PULPIT TODAY SERMON
Robert D. Pace
The Song of Moses is the first anthem recorded in the Bible. Certainly, there were unrecorded songs preceding this moment but they weren’t documented in Scripture. It’s not coincidental that the Song of Moses is the inaugural song because the “Principle of First Use” is significant. Whenever you discover a “first” in Scripture you should understand God has strategically placed it there to establish an enduring principle. The Song of Moses is Scripture’s first song because God wanted it associated it with His plan of redemption. It was sung after Israel applied the blood of the Passover Lamb to their households, passed through the Red Sea, and gathered safely beyond the reach of Pharaoh. And there’s no other song of mankind that supersedes the “Song of Redemption”!
The fact is, this masterpiece makes it all the way to Heaven. Exodus 15 reveals its first rendition just outside Egypt’s gates and Revelation 15 shows that we will echo its refrain just inside Heaven’s gates. It will be the “Curtain-call” of human history! This song, along with the “Song of the Lamb,” transcends every song of every age.
(Transition) I want to highlight three aspects of this anthem: one, To whom it was sung; two, When it was sung; and three, How it was sung. Each is important.
I. To Whom the Song of Moses was Sung
Everything about this song glorifies God. It is pure doxology! While the Bible preserved the lyrics, it didn’t score the melody and cadence by which Moses wrote it. But there is no doubt Moses composed it perfectly. While Handel, Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, Martin Luther, Charles Wesley, John Dykes, Robert Lowry composed beautiful anthems, Moses composed the perfect one. And there is a reason this song is perfect.
While God used a human instrument—Moses—to deliver Israel from Egypt, Moses made certain to ascribe every ounce of praise to Jehovah for redeeming Israel. And it’s here that Scripture provides a glimpse into the character and humility of Moses. The Bible calls him the “meekest man on earth.” Moses would not accept one vestige of tribute for saving Israel from Egypt. He ascribed all glory to God! Look at the words:
- Moses could have claimed some credit for his involvement in liberating Israel. He could have said: “Lord, I stood before Pharaoh and shook the rod You placed my hand with unflinching faith. I commanded the release Your people.” But he didn’t! Moses conferred all emancipating credit to God!
In verse two Moses wrote: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” He didn’t say: “The Lord gives me strength,” he said, “The Lord is my strength . . . [and] salvation.”
In verses 6-8 He said: “Your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy. (7) In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. (8) By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up.”
In verse 11 Moses said: “Who among the gods is like you, O Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
The “Song of Moses” never infringes upon the praise due to God. It is unimpugned praise throughout the song. Nobody but God gets the glory! This song is the textbook example of “perfect praise.” Perfect praise ascribes all praise to God and God alone!
Not all worship can be categorized this way. Some worship entreats God’s blessing; and that’s fine because man has needs. But the apex of worship is reached when nothing but God’s glory is pursued. That’s why Scripture says: “from the mouths of children He has perfected praise.” Children praise God without ulterior motives. They don’t praise Him to get candy or ice-cream or rewards; they praise God because the Bible says to “Praise Him.”
Have you practiced perfect praise lately? Have you, without any agenda, approached God to do nothing but magnify Him and Him alone? The Bible, from cover to cover, reveals God deserves all praise:
- Deborah says: “I will sing to the Lord . . . I will make music to the Lord, the God of Israel” (1SA 15:3).
2 Samuel 22:4 says: “I call to the LORD, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.”
Chronicles says: “Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting” (1CH 16:36).
David said in Psalm 68:4: “Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds–his name is the Lord–and rejoice before him.”
Isaiah said: “give glory to the LORD; exalt the name of the LORD, the God of Israel (24:15).
Jeremiah declared: “Give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good” (33:11).
Daniel said: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever . . .” (2:20).
Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord (47) and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, (LUK 1:46-47).
Acts 2 says the New Testament Christians were “continually . . . praising God” (ACT 2:46-47).
Paul said: “thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1CO 15:57).
How long shall we praise Him? Jude said: “to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore” (25).
This is what the “Song of Moses” teaches. Jubilate’, Praise the Lord! Let all praise be ascribed to Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
(Transition) We’ve considered, To whom this song was sung now let’s notice, When the song was sung.
