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THE SONG OF MOSES AND THE LAMB
Revelation 15:3-4. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous 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?
THE reign of Antichrist, and his ultimate destruction, occupy a large portion of the Revelation of St. John. His destruction has been foretold in the chapter which precedes my text; and is more circumstantially declared in that which follows it. In the chapter before us we have an introductory vision, representing the joy and triumph which the glorified saints would express on that occasion. But respecting the particular circumstances of the vision, commentators are by no means agreed. Where this is the case, I would not presume to speak with confidence, especially where I am under the necessity of differing from those which are most generally, and most justly, approved. But it appears to me, that too little attention has been paid to the context; and that if the parallel, which is evidently drawn between the deliverance at the Red Sea and our redemption by Christ, be taken as a clue, the whole will be unravelled, and simplicity itself will pervade that, which, with any other interpretation, will present nothing to our view but inexplicable obscurity.
“A sea of glass” is mentioned before, in the fourth chapter [Note: Revelation 4:6.]; where it is supposed to refer to the brazen sea which was in the temple, and which was filled with water for the service of the priests [Note: 1 Kings 7:23-26.]. But we are not on that account limited to that view of it in this place. It is well known, that the same images are used in reference to different things, especially in this highly figurative book: and the reference must always be determined by the context. Now consider, What is the subject that is here spoken of? It is the destruction of all the enemies of God and of his Christ. And what is the illustration given of it? It is taken from the destruction of Pharaoh and the Egyptian hosts in the Red Sea. And what are the terms in which this deliverance is celebrated? They precisely accord with those which were used by Moses and the Israelites on that occasion; as we shall more distinctly point out in our further view of the subject. Now take this clue, and the whole vision will be extremely clear, and perfectly harmonious in all its parts, without any occasion for fanciful conjectures. We will paraphrase the whole in conformity with this idea.
“I saw, as it were, a sea,” where “the saints had got the victory” over their persecuting and bloodthirsty enemies: and it was, “as it were, a sea of glass mingled with fire:” the waters, having overwhelmed all God’s enemies, were now calm, and clear as crystal itself, whilst the coruscations of light emanating from the pillar of fire, and shining with the brightest possible effulgence, made the whole sea appear as if it were mingled with fire [Note: This is a common appearance of water reflecting the rays of the rising or setting sun.]. And I saw the victorious saints “standing (close) upon it [Note: The not adverting to this sense of the word ἐπὶ (apud, prope, juxta: see Schleusner,) seems to have been the occasion of most of the strange explanations given of the whole passage.].” And I heard them “sing a song to the Lamb” of God, precisely similar to that which was sung by Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea, adoring “their God and King” as the sole author of their deliverance, and prophetically declaring, that he shall in due time “reign over all nations for ever and ever [Note: Compare ver. 2–4. with Exodus 15:1; Exodus 15:6; Exodus 15:18.].”
This song we now proceed to consider. The former part of it consists of retrospective adoration; and the latter part, of prospective exultation and triumph.
Let us notice what is spoken by them in a way—
Of retrospective adoration—
Filled with the profoundest gratitude, they celebrate,
The deliverance they have experienced—
[Great was the deliverance vouchsafed to Israel; as Moses said, “In the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble [Note: Exodus 15:7.].” But beyond all comparison greater is that deliverance which the saints experience from the enemies of their salvation: and, when their triumphs are complete, they will have proportionably greater reason to sing, “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty!” Dreadful have been the sufferings which multitudes have endured from the antichristian powers. But it is not from a mere human foe that they have been rescued, but from the great dragon, that old serpent, the Devil, and from all his hosts. Nor is it from a mere temporal death that they have escaped, but from everlasting death in the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone. Nor is it by a mere exercise of power that this deliverance has been effected for them, but by the incarnation and death of God’s co-equal, co-eternal Son; from whence it is that they sing, “Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty;” “just and true are thy ways, Thou King of Saints:” for, as Jehovah, the Redeemer of Israel, was their King, and took them under his own immediate government, so is “the Lord God Almighty our King,” even “the King of all the saints,” that ever have been or ever shall be saved. It is “the Mighty God,” who, by the wonders he has wrought for us, is become the “the Prince of Peace [Note: Isaiah 9:6.].”]
The perfections of God displayed in it—
[Most cruel had been the conduct of Pharaoh towards the children of Israel: and God had repeatedly declared, both to him and to Israel themselves, that he would deliver them out of his hands. When therefore Pharaoh, with all his host, was destroyed in the Red Sea, Moses particularly noticed the correspondence between his impiety and the judgments inflicted on him: “The enemy said, I will pursue; I will overtake; I will divide the spoil; my soul shall be satisfied upon them: I will draw my sword: my hand shall destroy. Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters [Note: Exodus 15:9-10.].” But view the perfections of God in the work of redemption. Verily, “God knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished [Note: 2 Peter 2:9.].” Or, take a more comprehensive view of it: see Justice, not merely as honoured by the atonement made for sin, but as demanding salvation, if I may so speak, for those for whom it was offered; demanding it, as due to him who made that atonement, and as due to those who trust in it for their acceptance before God. See Truth also fulfilling all the promises of God to his believing people, and making the very rage of their enemies the occasion of displaying more abundantly in their behalf his power and grace. Not even Mercy itself will appear more glorious to the redeemed soul in heaven, than will these once hostile perfections of justice and truth: for whilst the saint was in his unconverted state, these were the perfections which most loudly called for the judgments of God upon him; but, on his believing in Christ, they instantly became his advocates, and from thenceforth will remain through eternal ages his greatest security. As the Lord Jesus is “faithful and just to forgive him his sins,” so will he be in confirming to him that forgiveness for ever and ever.
