Thursday, March 15, 2012

Responding To Redemption: Part 1 - The Internal Response

The Red Sea crossing in Exodus is the climax of THE big redemptive event of the Old Testament. God has redeemed his special people from bondage in Egypt through the blood of the Passover lamb; he has shown his mighty power in the plagues, culminating in the death of Egypt's firstborn. And now - as the Iraelites are grumbling to Moses - God parts the waters of the Sea and leads his people across, on dry land, between two walls of water (the word for 'wall' here always refers to very large walls such as city walls, usually 20 feet high, according to Douglas Stuart's commentary on Exodus)! Egypt's army was destroyed as God brought the walls of water crashing down on them.

Israel was free.
And they were amazed at the power and glory of God!

Over and over again, throughout the rest of the Old Testament, God will be known as the "LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.." (Numbers 15:41). This is the big redemption of God's people in the Old Testament, which points forward to Jesus' 'exodus' (Luke 9:31) at the cross - the BIG redemption of all of God's people from sin!

The question for us today is, how did God's people respond to God's redemption? What was Israel's response to this awesome salvation God has worked for them? This will help us see what our response should be to God's redemption of his church through Jesus Christ.

In Parts 2, 3 and 4 of this study we will look at their external response: they sang praise to God (Exodus 15)! But before they sang, there was an internal response.

Israel’s Heart Response
Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:31 ESV)
Before we respond to God externally we must respond internally. Before we open our mouths to sing praise, something must happen in our heart. Those who respond externally without responding first internally are called hypocrites. Their lips praise God but their hearts are far from him; their worship is in vain (Mathew 15:8-9).

1. They Saw His Power. “Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians..” Before we sing we must see. The eye of faith sees God’s power in his salvation. Israel saw with their natural eyes the power of God at the Sea. Still, they had to believe…to see with faith (v31b). We, too, need spiritual sight of Christ, crucified and raised! Paul, describing his preaching ministry to the Galatians, told them, "It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified" (Gal 3:1). They had not been at the cross when Jesus was crucified, but through Paul's preaching of the gospel they saw it. Jesus said we cannot even see the kingdom of God unless we are born again (John 3:3).

2. They Feared the LORD. "..the people feared the LORD.." After they saw God’s power they responded internally by fearing the LORD. They recognized his power and sovereignty, and they were filled with fear and respect. Before we sing to God, let's remember the awesome God to whom we are singing! Scripture encourages us to "rejoice with trembling" (Psalm 2:11). Paul sums up his description of sinners in Romans 3:18: “There is no fear of God before their eyes.

3. They Believed in the LORD. "..and they believed in the LORD.." Israel not only appropriately responded with fear of the LORD, but also with faith. God had come through, just as he promised. Israel believes. God doesn't just want our songs. "Without faith it is impossible to please him..." (Heb 11:6).

4. They Believed in Moses. "..they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses." This seems surprising at first. The text says that they believed in God and Moses. Just hours before they were grumbling against Moses and questioning his motives (14:11-12). Now, at least for the moment, they have accepted the fact that Moses is their God-appointed leader. Their faith is in God, but they also accept the leadership of the mediator God sent them to lead them into God's blessing. God has given us a Mediator as well! Jesus said, "Believe in God; believe also in me" (John 14:1).

Before we respond to God in outward praise, our hearts should be responding to God in holy fear and faith. And all of this as a result of the Holy Spirit opening our eyes to see what Christ has done for us!

1 comment:

Steve Wingo said...

Good stuff! I am still being blown away buy how relevant something that happened nearly 4000 years ago to a lowly enslaved people in ancient Egypt is to us today.