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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The Lord Who Fights | Exodus

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD:
‘I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
he has hurled into the sea.
‘The LORD is my strength and my defence;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is his name.’

Exodus 15:1-3


 

Should it come as a surprise that the most significant event in the history of Israel is celebrated in song? It somehow feels right that such a monumental moment is recounted twice – in poetry as well as in prose. So it is that Exodus 14 tells the story of the crossing of the sea and Exodus 15 sings about it, inviting us to join in with the celebration.

We witness here something of a forward movement in Israel’s faith. God revealed his name to Moses at the burning bush (‘The LORD, the God of your fathers’, Exodus 3:15), and later in describing the work of redemption he would do (‘I am the LORD’, 6:6, 8). Now, at the point of deliverance, God’s people sing ‘The LORD is his name’ (15:3).

It’s our song as much as theirs.

We might feel less comfortable with their description of the Lord as ‘a warrior’ (or ‘a man of war’), but it’s a recognition that the Lord had fought on behalf of his people. The Bible will not allow us to underestimate the tragic consequences of evil in the world, but also assures us that God will do something about it.

The song doesn’t stop with the defeat of evil. It also looks to the future, when God will guide the people to his ‘holy dwelling’ (15:13), and make them secure in the place he has established (15:17). It’s another reminder, if we need it, that the exodus story doesn’t end with slaves being set free, but with former slaves now serving the Lord for the sake of the nations.

It’s our story as much as theirs.

The song celebrates the Lord’s victory, but is written in a way which allows it to be extended beyond the exodus and applied in other situations where God overcomes obstacles, human or otherwise, for the sake of his people and his purposes.

God will never allow evil to have the last word. It’s in the light of Christ’s victory over the powers at the cross that we can pray with confidence that God will ‘deliver us from the evil one’ (Matthew 6:13), and trust that one day his rule over all things will be fully and finally established. God will put all things right before he makes all things new.

This God is our God, and ‘the LORD is his name’.

 

Antony Billington

Our brand new Bible study resource, Exodus: Freedom to Serve God is written by Antony Billington and available to pre-order now.

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