************ Sermon on Revelation 15:1-4 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 11, 2004
"The Song of the Lamb"
Revelation 15 shows us the souls of those who have been victorious over the beast and his image and over the number of his name. They are the redeemed. They are the saved. They are those who have been washed and cleansed in the blood of the Lamb.
Now, notice what they are doing. They are playing harps and singing songs – all to the praise to God.
I want to say to you, my brothers and sisters, that their response should also be our response. After all, we too have been saved – that's what we celebrated in the Lord's Supper this morning. We too have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. We too have been granted victory. So we too should be praising God.
As we look at the praise given to God by those standing beside the sea of glass mixed with fire we learn two things. First, we are told why God should be praised. Second, we are told how God should be praised.
I Two Different Songs
A Our Scripture reading gives two names to the song that was sung by those standing by the sea of glass. It is called "The Song of the Lamb" but it is also called "The Song of Moses."
When I first saw this I became curious. I wondered how Moses tied in. Because as I went through the Old Testament no where could I find the words of the song we have in front of us this evening.
As I was studying and reflecting on this I came across the song of Moses and Miriam as they stood with Israel on the other side of the Red Sea. This is the only song of Moses that we find in the Bible. It dawned on me that though the words are different the song is still the same. In fact, Revelation 15 is telling us that they are the same song.
B Consider with me, for a moment, the similarity between the two songs. The God Who saved the people of Israel from the Egyptians is the same God Who saves His people from the beast and his image and the number of his name. In both instances it is the same enemy who is defeated; that is, the anger of Pharaoh and the fury of the beast both show the hatred of Satan towards God and God's people. And, in both instances it is the redeemed of the Lord who are singing the song.
II God Gives a Great Victory
A When Ruth and I served a church in British Columbia we took a trip to the Adams River. Once every four years the Adams River is the site of the world's largest migration of salmon. During spawning season more than a million salmon make their way up the Adams River. The water is so thick with them that we heard of someone who strapped snowshoes to his feet and was able to walk across the river. We arrived a couple of days late because by the time we got there only a few salmon could be seen still making their way upstream. But do you know what we did see? We saw all sorts of birds – I suppose they were eagles and maybe falcons or hawks. We saw tracks from bears and cats. We saw cleanup creatures like coyotes. All of them were feasting upon the thousands upon thousands of bloated salmon carcasses floating in the water and laying on the shore line. A surprising number of the salmon were nothing but clean skeletons already.
Like those salmon were the thousands of the Egyptian army. Many were floating to shore, their bodies swollen and bloated. Thousands more were under the water weighed down by heavy armor. Horses and chariots were hopelessly stuck in the mud and buried beneath the surface of the water. That's what "The song of Moses" wants us to picture in our mind.
If you remember, the Egyptian Pharaoh, after the ten plagues, gave permission for the children of Israel to leave but then he changed his mind and decided to destroy and bring back the people. According to "The Song of Moses," Pharaoh and his hosts were boasting about victory.
(Ex 15:9) "The enemy boasted, 'I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.'That was Egypt's boast. That was her intent. Instead, the mighty Egyptian army was like so many dead salmon floating in the water.
We turn now to Revelation. A couple of chapters earlier we can read about a war in heaven. Listen to the results of this battle:
(Rev 12:7-9) Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. (8) But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. (9) The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.Like the Egyptians, the great dragon and his angels were like so many dead and bloated salmon.
B What happened? Was it because the Israelite men fought so valiantly against the spears, swords and chariots of Egypt? Not a word is said in Exodus about Israel's valor and vigor in battle. What happened? Was it because Michael and his angels were better fighters. Not a work is said in Revelation about that either.
Was it because Moses was a brilliant and cunning general who somehow surprised and defeated the Egyptians? Not a whisper is heard about Moses. Was Michael too a better general? Not a word is heard about that.
The first words of "The Song of Moses" tells us the reason for the victory.
(Ex 15:1) "I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. The horse and its rider he has hurled into the sea ..."Likewise, the first words of "The Song of the Lamb" tells us the story.
