, but I just want to encourage you, maybe you start this way. God, I thank you for what you have done in my life. And then just list out a couple of those things and show gratitude to God for what he has done. And then Melissa and the team will lead us out of that time. You’ll hear the music and then we can stand and we’ll sing corporately and give God gratitude together and then we’ll move into our next movement. So let’s pray.
We praise God for what he has done.
And then we praise God, and Moses leads us to praise God for who he is. One of the things that I think is again very unique about this period of time, they don’t have a theology book where they’re learning about what God is like. They’re learning God’s character in real time. And this section here in the middle is packed with theology. The things that Moses is learning and the people of Israel are learning, I would commend to you that we need to take time to look back at what God has done and not just be grateful that we’re comfortable. Or not just be grateful that he taught us some lessons, but actually to see who he is. What kind of God he is, what characteristics are in this God that we serve? And that’s what Moses does verse 11.
Who is like you, Yahweh among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome and glorious deeds doing wonders? You stretch 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. A few things that I think Moses gleans from what he has experienced.
One that Yahweh alone is God. The God of the Bible is the only God. Everything and everyone else, the lowercase G gods are metal and wood and myths. He sees very quickly, hold the magicians of Egypt can do some pretty fancy things, but it doesn’t last very long, does it? They get to that third plague and they kind of go, this is beyond our pain grade. We did some tricks, but this is the real McCoy. We have learned that Yahweh alone is God.
Two, we’ve learned that he is awe-inspiringly perfect. That’s what it means to be majestic in holiness. awe-inspiringly perfect. So holy that it ought to cause our knees to buckle and our jaws to hip the ground. And what is extraordinary about this is that God consistently will see this throughout Exodus and it pulls into the temple and then it pulls into the life of Jesus and all the way to Revelation. We’ve learned this, right? God desires to dwell among his people. He wants to be with us. He wants proximity. He wants relationship. But because of our sinfulness and his holiness, that’s not possible and he’s constantly making a way. He’s constantly making a way for us to meet him in his awe-inspiring perfection. He is all powerful and perfectly just. Right? We see this idea of him reaching out his right hand and defeating his enemies. If we have a God who is perfect in power but who is not just, we have a bully. But Yahweh is perfect in power and everything he does is perfectly right. He’s strong enough to pick up the seas and throw them down and wise and just enough to know when and where that sea should come down to both rescue his people and defeat his enemies.
This is my favorite. He is overflowing in covenant-keeping love. You see in verse 13, you have led in your steadfast love, the people whom you have redeemed. Steadfast is an okay word. The Hebrew under it is Hesid, which is covenant-keeping love. See this time of year, we know all about contracts. Contracts, we engage in them every day. You go to the store and you buy the gifts and you give the person the money and you get the gifts. Right? So the money and the gifts are the contract. If you just walk out of the store without giving the money, you’ve brought the contract and you go to jail. Right? Or like hopefully you’re just not walking into stores, handing cashiers money without taking anything out. Right? There’s a transaction that takes place. But that’s not that God does not overflow in transactional love. God does not overflow in contractual love. He is overflowing in covenant-keeping love. Hesed, which means he will hold up his end of the bargain even when you and I don’t.
Over and over and over again. When you go through those seasons of life where you ignore him, when you’re not grateful for who he is, when you do your own thing, when you seek your own way, when you walk down your own path, he doesn’t say, okay, I’m out. He pursues us overflowing with covenant-keeping love. Moses and the people of Israel are learning this. And finally, Moses is learning that he is a savior. You’ve let in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed. You have guided them by your strength in your holy abode.
Last week Pastor Rick reminded us that this moment at the Red Sea is a foreshadowing of what God would do by sending God the Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life and die a perfect death that you and I might experience new life by placing our faith in him. Way back here in Exodus, Moses and the people of Israel are learning theology. They’re learning that he is a covenant-keeper, that he is a savior, that he is a redeemer, that he alone is God. We’re going to find, they’re going to go through some hills and valleys, some difficult times, just like you and I do. And I think it’s easier to praise God for what he has done, because we can look back and now we see maybe some of the reasons why the things back there happened. And in real time, like I know some of you are walking through valleys right now. I was talking with one of the other pastors this week, praying for you guys, thinking about there are some of you who the struggles will probably never let up in this life. And in those times, what we need is to know the heart of our God. Because we can’t always see what’s going, we don’t understand in the moment. But the solid foundation under us has to be his character and his heart. Right, when you receive negative feedback at work or at school, that feedback, the difficulty is always easier to receive if you know the person is for you. If you know your boss is just trying to push you out, then it’s difficult to walk through the hard stuff. But because we know God is for us, we know his heart, we know he is overflowing and covenant-keeping love. Well, then maybe when he disciplines or when he brings difficulty into our lives or when the good shepherd guides us into a valley, we can actually glean something from the moment because we trust his heart.
