Exodus 15:1-6, 17-18
Our God Is God
Have you ever marveled at the power of science and technology? How does the power of God compare?
Culture has an attraction, a pull on our attention. Sometimes we stand in awe of what our culture has accomplished. Great landmarks, great technical achievements, great works of art, great institutions. We might be tempted in wrapping ourselves in the glory of our culture and declare that we live in the greatest nation on earth.
Where does God sit in this world of self-glory? We might give into the notion that this great land of ours is God's special gift to us. In other words, our culture is divinely given, divinely ordained. But, doesn't such a view place God in our cultural box? What would happen if God did not want to put into that box? What would happen if God wanted to humble us, for a greater good?
In the story of the Exodus, Egypt faced such a dilemma. Their gods, their leaders, and their world had been humbled when the Hebrews were freed after a terrible set of curses. The God of Moses proved to be superior.
Exodus 15:1-18 recounted the miracle at the Red (Reed?) Sea and the reverberations it had in the area. Many scholars believe this was an early liturgical hymn, but this is a matter of some controversy. The content of the song focused upon the activity of YHWH as he freed his people from slavery in Egypt.
1 "I will sing to YHWH, for he has triumphed
The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
2 YHWH is my strength and song.
He has become my salvation.
This is my God, and I will praise him;
my father's God, and I will exalt him.
3 YHWH is a man of war.
YHWH is his name.
4 He has cast Pharaoh's chariots and his army into the sea.
His chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea.
5 The deeps cover them.
They went down into the depths like a stone.
6 Your right hand, YHWH, is glorious in power.
Your right hand, YHWH, dashes the enemy in pieces."
World English Bible
Why was this song important? It enshrined the activity of YHWH, but, more to the point, it asserted the superiority of the Hebrew's God over the gods of Egypt. And, so, it asserted the superiority of the Hebrew's culture over that of the Egyptians. This was a bold statement. The culture that created the great pyramids, one of the oldest in history, was now shamed by the culture of an formerly enslaved people, for the their God was more powerful than Pharaoh, his army, and, by extension, the deities he worshiped. The God these wandering people found in the desert revealed himself in power against the army of a regional power. In the clash of cultures, the Hebrews won, for YHWH won.
17 "You shall bring them in, and plant them in the
mountain of your inheritance,
the place, YHWH, which you have made for yourself to dwell in;
the sanctuary, Lord, which your hands have established.
18 YHWH shall reign forever and ever."
The victory over the forces of Egypt caused ripples over the region. Exodus 15:17-18 announced the arrival of YHWH's people in Canaan, especially in Jerusalem (Zion, the "mountain of your inheritance") where the Temple was built (sanctuary in 15:17c). The power of YHWH evident in the defeat of Egypt, it's leader and military machine, and, by extension, its culture asserted itself over all nations, all leaders, all armies, and all cultures. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob was the supreme deity whose reign is everlasting.
Our God is God. That is a statement of braggadocio, but the history of God's people has shown the might of this God. Yes, our God is God. This is a statement worthy to be celebrated, for he shows is power over and over and over.
How do you celebrate the eternal power of God in your life?