feast: The Song of Moses
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Given 13-Oct-11; Sermon #FT11-02; 67 minutes
Richard Ritenbaugh, asking us how much our time is absorbed in music, from elevator music, radio music, listening to CD's, cell-phones, computers, humming, playing musical instruments, etc. Nature is replete with the sounds of music: birds, crickets, frogs. God's throne is serenaded with choirs of angels. The Psalms are songs of praise and supplication. Revelation describes angelic choirs in front of God's throne and the thrones of the 24 elders. God is always enveloped in music. The angel Helel apparently had musical instruments as body parts. Unfortunately, Satan is now inspiring the perverted use of music heard on the radio today. When we are changed into Spirit Beings, we, as the called-our first fruits, will again be involved in making music, singing a unique new song before the throne of God, following the Lamb. The song that we will sing probably derives from several songs of Moses, celebrating the Exodus. Physical Israel on the banks of the Red Sea in Exodus can compare with Spiritual Israel (the Israel of God) on the banks of the Sea of Glass in Revelation. The themes of atonement, redemption and judgment also have parallels in both Exodus 15/Deuteronomy 32 and Revelation 4:15. The Promised Land could well be a type the Kingdom of God. Our task at this time is to choose life.
Bass line Bowls judgments Called out of the world Choosing life or death Contrast between the good and bad Deuteronomy 32 Emerald rainbow Ezekiel 28 Exodus 15; 23:24-15 Grapes of wrath Harps of God Harvest to salvation Harvest of the good Hillel Job 38:10 John 5:28 Music Musical instruments Overcoming 144,000 Proclamation of three angels Redeemed group of first fruits Revelation 4:1-11 24; 5:10; 14: 1-5; 15:1-4 Psalm 90,91 Twenty four Elders Sea of glass Seven last plagues Sickles Singing a new song 24 elders Song no one would know Song of the Lamb Song of Moses Timbrels Two harvests Vials of wrath Victory Without guile Worthy is the lamb Wrath of God
Have you ever stopped to think, how much of our lives revolve around music? Have you stopped and wondered about that, how much music do you actually hear?
Some of us wake up to music. We listen to it as we are in the bathroom going through our morning ablutions. We drive to work with the radio playing tunes. Some of us when we get to work, the first thing we do is turn on our computers, and iTunes comes on, and we start listening to music. Or, we work in a place where there is canned music coming through the speakers, and we hear music all day long.
We drive home, then, from work with music playing in the car. Sometimes we listen to someone talking, but oftentimes we just want to listen to some music. We have had enough stuff going through the day. And then you get home, and have dinner. Afterwards, you sit down and watch a bit of television, and it, too, has some music. Or, maybe you decide to watch one of your movies, and it has a music soundtrack. And, maybe some of us like some nice bit of music before going to bed to soothe us, calm us.
So, some of us—not all of us—have spent our entire day enveloped in music. But, if you think about it, some people’s lives go like that, and many of us have elements of all of these.
Some of us are much more musically inclined than others, and we have music going through our minds all the time. It is just a part of us. Some play instruments, and they keep up with that diligently every day, or as often as they can. Some people love to sing, and they will just belt out a tune regardless where they are. We hum; we whistle; we sing a tune as we are driving down the road in our car listening to the radio.
We take a walk outside, and we hear bird songs. It is not only humans who sing, but the birds do too.
Maybe we live in a more urban setting, and we go outside for a walk, and there may be a bird around, but we do hear the guy in the “altered vehicle.” Their stereo system is “just wonderful,” and their song has this great bass line, and you hear it from at least three-quarters of a mile away, and then again as it finally passes you going off into the distance (another three-quarters of a mile)—constantly boom, boom, boom. Believe it or not, that is music too.
We get a phone call, what do our mobile phones do? They play us a tune, they sing us a song. (Some people let it go on way too long and it is annoying.)
