Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sermon -- Easter Dawn (April 16, 2017)

EXODUS 14:10 – 15:1


In the name + of Jesus.

     Exodus chapter 15 consists mainly of a song of praise by the Israelites.  We heard the first line in the song earlier: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.” (Exodus 15:1)  Israel rejoiced and put their praise to music.  They sang of the Lord's deliverance, and the conquering of their enemies.
     I suppose some might consider it morbid to sing so jubilantly about the mass death of people and animals.  To appreciate why Israel sang with such jubilation, understand who was delivered and why.  Israel was the Lord's chosen people—chosen to be the people through whom the Savior would come into the world.  To brutally oppress and to put to death this nation was to attack God's promise, God's Christ, and salvation.  Therefore, the Lord commanded the powers of Egypt to let his chosen people go.
     But Pharaoh was stubborn.  He did not heed the word of the Lord.  He would not give up his conquered prize.  After a series of plagues capped by the death of the firstborn, Pharaoh ordered the Israelites to leave Egypt.  However, stubborn Pharaoh changed his mind.  He was not willing to let his conquered prize go free.  He mounted his armies and chased them down.  He penned them in—Egypt's army behind and the Red Sea in front.
     The Lord commanded Moses to hold up his staff so that the Red Sea would be divided.  Israel, then, escaped their enemy by walking on dry ground through walls of water.  Stubborn Pharaoh ordered his armies to pursue Israel, only to see them buried in the waters that returned to their place.  In this way, Israel won a battle which they did not even fight.  Their enemy was destroyed.  Israel was forever free from them.  The promise, the work, and the victory were the Lord's.  The benefits he gave to his chosen people, Israel.  Victory came through water.
     Thus, God's promise remained firm.  The Lord's Christ would come.  The enemies of God's people were destroyed.  They could not thwart God's salvation and mercy.  This was worthy of singing and jubilant praise.  “The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.” (Exodus 15:1)  Victory comes through water.
     This victory at the Red Sea foreshadows all that Jesus has done for you.  Your enemies—sin, death, and the devil—are stubborn.  They do not want to let you go, and you cannot set yourself free from them.  You were Satan's conquered prize.  Therefore, Jesus acts for you.  He has paid for your sins.  He has given himself into death.  He has even let Satan strike his heal.  But today, we celebrate that Jesus is risen.  Sin and death have been left for dead.  Satan is crushed underfoot.  You have been liberated by a battle which you did not fight.
     The benefits of Jesus' sufferings, death, and resurrection have been given to you in your baptism.  Victory comes through water which drowns the sinner and raises you anew as a saint.  The devil's grip on you is released.  The grave cannot keep you, for you are God's chosen people—set apart from a dying world, set apart for eternal life, set apart for godly living, and set apart as evidence of God's mercy.
     The death of your enemies means your eternal life.  Therefore, it is right to sing and rejoice and to celebrate a victory that you did nothing to win, but which Jesus gives you gladly and freely.  “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously.” (Exodus 15:1)  The enemies of God have been drowned.  Victory comes through water.  God's people are forever free.

In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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