Here I must particularly call your attention to the correspondence between the song of Moses and the song of the Lamb. Moses sang, “Who is like unto thee, O God, among the gods? Who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders [Note: Exodus 15:11.]?” So, in the words following my text, God’s holiness is acknowledged; “Thou only art holy;” whilst, in my text itself, all the other perfections of the Deity are magnified and adored.]
The song of the redeemed proceeds yet farther in strains,
Of prospective exultation and triumph—
How forcible is the appeal which they make to the whole universe!
[It is particularly said of the Israelites on that occasion, that “when they saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and his servant Moses [Note: Exodus 14:31. N. B. This is the chapter appointed to be read on Easter-even, which marks the suitableness of the subject to that day.].” And certainly we cannot suppose, that there was so much as one among them that was not deeply impressed with the mercy vouchsafed unto him. And shall there be found one amongst those who profess to have been redeemed by Christ, “who will not fear him, and glorify his name?” It is said of the converts in the millennial age, that “they shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days [Note: Hosea 3:5.].” And indeed it is impossible to contemplate this goodness, and not desire to give up ourselves entirely to him. Such a surrender of ourselves to him must appear to all “a reasonable service [Note: Romans 12:1.].” Having been “bought with such a price,” even “with the precious blood of that spotless Lamb [Note: 1 Peter 1:18-19.],” what can we think of for a moment, but to “glorify him with our bodies and our spirits which are his [Note: 2 Cor. 6:20.]?”
And have we not abundant encouragement to do so? Look at the Israelites at the Red Sea. How many of them perished in the sea? Not one. And how many of their enemies escaped destruction? Not one; “The waters covered them; there was not one of them left [Note: Psalms 106:11.].” And shall it not be so with those who commit themselves to the guidance of the Lamb? Will not He also “make the depths of the sea a way for the ransomed to pass over [Note: Isaiah 51:10.]?” Yes, “they shall go over dry-shod. [Note: Isaiah 11:15.]” As the Hebrew Youths in the furnace “had not so much as the smell of fire pass upon them,” so shall the whole body of the redeemed escape from their trials without even the shadow of an injury sustained by them. We cannot conceive a greater disparity than between Pharaoh with his “six hundred chariots of war,” and the unarmed hosts of Israel with a million of women and children to protect: but God was on their side: and God is on our side too: and “it is not his will that one of his little ones should perish [Note: Matthew 18:14.].” It matters not how numerous or potent our enemies may be: let us only fear “the King of saints,” and confide in him; and we shall soon “behold them all dead upon the sea-shore [Note: Exodus 14:30.].”]
What the redeemed in their song inculcate as so reasonable, they look forward to as certainly to be accomplished in due season throughout the whole earth—
[This is very particularly insisted on in the song of Moses: “The people shall hear and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestine. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed: the mighty men of Moab, trembling, shall take hold upon them: all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. Fear and dread shall fall on them: and the Lord shall reign for ever and ever [Note: Exodus 15:14-18.].” So shall our adorable Redeemer be feared throughout the whole earth, as it is said in the words following my text, “All nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments [Note: δικαιώματα.] (thy saving truths) are made manifest.” The obligation to fear and glorify our blessed Lord is becoming more extensively known: and the time is not far distant now when it shall be universally known and universally acknowledged. The wonderful works that he has wrought shall not be heard so partially and with such indifference as they now are: the glad tidings of redemption shall be carried to the utmost ends of the earth, and “all flesh shall see the salvation of God:” “All kings shall fall down before him; all nations shall serve him.” Blessed prospect! worthy to be celebrated by the heavenly hosts! and worthy of the incessant attention of every child of man!]
And now let me ask, Who will not fear and glorify our redeeming God?
[Are any of you who are here present prepared to say, that he does not deserve this tribute at your hands? What would you have thought of an Israelite who should have made such an assertion at the Red Sea? And, if you would have condemned him as a graceless and ungrateful wretch, what must you think of yourselves, who have experienced such infinitely richer mercy at his hands? O come; come and stand upon this sea of glass: behold its waves all calmed and smooth as crystal itself: see the coruscations of the cloud, and the impress of the Deity himself upon it: reflect on what has been wrought for you. Ponder the height and depth and length and breadth of the incomprehensible love contained in it: take your harps: tune them to the songs of the redeemed above: begin the song of Moses and the Lamb: join, with however feeble notes, the choir above: and look forward to the day when you shall strike your harps even as they do; and your notes shall be heard as loud and as melodious as any of theirs. O blessed day! “Look for it: hasten to it.” It is but a little time longer, that you have to contend with principalities and powers. Your victory over them is sure: and shall speedily be consummated. Your enemies are following you indeed, as Pharaoh did, saying, “I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil: my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.” But, in a little moment, “God will blow with his wind; and the sea shall cover them: and they shall sink as lead in the mighty waters [Note: Exodus 15:9-10.].” To the weakest amongst you all, is this consolatory message sent: “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousnesss. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing: and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought [Note: Isaiah 41:10-12.].” May this glorious consummation speedily be accomplished! Even so, Amen, and Amen!]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 15". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany