Rev. Lubbers is a minister emeritus in the Protestant Reformed Churches.
The song, which Moses sang together with all the children of Israel, is also a psalm, in the true sense of the word. In fact, we may properly call it the prototype of all the Psalms in the Old Testament Scriptures. We trust that this will be evident in our exposition.
This was a song which is denominated the song of Moses, the servant of the Lord (Rev. 15:3). We hold that it is the very keynote of the Song of Moses and of the Lamb. Here the singers are those who have gotten the victory over the beast and his image, and over the number of his name, who stand at the sea of glass before the great white throne. And the keynote of this song is this: “Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord (Jehovah) God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.” Such is the keynote here also in Exodus 15:1ff.
We should also bear in mind that this song is not of private interpretation, but was written by a holy man, Moses, moved by the Spirit of God (II Pet. 1:19-21). Also here Moses really is searching out the time and the manner of the time of the suffering to come upon Christ and of the glory to follow (I Pet. 1:10, 11).
The entire psalm here in Exodus 15:1ff. is indicative of the universal, just dealings of God in which He deals sovereignly both with the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction, and with the vessels of mercy to make known to them the riches of His glory. This is upon vessels before prepared unto glory (Rom. 9:19-23).
Of this we hope to see more in our exposition of this song.
It is the hour on the clock of God that has struck; it is the predetermined “hour” of Egypt’s utter destruction as a great world-power. It is the hour to destroy the cruel despot Pharaoh, to whom God had said “for this self-same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared in all the earth” (Ex. 9:16; Rom. 9:17).
Yes, the hour has struck for Israel’s promised deliverance (Gen. 15:12-16). God, who is the Holy I Am, who cannot lie, heard the cry of Israel and had pity on them in wondrous love (Ex. 3:7, 8). He came down from heaven on the holy Mount Sinai. He appeared in the holy fire of the burning bush. He will fulfill all these promises made to Abraham and to his Seed forever. He is not a God of the dead but of the living; He will bring Israel out of the grave of Egypt’s bondage. Ultimately He will bring all the children of Abraham out of the grave into eternal glory and immortality and life (Matt. 22:32;Mark 12:27; Luke 20:38).
Yes, the hour has struck which prefigures the great hour of Christ’s atoning death on the Cross and of His resurrection. This is Christ’s “exodus” (Luke 9:29-31). For the time had come to the “fourth generation” to go up out of Egypt with their thousands. The hour has struck to destroy the Amorites, whose iniquity was now full (Gen. 15:16). All things are now ready for God to fulfill His promise concerning the multitude of the seed as they came forth from Isaac, a son out of Abraham’s own loins (Gen. 15:4-6)!
And what a timely “moment”! It was so full of divine wisdom, power, and glory. It came when the water was nearly overflowing Israel, and there was no human help possible. It was the darkest hour of Jacob’s children. Then God came, and it was with rapid, trip hammer blows, that the mighty Pharaoh is crushed to submission. God is showing the awful majesty of His wrath upon Egyptland. All this because God had heard the cry of His beloved people in boundless grace and mercy. Says God to Moses, “Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them” (Ex. 3:9).
God in heaven was moved with divine empathy. Egypt had touched the apple of His eye! And God is the great avenger of evil perpetrated against them without a cause—except that they are a holy people who will have nothing of Egypt’s idol gods! It is a terrible thing to persecute the saints.
It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Then He bowed the heavens and came down. He sent ten plagues upon Egypt and her king. He honored the difference between them, the good and the evil. It was just judgment upon the vessels of wrath. Their firstborn died in the night of the Passover, when the blood of propitiation was on the doorposts of the houses of believing Israel. And Israel, the Firstborn of God, lived. Says the Holy Spirit centuries later by the mouth of Hosea, “Out of Egypt have I called my Son.” It was the voice of the Israel of God, the church, the mother of Jesus that cried in her birth pangs (Hos. 11:1; Matt. 2:15).
And God led Israel, the children of Jacob, out of Egypt like a flock. His great Shepherd’s staff comforted her that night. Yes, He led them toward the Red Sea. He deliberately led them into an impasse, where they were helpless, seemingly easy fodder for Pharaoh’s war-machine. Had Pharaoh succeeded, the Shiloh from Judah’s tribe could not have been born from the virgin Mary! What hellish, satanic glee must have been on the faces of Pharaoh and his fellow henchmen. They hastened their war steeds to the battle, fearlessly crying out “hea,” to the sound of the roar of the horses hoofs. In maddening pace they descended upon Israel.
Then Israel cried unto the LORD in their distress. Yes, some cried in hopeless unbelief against Moses and against God. But God in His longsuffering over Israel answered and rescued Israel speedily. He came and made a path through the sea for Israel to march to the promised land. It was such that the sea saw God and fled. It obeyed the mighty voice of God. And Israel obeyed the command of God to Moses and “went forward!” (Ex. 14:15). They were walking on the blood-sprinkled way to the great land of promise, the Sanctuary.
And God was their rereward. He became a protective wall between Israel and the pursuing army of Pharaoh. It was the cloud of glory which was God’s face shining upon Israel as a gracious face, coming to bless and help in saving power and mercy. His face was against the wicked to cut off their remembrance from the earth. And they all sank as a stone into the depths of the sea, to be seen nevermore!
It was a new day that dawned upon Israel that morning on the other side of the sea. It was a festal day. It was a day to see in proper perspective what God had wrought. That is the genius of the song which Moses and the children of Israel sang. God had fulfilled His promise to Abraham. He had shown that He was unlike any other god. He was glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders. Yes, truly God is a mighty warrior, a man of war is He. Jehovah is His name! He is the I-AM-THAT-I-AM. Thus He would reveal Himself in all future generations. I, Jehovah, change not, in my sovereign mercies upon you, O Israel, therefore you are not consumed (Mal. 3:6).
At this point in her history, Israel received by divine inspiration the first psalm recorded in the Bible. Psalms are sacred songs. They are musical, victorious anthems. The very name “psalm” means “compositions.” They are not merely read as prose. They are sung from the believing heart and with sanctified lips.
In the first place we would point out that this song is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, in its very warp and woof prophetic. Unless this is seen, the song is not clear and lucid. When studied it will be seen how true it is that also here we have the testimony of Jehovah-Jesus. It “is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10).
This we indicated briefly in our introductory observations in this essay. In Revelation 15 there is mentioned in one breath “the song of Moses” and “the song of the Lamb.” Both are songs that reflect the great deeds of God’s judgments, as these are seen in the pouring out of the vials of God’s wrath upon the wicked beast, the antichristian world-powers as they aim to destroy utterly the people of God, the church of Christ in the world. And because the beast as represented by Pharaoh, and the beast as represented by a godless Nero, are the same in nature, be it at a different-date, they both fall under the final outpouring of the vials of the wrath of God, and are cast by God Almighty into the sea as a stone (Ex. 15:5, 16; Rev. 18:20, 21). (to be continued)