(having trouble finding the right sorts of pictures in the WP free library…pretend no makeup, or leaves, etc.)
Read Exodus 15:1-20
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.
2 “The Lord is my strength and my defense;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
3 The Lord is a warrior;
the Lord is his name.
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh’s officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 The deep waters have covered them;
they sank to the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, Lord,
was majestic in power.
Your right hand, Lord,
shattered the enemy.
7 “In the greatness of your majesty
you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
it consumed them like stubble.
8 By the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood up like a wall;
the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.
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.’
10 But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.
11 Who among the gods
is like you, Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
12 “You stretch out your right hand,
and the earth swallows your enemies.
13 In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.
14 The nations will hear and tremble;
anguish will grip the people of Philistia.
15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people of Canaan will melt away;
16 terror and dread will fall on them.
By the power of your arm
they will be as still as a stone—
until your people pass by, Lord,
until the people you bought pass by.
17 You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling,
the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.
18 “The Lord reigns
for ever and ever.”
19 When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20 Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.
Have I mentioned how I wish the Story told us what people were feeling?
Here it does: verse after verse of joy and triumph.
It would be even better if we could hear the music, but we’ll have to imagine.
Imagine the Israelites swaying and singing, playing tambourines, their heads thrown back in jubilant song, laughter and shouting. Imagine the children, delighted, hopping among the dancing throng. Then put in the words: “Your right hand shattered the enemy,” “They sank like lead in the mighty waters,” “Who is like You among the Gods, O Lord?”
You can feel the joy.
Of course they’re happy – delirious even, they should be. We get happy when fictional bad guys get punished – think movies. This is the Israelites’ real life, these are the guys who were killing their babies.
Now they are truly, truly free. The Egyptians are dead. God has come. He is awesome, and He is on their side.
It’s worth celebrating.
But notice, “With your unfailing love you lead the people you have redeemed.”
The song takes a turn here at verse 13. As though they literally turn around, from rejoicing over the Sea and what God did there, toward the road ahead of them. They’re free of Egypt but now they’re homeless, a vast horde of people who need a place of their own. They’re bound for Canaan but everyone along the way – Philistia, Edom and Moab, to name just three – will see them as a threat.
And Canaan isn’t empty.
It would be like them to get discouraged. Remember the bricks without straw, and how utterly defeated they became? Remember how they wouldn’t even listen to Moses because of their discouragement? But now their focus is all on God.
So they do an amazing thing: they make assumptions about what God will do for them and they weave those assumptions into their celebratory song. “You guide [us] to [our] sacred home.” “The peoples hear and tremble.” Even the Canaanites, they sing, will “melt away; terror and dread will fall upon them.”
They are beginning to really believe God, to trust His power and His goodness and the certainty of His promises.
It’s the dance.