“The Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb” (Exodus 15:1-18, Revelation 15:3-4)

The Resurrection of Our Lord: Easter Day
April 4, 2010

“The Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb” (Exodus 15:1-18, Revelation 15:3-4)

“Alleluia! Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed! Allelluia!”

Yes, it’s only appropriate that we shout and sing our praises to our God this day for the great things he has done for us in the resurrection of Christ. Truly this is the most praiseworthy event in the history of the world, Christ dying for our sins and then rising again to show the victory of life he has won for us. Alleluias overflow on this day and throughout the Easter season, and rightfully so.

Singing praises to God for the victories he wins for his people–this is nothing new. It goes back to the original people of God, the children of Israel. When the Lord won a victory for Israel, they would celebrate it, in psalm and song. The greatest victory for Israel, of course, the pivotal event in the nation’s history, the programmatic act for the rest of the Old Testament, was the Exodus out of Egypt. In the Exodus, God was literally giving life to an entire people, saving them, bringing them to himself to be his chosen people in the world, leading them out, so that he could lead them up and into the Promised Land. And in this way, the Exodus serves as a pattern, a type, of the Easter victory God has won for the church in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

First, though, the Exodus was the big victory for Israel. And when Israel experienced this deliverance, God’s mighty act of salvation, they right away rejoiced and put their praises into song. Right after coming through the waters of the Red Sea, and seeing their foes swallowed under the waves, Moses led the people in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving. We find this song in Exodus 15, we call it the Song of Moses, and selected verses from it serve as the Introit for this Easter Day. You will find that Introit on your bulletin insert, and so now let’s read it together as a way of entering into our message this morning:

I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation;
Your right hand, O LORD, glorious in power,
your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode,
the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
The LORD will reign forever and ever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son
and to the Holy Spirit;
as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.
I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

My friends, this Song of Moses is a good song for us Christians to take for ourselves this morning. For what God was doing in the Exodus in the Old Testament set the stage for the even greater event, the greater victory God has won for us in the New Testament in the resurrection of Christ. The Song of Moses serves as a prelude to the Song of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. The Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb are really one song, in two parts, two movements.

The first movement started when the children of Israel moved out, moved out of Egypt on the night of the Passover. The blood of the lamb on the doorposts kept the plague of death from striking the Israelite homes, but the plague did hit the Egyptians. And that was the tipping point for Pharaoh finally to let the people go. So off they went, in haste that night, leaving behind the bondage and the slavery they had labored under, oppressed by their harsh taskmasters.

End of story? By no means. Pharaoh had second thoughts about losing his source of cheap labor, letting them go that easily: “No, they must be stopped. We will pursue.” And pursue they did. Israel was on the move, but a group that large, hundreds of thousands of people, can only move so fast. No match for swift chariots and trained horsemen. Israel was getting down near the Red Sea, and the Egyptians were closing in fast.

The people see the chariots approaching in the distance. They hear the thundering hoofbeats. Their backs are against the wall, encamped as they are up against the sea. Nowhere to hide. No way to escape. They feel like sitting ducks, about to be made mincemeat by Pharaoh’s elite troops. The children of Israel are afraid, big-time. Their enemies are closing in, and they know they are no match. “They feared greatly.”

Dear Christians, we have enemies closing in on us. Relentless, pursuing enemies. Satan, the adversary, the enemy of our souls. Satan is a harsh taskmaster, the Pharaoh who would enslave us, and, when we seem to be getting out of his grasp, he will pursue us, never giving up on retaking us. And then there is death hunting us down, like a swift chariot bearing down on us, with its trained marksman taking aim at us. On our own, we are no match for this onslaught. Our backs are against the wall. And when we see the horse and rider coming at us, we can easily become afraid.

Israel was afraid. They cried out in fear. But Moses had a word for them, a word of strength and hope: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. The Lord will fight for you.” And the word was accompanied by action. The Lord told Moses to stretch out his hand, he did, and the sea parted. The people walk through on dry ground. But the Egyptians pursue, the chariots and horsemen going in after them. Moses stretches out his hand again, the walls of the sea close back in. Horse and rider thrown into the sea. Israel’s enemies, Pharaoh and his horsemen, a threat no longer.

This is the great victory that the Lord did for Israel that day and that the Song of Moses celebrates: “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.” And this is where the Song of Moses becomes our song, too. For it is also the Song of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

The Lamb who was slain, Jesus Christ. Jesus, slain on the cross, laid in the tomb. Was that it? Was that the end of the story? Jesus, our Champion, our hope, laid in a tomb? Would Death win the day? By no means. Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he has worked for you today! The Lord has fought for you, and he has triumphed gloriously!

The grave could not hold him. The victory Christ won on the cross, paying the price for our sins with his blood–Christ’s triumph proves to be too much for Satan and his troops. The stone is rolled away, and we see which way the battle has gone. The victory remains with life. Jesus is victorious. The triumph is glorious. Horse and rider thrown into the sea. The chariots bearing down on us, the approaching wheels of death–overturned. The horsemen charging at us–violence, disease, economic woes, Death and Hades–these enemies who would strike fear into our hearts are themselves overcome, drowned and defeated in the wake of Christ’s victory.

Jesus leads the way through what seemed to be an impossible situation. He enters into death and comes out triumphant on the other side. And the good news is, he shares his victory with us! We follow Jesus in faith, and we too will come out safe on the other side. We follow Jesus into the water. We have been baptized into Christ, buried with him in the waters of Holy Baptism. And just as Jesus rose from the dead, we come out of Baptism alive, raised to newness of life. This is life that lasts forever. Death will not hold us, even as it did not hold him. Jesus leads the way. He leads us out of death to life. He will lead us up and into the Promised Land of heaven.

And so the Song of Moses becomes the Song of the Lamb. St. John caught a glimpse of this heavenly victory celebration when he heard this song in the Book of Revelation. There he sees a sea of glass and those who had conquered in Christ standing beside it, with harps of God in their hands. And, St. John says, they sing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and amazing are your deeds,
O Lord God the Almighty!
Just and true are your ways,
O King of the nations!
Who will not fear, O Lord,
and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
All nations will come
and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

Yes, the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb are one song, really. It is one great Easter hymn, a joyous Alleluia to our God. It is the story of God’s victory for his people, his mighty arm outstretched, throwing our enemies into the sea and bringing us out safe on the other side. The resurrection of Jesus makes it so. Life and immortality are brought to light. God’s righteous acts have been revealed. Christ’s cross is a triumph, not a defeat. Your sins are forgiven, you who fear, the enemies’ arrows are broken in two. You’ve gone through the water, baptized Christian, and now Jesus will lead you the rest of the way, all the way into the Promised Land.

“Alleluia! Christ is risen!” “He is risen indeed! Allelluia!”

Published in: on April 3, 2010 at 11:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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