Exodus 15

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 17, 2008


Two million people as slaves in Egypt.  They cry out to God and God hears their prayers.  God sends a reluctant man, Moses, to bring His people out of slavery in Egypt.  We’ve studied this process of deliverance – how God sent these plagues, these judgments against the Egyptians.  Even more specifically, we’ve seen that God sent the judgments against the gods of Egypt.  Yahweh demonstrated His total and complete superiority to these silly Egyptian gods that had kept the Israelites in slavery for 400 years.

 As the people finally left Egypt, they found God leading them down a canyon toward the sea.  Trapped with steep canyon walls on either side, the Red Sea in front of them, and the Egyptian chariots closing in, they cried out to God.  And God did the most amazing, most miraculous thing.  God parted the Red Sea, allowed the Israelites to cross over on dry land during the night, and then as the Egyptian army pursued them into the sea, God collapsed the Red Sea and eliminated the Egyptian army.

And now in the morning, standing on the eastern shore of the Red Sea and looking back where the Egyptian army used to be, Moses leads the people in a song.

Exodus 15 The Song of Moses

:1-6 The Greatness of God

:1-2 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: "I will sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!

The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will exalt Him.

:1 sang this song – this is the first song recorded in Scripture.

Portions of this song are also found in:

(Psa 118:14 NKJV)  The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.
(Isa 12:2 NKJV)  Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; 'For YAH, the LORD, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.'"

It is also going to be sung at the end:

(Rev 15:1-4 NKJV)  Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete. {2} And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. {3} They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! {4} Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested."
the song of Moses – perhaps our passage here in Exodus 15, a song that comes from God delivering His people.
the song of the Lamb – perhaps referring to the lines that follow in verses 3-4.

:1 I will sing to the LORD – this is not a song about the Lord.  It is a song TO the Lord.

When we sing songs together on Sunday morning, I hope you don’t just think we’re singing about God.

Worship is what you sing TO God.

This first line will apparently become the “chorus”, the part that is repeated by the women (vs. 21).

We’re going to break up the song into three sections (different commentators break the song at different points).  At the end of each section we’re going to have the women repeat these first lines because this is apparently what Miriam and the women did (see verse 21).  Let’s practice … "Sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!"

This first section, verses 1-6, we’re going to call the Greatness of God.

:2 He has become my salvation – He is not only the one who gives me strength, but He has now saved me as well.

For the Israelites, they had just watched God single-handedly save them from the sure death of the Egyptian army.

salvation[email protected]‘ah – salvation, deliverance

God did not just save them from the influence of the goddess Isis.  He did not just deliver them from the god Osiris.
He delivered them from the kingdom of Egypt.
Some people will look at church as a way of dealing with their problems.
They hit bottom with drugs, alcohol, or sex.  They are looking for a way out.  They turn to Jesus.
Others hit a bad time in a relationship.  Their husband/wife leaves them and they are devastated.  They turn to Jesus.
Some go through a tragedy – the loss of a loved one, you get fired, you get kicked out of your house.  You turn to Jesus.
I applaud those of you who have been through these difficult things and have turned to Jesus for help.
But God wants to do a bit more in your life than just deliver you from one of the “gods” of Egypt.  He wants to take you out of Egypt.  He wants to save you.
(Col 1:13-14 NKJV)  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, {14} in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.
My problem is much bigger than my addiction or my difficult financial situation.
My problem is one that affects eternity.
 Our own sin places us on the road to hell.

The Bible says that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23).

Each of us will die one day, and when we die we will face God’s judgment.

(Heb 9:27 NKJV)  And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

The Bible says that correct judgment for our rebellion against God is spiritual death, hell (Rom. 6:23).

Some people have this notion that there is no hell.  They think that the concept of hell was invented by preachers to keep people coming to church.  But the truth is that nobody talked more about hell and warned people about hell than Jesus.  For example, He said:

(Mat 5:29-30 NKJV)  "If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. {30} "And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.

God does not want you to go to hell.

That’s why God sent His Son.