Our computers boot up with a tune, and they shut down with a tune. Of course, when we come in for church services, we sing five hymns, normally, and sometimes at the Feast and other special occasions, we have opportunity and pleasure of hearing special music presentations. It is wonderful. It adds so much to our lives.
God loves music too. Think about it. He created it. It surrounds Him constantly as choirs of angels praise Him with song at all times. We know from Job 38:7 that when God created the earth, the angels (the sons of God) shouted for joy! And they were praising God for His handiwork. Here was (the newly created earth) what was going to be their home. And they sang Him a song of praise.
Of course, we have the entire book of psalms—150 songs. Many of them are in praise to God, while some are more plaintive. As people went through their lives, they told God in song how things were going, and what they needed. They also put their history into song as well. And then, the last five psalms are tremendous praises to God, saying almost nothing else except, “Praise God, for all He has done!”
Of course, there is the book of Revelation that provides us a vision of God’s throne in heaven, and it highlights the various angelic beings whose job it is to sing praises to God at all times.
Please turn to Revelation 4. Notice in setting the context that we are going into God’s throne room, and God is obviously the center of attention. Notice, too, what is going on around Him.
Revelation 4:1-11 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet [already we are getting little intimation of music] speaking with me, saying, "Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this." Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne. And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. [That will come back into things a little bit later.] And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying: "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!" Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: "You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created."
Revelation 5:6-14 And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!" Then the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever.
Clearly, if nothing else, we come away from this scene with the realization that God is always enveloped in music. There is all the glory and splendor that is there, and all these different angelic beings, but they are continually offering their praises to Him in songs and praise through poetry. They are extolling Him for all of His virtues.
So, we get from this, too, that anyone approaching the throne of God, approaches Him with song and music. We will see that in a moment.
We know that from Ezekiel 28 with the description of the one who became Satan, that angelic covering cherub, whose name was originally Helel (not Lucifer), that he had musical talents and instruments created into him. If you read what it says there, you will find that he is a master of music. And, they were to be used in the praise of God, giving Him glory and honor, while he covered the throne with his wings. But, as we know, he has since perverted those skills and abilities. Unfortunately, he now inspires the popular music of our own day and sometimes it is not hard to tell.
What I am getting to in all of this is that not only was this angel created to praise God in song, not only these other angels that we saw in Revelation 4 and 5 were created to praise God in song, but that we were too!
We do a little bit of that now in our worship service with the five songs we sing. But, I do not want to concentrate on that today. I want to concentrate on when our change comes, when we will stand before Him in heaven, when we are finally there having been given the grace of the first resurrection, we will sing songs to glorify Him for His works, and for what He is, and what He has done.
Today, I want to specifically look at one song in detail (maybe two songs). By this I want to show you some things from the Scriptures that maybe you had not seen before, but also maybe we will get a foretaste of what it will be like in the first resurrection. We have already started building that with the image of how it is around God’s throne—the sea of glass, the living creatures, the elders, and all the lightnings and thunderings, and voices coming from the throne; and there is also all of that song that is there. We will be a part of that. We will be adding our voices to that.
So, let us start, first, in Revelation 14. If you remember your chapters, this is the chapter of the redeemed of God—the Lamb and the 144,000. This is the second counting of them. This shows them redeemed finally—fully saved, and in the Kingdom of God.
Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father's name written on their foreheads.
So, this is a select group who are allowed to be there right with the Lamb. And they have this special mark of having the Father’s name written in their foreheads, showing who possesses them—they are His children. But also, it is in the forefront of their mind that these people did not luck into this, but that they got there because they had God in their minds under some very horrific conditions—the condition of man under Satan the Devil. But, they overcame.
Revelation 14:2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps.
So now we are adding in the music—the sound. Some people think that standing by the ocean is music. So, it is not just the fact that they have harps, or that there is going to be singing, but there is also this “background” sound that is going on there, and it is music to the ears; part of the accompaniment of this scene.
