Grasping God’s Purpose: The Day After Syndrome – Exodus 15

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Grasping God’s Purpose: The Day After Syndrome – Exodus 15

There they stood, no dry eye in the place. We had been up until all hours of the night every day of the last week. We were all saying “Goodbye” tomorrow. How had we grown so close together in just one week? Now Pastor Ed just preached about giving our all to Jesus. We were all sure we would be ready to read our Bible no less that daily, and reach our entire school for Christ. We were the committed, the empowered. We were kids on a mission. Our lives would never be the same. We surrendered great things – such great things as can be surrendered by elementary school boys. What a time of worship we had. Now the sticks were tossed on the fire as we symbolically told Jesus we were ready to live for Him in all things. We were ready for anything… anything, that is, but going HOME. Anything but living these truths when we got home.

Don’t get me wrong, our hearts were emotionally immature, but terribly genuine. We believed what we were saying. The plateau we reached in our elementary school walk was not false… it was just set in an unreal setting. Life would set in and test our resolve. Long after camp, at least a few weeks or so, we would struggle to live the ideals we swore to at the camp fire. Was the time WASTED? I don’t believe so. Even in the camp experience of plateaus, our fragile and infant faith was being nurtured. We DID leave stronger than we came in. We NEEDED the experience of the “Rise and Fall” that followed as part of our growing process….

Have you ever left a worship time with the Lord elated, excited, committed and joyful – only to have it all come crashing down on your head! Have you ever seriously committed things to the Lord in a special time of consecration. Maybe it was a promise in a hospital room. Maybe it was a praise moment after a deliverance of the Lord. Looking back,you were geneuine in your surrender, but what followed was unforeseen in your life. EVERYTHING seemed like it was even worse than before. You really thought you were going to be able to walk with God… but in a blink the whole dream soured. Problems rushed in and nothing worked. If you know what that is like, this passage is for YOU.

Like a play with a “split stage”, Exodus 15 has two very different and even contrasting scenes. The first was elation and worship, the second was the “day after” when a pummeling of problems rolled in. It is a natural experience for us – for we live in two realms at the same time. The joys of the world above don’t cancel the power of the problems below. Yet, Intimacy with God gives us strength to care for BOTH worlds at the same time!

Key Principle: I must learn Who God is and how He works in the journey to be able to both enjoy life and walk with Him.

In order to understand the problem of the second half, let’s spend a few minutes in the joy of the HOT HIT in the first half of the passage…

Song of Preparation for the Journey (Exodus 15:1-21)

Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said, “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. 2 “The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. 3 “The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name. 4 “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea. 5 “The deeps cover them; They went down into the depths like a stone. 6 “Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. 7 “And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff. 8 “At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up, The flowing waters stood up like a heap; The deeps were 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 gratified against them; I will draw out my sword, my hand will 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 among the gods, O LORD? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in praises, working wonders? 12 “You stretched out Your right hand, The earth swallowed them. 13 “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation. 14 “The peoples have heard, they tremble; Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. 15 “Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; The leaders of Moab, trembling grips them; All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. 16 “Terror and dread fall upon them; By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; Until Your people pass over, O LORD, Until the people pass over whom You have purchased. 17 “You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. 18 “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.” 19 For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea. 20 Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. 21 Miriam answered them, “Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”

Moses led a song with the people: This is now a famous song sung in synagogues around the world on Shabbat. Later it will become a part of the song of the redeemed Jewish people that add to it the song of the Lamb in Revelation 15:3 in Heaven!

Refrain: Who is like You? (15:11)

  • Mi-chamochah b’elem Adonai (YHWH). (Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?)
  • Mi-chamochah ne-adar b’kodesh (Who is like You glorified in holiness?)
  • Nora t’hiloth oseh feleh – oseh feleh (Fearful/Revered in praises; Worker of Wonders!)

Don’t skip the details. The song was:

Directed to the Lord (1): Exodus 15:1a “Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said…” Redemption is impossible without God, and the redeemed need to turn back to God and PRAISE Him and thank Him for the great thing He has done. We praise Him when He delivers our body from harm. We praise when He heals from sickness. Which is harder, to say “rise up and walk” or to say “your sins are forgiven you”? Tell the Lord you want to PRAISE HIM for accomplishing your new life.

Once the song was lifted, the contents yielded six truths about God: Exodus 15:1b: “…I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.”

