If you’ve been reading my blog this year, you already know that I’m currently enamored with the term “steadfast love” and have been studying it closely over the past few months. What a joy to deeply ponder God’s steadfast love and praise Him for it!
So today the series on steadfast love resumes with the next ESV verse in which the word appears, Exodus 15:13, which says:
“You have led in Your steadfast love the people whom You have redeemed; You have guided them by Your strength to Your holy abode.”
This verse is part of the third stanza in the “Song of Moses” that Moses and the people of Israel sang when God victoriously led them out of Egypt and across the Red Sea.
But let’s begin by backing up a bit to put this in context. Exodus 13:21-22 explains that as the Israelites fled Egypt, the LORD led His people by day in a pillar of cloud and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light. What a great visual of God’s loving and faithful presence!
God is leading His people out of slavery and into the Promised Land. At first they left with confidence, but once the Israelites learn Pharaoh king of Egypt and his elite, specialized army of chariots are pursuing them, their faith falters and they are filled with fear and despair. They complain to Moses, insisting they would have been better off serving the Egyptians rather than dying in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:10-12)
I love how Moses replies in verses 13-14. He says:
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
Be quiet, fear not, stand firm and watch God work today. It’s really that simple. Isn’t this what I need to do, too, most days?
When He tells Moses to lift up his staff and part the waters of the Red Sea, the Lord says, “I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, his chariots, and his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.” (Exodus 14:17-18)
Oh, let’s give Him glory today, too. The crossing of the Red Sea is epic. Moses simply stretched out his hand over the sea — and the Lord worked. All night the Lord drove back the sea back with a strong east wind, dividing the waters and making the sea dry land. With walls of water on their left and their right, the people of Israel crossed over with no need for any sort of swimwear.
The Lord did indeed receive glory over Pharaoh and his men, his horses and his chariots. As the Egyptian forces chased after God’s people, the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on them and threw them into a panic. They acknowledged that the Lord was fighting for Israel, and they began to flee. Again, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, which returned to its normal course that morning. The waters returned, covering the Egyptian forces and leaving them all dead on the seashore.
Seeing the great power the Lord used against the Egyptians, the people of Israel feared the Lord and believed in the Lord and in Moses. Then Moses and the Israelites sang a song of victory. The words of all four stanzas of the song are recorded in Exodus 15:1-17. Let’s look at the third stanza, verses 11-13, which begins with a few questions.
“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
You stretched out Your right hand;
the earth swallowed them.
You have led in Your steadfast love the people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them by Your strength to Your holy abode.”
Imagine the Israelites singing these words as they stand on the shores of the Red Sea, having just crossed it safely on dry ground and having just watched the Egyptian forces sink like lead in the mighty waters.
This song paints a powerful picture of God’s steadfast love for His people as He guides them out of Egypt. His love for them is resolute, determined and devoted. It is reliable. It is not deterred by the fear and hopelessness of the Israelites. It is not deterred by 600 chariots. It is not deterred by the waters of the sea.
What an amazing love, and what a song of victory and triumph!