Revelation 14:3-5 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit [guile], for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Here, we have been thrown into the midst of things, because chapter 14 is getting toward the end of this book. We have to understand where this comes in the flow of things. This is an inset chapter. It is inset into the general flow. We had left the flow back several chapters before. God is filling in some details here. And, I would be remiss if I did not show where this belongs, because chapter 14, verses 1 through 5 come immediately after the terrible things, and the bad guys, the beast from the sea and from the land in chapter 13.
Toward the end of chapter 13 we are getting down to the part where the False Prophet is able to do all these things for the Beast so that it is worshipped. And then, it speaks about the mark of the beast and those who take it.
What we have as we go into chapter 14 is a juxtaposition of the righteous with the people who take the mark of the beast. There is a great contrast here. We go through chapter 13 and we see how Satan and the beast, and the False Prophet have made things horrible on the earth. But, unfortunately, most of the earth follows them.
But then, you have this select group of 144,000 who are far different. I mean, listen to these things: They were not defiled; they were the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes—the implication being that this is not just speaking then in the Kingdom of God after the first resurrection, but this was they way they were before: before they were not defiled with women, before they followed the Lamb wherever He went. And if that meant martyrdom for them, well they were willing to do that in order to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed from among men, being bought out from among those other ones who accepted the mark; they had no guile at all—they were without deceit.
This is a wonderful collection of people! It shows you that they lived by very high standards, something that we still struggle to meet on a regular basis. But, these are the qualifications. If you want to be in this group, these are the things we have to be doing.
So, what we are getting, here, is that there are contrasts that are happening as we go into the flow of this—the bad people with the redeemed; those who accept the mark, and the Redeemed—the 144,000. This is our first big contrast here.
Now, these select people, these holy people are given the privilege of learning and singing a new song before God. It is one that no one else can learn. They give special praise to God. It is a unique praise. It is a praise that is theirs alone. We can speculate about this, and why it is theirs alone. Perhaps we could say that their experiences in overcoming the world, and Satan, and themselves, under the great tribulation of this world, and I do not mean only that time that we call the Great Tribulation, but I mean just ordinary life in this world—that is great tribulation at any time!
But, this unique experience—that they have been called out of this world, and had to overcome all these things throughout their lifetimes, as long as God has given them breath—has given them a very unique perspective on things, a unique perspective of God, a unique perspective of His work on their behalf, a unique perspective on how He has worked in the world, and set things up, a unique perspective on the plan that He has, and the purpose that He has, that no one else can really understand, because everyone else who is going to come into the Kingdom did not overcome in the worst of times—did not overcome in the same way that the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, overcame.
And that is why they are special. That is why they follow the Lamb wherever He goes. It is because they are alike. They do things the same as He did. Not as well, and that is why He is so much greater. But, there is a kinship there, a kinship in overcoming that no one else has. And we know because of this experience, because of the fact that they overcame all these things that they—this special group—will be elevated above all others who come into the Kingdom later on. They are the firstfruits.
I sort of passed over that rather quickly while reading Revelation 14, but they are the choice pickings of the harvest. They are first in time, as far as being harvested, but they are also first in rank, because of what they did. They overcame.
So, they have this privilege of singing a new song—a unique song before the throne of God.
But, notice that we are not given the words to this song. Not at all, at least not here. If it had been written down, why anyone could learn this song, right? It seems logical. So, we are left to wonder what will they sing about. What do these unique people, what do these redeemed firstfruits of God sing about to God?
There is something in the next chapter that may give us a few clues. But, it is hard to say. I am not going to make any dogmatic statements about this. I only want you to think about it.
The reason I went through the contrasts in chapters 13 and 14 is because it continues as we go through chapter s15 and 16. There is a similar set of themes that run through it, which I believe will be at least a foundation for their new song.
Before we actually do this, I want you to notice section by section what is in chapter 14, after the 144,000. We have the proclamation of the three angels where they go out and the first preaches the everlasting gospel, the next one proclaims Babylon is fallen, is fallen, and the last one tells us that if anybody worships the beast and his image, they will receive the wrath of God.