  • God has His place (1b “Lord” is Master): I am overjoyed to call Him my Master. He has all rights to my life, my happiness, my fulfillment!
  • God holds His position (1b: “exalted”): I will not lift another above Him in my eyes or my heart, He is first!
  • God does His powerful work (1b: “hurled”): There is NOTHING He can’t do to defend me. He can pull apart the earth itself to hold on to me!
  • God gives His provision– Exodus 15:2 “The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him. 3 “The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name. 4 “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea. 5 “The deeps cover them; They went down into the depths like a stone.”
  1. Personal (2 “my”): He is the object of my praise and worship!
  2. Empowering (2 “strength”): He gives me the power to keep going!
  3. Joy (2b “my song”): He fills my mouth with song and my heart with joy!
  4. Rescue (2b “my salvation”): He throws a lifeline to me when no one else will!
  5. Defense (2b “Elohim”): He stands over me to defend me in strength!
  6. Connection (2b “my Father’s God”): He bonds me to a history of His legacy!
  7. Victory (3-5; 19 “warrior” mentioned and then illustrated): When I am overwhelmed, He is there to create a victory over my enemy!
  • God shows Himself through His Performance – He relates through His “working features” (15:6-13):

Right hand (6-7): Majestic, shattering power that consumes those who stand against You. 6 “Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power, Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy. 7 “And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You; You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff. Later the Right Hand is mentioned again (12-13): The sign to all creation to obey, it swallowed enemies and led us gently at the same time! …12 “You stretched out Your right hand, The earth swallowed them. 13 “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed; In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.”

Nostrils (8-10): A powerful force that drove back the sea and shut down the pursuit of the enemy. 8 “At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up, The flowing waters stood up like a heap; The deeps were 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 gratified against them; I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.’ 10 “You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; They sank like lead in the mighty waters.”

  • God works in His purposes (Exodus 15:14-19)

1. Let the world know of Him (14-15): You want all Creation to know of You! 14 “The peoples have heard, they tremble; Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia. 15 “Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed; The leaders of Moab, trembling grips them; All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.

2. Let His redeemed be rescued (16-17a): You want your people to acknowledge Your rescue! 16 “Terror and dread fall upon them; By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone; Until Your people pass over, O LORD, Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.

3. Let His worship be established (17b): You want to be at the center of our hearts! 17  “You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling, The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.

4. Let His sovereign control be known (18): You want to bring about the righteous rule You have promised! 18  “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.”

STOP! See what the Lord has revealed about Himself through His servant Moses in a moment of JOY! It was the pattern of preparation for HARDSHIP!

The song is again sung in human history. The stage is set in Revelation 15:3. In the shadow of the Great Throne of God the sound of the voices of Jewish martyrs begin to cry out. From the anguish of their life on earth they were forcibly born into the presence of the Holy One, even as a newborn baby is pushed into arrival. Entering Heaven with tear-filled eyes, God wipes their eyes and pulls them to His side. “Well done, My child!” says the Master. Almost without thought they begin to sing the words they have learned from their youth. These Jewish followers of Jesus cry out, “Mi-chamochah b’elem Adonai” (YHWH). (Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?); “Mi-chamochah ne-adar b’kodesh” (Who is like You glorified in holiness?); “Nora t’hiloth oseh feleh – oseh feleh” (Fearful/Revered in praises; Worker of Wonders!). What are these words they sing? What are they saying?

  • My God is My Master! He has my heart and is exalted in my eyes!
  • He stops at NOTHING to cling to me, and hold me in His hand!
  • He gives me the power to make it through troubles and the joy to fill my heart in the journey!
  • He rescues me from the pit of despair and stands as a strong defender over my life.
  • He connects me to the great drama of history – His story.
  • He makes me a victor over the enemies of discouragement, addiction, and a broken life.
  • With His great right hand He orders the worlds, all Creation is formed and crushed in His hands. With a mere breathe He shuts down any enemy that pursues me, and uses His hand to gently lead me.
  • He wants the world to know Him, and He desires to rescue even more of my world!
  • He hungers that we would enjoy Him, for He knows that only when I recognize His greatness and love Him intimately will I truly find fulfillment!
  • Great is our God! Great is Our God!

In Exodus 15, the excitement receded, and what replaced the celebration was…heat and trouble. Salvation is exciting, the Christian life can be just plain hard. That’s the truth. Obedience and surrender are RIGHT and BIBLICAL and really, really tough. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying. It is worth it, but it is HARD.

Lessons of Living on the Journey (15:22-27)

Follow the progression of the story in 15:22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. 24 So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet. There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. 26 And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.” 27 Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters.

“Seven Lessons for the Journey”

 Lesson One: The Departure Lesson:

Moses led them from the place of victory to the desert, and the people began to suffer (15:22). Exodus 15:22 Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. We must move back from the place of celebration to the problems that we face in our lives. The worship is designed to strengthen us and give us hunger for God, not a place to hide from our problems!

