This morning’s sermon looked at the happenings in Exodus 14 and 15, particularly looking at Exodus 15:11 TNIV: “Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?” When we see God move in power and majesty and might, our whole lives are changed and we can ‘let that confidence in God seep into the very depths of our hearts and minds, forming a holy confidence on the inside of us.’ (Matt Redman)
The story of Exodus is rooted firmly in history and is a story of deliverance. It’s a story that unfolds over years: the chapters leading up to these events have shown us the providence of God in protecting Moses, ensuring he was brought up as a ‘prince of Egypt’ and commissioning him to do God’s work. God’s ‘hand of providence is guiding us through choices that we make… is reaching out to help us on our way… has been our best defence, though His ways are sometimes hard to understand.’ (Michael W. Smith, ‘Hand of Providence’)
At this point in history, Israel has seen the deliverance of God in getting them out of Egypt through the Passover, but things do not look so rosy now. Pharaoh has come to regret his decision to let them go and he is now considering what to do to recover his slave labour (Ex 14:5 TNIV). The Israelites are now terrified and see only disaster ahead. They feel God has only brought them this far to die in the desert and can only see death ahead (either by drowning in the Red Sea or through slaughter by the Egyptians.) Moses encourages them: ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.’ (Ex 14:13-14 TNIV) There are many times in our lives when there is nothing more we can do and we need simply to trust in God to make a ‘third way’ for God can come up with solutions which are completely beyond our comprehension or imaginations, beyond our wildest dreams. (see Ephesians 3:20-21 TNIV)
Exodus 14:16 TNIV shows us God’s miraculous solution by which the Red Sea was parted and the Israelites walked through on dry ground, only to see the Egyptians subsequently drowned as the waters came crashing back down. This was obviously a miracle (‘a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is considered to be divine’), but one that was witnessed by the people. They saw with their own eyes first-hand what God could do and their response was a song of praise (see Exodus 15:1-11 TNIV). When we see God’s deliverance, providence and provision, our response is awe and wonder and praise. We felt this way in 2010 when we finally got the keys to this building. How could it possibly be that a church with just over £7,000 in the bank could move into a building valued at over £160,000? How could it be that a secular funding organisation, CRT, would give us a grant of £150,000 not once, but twice, after we’d been forced to give it back to them because of the timescales? How could it be that a church with a congregation of our size could move in to this building and renovate it so quickly? How could it be that a church like ours could cope with the everyday, long-term running of the building and pay back everything we owed even before the building on Beever Street was sold? When we were asked about the long-term viability of the project by CRT, it was difficult to answer their questions because we did not really know how we were going to finance the everyday running costs, but here we are, over three years later and we see that even though we have spent about £11,000 this year on the renovation and refurbishment of the building in providing a new kitchen, a new boiler and other works, we have more than £1000 more at the end of the financial year than we did at the start, and that’s not even mentioning the £5000 or so we have given away to missionary work! How can it be? Our only answer is that God is majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders and we are simply part of this amazing work that He is doing!
Whatever else God has done for us, His love has come down to us. He has called our names. He has drawn us to His heart through the cross. He has washed all our shame away. He has made a way for us just as He did for the Egyptians. Because of that, we can open up our hearts and pour His praises out. Matt Redman says ‘there is a reason behind our rejoicing. There is substance to our shout. Joyful worship is the freedom cry of a rescued soul.’ Let’s sing and shout to the God of wonders, for He has done wonderful things. ‘I will come and proclaim your mighty acts, Sovereign Lord; I will proclaim your righteous deeds, yours alone.’ (Ps 71:6) We sing because of all God is and all He has done. We shout because we have seen His right arm made bare. He is our King of Wonders and praise and worship are our response to who He is and what He has done and continues to do in our daily lives.