Notice that we have the preaching of the gospel, which is a good thing; getting the truth out there, maybe someone will change. Also said in the section is, “Fear God and give glory to Him,” as part of his message. Then you have the two other angels, which say that this world is coming to an end. And, the third angel tells them at the time that they need to make sure that they do not follow the beast, or worship his image, or take the mark. So, we have a proclamation to those who are listening, and a proclamation to those who do not, and who are going to come under God’s judgment.
Then, once you get a little further along in chapter 14, you have the two harvests. The one angel is told to thrust his sickle in, because the harvest of the earth is ripe—the harvest of the good. And then you go to the next one where it says that this angel who thrusts his sickle in is there to reap the grapes of wrath.
So, again, we have a contrast of the good and the bad—the redeemed and the wicked. You have those who are being judged positively, and will be harvested as firstfruits, while the others are a negative harvest of blood and wrath, where God’s judgment comes down upon the wicked. So you see, back and forth, back and forth. You have this idea of those who have done well and will be judged well, and receive the rewards; while those on the other side who have not done well, who have rejected God, are going to reap a judgment of condemnation.
This is how this goes—back and forth.
Revelation 15:1 Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous: seven angels having the seven last plagues, for in them the wrath of God is complete.
All right, here is another one. Now were talking about bad things happening again—God’s judgment. But then immediately in verse 2 we flip the other way.
Revelation 15:2 And I saw something like a sea of glass [remember I told you that would come back] mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God.
So here, the good guys, the redeemed, the firstfruits are standing on the sea of glass, and they are set up to sing.
Revelation 15:3-4 They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying [notice the contrasts again]: "Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, for Your judgments have been manifested."
So, this is obviously a song of praise to God. And, it is mostly positive, because this is a positive section where He is highlighting the fact that there are those who did indeed fear God and glorify His name, but on the other hand, just as we are ending this song, there is a mention that His judgments have gone out, and have been manifested to the world.
We continually see these back and forth contrasts. And I think these themes, then, set up what we are talking about here in the song of Moses.
As we started in verse 1, we saw that the seven angels have the seven last plagues, or the bowl judgments, and older versions have them as the vials of God’s wrath. They have various names. These come immediately after this idea of the harvest. Now, I will mention that the most people think that once we get into chapter 15 things start back on the timeline, because we are back into the chronological flow of things. So, these seven last plagues, then, come at this point.
Here we have the overcomers—those who have been redeemed, those who did not worship the beast—they sing the song of Moses, and they sing the song of the Lamb. How should we take that? Is that one song, or two? Is it the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb? Or, is it the song of Moses, and the song of the Lamb? That is a controversy that is out there. People really do not know whether John meant one song or two songs.
One commentator came up with a novel solution: that the song of the Lamb is the song that no one else can learn and sing, from Revelation 14. But, there is a little problem with this, because Revelation 15:3-4 give us the words of that song. And if no one can learn it, then could it really be the song that no one can learn? Am I just overstating things? Does this mean the melody, and not the words? I do not know.
Maybe, these are not the words to that song, but the themes of the song, and we will be given the song sheets that have the actual words on them when we get there. Commentators can do such things. They can get way out, thinking about all these bits of minutiae not worth talking about, so I will shut up.
But then, again, I cannot, because that is part of this sermon. Let us just leave the question alone about whether it is one song or two, and concentrate on the song of Moses.
Which song of Moses is John referring to? Did you know that there is more than one song of Moses? Most of you probably did. Actually, the Bible records a handful of songs that could be considered the song of Moses.
He wrote the song that the children of Israel sang upon the shores of the Red Sea, which we find in Exodus 15. You remember what happened when they came through the Red Sea, because of God’s miracle of parting the waters. They got to the other side, and God slammed the waters shut and the army of the Egyptian’s drowned, and then they sing this wonderful song that Moses composed.
Then, there is also the great song of Moses. This is the one that Moses wrote just before Israel entered the Promised Land, found in Deuteronomy 32. Now, they call them the song of Moses, and the great song of Moses. And the one found in Deuteronomy 32 is called the great song of Moses, because it is longer.
And also, Moses wrote at least one psalm—Psalm 90, which happens to be my favorite psalm. Some commentators also think that he wrote Psalm 91. That psalm is unattributed. Grammatically, they think it ties in well with Psalm 90.
So, if we accept Psalm 91 may be his, there are at least four songs attributed to Moses. Some have even suggested that several more unattributed psalms may have come from the pen of Moses. My question to that is: Would the Jews leave any song of Moses unattributed because of the way that they venerate him? I tend to doubt that. But on the other hand, it is possible.
The majority of commentators, though, if you go through dozens like I did, you will find that most of them say that they believe that the song of Moses that John refers to in Revelation 15 is the one found in Exodus 15, after Israel crossed the Red Sea.
The way I have put this sermon together, today, we must read this song.
Exodus 15:1-18 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying: "I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The LORD is my strength and song, and 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 man of war; The LORD is His name. Pharaoh's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them; they sank to the bottom like a stone. Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power; your right hand, O LORD, has dashed the enemy in pieces. And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; it consumed them like stubble. And with the blast of Your nostrils the waters were gathered together; the floods stood upright like a heap; the depths congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, 'I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.' You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters. Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? You stretched out Your right hand; the earth swallowed them. You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation. The people will hear and be afraid; sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling will take hold of them; all the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away. Fear and dread will fall on them; by the greatness of Your arm they will be as still as a stone, till Your people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over Whom You have purchased. You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established. The LORD shall reign forever and ever."
This is a great song. I love to sing it.
There are several reasons why commentators think that Exodus 15 is the song of Moses that will be sung in the Kingdom, is because of the imagery, first of all. It is the imagery of the Israelites standing on the shore of the Red Sea, and the imagery of the saints standing on the sea of glass. There is a bit of the same imagery going on; they are analogous. They also compare, more importantly, the judgment of God upon the Egyptians, with the judgment of God on the wicked with the wrath of God. They also compare the fact that there are harps in Revelation 15, and there are timbrels used in Exodus 15. Some people go so far as to say that they are both found in the 15th chapter of their respective books. So it must be the right one, right?
More important is that both of the instances of song come at a time of astounding judgment and intervention into world affairs by God, where He steps in, and punishes the guilty and wicked, and He saves those He has redeemed. This is easy to see. The drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea was a major judgment upon Egypt. In our day, this would be like God coming down upon America with 10 plagues devastating the entire nation, and then with some miraculous means He wipes out the entire military of the United States. This is how Egypt was in that day. It was the great superpower of its day.
And, we know from history if we have our chronology right, that once Israel left Egypt, and once God destroyed the army in the Red Sea, Egypt was devastated, and they were easily overtaken by the Hyksos, or shepherd kings, who came in and took over the government. They ruled Egypt.
I have been going over the chronology of Egypt over the past year or two, and I think this is a better chronology than what I have presented in the past. It does not make a whole lot of difference now. But, you will remember that when the Israelites left the Red Sea, it was just a short time later when they were attacked by the Amalekites. Well, they held off the Amalekites, and God defeated them, they just did not fade back into the wilderness. They went from that point down into Egypt, and they took over. They would be who are known as the Hyksos. But that is a side matter, and I will move on.
By the time we get to Revelation 15, we are having a very similar world-shaking judgment taking place over the earth. Everything comes down. Babylon the great falls. All the nations fall. God has come. He destroys everything that needs to be destroyed. He makes judgments upon all the things that He needs to judge. And, that is why you have His people praising Him for what He has done. He has stepped in and intervened in world affairs. So, it is very similar in theme.
