Sunday, July 22, 2007

Exodus 15:1-17 -- Christ Our Strength, Our Shepherd, and Our Hope


Listen to podcast

The night of the Red Sea Crossing was over. The Egyptians were dead. The nation of
Israel had been born. Now Moses lifts up a Song of Praise to the Lord, celebrating His Person and Work.


Moses' Song points directly to Christ Jesus our Strength, Our Shepherd, and Our Hope.

Exodus is divided in two parts. The first runs to the end of chapter 15 and gives the problem, the confrontation, and the release of Israel, ending in the song of 15. Chapters 16-40 focus on covenant and the giving of the law. Therefore, we find ourselves at a seam of the book of Exodus, on a boundary of its teaching. What did Moses want us to know? The book of Names, as Exodus is known in Jewish circles, is a book of The Name.[1] How did he wrap up that first half of Exodus? He wanted us to see our Lord as Our Strength Our Shepherd, and Our Hope.

Pray and Read: Exodus 15:1-17

Exposition:

1. Christ Our Strength: (15:1-12)

a. His strength brings a song (15:2) -- These words appear three times: Isaiah 12:2; Psalm 118:14

b. For He is salvation (15:2)

c. Celebration of God’s strength (15:3-6)

d. Celebration of His greatness and majesty (15:7-12)

e. Even the Apostle Paul found his own resources insufficient. In 2 Corinthians Paul said about his thorn in the flesh, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power if made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10)

f. Hebrews 2:18, adds: “Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help (βοηθῆσαι lit., run to the cry of) those who are being tempted.

2. Christ Our Shepherd (15:13-16)

a. Lit. “you will lead gently” cf. Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 23:2. Gentle guidance coupled with a powerful judgment.

b. Lit. “with strong hand” cf. Isaiah 40:10

c. Lit. “to the resting place of holiness” Word is used of pasture, resting places for cattle or sheep (Hebrews 4:3, 9)

d. Note also the confidence in the future based upon past deliverance “you will lead the people you have redeemed,” and “You will guide them.” It is as good as done. Believers see God’s great past and present mercy to make us sure of His future.

e. God’s faithfulness toward His children (15:13-17)

f. Prophetic view of His eternal kingdom (15:18)

3. Christ Our Hope (15:17-18)

a. Perpetual rest. ‘Bring in and plant’—a contrast to the desert nomad life.

b. Perpetual safety. ‘The sanctuary which Thy hands have established,’ i.e. made firm.

c. Perpetual dwelling in God. ‘Thy dwelling,’ ‘Thy mountain,’ ‘Thy holy habitation’ (ver. 13), rather than ‘our land.’

d. Perpetual purity. ‘Thy sanctuary.’ ‘Without’ holiness ‘no man shall see the Lord.”

e. Once when I was in Argentina, I visited a prison in Buenos Aires province with a 2% recidivism rate. Their secret? An awesome church within the prison called “Jesus es su sola esperanza, Jesus is your only hope.” That’s a great name for a church, isn’t it? While we were there, we faithless norte-americanos had a boom box fail from which we were going to sing. While our people tapped and picked at the machine, the presiding inmate pastor turned to the 2000 men packed into the gym and told them to start praying for the boom box to start working. About 30 seconds later, with none of us understanding why, the machinery started to put out its full wattage, and the Americans, confident that they had fixed it, went on with their song, totally missing the technological miracle that had just happened. The prisoners realized that Jesus is their only hope, and that he controls everything. They were not as sophisticated as we are. We know better. We know there are certain passages of Scripture we are not to believe blindly. We are smart enough to know that God doesn’t intervene in such mundane issues of life. We have imbibed deism, evolution, and extreme rationalism that makes us blind to the reality going on around us.

f. Note too, the warning against confidence in self. These people who sang thus perished in the wilderness! They let go hold of God’s hand, so they ‘sank like lead.’ (Philippians 1: 6). Let us cleave to Him. In Hebrews 3 and 4 are lessons are drawn from the Israelites not ‘entering in.’ (See also Psalm 95).