II. When the Song of Moses was Sung
Everything about this song is important, including the timely moment its refrains are echoed in Exodus 15 and Revelation 15. In Exodus 15 it was sung after Israel experienced its greatest moment of national deliverance. God had redeemed from 400 years of Egyptian Captivity. And there’s nothing more thrilling in Old Testament history than the Exodus—all those miracles and signs and wonders.
God delivered Israel from the world’s mightiest monarchy without the use of the Secret Service, covert operations, or an army with its weapons of war. It was the most amazing act of national deliverance in human history! And the writers of Scripture understood this inimitable miracle when they penned the phrase “out of Egypt” 141 times. Imagine that! The Lord directed the Prophets to repeat the phrase, “out of Egypt” 141 times! God wanted it distinguished with renowned implications.
(Transition) Let’s talk about this phrase as it relates to Israel’s miraculous deliverance.
“Out of Egypt”
Four hundred years before Moses delivered Israel from Egypt Joseph stood before Pharaoh and predicted a seven-year famine. Pharaoh believed Joseph’s prophecy and allowed him to bring seventy members of his family into Egypt to survive the famine. Pharaoh even allotted Israel the lush plains of Goshen to pasture their flocks. But after four centuries the Jews had lost favor with Egypt and were conscripted into slavery. They were overworked, underfed, and suppressed. They had no civil rights, no vote in government, no representation in parliament, and there wasn’t an attorney anywhere willing to represent them. They were totally helpless. Where would deliverance emerge? Not from the throne because a tyrant was perched on it. Not from the military; Israel had none. Not from the international community because the surrounding countries trembled at the world’s premier monarchy. Would you believe deliverance would arise from the Nile?
I’m convinced God occasionally uses “irony” to deal with mankind; especially in this instance! Have you wondered why God placed baby Moses, the Prophet of Power, into the Nile? As people of superstition, the Egyptians viewed the Nile as a twisting watercourse of myth and mystery. They saw it brimming with mystical powers. Thus, it would be natural for the Egyptians to attach transcendent beliefs to Moses and his unearthly power to conjure frogs, flies, and gnats upon their land. Let’s reexamine the story:
Picture Pharaoh’s daughter with an entourage escorting her to bathe in the river. As she arrived, she heard the whimpers of baby Moses. (What would she do? Would she “throw the baby out . . . into the bathwater”?) If you could have captured this sight from the “spirit world” I believe Satan objected to the top of his subliminal voice as the princess rescued Moses. Satan knew this child that would later emerge as Israel’s delivering Prophet. But contrary to Satan’s objections, providence brought her to the river, motherly instinct reached out, and God’s sovereignty ushered Moses into Pharaoh’s palace.
Eighty years later, the world’s meekest man appeared to liberate Israel and march them through the Red Sea. And the greatest event in Hebrew history climaxed when, once again, providence drew Pharaoh to the waters. The Bible says 600 chariots chased Israel into the Red Sea. The biggest military blunder of human history! Imagine how this unfolded: Moses had supernaturally ravaged Egypt with ten plagues. The firstborn of man and beast lay dead. God turned the Red Sea into a highway for Israel escape. All this had transpired without Moses assembling an army, drawing a sword, or firing an arrow. Now, the absurdity of it all appears: What made Pharaoh assume those watery walls would stand firm for him and his slavish intentions?
(Example) Imagine something. Remember, this is pure imagination. Suppose you and your enemy are embroiled in a controversy. Let’s assume God has divinely formatted the conditions and has ordered you and your enemy to settle the score inside a thick, cement-walled room. There are no doors. You’re both totally sealed. Let’s also assume one of you is right and the other is wrong. Now, with no exit, suppose a passageway mysteriously appeared in one of the thick cement walls defying every law of physics. Suddenly, your enemy leaped through that mysterious hatch and escaped your power. Would you be foolish enough to charge after them and continue the conflict? If so, you would have made the second biggest martial blunder of history. There comes a time to hoist the white flag and admit you’re on the losing side. That’s what Pharaoh should have done.
If for any reason, you discover you’re standing on the opposite sidelines from God, you better make peace or be prepared to fight the forces of heaven! God has a way of frustrating the plans of rebellious men. When Pharaoh’s troops recklessly pursued, the law physics returned to normal, liquefied the ocean walls, engulfed Pharaoh’s militia, and saved Israel “out of Egypt”! There isn’t another military victory comparable!
