Friday, March 16, 2012

Responding To Redemption: Part 2 - Singing To God

How should we respond to God's glorious salvation of his people? In Part 1 we looked at the internal response of the heart. When God parted the Red Sea, led his people, Israel, safely across on dry land, and drowned the Egyptian army, Israel responded inwardly. They feared and believed in the Lord. If we forget the heart response and move straight to outward worship, we are hypocrites and our worship is in vain (Matthew 15:8-9).

But after we have seen the salvation of the Lord with eyes of faith and have responded inwardly in repentance and belief, we MUST respond outwardly! Unless we are dead, we cannot 'see' redemption through Jesus' blood and remain silent. After being rescued from Egypt, Israel stood safely on the other side of the Sea. Their hearts were moved. Suddenly Moses broke the silence with...a song of praise to God (Exodus 15:1-19)!! He began by saying, "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea." The phrase, "I will sing" could also be translated, "I must sing..." (Stuart).

Notice first that they sang the song to God himself. In Part 3 we will see that they also sang to each other. But first they sang to the LORD (15:1-19). “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD…” (v1).
What can we learn from Israel's song of praise?

1. Their Praise-Song Was God-Focused. There is No mention of Moses in the song (Duncan). They do mention what God has done for them, but the focus is not Israel or Egypt, but God! The church should be singing about...God! That sounds so basic, but many of our songs can become focused upon ourselves. Again, it's ok to mention how we feel, or how we are affected by God, but the focus should be on the Lord.

2. Their Praise-Song Had Substance. This was not just an emotional song filled with ‘fluff’ (the kind of song you could sing to your girlfriend without changing any of the words). Their song was filled with truth; with good theology; with substance! Yes they had emotion (God had just rescued them!), but their praise to God was filled with truth about God. It’s one thing to sing “I love you God, I praise you, I need you…” But we are left to wonder WHY? Those who listen to our singing (unbelievers, our children, etc) need to know WHY we love and praise God. Israel was specific in their praise.

3. They Sang of God’s Attributes: Who He Is. They sing about God’s revealed characteristics, or attributes.
Which attributes?
  • God’s mighty power. (v3, 6, 11) "The LORD is man of war...Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy...Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?"
  • God’s love for his people. (13) Israel is enjoying God’s love as they sing. They are his special, covenant people! "You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed."
  • God’s justice against his enemies. (3, 7) Singing about God’s wrath and judgments seems strange or even wrong to many today. But in the Bible God is praised for his righteous wrath against sin and for his holy judgments against sinners (We will take a deeper look at this in Part 4). "In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries; you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble."
The church's songs of praise should be filled with the attributes of God revealed to us in Scripture. You can tell what a church believes by her songs! Do believers truly know who their God is, according to the way Scripture describes him?

4. They Sang of God’s Works: What He Had Done. Not only did they sing of WHO God is; they also declared WHAT God had done. They are praising him for his attributes AND his works.
Which works?
  • God has redeemed Israel. V13, 16. He leads those he redeemed (he didn’t redeem Egypt; God doesn’t redeem and lead everyone; not all are his people)
  • God has triumphed over Israel’s enemies. V1
  • God has judged the wicked. V4-5, 7, 9, 12 
  • God has shown his power over his creation. V8, 10 
The church should sing of the great redemption we have from God through the blood of Jesus Christ. We should sing of the cross and the blood and the resurrection!

5. They Sang of God’s Promise. Israel sings of what God has just done for them in the immediate past. But they also look ahead to what God WILL DO for them, according to his promise.
  • God will give them victory over other nations who oppose them. V14-16 (Israel sings of other nations as already being afraid!)
  • God will bring them into the promised land, and into his presence! 16b-17 God has brought them out to bring them IN. We are redeemed that we may be with God! Israel joyfully anticipates their future in the presence of God.
  • God will reign forever! 18. Their song ends with a declaration that Yahweh will be King forever!
The church should sing about our future with God in heaven!

May the Lord continue to show us his salvation, and may his people respond with songs of praise!

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