Applications:

Let Christ strengthen you. Do you feel your weakness? Do you feel like you’re ready to give up? Turn it over to Him. Let Him be Lord and run things. How do you do that? In an act of your will, say, “Lord, I am weak. I need your strength.” He will come running to the cry.

Let Christ guide you. Some of you have big decisions to make. Is this the right one for a spouse for life? What should I major in? What doctor or procedure should I choose? Should we buy that house? Should I take the job? Should I start the business I’ve always dreamed about? Should we have more children? Should we buy a new car right now? Christ is your shepherd. He has your best interest at heart. Let him gently lead you. Let his wisdom lead you. Ask him for it. He is ready to give it to you in prayer, the Bible, and wise counsel.

Let Christ be your hope. In the Bible, hope is not a wish. It is a sure thing. Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

You have a terrible diagnosis? Let Christ be your hope for His best for you.
You have collectors breathing down your neck? Let Christ be your hope to get out of debt. You are in a pretty sorry marriage? Let Christ be your hope to make it work for both of you. You can’t seem to lose the weight? Let Christ be your hope to improve your health. You have children or grandchildren out of control? Let Christ be your hope for their return and salvation in Him.

Press into His hope. Be determined to hold on to that hope. Don’t let Him go until He blesses you.


Beware self-sufficiency.
It doesn’t work in the Kingdom. Some of us take great pride in our own spiritual lives. Some of us take great pride in our denomination or our church. We take the tambourine and make a lot of noise for the Lord. We make sure everything looks good. We make sure everything is as it should be, that it gives the right appearance. The reality is another matter, one we would rather not think about. Here in the text is a solemn warning. Miriam led the worship and looked great, but she couldn’t overcome her tongue and her attitude toward Moses’ wife. Later she joined rest of Israel except for Caleb and Joshua in saying No to God about going into the promised land. And what happened to that whole generation? The Scripture says their corpses were left in the desert. Israel could not move forward until that generation died out. May we not be a generation that rebels, but one which follows the Lord whole-heartedly, even when the obstacles seem insurmountable.

Invitation:

Some of you need Christ as your strength. I encourage you to respond to Him. If you need to come forward and join this church; if you need your pastor to pray with you, if you need to trust God in your weakness, walking the aisle is a good way to express your faith in Him. Like Bob Barker used to say, “Come on down.”

Some of you need Christ as your Shepherd. You need the protection of the Lord in your home, at school, from a person you are scared of. You might need the care of a loving God right now in your life. Let him gently lead you beside the still waters. Let him restore your soul.

And then some of you need Christ as your hope of eternal salvation. You need a Savior to get you out of the filthy mess you’re in.

Perhaps you are a young person, and you have discovered that you are a sinner. The Holy Spirit led you to that conclusion. He is letting you know that you have a need, and that need can only be fulfilled in Christ. Don’t be foolish and try to fill that need with friends, with a girlfriend or boyfriend, with alcohol or another drug. He is leading you to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. Why don’t you respond to his leading today and receive Him?

Perhaps you’re thinking, “I’m not so young anymore, but what that fellow up there is saying sounds like the waste my life has become.” Christ can be your hope, too, and you don’t have to clean yourself up first before he will take you. The way it works, He takes you as you are and He does the cleaning Himself.

Respond to the Lord, won’t you?

Sources:

Tokunboh Adeyemo, gen. ed., Africa Bible Commentary, 104-5.

J.P. Fokkelmann, “Exodus,” Robert Alter, et. al., gen. ed., The Literary Guide to the Bible, 1987, 56-65.

Alexander Maclaren, Expositions of Holy Scripture, “Exodus.”


[1] Jan P, Fokkelmann, “Exodus,” Robert Alter & Frank Kermode, The Literary Guide to the Bible, (Cambridge: Harvard Press, 1987), 64.