Today I’m preaching on the “Song of the Sea1.” It’s an important song of victory, as it’s theology helps create the ethos of Ancient Israel. It reiterates the delusions humans make of their own power using Pharaoh’s voice. It highlights the LORD’s immense power over all things – even to the point of causing the symbolic image of “uncreation” 2 to respond to the “breath of his nostrils.” It declares the relational nature of the covenant the LORD has made with Israel. And it asks the theologically important question, “Who among the gods is like you?”
The last question, especially, is key. The LORD, God of Israel, does wonders by which the people were delivered from bondage. It’s those wonders which helped Israel develop the understanding God is powerful enough to keep the promises of the Covenant.
This song’s theology echoed so deeply in the heart of the community it became a key to the pulse of Israelite identity. Passover, Sukkoth, even Pentecost 3 are tied into both the theology of this song and the wider Exodus narrative. Through these rhythmic retellings both the reign of God and the power of God to keep the promises were instilled into the hearts of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s descendants.
Is it any wonder, then, the disciples of Jesus took these ideas and applied them to our savior? The theology of the Song of the Sea is very much part of Christian identity. Jesus conquers sin and death on the cross, he promises eternal life and an eternal presence. The further reflections of the New Testament point not toward a “promised land,” but a New Creation where all things will be made new. And, much as our spiritual ancestors affirmed centuries before, the early Church declared Jesus’s reign “forever and ever.”
The retelling the story of Jesus’ deliverance through the church year, weekly worship, and personal discipline is meant to more fully instill the wonders of Jesus’ victory into the hearts of his disciples. This story becomes who we are, but with a noticeable twist. Jesus’ victory didn’t come by throwing “horse and driver into the sea,” but offering himself up as a sacrifice for many. Christians worship “the Lamb who was slain,” whose power over death is so great even apparent defeat couldn’t beat him.
May Christians always follow the example of the “Lamb who was slain” and retell his story – so that mercy and self-sacrifice might become the cry of our very souls.