Introduction: We look this week at the themes of Divine power and love in Moses’ song in Exodus 15 – noting especially how Moses sets off God’s majesty against the background of his own humble position as God’s servant. Such humble magnification of Divine attributes is Moses’ goal, and ought to be the daily goal of our lives. May these notes abase our pride and increase our confidence that the more we make of God’s power, the more He will act for the glory of His redeeming love in our lives! Amen, Lord, may it be!
Monday: read Exodus 15:1-11 and Numbers 12:3. This song was given by the Lord to Moses to sing precisely because it wasn’t about Moses at all. We know from Numbers 12:3 that God had purposely humbled Moses, and put him in a position of great weakness, to the point that Moses could be described as the “meekest (or most humble) man upon the earth”! This song, then, was not to magnify Moses’ achievement in leading the Hebrew race out of Egypt, but to magnify this powerful demonstration of God’s saving power! In contrast to other world leaders like Pharaoh, who, if they had won a great victory by the Red Sea, would memorialize their victory in words of pride and self-magnification, Moses’ song makes much of the Lord alone, thereby, proving to us that the Divine grace of “meekness” indeed possessed his soul!
Meditate and Pray: Ask the Lord to give you an honest assessment of your own sinfulness and weakness before Him, so that you learn increasingly to make your boast in the Lord alone – even as the prophet Jeremiah 9:23-24 urges us to do:
“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the LORD.
Tuesday: read Exodus 15:1-11 and Matthew 5:1-5. Poverty of spirit and meekness were of the essence of Moses’ God-glorifying song in Exodus 15. Such humility is also a key-note in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, beginning with the Beatitudes in Matthew 5. In fact, the first three Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-5 are all to be understood in their connection to spiritual humility before God. For example, notice how the paraphrase of Matthew 5 by Isaac Watts emphasizes humility again and again (# 527 in our Trinity Hymnal):
|Blest are the humble souls that see
Their emptiness and poverty;
Treasures of grace to them are giv’n,
And crowns of joy laid up in Heav’n.
Blest are the men of broken heart,
|Blest are the meek, who stand afar
From rage and passion, noise and war;
God will secure their happy state,
And plead their cause against the great.
Blest are the souls that thirst for grace
Wednesday: read Exodus 15:1-11 and Matthew 5:3. How wise Moses was to shun all praise of men and confidence in human ability. His song is consumed instead with all that God has done. In the same way, David Powlison writes of such confidence in God (instead of confidence in ourselves) by reflecting on the importance of Matthew 5:3 in the ministry of his mentor and pastor Jack Miller:
Jack Miller was my pastor for many years. One of the profoundly simple things I learned from Jack came from his understanding of the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). He said that the first beatitude was not “first” in the sense that you figure it out and move on to the next one. It’s not like first base in baseball, a way station on your way to second, third, and home. Instead, the first beatitude is first in the same way that the foundation of a multi-story building comes first. It always undergirds the whole building. It establishes the shape of the entire structure. The foundation has omnipresent effects. “Poor in spirit” simply means a deep inner sense of need for help from outside yourself. A beggar has no money, food, health, safety, bank account or marketable skills. Someone else must provide and protect. And so it is with us. When I know I need what only God can give, then I pray straight-forward, honest prayers.
Thursday: read Exodus 15:11-13. After celebrating the Divine judgment by which the tables were turned on Pharaoh and his army, Moses turns in verse 11 to speak directly of God’s glorious character revealed in the Exodus:
11 Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
12 You stretched out your right hand
and the earth swallowed them.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
Let us take note today briefly of one great lesson about God’s character as it is revealed here by Moses: There is no contradiction, in Moses’ eyes, between God’s white-hot holiness and His tender loving-kindness. In verse 11 he can speak of the majesty and awesomeness of God’s holiness, describing such holiness as actively destroying the wicked in verse 12 – and then in the next breath – highlight God’s “unfailing love” by which He redeems Israel.
Meditate and Pray: Though it is hard for finite, fallen creatures such as ourselves to hold in tension God’s heart-melting love and His being a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:25), there is no tension within God. He is at one and the same time sinlessly loving towards all He has made, and sinlessly full of wrath against all unrepentant evil.
Friday: read Exodus 15:11-13 and Psalm 144:1-2. Though it is right and proper to emphasize God’s wrath towards His foes as well as His loving-kindness towards His own, there is no doubt that the Scriptural priority is to stress the scope, scale and amazing qualities of God’s grace and love – by which He both redeems and defends His own people.
Such covenant love is the motivating force behind God’s work of salvation. David recognized the priority of such love in his experience of God’s saving work in Psalm 144:2, where he boldly calls God his “loving-kindness,” or his “steadfast love” (ESV), using the word translated “unfailing love” in Exodus 15:13! This is because David recognized, as Moses did before him, that love is so essential to who God is that it can even be His name, since the name of someone is meant to express who the named one is. Because God is love, He can be called love because He sums up all that love means in His name. In the NT, it is at the Cross where the Father shows the full extent of His love. Christ’s death guarantees that we can be sure that God is in every way Love itself – and that such Love will indeed defend us from all His and our enemies!
Meditate and Pray: May this quote from Jonathan Edwards regarding the love of God refresh our souls: Love is in God, as light is in the sun, which does not shine by a reflected light, as the moon and planets do, but by its own light, and as the great fountain of light. May this light from God’s love shine all the brighter upon us. May we be led to sing about “God as love” with the words of hymn # 2, especially the last verse:
O worship the King, all glorious above,
O gratefully sing His power and His love;
Our Shield and Defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor, and girded with praise.
O tell of His might, O sing of His grace,
Whose robe is the light, whose canopy space,
His chariots of wrath the deep thunderclouds form,
And dark is His path on the wings of the storm.
Frail children of dust, and feeble as frail,
In Thee do we trust, nor find Thee to fail;
Thy mercies how tender, how firm to the end,
Our Maker, Defender, Redeemer, and Friend.
O measureless might! Ineffable love!
While angels delight to worship Thee above,
The humbler creation, though feeble their lays,
With true adoration shall all sing Thy praise.