“Israelites Delivered Out of Egypt”
Lesson Text: Exodus 15:1-3, 19, 22-26
Background Scripture: Exodus 1:8-14; 15:1-27
Devotional Reading: Psalm 77:11-20
Exodus 15:1-3, 19, 22-26.
1Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
2The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.
3The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.
19For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.
22So Moses brought 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.
23And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
To understand that God desires our thanks for His provision through our trials.
To learn that God led His people out of Egypt and gave them many reasons to thank Him.
To know that we must keep on trusting God in our trails. It takes maturity for God’s people to have a “song in the night” (Job 35:10; Ps. 42:8; Matt. 26:30; Acts 16:25).
A common controversy in many churches today revolves around the sort of music being used in worship. This usually boils down to preferences for contemporary or traditional music.
If you know anything about church music, though, you realize that there are many other styles being used in churches. Some prefer the spirited style found in gospel music. Others like the country sound of southern gospel. Spirituals or the popular folk gospel tunes of the 1970’s might be the choice of some. Churches that have more formal worship services may prefer liturgical music.
Consider also that in many culture the descriptions above are virtually meaningless, as their musical form are very different from what we are accustomed to hearing. How Moses and the ancient Hebrews sang was probably unlike any musical style familiar to our ears. In Israel’s earliest days, Moses composed a song of victory over the Egyptians. They had lost their lives as a result of following the Israelites into the Red Sea. Portions of that song are to be studied in this lesson.
Place:by the Red Sea
The Israelites entered Egypt as a family in the days of famine when Joseph was prime minister over the land (previous lessons). Over the centuries, the Israelites witnessed significant leadership changes in Egypt, from native Egyptians, to Asiatics who came into the land, and then back to the Egyptians again. The Asiatics are sometimes called Hyksos or “shepherd kings,” but the word more likely just means foreigners who ruled Egypt. This caused the Egyptians to develop an even greater dislike for shepherds (compare Genesis 46:34), something that becomes very significant in the history of the emerging nation of Israel.
A new Pharaoh who did not know Joseph started a campaign against the people of Israel (Exodus 1). Oppressive measures were taken to subdue the people and slow their population growth. It was during this time that Moses was born. It is well-known that he was adopted by a princess of Egypt, but he had to flee Egypt at age 40 after killing an Egyptian (Exodus 2; the age factor for this event is found only in Acts 7:23).
Forty years later Moses encountered the Lord at Sinai. Thus began Moses’ special ministry as the leader of slaves who wanted freedom. But Pharaoh resisted the demands made by God through Moses. The result was a series of plagues that came on Egypt. Among other things, the plagues demonstrated the powerlessness of the gods of Egypt. As the plagues progressed, Pharaoh offered four compromises to Moses, but these were rejected. The tenth plague, which resulted in the loss of all the firstborn of the Egyptians, caused the Egyptians to thrust the Israelites out of Egypt. It had been 430 years to the day since Jacob and his family entered Egypt (Exodus 12:40, 41).
But Pharaoh had a change of heart, and he decided to give chase with 600 chariots (Exodus 14:5-7). The Israelites crossed the Red Sea safely after the waters parted, but the Egyptians drowned when they tried to follow. The God of Israel was superior to any of the gods of Pharaoh! The crossing of the Red Sea was pivotal in the history of ancient Israel. The slaves were free, beyond reach of Pharaoh. It was an event remembered in song.
THE VICTORY SONG (EXODUS 15:1-3, 19)
1. What caused Moses and the people sing God’s praises (Exodus 15:1)?
The first song in the history of this new nation is a song of rejoicing because of the victory that the Lord has obtained for the people. The Lord is mentioned ten times in this hymn (vs. 2-18) as Israel sang to the Lord and about the Lord, for true worship involves faithful witness to who God is and what He has done for His people.
The defeat of Pharaoh’s host is distinctive, for it is certainly not the norm for a calvary force to be thrown into the sea during battle! Exodus 14:25 adds that the Lord caused problems for the Egyptians by disabling the wheels of the chariots. Any speedy escape to the shore was made impossible.
2. What do Moses and the Israelites realize and declare (v. 2)?
Moses realizes that it is the Lord who is behind all things that he (Moses) is able to accomplish. This also sounds like the apostle Paul when he says that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him (Philippians 4:13).
The Israelites declared, “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation” (Exodus 15:2).They were weak, but God gave them strength. When they experienced sorrow, God became their comfort. Sin and death were threatening them, but God was and would be their salvation. “Prepare him a habitation” is better taken as signifying “I will praise Him,” parallel with the next expression “I will exalt him.”
3. Why is the Lord called “a man of war” (v. 3)?
The statement “The Lord is a man of war” (v.3) may upset people who feel that anything relating to warfare is alien to the Gospel and the Christian life. Some denominations have taken the “militant” hymns out of their hymnals, including “Onward Christian Soldiers.” But Moses promised the people, ‘’The Lord shall fight for you” (14:14; see Deut. 1:30); and one of God’s names is “Jehovah-Sabaoth,” which means “Lord of hosts, Lord of armies,” a title that’s used 285 times in the Old Testament.