It is not had for us to translate a bit more universally what we see here in the song of Moses of Exodus 15. We can easily take what is here and with changing a few words about Egypt and Pharaoh, we can apply it to the whole world in a universal way, because the major theme is that of God’s judgment—the punishment of those who have rejected Him, and opposed His work and purpose.
Exodus 15:7 And in the greatness of Your excellence You have overthrown those who rose against You; You sent forth Your wrath; it consumed them like stubble.
We can easily transplant this into the seven last plagues. It would not be a problem. God has done the same type of thing before.
But, it does not end there, because it goes on into other matters. In verses 11-13, especially as you get to verse 13:
Exodus 15:13 You in Your mercy have led forth the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation.
This is very easily seen, not as the children of Israel, but as His Firstfruits. I can see it. It is very clear. He has redeemed a spiritual people to Him, and then it goes on. Down in the midst of verse 16, He is talking about that He will make other people fear:
Exodus 15:16b-17 Till Your people pass over, O LORD, whom You have purchased. You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which You have made for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
That sounds like it could be the Kingdom of God. That is where we get this understanding of the Promised Land being a type of the Kingdom of God; of the children of Israel being a type of God’s people being brought through a wilderness. And, this all fits. It could very well be that we will sing this song. Maybe God will not even modify it. Maybe we will sing about the world in terms of Egypt, which again, it is a type of. It seems to fit.
Of course, the song ends:
Exodus 15:18 "The LORD shall reign forever and ever."
And if that is not a clue, I do not know what is. What happens once God makes His judgments upon this wicked world, Christ is here, and He will reign for ever and ever.
So, it could very well be that we are going to sing this song.
But, there is one major negative to thinking that John refers to Exodus 15. And that is, if we think of the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb as being one song, then the major negative is that none of the phrases of the song John writes in Revelation 15:3-4 seem to come from Exodus 15.
That is why I said, maybe it is just kind of fanatic, who knows? I do not know. It is just that when you read Revelation 15:3-4, you do not find one reference back to Exodus 15. Even though some of your Bible margins might reference the phrase, “song of Moses” with Exodus 15, but none of the phrases seem to fit. In fact, one of them, that very first line of Revelation 15:3, where it says, “Great and marvelous are your works, Lord God Almighty.” If your Bible is like mine, you will find that it references Deuteronomy 32, the great song of Moses.
Oh oh! Controversy!
There is only one, small, possible reference to Exodus 15 in this from Revelation 15, and that is the phrase in verse 4, “Who shall not fear you, oh Lord?” This might refer back to Exodus 15:14, where it says that the people will be afraid. Possibly. It is hard to say.
So now we see that we have a probability that it is Deuteronomy 32 that we should look at as the song of Moses referenced in Revelation 15. So, let us go back to Deuteronomy 32. I will not read the whole thing since it has 43 verses. But I do want to read a few of the passages here.
This is a much longer song. It deals primarily with Israel. And that is the primary reason why most commentators believe that Exodus 15 is the correct song of Moses, and not Deuteronomy 32, because there is so much concentration on Israel. But, they seem to forget that Israel is a type of the church, or a type of God’s people. And so, it could very well work just as well as Exodus 15.
So, we have a problem here. Which is he talking about? Let us read some of this.
Deuteronomy 32:1-6 "Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, as raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass. For I proclaim the name of the LORD: Ascribe greatness to our God. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He. They have corrupted themselves; they are not His children, because of their blemish: a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?
Deuteronomy 32:13-25 "He made him [Israel] ride in the heights of the earth, that he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock; curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs; and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the choicest wheat; and you drank wine, the blood of the grapes. “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; you grew fat, you grew thick, you are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear. Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, and have forgotten the God who fathered you. "And when the LORD saw it, He spurned them, because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters. And He said: 'I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faith. They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; they have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled by my anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. I will heap disasters on them; I will spend My arrows on them. They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust. The sword shall destroy outside; there shall be terror within for the young man and virgin, the nursing child with the man of gray hairs.