(John 3:16 NKJV)  "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

If you will learn to trust your life to Jesus, you will be saved.  God will forgive your sins.  You will not be going to hell.  You will be taken off the road to hell and put on the road to heaven.

My father’s God – He is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

He is my God – He’s not just my father’s God.  He is MY God.

:3 The LORD is a man of war; The LORD is His name.

man of war – God doesn’t just sit silently and watch you perish.  God rises up and brings deliverance.

What is His name?  Yahweh, the “LORD”.

:4 Pharaoh's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.

:5 The depths have covered them; They sank to the bottom like a stone.

:6 "Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces.

We’re at the end of a section.  It’s that place where Miriam and the women might have inserted the “chorus” (vs. 21).  Let’s have the gals do that now … "Sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!"

This next section (vs. 7-13) we’re going to call:

:7-13 Crushing the Egyptians

:7 And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; It consumed them like stubble.

:8 And with the blast of Your nostrils The waters were gathered together; The floods stood upright like a heap; The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.

:9 The enemy said, 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, My hand shall destroy them.'

:10 You blew with Your wind, The sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters.

:11 "Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?

This does not mean that there actually are any other “gods”.  The point is that Yahweh has been showing the Israelites over the last year that He alone is God.  He alone is powerful.

:12 You stretched out Your right hand; The earth swallowed them.

:13 You in Your mercy have led forth The people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength To Your holy habitation.

mercycheced – goodness, kindness, faithfulness; The word is used about 250 times in the OT.  It speaks of God’s loyal, faithful love and stresses the idea of a belonging together of those involved in the love relationship.

In the book of Hosea, we see the word fill out in meaning when it is used to describe God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people.  Hosea had been asked by God to marry a prostitute.  After they settled down and had a couple of kids, the wife, Gomer, went back to work.  God told Hosea to go and bring his wife back.  He was to be a picture to the people of God’s incredible love, even when we are unfaithful, He searches us out and brings us back.

Your holy habitation – Mount Sinai

It’s time for the gals to give us the chorus again (vs. 21).  "Sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!"

The last section (vs. 14-18) we’re going to call…

:14-18 Consequences of Deliverance

:14 "The people will hear and be afraid; Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.

:15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; The mighty men of Moab, Trembling will take hold of them; All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.

:16 Fear and dread will fall on them; By the greatness of Your arm They will be as still as a stone, Till Your people pass over, O LORD, Till the people pass over Whom You have purchased.

As the Israelites would move toward the Promised Land, reports of what God had just done would precede them.

(Josh 2:9-11 NKJV)  and said to the men: "I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. {10} "For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. {11} "And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.

:17 You will bring them in and plant them In the mountain of Your inheritance, In the place, O LORD, which You have made For Your own dwelling, The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established.

In the mountain of Your inheritance – the Promised Land of Canaan, most likely a reference to Jerusalem, Mount Moriah.

:18 "The LORD shall reign forever and ever."

One more time for the gals to give us the chorus again (vs. 21).  "Sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!"

:19 For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them. But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

This verse might seem out of place.  It is more than just a recap of the events.  It contains three phrases in the Hebrew, each ending with the Hebrew word for “sea”.

:20-21 The Song of Miriam

:20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Miriam – this is Moses’ older sister, the one who watched over him as a baby as he floated in a basket in the Nile.  If Moses is eighty years old, she is probably close to ninety.  She is the first woman referred to as a “prophetess” in the Bible.  The book of Micah includes her in the main leadership team of the nation:

(Micah 6:4 NKJV)  For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

timbrelstoph – timbrel, tambourine

dances[email protected] – dancing, dance; In some places, the word rendered dancing refers to the whirling motion of Oriental sacred dances, in other places it means to skip or leap for joy.

The Scriptures talk about honoring God with the dance,

(Psa 149:3 NKJV)  Let them praise His name with the dance; Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.

Initially it seems that dancing was performed on sacred occasions only.  With the Israelites it was accompanied with sacred songs. Their idea of dancing was more like what we think of as folk dancing or square dancing.  There was nothing suggestive or sexual about it.  Apparently early on it was the custom of the women to perform the dancing.