And so that’s this next section of prayer. Maybe you’re in a valley or you have friends. Or maybe there are just things in God’s character that you want to worship him for. So I have a couple prompts up here. There we go. God, I thank you that you are knowing this helps me to. Or God, I thank you that you are, I have seen this so clearly in. Right. God, I thank you that you are overflowing in covenant-keeping love. Because if you weren’t, Joe Valenti’s heart, Joe Valenti’s soul would be destined for hell. I am confident of it. God, I thank you that you are all inspiringly holy. Knowing this helps me to worship you humbly and appropriately. Whatever it may be. So again, we’re going to give you guys just a couple minutes, solo with a friend with a spouse. We hear some prompts to help, but let’s spend a few moments thanking and worshiping God for who he is.
Amen. Aren’t you glad he’s faithful? Amen. I know we want to stay standing after that, but we’re going to sit one more time as we have praised God for what He has done for who He is, and now we look forward to what He will do.Verse 14, Moses already knows, God has told him where we’re going and what’s going to happen, that he will plant them, put them into the land of Canaan, the promised land, the land that was promised to their ancestors, and Moses is worshipping God, as He has learned that God is a promised keeper, He is confident that what has been promised will come to pass. Verse 14, The peoples have heard they tremble. Pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Now are the chiefs of Edom destroyed, sorry dismayed. The peoples of Moab, all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them because 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 mountain. The place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode, your Lord, which your hands have established, and Yahweh will reign forever, and ever. Amen.
Now some of this may just be poetic, that Moses is just using the poetry here to talk about what God will do, but word may have started to spread through the ancient Near East. Now there was no email or telephone, but surely if you were a visitor, a traitor in Egypt, and you saw what was going on, you would be telling those stories to everyone that you can find on during your travels. So perhaps word had traveled to the tribes that now had lived in the Promised Land. But I think what we have here is actually more than just Moses looking forward to what God will do in the short term future. Think what we have is prophetic about what God will do in the long term future. You will bring them in, verse 17 says, and plant them on your mountain. And you will be told what you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established. See a few thousand years later, God would give a vision to a man named John. And that vision is recorded in the book of Revelation. And I want to show you something in Revelation. I want you to see it on the screen if possible. I want you to see it in the Bible. This shows us, I think this is one of the texts that shows us the whole story.
Revelation 15, we are going to start in verse 1. Here is what is happening to set the scene. God is bringing His judgments upon the earth to an end. And He is ushering in, He is in the process of ushering in, His victory, His judgment, and the new heavens and the new earth. Here is what it says. 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 names standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. And they sing the song of Moses. Come on, that’s awesome. And they sing the song of Moses.
I will sing to the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider He has thrown into this. They sing the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and amazing are your deeds. Trust, just and true are your ways, O King of the nations. Who will not fear, O Lord, the glory of your name, for you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you for your righteous acts have been revealed. See, we see the character of our faithful covenant keeping God from the beginning to the end. God will fully and finally defeat all of his enemies. And justice will be fully and finally served. He will bring us into the land and plant us. In this place that is perfectly suited for us, the new heavens and the new earth, we will enjoy in resurrected bodies with all of our faculties, but without tear, without sadness, without rot, and without brokenness. And his presence will not be manifest in the pillar of cloud, or a pillar of fire, or in a specific area like the temple, for God himself will dwell among his people. He will plant us, and his sanctuary will be among us, and the Lord will reign forever and forever.
Revelation 22, starting in verse 1, gives us a little picture of what it’s like. Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God in the land. Through the middle of the street of the city also, and on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month, the leaves of the tree were 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. Amen. Let’s stand and sing together.
You can stay standing this time. We’re going to finish verses 20 and 21. 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. Miriam sang to them, sing to the Lord for He is triumphed gloriously, the horse and the rider He has thrown into the sea. So we’re not sure exactly how things went down, but Moses apparently had written the song and then they sing together, that’s what it says in verse 1, so they had taught the Israelites the song and then Miriam’s like, let’s sing that again. Let’s get the drums out. She gets her tambourine out and what would happen in the ancient Near East is when the men returned from war and they had won, the women would greet them with these hand drums and they would dance and sing of the victory.
So that’s what Miriam is doing. They have sung this song and she goes, yeah, round two. Right, let’s turn it up. And so we’re going to sing one closing song to worship together, but I want to just really quickly draw your attention to these little cards. You should have gotten them when you came in, if you didn’t grab one on the way out. Here’s what I want to do. There are some instructions on here on how you can share this on social media with us, or you can email us, you could drop it in the little boxes in the back. What we’d like to do is throughout the next couple of weeks during the holiday season is share the things that you’re grateful for with one another and with our community. So we’re just going to take some of these, we’re going to take pictures and put them online just to share that we’re grateful for what God has done. We’re grateful for who He is and we’re grateful for what He will do.So if you would take that with you, maybe over your Sunday lunch, you talk with friends or family or just write those things down and then take a picture, send it to us or tag us on social media so that we can share that.
But in Christmas fashion, I have been getting yelled at all day long. I say, your shirt is fall, it’s Christmas and it’s still fall.
But we want to end with some praise to our God and we want to do it in Christmas style. So let’s sing Angels We Have Heard On High.