The Song of Moses and of the Lamb

And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? for Thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgements are made manifest.” Revelation 15: 2–4.

Just before John describes the seven last plagues poured out upon those who worship the beast and his image, he shows us a picture of what will happen to the righteous. Having been shown the struggle and suffering of the 144,000 against the mark of the beast, he is permitted to look ahead to see their ultimate triumph. We need to be certain in our minds that God will triumph in His people. No matter how dark the prospect may appear to us, God is in control and His purposes will triumph. “The Lord will work in behalf of all who will walk humbly with Him. He has placed you in a position of trust. Walk carefully before Him. God’s hand is on the wheel. He will guide the ship past the rocks into the haven. He will take the weak things of this world to confound the things that are mighty.” Testimonies, vol. 7, 267.

What was the song of Moses? You can read it in Exodus 15:1–19. The children of Israel had been brought out of Egypt with unprecedented evidence of the Lord’s power. The might of Egypt, the mightiest empire on earth, had been humbled by the power of God. So demoralized were the Egyptians by the manifestations of God’s power that they begged God’s people to go, and loaded them with riches. (Exodus 12:33, 35–36.)

So the people of Israel marched out of Egypt. But instead of going toward the Promised Land by the direct road of the way of the land of the Philistines, as they might have expected, God led them another way by the southerly route, by the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. (Exodus 13:17–18.)

Then, to make things worse, God told them to turn off the road and go toward the Red Sea. They were to make their camp by the seaside. (Exodus 14:1–2.) The sea was before them, behind them were the mountain fastnesses through which the Lord had brought them, a maze of deep canyons. To their south, on the right hand, the mountains reached to the very edge of the sea. (See Patriarchs and Prophets, 283.) To the north, on their left, barring their way, was a large Egyptian fortress. And pursuing them was the army of Pharaoh, six hundred chosen chariots, together with all the chariots of Egypt, an army which Josephus says consisted of 50,000 horsemen and 200,000 infantry. Even if, by some miracle, they could cross the sea, what awaited them? On the other side of the sea was barren desert, nothing to eat or drink. What possible human hope was there of salvation?

At this point, the faith of the people failed. They were hemmed in by dangers. They could not see the purpose of God. They fully expected to die on the beach, slaughtered by the Egyptian army. They longed to return to the slavery from which God had freed them. (Exodus 14:11–12.) But the words of Moses expressed utter confidence in the power of God. “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will show to you to day: for the Egyptians, whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13–14.

As Moses prayed, the Lord answered. “Wherefore criest thou unto Me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get Me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” Exodus 14:15–18. Now the Egyptians would know that the God of Moses was the true and only God.

Suddenly, with awful splendor, the great cloud which had gone before them in their journeyings so far, swept over their heads and placed itself between the people of Israel and the Egyptians. “But lo, they see the pillar of fire rise from the front, and pass grandly to the rear of the Hebrew host; as a massive wall between them and the Egyptians, a bright light to the Hebrews, a cloud of thick and awful darkness to their enemies.” Signs of the Times, March 10, 1881.

All that long and fearful night, it shone upon the people of Israel lighting their way as they hurried into the channel cut through the deep waters by that strong east wind. To the Egyptians, it was a cloud of deep darkness. As they realized that the Israelites were escaping across the sea, they hurried to pursue. In the midst of the sea, their chariot wheels became detached from their chariots and they tried to turn and flee. (Exodus 14: 25.) The resulting confusion, as that enormous army jostled and pushed, the rear going forward and the vanguard trying to turn and come back, caused a total catastrophe, as the morning light broke. Moses stretched out his rod over the sea and the waters, which had been congealed into high walls (Exodus 15:8), collapsed into the dry channel. The Egyptian army was overwhelmed in the midst of the sea.

Paul described this experience as a kind of baptism for God’s people. (See 1 Corinthians 10:2.) The Israelites were faced with a choice, to go forward in faith through the waters to a new life of trust in the power of God, or return to the old life of slavery and death. They could hearken to the voice of God’s prophet (Hosea 12:13) or give in to their doubts. This is the choice every person who contemplates baptism faces. The people of Israel chose to go forward as Moses, the prophet of God, directed them. And they experienced the saving power of God. (2 Chronicles 20:20.) The Lord did not leave them to die. Everyone had a real experience of the saving power of God when he passed through the sea.