Jephthah returned from the conquest over the Ammonites and was met by
(Judg. 11:34) …“his daughter, coming out to meet him with timbrels and dancing”
When David killed Goliath,
(1 Sam 18:6)  …the women had come out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with musical instruments.

Some suggest this might have been why Michal rebuked David when he danced before the Lord (2Sam. 6:16) because he wasn’t a woman.  Perhaps Michal should have been the one leading the procession, but she was too “dignified” to do this.  David didn’t care if he was embarrassing anyone, he just wanted God to be honored.

(Psa 150:4 NKJV)  Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!

:21 And Miriam answered them: "Sing to the LORD, For He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!"

We’ve seen how the gals might have used this line from verse 1 throughout the song.

:22-27 Healing Bitter Waters

:22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.

Shur – “wall”; the word is found six times in the OT and it seems to describe the entire desert region east of Egypt up to the land of Canaan.

found no water – life in the desert is all about water.  This area of the world can get very, very hot, daytime up to 120 degrees.  The average rainfall is something like ½ inch every ten years.

:23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.

Marah = “bitter”

This is what Naomi (“pleasant”) called herself when she arrived back in Bethlehem and the women of the town greeted her:

(Ruth 1:20-21 NKJV)  But she said to them, "Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. {21} "I went out full, and the LORD has brought me home again empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the LORD has testified against me, and the Almighty has afflicted me?"

It’s interesting that the first issue the Israelites have to deal with after their “salvation” is “bitterness”.

:24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"

complainedluwn – to grumble, complain, murmur; This is the first time this word is translated “complain” in the Bible.  It won’t be the last.

:25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them,

tree‘ets – wood, gallows, firewood, cedar-wood.  It’s the same word found in:

(Deu 21:22-23 NKJV)  "If a man has committed a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, {23} "his body shall not remain overnight on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not defile the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance; for he who is hanged is accursed of God.

(Gal 3:13 NKJV)  Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"),

I can’t help but think of this tree as a picture of the cross.


Don’t settle for bitter water

How does the cross take away my bitterness?

He understands my hurt.

(Heb 4:15-16 NKJV)  For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
He knows exactly what I’m going through.  The people who hurt Him nailed Him to a cross.

He paid for my sin.

The story of the unforgiving servant (Mat. 18) - Jesus told about the man who was forgiven a huge debt by his master, only to turn around and demand that his friend pay back the five bucks he was owed.
When I look at the cross, I remember that it was at the cross that my sins were paid for.
I have been forgiven.  I need to learn to forgive others.

I see purpose in pain at the cross.

Did the pain that Jesus experienced at the cross do anything?  Did it accomplish anything?  It accomplished our salvation.
I may not understand why I have to be hurting right now, but it sure helps to know that God isn’t allowing me to suffer needlessly.
My pain might be at work to refine me.
My pain might be something to help others.

I need to learn the cross.

I need to learn to be crucified with Christ.
They say you know you’ve learned to “die” with Christ when people keep poking you and it doesn’t hurt anymore.

:26 and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."

:27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

Elim‘Eylim – “palms”

none of the diseases – the plagues of Egypt.

the LORD who heals you –

I must forgive.  This is God’s “statute” for me.  If I don’t forgive, I face the mess from Egypt.  Jesus said the unforgiving servant would be “delivered to the torturers” (Mat. 18:34) for not forgiving like he had been forgiven.

(Eph 4:32 NKJV)  And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.

Ernest Hemingway wrote a story about a father and his teenage son. In the story, the relationship had become somewhat strained, and the teenage son ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of that rebellious son.
Finally, in Madrid, Spain, in a last desperate attempt to find the boy, the father put an ad in the local newspaper. The ad read: "Dear Paco, Meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father." The next day, in front of the newspaper office, eight hundred Pacos showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness. They were all seeking the love of their father.

This is how God loves us.  We must learn to love like this.