June 28, 2015 | David Crosby
Intro: We cannot talk about praise in the Old Testament without talking about the deliverance of God’s people from the slavery in Egypt. It is the central event of rescue for the covenant people. It is the event that truly made them a people and a nation.
They rehearsed this deliverance every year, again and again. They told their children and grandchildren about what happened when they fled Egypt and Pharaoh’s army pursued them. They told it in the first personal plural—“We.” They felt this tremendous solidarity with the previous generations who experienced God’s deliverance in such a dramatic event.
God parted the Red Sea. The Israelites, trapped between the sea and Egypt’s army, passed through on dry land. The Egyptians, attempting to follow them, all drowned in the sea. And God’s people were finally delivered from their oppressors.
Everything that besets us may be seen as symbolized in the Egyptians in their pursuit of the people of God. This is the great act of God’s deliverance in the OT, and it is the crowning jewel of God’s care for his people.
ADVERSITY MAKES US who we are. It is a very powerful force in our lives. Adversity takes on many forms. Sometimes it is a very difficult circumstance like the loss of a parent or a terrible illness. Sometimes it is a person who opposes us. Sometimes it is an injustice that we live under as with these Hebrews in slavery in the mud pits of Egypt.
But adversity itself is not the key to our future. Our RESPONSE TO ADVERSITY is what makes us who we are.
Describe Your Adversary:
The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.’ (V9)
- We know so much about Pharaoh, his attitude, and his army because the people of God rehearsed it and recorded it for us. They were intentional and repetitive in their telling of this story.
- The description of the enemy sets the stage and creates the context for the mighty deliverance. We could not even understand the deliverance through the Red Sea without the backstory that chronicles the oppression and injustice in Egypt.
- Describing the Adversary is part of the song of praise. It is imbedded in every reference to God’s mighty Act of Deliverance.
- So, Describe Your Adversary. Who is it? Do you have a Pharaoh in your life? Who is it? Are you suffering from an injustice that reaches over you and holds you down? Are you suffering from a circumstance over which you have no control?
- The nation that embraced Joseph, their forefather, now had its foot on their necks. The Pharaoh who now rules Egypt did not know Joseph.
- The circumstance that might have been a blessing to your parents or grandparents could end up being a curse to you.
- Describe your adversary even though you have not yet been delivered. It does not matter where you are in the continuum of praise, whether free and clear or still trapped in the dungeon.
- The Israelites began to describe their adversary to God before they were delivered.
- They cried out to God from their position of pain, and God heard their cry.
Declare Who You Are:
“He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him” (V2)
- At first this phrase sounds like a description of God. And it is a description of God. It tells us who God is to the one who is lifting the praise.
- But it also describes the singer, the one lifting the praise. In fact, if you read it over and over you will begin to sense and see that its purpose is to position the worshiper in reference to God even more than describing God in relation to the worshiper. This phrase in the praise is a statement of faith and power.
- When you are in trouble and adversity knocks on your door, you’ve got to determine who you are.
- Are you alone in your battle? Are you isolated and weak?
- Are you the kind of person who is overcome and defeated by adversity?
- Praise is the declaration of your connection to God Almighty. It is the announcement that you are in league with the Lord of Hosts.
- Your declaration goes four ways:
- You declare who you are to remind yourself of this truth when others are putting you down and threatening you.
- You declare who you are so that your friends and family will know that you have not lost your way in your pain.
- You declare who you are so that God will hear and see and be blessed and pleased with your continuing faith.
- You declare who you are so the Pharaoh and the Devil will know who they are dealing with.
Speak the Truth:
“Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea” (v1)
- God hurled the horse and the rider in the sea.
- This is vivid imagery. No human can pick up the horse and its rider and hurl them into the sea. But that is exactly what they sing here. And it is how they interpret what happened.
- Pharaoh and his army marched into the sea in pursuit of the Israelites, and the sea caved in and covered them. The rider is on his horse when both succumb to the sea.
- God, who is majestic in power, orchestrated the entire scene, hurling them all into the sea.
- Pharaoh was the Enemy of God, not just the enemy of the Israelites. It became clear in the exchange between Moses and Pharaoh that Pharaoh was opposing Moses and opposing God.
- Peter and John told the Sanhedrin that they were opposing God by commanding them to speak no more in Jesus’ name.
- Speak the truth in your praise.
- The enemies of God do not stand a chance. We have read the last page.
Embrace the Future:
“In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling” (v13)
- Your battles are not over. You have more pain and troiuble before you. One foe may be defeated, but another will arise.
- Your praise is a statement about your life orientation. It is a confession of your faith.
- Speak these things to God in the wake of your victory or in the midst of your battle.
- God, Your love never fails
- Your leadership is forever
- Your strength will help me through
- Your Holy Dwelling is my future