Deuteronomy 32:28-43 "For they are a nation void of counsel, nor is there any understanding in them. Oh, that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end! How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had surrendered them? For their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges. For their vine is of the vine of Sodom and of the fields of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter. Their wine is the poison of serpents, and the cruel venom of cobras. [I guess I do want to read most of this!] ‘Is this not laid up in store with Me, sealed up among My treasures? Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things to come hasten upon them.’ For the LORD will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone, and there is no one remaining, bond or free. He will say: ‘Where are their gods, the rock in which they sought refuge? Who ate the fat of their sacrifices, and drank the wine of their drink offering? Let them rise and help you, and be your refuge.’ Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand. For I raise My hand to heaven, and say, "As I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, and repay those who hate Me. I will make My arrows drunk with blood, and My sword shall devour flesh, with the blood of the slain and the captives, from the heads of the leaders of the enemy."' "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people; for He will avenge the blood of His servants, and render vengeance to His adversaries; He will provide atonement for His land and His people."
Now did you see as we got rolling along there, that a lot of those themes that we spoke about earlier started coming back—the themes of redeeming His people, and of having vengeance on those who persecuted His people. And then, the greater theme, probably the greater theme, because more words were given to the fact that He was going to destroy His enemies, and render judgments upon them.
So, we see that this great song of Moses also contains universal truths about how God deals with sin, how He judges those who oppose Him, and how He redeems and rewards His servants.
Did you notice that it began with Moses singing this to the heavens and the earth? This is a big clue that Moses was speaking more universally than just to Israel. He was speaking to the whole world, that they should look at what he says in this song, and take it to heart.
Now, there are allusions, here, in chapter 32 that hearken back to Revelation 14 through 16. Notice that they talked about wine, and how it was the wine of Sodom. And when we went back to Revelation 14, what was it? It was the grapes of wrath that were harvested.
There is a sword here. There are sickles in Revelation 14. There is also copious amounts of blood, which is also a part of the theme of the harvest of the wicked, as well as to plagues, which this whole thing in Revelation 15 is about the seven last plagues. There are poisons, hungers, the teeth of beasts—these are all themes—actually the whole book of Revelation picks up. Now, all these various plagues that God sends on those who reject Him.
And like I said, the last half of the song echoes the outpouring of God’s wrath at the end time. As well as, especially like in verse 43, avenging His servants. And, also the fact that, there is a mention there that the Gentiles should rejoice. So we have here, all the way back in Deuteronomy 32 the idea that the Gentiles will be blessed through Israel, and become part of God’s people.
So, we have another viable candidate, here, for which song we will sing. There is even one place, here, where it talks about them crying out for vengeance. And, that is what we see in the fifth seal in Revelation 6:9-11, that those who have been martyred, who are under the altar, cry out to God, “How long until you avenge your servants?”
And then finally, in the very last line of the song in Deuteronomy 32:43, it says that He will provide atonement for His land and His people.
Modern translations often use the term, expiate—that He will expiate His land, and His people. Expiate might be a better word, because expiate means, generally, “Doing what is needed to be done to remove sin, and its results.” It is a more general term, than some of the others we might use there. So, if you throw that in, “He will do what needs to be done, to remove the sins from His land, and His people.” It is a little bit more all encompassing than just the sacrifice of Jesus Christ to cover sin.
We could say that sin has defiled the people, and the earth, and it must all be purified. Of course, Jesus’ sacrifice does all of that, but we do not need to limit it to that. The sense is that what God has done over the last half of the song, is how He has chosen to rectify the situation. He has chosen to rectify the situation by His wrath, and by His compassion—wrath on His enemies, and compassion on His servants.
Let us look at verses 36, and 39:
Deuteronomy 32:36 "For the LORD will judge His people and have compassion on His servants, when He sees that their power is gone, and there is no one remaining, bond or free. [That is the compassion.]
Deuteronomy 32:39a 'Now see that I, even I, am He, and there is no God besides Me; I kill and I make alive. . .
