The Lord has just led the Israelites through the Red Sea and destroyed many of the pursuing Egyptians. They now break out into a song of praise.
James 5:13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.
It's hard to read the psalms without running into the declaration, "I will sing praise to the Lord." Thankful people sing praises. Do you sing to the Lord? Do you praise Him while you're in the car? Do you praise Him while you're in the shower? Do you praise Him while you're working? Sing praises to the name of the Lord.
Remember that we read of Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron, back in chapter 2. She was the one who stood at a distance to find out what would happen to the baby Moses when his mother put him in a wicker basket and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. When Pharaoh's daughter found Moses, Miriam had said to her,
Exod. 2:7-8 ..."Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?" And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Go ahead." So the girl went and called the child's mother.
Now Miriam is referred to as a prophetess. She was indeed a prophetess, for the Lord would speak to her and through her. In Numbers 12, we see that gift referred to in an almost negative way:
Moses had married a Cushite woman, and Miriam and Aaron were speaking against him for it. They said,
Num. 12:2 ..."Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?"...
The Lord appeared to them and said,
Num. 12:6-9 ..."Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?" So the anger of the LORD burned against them and He departed.
Miriam was stricken with leprosy for seven days for her insubordination. But afterwards she was healed and received again.
So Miriam was a prophetess, and here in Exodus 15 she and the rest of the women take timbrels (tambourines) and sing and dance.
I have heard that some churches do not allow women to participate in worship singing or playing. That would be a difficult position to defend biblically. Here I see Miriam both singing to the congregation and playing an instrument.
Dancing unto the Lord is one of many Biblical methods of praise. Psalm 150 reads,
Ps. 150:1-6 PRAISE the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!
In 2Samuel, we see David leaping and dancing before the Lord with all his might. Psalm 149 says,
Ps. 149:3 Let them praise His name with dancing; Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
It would seem that the Israelites might have looked a lot like Pentecostals back then. I wonder if we may be missing something in our praises?
These Israelites were a fickle people. So far, we've seen that when Aaron performed the signs,
Exod. 4:31 ...the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
But when Pharaoh increased their work requirements,
Exod. 5:21 ...they said to them, "May the LORD look upon you and judge you, for you have made us odious in Pharaoh's sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us."
Then when their deliverance was brought about, we read that they went out boldly. But as soon as they saw the pursuing Egyptian army, they cried out.
Exod. 14:11-12 Then they said to Moses, "Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, 'Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians'? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."
Of course, they had many praises to sing when the Lord carried them safely through the Red Sea. But now three days later, they are grumbling again. This will certainly not be the last time we'll see this pattern.
In the Bible, water speaks of the Word of God. As we read in Ephesians,
Eph. 5:26 ...having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word
And certainly, to thirsty people that are lost in the wilderness, you would think that the Word of God would satisfy their thirst. But they drink and it is bitter. They find the Word of God to be impossible to drink with its rules and regulations, its standard of perfection.
But then the Lord reveals a tree. Galatians says,
Gal. 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE" -
The tree of Christ - the crucifix, the cross. When you take the cross and throw it into the water of the Word, the water becomes sweet and satisfying to drink.
The Lord here makes an astonishing claim. If they obey his commandments and keep His statutes, they will have none of the diseases that afflicted the Egyptians. Can this be proven to be true? Absolutely. Because while this could also be a supernatural promise of intervention, it is most assuredly a natural promise that proves the Bible's divine inspiration.
God told the Israelites in the Law that they were not to eat pork. Pigs are garbage eaters, and easily pick up bacteria and parasites, including Trichinella Spiralis. We know today that the possibility of contracting the disease Trichinosis from this organism is high when pork is not properly cooked. But the Egyptians had no clue. Fortunately, God did.
The idea of germs was of course foreign to man until recently. But not to God. In Deuteronomy 23, He commanded,
Deut. 23:12-13 "You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement."
In our modern ways of thinking, we assume that this was just common sense. Not so in the times of Moses. The Egyptians used dung as medicine. Even into the history of Europe, within the last 200 years, waste was deposited anywhere. In the Middle Ages, this practice resulted in the Black Plague in which millions of people died. Epidemics of diseases such as Typhoid and Cholera would have been avoided had the people of Europe simpy obeyed Deuteronomy 23. A fact not usually quoted in the history books is that the Jewish Ghettos in Europe did not suffer many of these epidemics. For they were practicing the Law of Moses and burying their waste.
The Lord also commanded the covenant of circumcision. Medical studies have proven that women who have uncircumcised husbands have astronomically higher incidence of cervical cancer than those with circumcised husbands. Again, if they would obey the commandments of God, their risk of diseases would be greatly decreased.
The act of circumcision itself was medically prescribed by God to be the most effective and safe. In Genesis 17, the Lord told Abraham,
Gen. 17:12 "And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations..."
It has only been in the 20th Century that man has discovered that Vitamin K helps prevent hemmorhaging. Amazingly, Vitamin K is not produced in the human male's body until the 5th, 6th, or 7th day.
Babies have a "peculiar susceptibility to bleeding between the second and fifth days of life" (Holt Pediatrics) No wonder God prescribed the circumcision for the 8th day.
Washing is also commanded often and in detail throughout the Bible. But just 150 years ago, when Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis insisted that the doctors in his hospital wash their hands between surgeries and baby deliveries, he was fired. Recently, washing has become mandatory in hospitals and restaurants. But God commanded these practices well over three thousand years ago!
I have wondered this week about the significance of these 12 springs and seventy date palms. Searching for numerical and typological significance. Then it struck me how plain and obvious it was. There were 12 springs, and 12 tribes of Israel. There were 70 date palms and 70 families of Israel. The Lord was showing His perfect provision for His people.
Luke 12:29-31 "And do not seek what you shall eat, and what you shall drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you."
God's perfect provision for His people.
Next week, we'll learn about manna and see water from the rock, as the Lord makes provision for the grumbling, murmuring, groaning, complaining Israelites as He demonstrates His mercy and love.