It was then that Moses led the people in a great song of rejoicing, the song of Moses. It was clear to all whose power had won the victory. “The Lord is my strength and song and He is become my salvation.” Exodus 15:2. “Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Exodus 15:11. “Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people which Thou hast redeemed. Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy holy habitation.” Exodus 15:13. “Thou shalt bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which Thou hast made to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established.” Exodus 15:17.

The people of Israel never forgot the events of that night. Moses, in his closing message to the people he had led for forty years, rehearsed to them the main facts of their deliverance from Egypt. With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the entire generation of men that passed through the Red Sea had died in the wilderness. Those who were now men had been but children when the Lord had so marvelously demonstrated His power.

“The thrilling incidents of this night passage had been oft repeated to the Israelites; but never before had it been so vividly portrayed. All who had taken an active part on this occasion, with the exception of Moses and Aaron, Caleb and Joshua, had died in the wilderness. Those who were now responsible men, were children at the time of their passage through the Red Sea, and they had not correct and distinct ideas of this wonderful manifestation of God’s power in their deliverance. This important event, rehearsed by Moses with earnestness and solemn eloquence, softened their hearts, and increased their love, their faith and reverence for God. Moses repeated the song of thanksgiving which he had composed, and which thousands of the Hebrew host united in singing on the shores of the Red Sea, not only men, but women also lifting up the voice of praise, joining to pour forth their exultant, Heaven-inspired gratitude. This song is one of the most sublime and thrilling expressions of triumph and of praise to be found in all the annals of history. Moses recounts the wonderful deliverance which God has wrought for His people and extols His justice and faithfulness and love.” Signs of the Times, March 10, 1881.

Many times in the Old Testament, this wonderful story is recounted. Joshua 4:23, Psalm 77:19–20, Psalm 106:7–12, Psalm 78:13, Psalm 114:3. The New Testament writers also recalled this mighty deliverance. 1 Corinthians 10:1, Hebrews 11:29.

“This song and the great deliverance which it commemorates, made an impression never to be effaced from the memory of the Hebrew people. From age to age it was echoed by the prophets and singers of Israel, testifying that Jehovah is the strength and deliverance of those who trust in Him. That song does not belong to the Jewish people alone. It points forward to the destruction of all the foes of righteousness and the final victory of the Israel of God. The prophet of Patmos beholds the white-robed multitude that have ‘gotten the victory,’ standing on the ‘sea of glass mingled with fire,’ having ‘the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.’ Revelation 15:2–3.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 289.

The redeemed will one day sing the same song. But, before we can sing that song, we must have that experience. For this song is a song of experience. ” ‘Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth’s sake.’ Psalm 115:1. Such was the spirit that pervaded Israel’s song of deliverance, and it is the spirit that should dwell in the hearts of all who love and fear God. In freeing our souls from the bondage of sin, God has wrought for us a deliverance greater than that of the Hebrews at the Red Sea. Like the Hebrew host, we should praise the Lord with heart and soul and voice for His ‘wonderful works to the children of men.’ Those who dwell upon God’s great mercies and are not unmindful of His lesser gifts, will put on the girdle of gladness and make melody in their hearts to the Lord. The daily blessings that we receive from the hand of God, and above all else the death of Jesus to bring happiness and heaven within our reach, should be a theme for constant gratitude. What compassion, what matchless love, has God shown to us, lost sinners, in connecting us with Himself, to be to Him a peculiar treasure! What a sacrifice has been made by our Redeemer, that we may be called children of God! We should praise God for the blessed hope held out before us in the great plan of redemption, we should praise Him for the heavenly inheritance and for His rich promises; praise Him that Jesus lives to intercede for us.

” ‘Whoso offereth praise,’ says the Creator, ‘glorifieth Me. ’Psalm 50:23. All the inhabitants of heaven unite in praising God. Let us learn the song of the angels now, that we may sing it when we join their shining ranks. Let us say with the psalmist, ‘While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.’ ‘Let the people praise Thee, O God; let all the people praise Thee.’ Psalms 146:2; 67:5.