(Rev 15:3) "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages."Notice, there is no mention here of Israel or Moses. The defeat of the Egyptians was totally a righteous work of the Lord. It is the Lord Who hurled the horse and its rider into the sea. As Exodus 14:30 puts it, "That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians." Nor is there any mention of Michael. The defeat of the beast and his image and the number of his name is totally a righteous work of the holy Lord.
C Israel witnessed the great victory of the Lord at the Red Sea. She "saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore" (Ex 14:30). She "saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians" (Ex 14:31). If you think about it, you realize these people had seen so much! In Egypt they saw each other being beaten and abused by the Egyptian slave drivers. They saw, through tear-filled eyes, their little boys struggling and drowning in the River Nile. They saw their work load increased when they were forced to gather the straw for the daily quota of bricks they had to make. They saw pain, hurt, bitterness, anguish; they saw so much oppression, slavery, brutality; they saw whips, torture, death. But at the seashore what did they see? They saw thousands upon thousands of dead Egyptians. "Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore" (Ex 14:30). They saw the mighty and holy hand of God at work. They saw that the Savior of His people had done a mighty and righteous work.
What did those standing by the sea of glass mixed with fire see? They saw the great dragon being hurled down. They saw the beast and his image and the number of his name going down to defeat. They too saw the mighty and holy hand of God at work. They too saw that the Savior of His people had done a mighty and righteous work.
There are many times when we, like Israel, can also see the mighty and holy hand of God at work. We all have heard or know of people whom doctors pronounce incurable; yet, when His people pray God can and sometimes does bring about a miraculous healing (think of Peter Dragt, for instance). We all have heard of the most hardened of sinners coming to repentance and faith. And, this morning in the Lord's Supper we were reminded of the mighty hand of God at work at the cross and grave of Christ. In all these situations, and many more I am sure you can tell me about, we see the Lord's mighty hand at work. It is on occasions like this that our own eyes see that God reigns over all: over death and sickness, over sin and evil and Satan, over His enemies and ours.
III Our Response is Song
A Now, how did the people of Israel respond to God's great and holy act of salvation? Were they bothered by the sight and thought of all those dead Egyptians floating slowly to shore? Did they sit on the seashore and deplore the violence and death and destruction of our sin-filled world? And, how do those who stand by the sea of glass mixed with fire respond to the Lord's holy act of salvation?
Israel's response was immediate. When the people saw "the Egyptians lying dead on the shore ... Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord ... Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing ..." (Ex 14:30; 15:1,20). We see here that Israel sang, she celebrated, she danced. Of course Israel did this. That's the only right response to salvation. That's why there is so much singing in the church. And, that's why all the scenes of heaven that we see in Revelation are filled with hymns and choirs.
As for the redeemed by the sea of glass, they held harps given them by God and sang. Did you catch that? God gave them their harps. In other words, God wanted their praise, demanded their praise, expected their praise.
In fact, those who are singing by the sea of glass cannot imagine that anyone would not want to sing. "Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?" God is such an awesome and holy God, He does such awesome and righteous acts, that everyone should want to come before Him in music and song. "All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
B On this Lord's Supper Sunday we should be able to sing and celebrate with Israel and with those by the sea of glass. We should be able to say,
(Ex 15:1-2) "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 my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him ..."
(Rev 15:3-4) "Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages. (4) Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed."
Two songs: "The Song of Moses" and "The Song of the Lamb." Yet, Scripture says they are the same song.
This means, congregation, that "The Song of Moses" and "The Song of the Lamb" will always be sung. They were sung by Israel as she stood by the water of the Red Sea. They are sung by the redeemed in heaven as they stand by the sea of glass and fire. And, they are sung by the church as she looks toward the cross and grave of Christ. "The Song of Moses" and "The Song of the Lamb" will always be sung because the redeemed of the Lord are always thankful to the Lord for His great and wondrous acts of salvation.
On this Lord's Supper Sunday, then, God's people should want to sing to God "The Song of Moses" and "The Song of the Lamb."
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