Thus, on the heels of this mighty act of deliverance, came “The Song of Moses.” Moses declared, “God is right, righteous, and good. He’s our saving, delivering, Redeemer.” While Satan boxed God’s people into a place without escape, God intervened, overturned their captivity, and opened a passage in the sea! That’s the Song of the Redeemed! It’s “The Song of Moses,” Jubilate`, Praise the Lord!
(Insight) The reason 64 chapters of Scripture were written and 2500 years elapsed from Genesis 1 to Exodus 15 without any song being recorded is simple: God wanted the first anthem of earth recorded as the “Song of Redemption.” And it’s a song reserved only for the Redeemed of the Lord. Angels can pitch their voices in a thousand different octaves, but the Bible never describes them intoning melody. Job 38:7 pictures them “shouting,” Luke 2:13 shows them “praising,” and Revelation 5:11 reveals them “saying.” But the Bible never once shows angels capable of singing. That’s reserved only for the redeemed. (In Revelation 5:11 the NIV mistranslates the Greek word legontoon as, “singing.”)
Before Satan fell from his sinless estate, the Bible describes him as being the chief musician of heaven. And while the Bible says he furnished music there is no Scripture that indicates he coupled lyrics with his music. And what does this mean? The only creatures capable of singing praise to God are those ransomed by Christ’s Blood. This type of harmony arises only from the lips of the redeemed.
The Timing of the Song of Moses
I want to stress once more when “The Song of Moses” was sung. Israel chanted it when they “fully passed by” Pharaoh’s reach and safely assembled across the waters. Notice that phrase, “fully passed by.” These words describe Israel’s miraculous passage through the Red Sea when they were finally “saved” from Egypt. Israel lifted its voice in song once God ransomed them from Egypt.
- We should sing praise to God because only Jesus could deliver us from Satan, save us from our sins, and restore our relationship with God.
We should sing praise to God because only Jesus could conquer the enemies of death, hell, and the grave and make heaven our eternal place of citizenship. That’s the reason for singing and rejoicing.
If you’re singing, “The Blues” that’s not the song of the redeemed. If you’re singing the “Somebody’s Done Somebody Wrong Song,” that’s not the song of the redeemed either. Turn the page and sing, “The Song of Moses.” It’s the song of the Ages! It’s the “Swan Song,” of redeemed humanity after we “fully pass by” Satan’s clutches. Jubilate’, Praise the Lord!
(Transition) We’ve studied to whom the Song of Moses was sung, and, When it was sung, now let’s consider, How the Song was sung.
III. How the Song of Moses was Sung
There isn’t a dull stanza in this song. It’s action-packed and resounding with the drama of God’s power. Thus, the Israelite women sang it with vibrant enthusiasm.
(Example) How many have used an old hymn book in your worship experience? They can be rich with theology and thought. In my use of hymn books, I’ve noticed a parenthetical phrase that composers occasionally insert within the song: “To be sung with expression.” The composer wanted the song reverberating with passion and “feeling.” That’s exactly how Miriam and the women sang it beside the Red Sea. They danced and twirled and struck their tambourines with exhilaration. Can you imagine Moses scolding Miriam and Israel for worshiping too expressively? “Hey, calm down! Especially you people from the tribe of Judah. You’re too excited about the Red Sea parting and God saving you from 400 years of Egyptian slavery. No, God wouldn’t do that!
(Insight) Wholehearted worship is the exclusive worship of heaven. There’s nothing apathetic about it. When it’s time to praise God in heaven the twenty-four elders abandon their thrones, cast their crowns before Christ, and bow at His feet. The saints are pictured rejoicing and bowing before the Lord. Heaven is a place of wholehearted worship.
And God covets that style of worship today. He wants sincere, enthusiastic worship from the depths of our being. Jesus died for our sins and that’s something to rejoice about! He broke the power of death, hell, and the grave; and that’s something to rejoice about! Christ conquered all that we couldn’t conquer and the Lord wants our best as we worship Him.
What we must remember is this: Man’s praise toward God is not an addendum to the Faith. The act of praise, thanks, and adoration is a priority of the Faith! Let nothing deter your wholehearted worship. This is what the Song of Moses teaches us. Jubilate’, Praise the Lord!