If there is in this world an enemy like Satan, and if sin and evil are hateful to God, then He must wage war against them. “The Lord will march out like a mighty man; like a warrior He will stir up His zeal; with a shout He will raise the battle cry and will triumph over His enemies” (lsa. 42:13, NIV). Jesus Christ is both the Lamb who died for our sins and the Lion who judges sin (Rev. 5:5,6), and one day He will ride forth to conquer His enemies (19:11). To emphasize only “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16) and eliminate “God is light” (1 John 1:5) is to rob God of His attributes of righteousness, holiness, and justice. – Wiersbe
4. What is the contrast between the Egyptians and the Israelites (v. 19)?
The rest of the song, which continues through verse 18, is not part of today’s printed text. The verse before us is a summary statement that follows the song. It describes the contrast in the outcomes for the two groups. Both the Egyptians and the children of Israel experience the depths of the sea. For God’s people, the depths are just dry ground. But those same depths become the final resting place for the Egyptians, who had been their taskmasters.
THE FAITH TEST (Exodus 15:22-26)
5. How did God test Israel’s faithfulness (vs. 22-26)?
We now move from singing back to historical narrative, which reports a journey of three days (v. 22). During this time, the people of Israel move from the Red Sea to an arid region, and the mood of the people changes from jubilation to deep concern.
They were out in the wilderness for three days without water, and then they came to Marah where the water was undrinkable (v. 23). “A single day in the wilderness without water would be tolerable, two days would be difficult, but three days would be impossible, especially for the children and animals. And then to be disappointed by finding bitter water would only make the situation worse. (The word “Marah” means “bitter” and is related to the word “myrrh.”) -Wiersbe
There was no water in the hot, sandy desert. This was set up by God to see how the people would respond to adversity. The Lord tests us to encourage spiritual growth and bring out the best in us. Sometimes the trials and suffering we face are tests of our faith. We cannot always understand why these things are happening to us, but we can choose how we respond.
Immediately the people began to murmur against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” (v. 24).Instead of trusting God to provide for them, they complained. How quickly we sometimes forget about the power of God and His promises. Hardships and trials should not cause us to doubt God’s faithfulness. If we recall God’s works on our behalf in the past, we would have faith to trust Him with our present struggles. He is trustworthy.
What Do You Think?
What was a time you experienced a sense of “let down” after a great victory? Why does this happen?
Talking Points for Your Discussion
-Focus on self (1 Kings 18:1-19:10)
-Difficulty of maintaining “spiritual highs” (Matthew 17:1-20)
-Issue of humility (2 Corinthians 12:7)
6. What is the proper response to difficulty (v. 25a)?
The people of Israel were experts when came to murmuring and complaining (Ex. 16:1-12; Num. 14:2, 27-29; 16:41; etc.) While God was testing them, they were tempting Him by their attitude and their words.
However, “Moses took the right approach, the way of faith: he cried out to the Lord and then followed God’s orders. God can solve our problems by changing things (like making bitter waters sweet), by giving us something else (like the wells of water at Elim), or by giving us the grace we need to bear with our difficulties and not complain. The third approach is what produces lasting spiritual growth (2 Cor. 12:7-10).” -Wiersbe
7. What demand for obedience did God make on Israel (vs. 25b,26)?
The miracle at Marah has more than one purpose. In addition to providing potable water, it also serves to establish a statute and an ordinance that has special significance. A blessing is promised, but first there are two requirements. The first is that the people are to obey the Lord—to do that which is right in his sight. A simple definition of “righteousness” is to do that which is right.
The second demand emphasizes that obedience to the Lord is not to be a cafeteria approach in which a person may pick and choose what to obey. The requirement is that the people are to keep all the ordinances that the Lord gives (v. 26a.).
“God promised Israel abundant physical blessings if they would obey Him, but physical afflictions if they disobeyed (Deut. 7:12-15; 28). If life were nothing but tests, we would be discouraged. If life were all pleasure, we would lever learn discipline and develop character. The Lord knows how to balance the experiences of life, for He brought His people to Elim where they found plenty of water and opportunity for rest (15:27, not in today’s lesson). Let’s be grateful that the Lord gives us enough blessings to encourage us and enough burdens to humble us, and that He knows how much we can take.” -Wiersbe
1. Sing a holy song to the honor of God to exalt His name. (Exodus 15:1).
2. True worship involves faithful witness to who God is and what He has done for His people(vs. 2,3).
3.In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid (Exod. 15:19; Psalm 56:11)
4. As believers we are challenged not to grumble or complain (Exod. 15:22-24; Philippians 2:14,15; 1 Peter 4:9).
5.God answers our prayers when we put Him first in our lives (Exod. 15:25; Matthew 6:33; Proverbs 3:5-10).
6. Obedience to God, the only path to blessings (vs. 25,26).
Prayer or Protest!
When any group encounters problems, there is a tendency to blame the leadership. This can lead to rebellion (again, Numbers 14:22). We see a major rebellion organized three men in Numbers 16. God expressed His displeasure to this in dramatic ways. Yet before the chapter ends, the people complain about leadership again, with the penalty of a severe plague as a result.
The experiences of Israel in the wilderness confirm that the Lord is displeased when people take His blessings for granted and grumble when things are not to their liking. People who complain often do so to try to control situations in which they are involved. They have difficulty when others are in charge. The better way is to pray for the leaders and trust them to lead unless they prove to be unfaithful. Yes, there are corrupt leaders. Such situations must be handled, but many do not give God’s plan an opportunity to work.
Make prayers for leaders part of your daily devotion—and tell your leaders that you are praying for them. Both they and the Lord will be pleased.
Dear Father, we praise You for the many wonderful things You have already done for us. Help us to keep on trusting You when we go through trials. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER
Before protesting, pray!