In November of 1988 a 19 yr old woman fell asleep behind the wheel of her car at about 2:15 in the morning. Her car plunged thru a guardrail and was dangling by its left rear tire. A half dozen passing motorists stopped, grabbed some ropes from one of their vehicles tied the ropes to the back of her car, & hung on until fire units arrived. A ladder was extended from below to help stabilize the car while firefighters tied the vehicle to tow trucks with cables and chains. One of the rescuers later said “Every time we would move the car, she would yell and scream. She was in terrible pain.” For nearly 2 ½ hours police officers, tow truck drivers, firefighters and passers-by (about 25 people in all) – to secure the car and pull the woman to safety. All through the episode, the woman kept repeated a phrase over and over to rescuers. She kept saying: “I’ll do it myself.’” (November 20, 1988, the Los Angeles Times)

This woman was in horrible pain. She was pinned inside her car, And she unable to change her circumstances Or save herself from her danger Ultimately, it took the efforts nearly 25 people to rescue her from potential death — And yet, she kept thinking she could solve the problem all by herself.

Lesson Two: The Disappointment Lesson:

When they finally got to a place with water, they found that drinking the water made them ill (15:23). Exodus 15:23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter; therefore it was named Marah. The contrast between the great time with God and the reality of life here can be painful (cp. Elijah). There is nothing WRONG, that is the way life is, and we should expect it. “They could not drink” can be translated they could not bear to drink (elo yakoli).

Lesson Three: The Dissention Lesson:

What do we do now? (15:24). . Exodus 15:24 So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” Voices that were quick to celebrate will be equally quick to complain!

Lesson Four: The Deliverance Lesson:

Moses cried to the Lord and the Lord directed him to cast a tree limb into the water to make it potable without any ill effects (15:25a). Exodus 15:25 Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet…. God provided a way of escape after they failed to drink water that would make them ill. Deliverance often includes doing something that requires discipline and obedience – it wasn’t intended to be easy.

Lesson Five: The Detail Lesson:

The whole thing was a test from God (15:25b). …There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them. God wanted to help them by making them sick, and getting the parasites of Egypt from them. If we simply obey right down to the DETAIL, it may seem more painful up front, but it is the BEST way to get through the wilderness!

They say “the devil is in the details!” The story is told of a little boy who went to the grocery store and asked the clerk for a box of laundry detergent. The clerk was very impressed at such a little guy taking on the responsibilities of helping his mom with the household chores. So he said to the boy “Well that is mighty grown up of you to be wiling to help your mother out with the washing. Well the little guy wanted to set the record straight so he told the clerk, “Oh, I’m not going to use it to wash clothes, I need it for my dog.” The clerk was a little concerned at that point and so he said “Don’t you think this detergent might be a little strong for washing a dog?” The little boy replied, “Well, that’s what I want, he’s a mighty dirty dog.” So the boy took the box of detergent home, and about a week later returned. Well the clerk recognized him and asked him about his dog. The little boy said “O my dog is dead!” The clerk was shocked “Oh that’s so terrible, I guess that laundry detergent was too strong after all.” The little boy thought for a minute and said “No, I don’t think it was the detergent that got him, I think it was the rinse cycle.” Have you ever gone through a time in your life when you felt like you had been through the wringer.

Lesson Six: The Directive Lesson:

God told them, “Next time do what I say, even if you think it will make you sick, I am working a plan!” (15:26). Exodus 15:26 And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the LORD, am your healer.” God knows what He is asking, and why! He is the healer! The test is not whether or not God is TRUE, but whether or not I will believe and follow.

Lesson Seven: The Down Time Lesson:

Exodus 15:27 Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters. They arrived at a place of rest, with fresh water and no test. Many people get to Marah and never leave. They won’t go on to Elim, they sit in bitterness and wallow. God is His goodness gave them an escape and they were all able to continue. The way out of the wilderness is THROUGH IT!

The Bible doesn’t leave us in the dark as to Who God is and what He is like..

Apparently, in New Hampshire, a man named Josh Muszynski stopped at a gas station and bought a pack of cigarettes with his debit card. A few hours later he was online checking his bank account and found that this particular pack of cigarettes set him back: $23,148,855,308,184,500.00. That’s 23 quadrillion, 148 trillion, 855 billion, 308 million, 184 thousand, 500 dollars. To put that in perspective: if you took ALL the money from ALL the countries in the United Nations, you still wouldn’t have enough money to buy that single pack of cigarettes. Needless to say, Josh immediately called his bank and managed to clear things up. Not only did his bank correct the error, they also removed the $15 overdraft fee they charged him. (Patrick D. Odum, Heartlight.org 8/11/09) The point is: if this man had actually owed that much money there was no way he (or anyone else on face of earth) could ever pay it back.

They should have understood from their time of worship: When I truly understand Who God is, I can face a trouble filled life here and now with confidence!