Remember those two things we were contrasting up above? It comes back here in verse 39. He kills on the one hand, but He makes alive on the other. He kills His enemies, and He makes alive His servants. The same thing in the next phrase,
Deuteronomy 32:39b . . . I wound and I heal; nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
This implies that at this point, His judgment is certain. It is either that you are in the one, or you are in the other. So, you are either going to be killed, or you are going to be made alive. You are either going to be wounded, or you are going to be healed. And, this is all in the milieu of that time of the end, the Day of the Lord, and the first part of the Millennium.
So, we can also see here, I just want to point this out in terms of verse 36, and I guess 39 as well, by His words “compassion,” and “make alive,” and “heal,” that He is speaking about conversion, and salvation.
So, after all this time, we actually have found that both Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32 are viable candidates for the song of Moses mentioned in Revelation 15:3. They both present the same themes.
I do not know. Maybe Moses—that is how he thought—he thought in terms of black and white, destruction and healing, or destruction and salvation. But in these two major songs that he did—actually if you go into Psalm 90 and look at that, these same themes pop up again. So, as I intimated earlier, Psalm 90 could be a viable candidate as well! Maybe this is the reason why God said that the new song that they are given, is one that no one can know, because you cannot really make up your mind about it—which one will it be? There are elements of both that are excellent. Actually, they are both excellent throughout. Which one would it be? Which song of Moses?
If you press me to the wall, and said, “Make up your mind! Which is it?” I would probably go with tradition, and say Exodus 15. But, there is so much in Deuteronomy 32 that it would lose only by an nose.
Let us go back in the book to Exodus 23. I do not want us to lose sight, also, that we are going to be singing that song. We are in that first resurrection. It might be a good idea to study those two songs in much more detail than I have done here. Look at them and see all those elements that I skimmed over. They are very important elements, because we are coming up on that time. We have either got to fish or cut bait as it were. We have to decide whether we want to be among those who get to sing this song, or those who want to receive the wrath of God.
Exodus 23:14-16 "Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and [where we are today] the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.
We see that the Feast of Tabernacles as we all know, is a harvest festival. It depicts, illustrates, or it comes from the harvest that was done in Israel late in the year. It was their major harvest. The earlier one, the feast of harvest, which we also see in verse 16, was the Day of Pentecost. But, this was the smaller harvest of only grain. But, at the end of the year is when all their vegetable crops, and fruit crops came in, and it was a much greater harvest. And so, it has come to stand for not the small harvest of firstfruits that we kept in the Day of Pentecost, but the greater harvest of all mankind.
However, as we saw in Revelation 14, and in the themes in both of those songs of Moses, there is a harvest to salvation, and life; and then a harvest of condemnation and death.
I want to pick that up, too, because Jesus mentioned these two harvests specifically in John 5.
John 5:28-29 "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
Without splitting hairs about which resurrections He is talking about, I want to mention here and show you from Jesus own mouth that He put them into two categories—there is a harvest, a resurrection, a judgment to life; on the other side, there is also a judgment, a resurrection, a harvest to condemnation and death.
What we see is that not only are we having to make a decision now about whether we are going to choose the resurrection to life, or whether we will choose the resurrection to death, the people in the Millennium will face this same question, the same dilemma. But, at that time, we will be in an entirely different position. We will have already made that decision, and be there singing the song of Moses before God.
But we will not always sing the song of Moses, because we are going to be taking what we have learned in the themes of that great song, and be teachers. As we read there in Revelation 5:10, we shall be kings and priests. So, not only will we be singing the song of Moses, we will be taking the lessons from it, and helping those people in the Millennium who have to face this choice. Are they going to choose life, or are they going to choose death? And then we can use what we have learned from the song of Moses to teach them what happens. That God is very true, He rewards His servants, and He punishes His enemies. It is very clear. It is cut and dried.
For us, right now, our task is to continue to choose life, and be among those who will sing the song of Moses—whichever one that it is—before God’s throne.