“God in His providence brought the Hebrews into the mountain fastnesses before the sea, that He might manifest His power in their deliverance and signally humble the pride of their oppressors. He might have saved them in any other way, but He chose this method in order to test their faith and strengthen their trust in Him. The people were weary and terrified, yet if they had held back when Moses bade them advance, God would never have opened the path for them. It was ‘by faith’ that ‘they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land.’ Hebrews 11:29. In marching down to the very water, they showed that they believed the word of God as spoken by Moses. They did all that was in their power to do, and then the Mighty One of Israel divided the sea to make a path for their feet.

“The great lesson here taught is for all time. Often the Christian life is beset by dangers, and duty seems hard to perform. The imagination pictures impending ruin before and bondage or death behind. Yet the voice of God speaks clearly, ‘Go forward.’ We should obey this command, even though our eyes cannot penetrate the darkness, and we feel the cold waves about our feet. The obstacles that hinder our progress will never disappear before a halting, doubting spirit. Those who defer obedience till every shadow of uncertainty disappears and there remains no risk of failure or defeat, will never obey at all. Unbelief whispers, ‘Let us wait till the obstructions are removed, and we can see our way clearly;’ but faith courageously urges an advance, hoping all things, believing all things.

“The cloud that was a wall of darkness to the Egyptians was to the Hebrews a great flood of light,illuminating the whole camp, and shedding brightness upon the path before them. So the dealings of Providence bring to the unbelieving, darkness and despair, while to the trusting soul they are full of light and peace. The path where God leads the way may lie through the desert or the sea, but it is a safe path.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 289–290.

How does John describe the song of the redeemed? “Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty.” They know by experience the wonderful works of God. They have experienced the miracles of God’s providential power. “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints.” They recognize that God has dealt justly with them and with all men. “Who shall not fear Thee?” To fear God is to keep His Commandments. (See Revelation 14:7. Compare also Psalm 34:11–14, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 8:13, Ecclesiastes 12:13–14.) “And glorify Thy name?” To give glory to God is to reveal His character in our own. (See Revelation 14:7.)

“For Thou alone art holy.” (These are holy people who say these words. See Revelation 14:5, Revelation 22:11.) But all is ascribed to God. Nothing is theirs. “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory.” Psalm 115:1.

“The power of an ever-abiding Saviour is greater now than ever before, because the emergencies are greater; and yet we are weak in spiritual life and experience. Oh, how much we have lost as a people by our lack of faith! We have suffered loss to our own souls, and have failed to reveal to others, by our words and in our character, what Christ is and will be to everyone who comes to Him believing. He is ‘made unto us wisdom and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.’ To give glory to God is to reveal His character in our own, and thus make Him known. And in whatever way we make known the Father or the Son, we glorify God. False views of God, and hence of Christ, are largely entertained today. Well may we offer the prayer of Moses, ‘Show me Thy glory.’ What did the Lord answer? ‘I will make all My goodness pass before thee.’ God might have answered Moses: ‘Why do you ask this question? Have I not revealed to you my glory in the deliverance of my people from Egyptian bondage? Did I not deliver you by the right arm of my power, and lead you dry shod through the midst of the Red Sea? Did I not reveal My glory in giving you bread from heaven? Did I not bring you water out of the flinty rock? Have you not looked upon My glory in the pillar of fire by night, and the cloud by day?’ Moses might have answered that all this only kindled his desire for greater manifestations of God’s power. The Lord granted the prayer of Moses, and He desires to answer us in the same way. We need to have our perceptions quickened, our hearts enlarged, that we may comprehend His glory—His goodness, His forgiveness, His forbearance, His inexpressible love.” Signs of the Times, October 17, 1892.

It will only be those who have a genuine, experimental knowledge of Christ’s saving power who will sing the song of Moses. They know the wonder-working power of God; they know that God is totally fair in His dealings with them; they have learned to fear the Lord. In their lives they glorify God, and they ascribe all the credit for their victory over the power of sin to God and nothing to themselves. Their only concern is that all they do will be to the glory of God. This is why they will also sing the song of the Lamb, the song of praise for the self-denying, self-sacrificing love of Jesus.

They will say, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, 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, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth for ever and ever.” Revelation 5: 9–14.

Why is Jesus worthy? Because of His self-denying, self-sacrificing love, a love that must be manifested in the lives of all those who would sing the song of the Lamb. May each one of us know the power of God to deliver us from the slavery of self and sin. May each of us manifest in our every thought, word and action, the self-denying, self-sacrificing love of Jesus. Then we will truly be able to sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb.