Allusions to Exodus 15 in other parts of Scripture

We saw in our last article that the song of Moses in Exodus 15 has a latter-day application. It is not surprising then that the language of the song is also used a number of times in the psalms and the prophets in a latter-day context.

Take for example Jeremiah’s description of the destruction of Babylon by the Medes. We know that Jeremiah 50-51 also points forward to the future destruction of Babylon the Great at the hand of Christ and the saints. The language of Jeremiah 51:7-8 occurs in Revelation 14:8 and 17:2 to describe the rise and fall of the papal system. With this in mind we read in Jeremiah 51:21, “And with thee will I break in pieces the horse and his rider; and with thee will I break in pieces the chariot and his rider.” This imagery is drawn from Exodus 15:1,21. In the day of Babylon’s destruction Israel will be a weapon in the hand of Yahweh to break in pieces the horse and the rider. Why use this language taken from the song of Moses? It would seem that Scripture is alluding to a second exodus when Israel will be brought forth from the nations by the mighty hand of God.

We can also look at Zechariah 10:5 and 12:4 when “in that day,” the day described when all nations shall come against Jerusalem, God will once again smite the horse and his rider.

Yahweh is described as strength, song and salvation together only three times in Scripture. One is in Psalm 118:14, which is a messianic psalm describing Christ’s release from death – his own personal exodus. Another is in Isaiah 12:1-6 where Israel will declare “in that day” that God is “my strength and my song; he is become my salvation” – words drawn from Exodus 15:2. The chapter continues the thoughts of the previous chapter which describe a day that shall be similar to the day that the children of Israel came up out of the land of Egypt (11:15-16)! After the second exodus, they will once again sing this song of Moses.

The phrase “Yahweh is His name” (Exod 15:3) is very significant as we have seen that the purpose of God in these mighty acts was to proclaim His name. We see a similar thought throughout the prophecy of Ezekiel with the repeating phrase “and they shall know that I am Yahweh.” One of the most notable of these occurrences is in Ezekiel 38:16,22-23. The army of the confederacy of Ezekiel 38 has come against the mountains of Israel and God will fight for them and through His actions He will magnify Himself, not just to Israel, but also in the eyes of many nations. The same renown that our God had when He brought His people through the Red Sea will once again happen on this earth, and men and women will revere Him in awe.

In Exodus 15:5 we read this of the enemy: “they sank into the bottom as a stone.” Similar language is used in the book of Revelation. It is surely the Spirit Word of God that caused the simile to liken the enemy to a stone, and not to something else. We find this picture reflected in the fall of Babylon the Great in Revelation 18:21. Here a mighty angel “took up a stone like a great millstone, and cast it into the sea.” Once more we are seeing the same picture, that of the comparison of Egypt with Babylon! The downfall of Egypt in Exodus 14–15 is echoed in the downfall of Babylon in Revelation.

We may have another echo in the words of Exodus 15:7: “thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.” The burning of the stubble is a frequent illustration of the destruction of the wicked. Take Malachi 4:1: “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” We know that this is speaking of the future age because in verse 2 we read of the Sun of Righteousness arising – a symbol of the second coming of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps also the stubble is pointing to the day of Armageddon spoken of in Revelation 16:16 when a heap of sheaves will lie in a valley for judgment (or threshing); when all that will be left of those that resist God will be burnt stubble.

There are other prophecies of the judgments of God which echo the words of the song we have considered. In Exodus 15:9 we read, “The enemy said, 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.” These are the thoughts of the Egyptians pursuing Israel. In Haggai 2:20-23 God uses the same language to describe His zeal in destroying the enemy: “And I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms, and I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen; and I will overthrow the chariots, and those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother.” Note the repetition of “I will” in this section. What He says will come to pass. And what will God do? He will overthrow and destroy the strength of the heathen, which is symbolised by their chariots, riders, and horses! What the Egyptians sought but failed to do to Israel, God will do to the enemy and succeed.

The song of Moses and of the Lamb

Hosea 2:14-16 is a wonderful connecting passage between Exodus 15 and Revelation 15 because the prophet writes that Israel “shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.” In other words, the song of Moses will be sung once more. This passage in Hosea is talking about the day when all thoughts of Baal will be removed from Israel, and they will serve God alone. God will speak to the heart of the people and will give them a door of hope. That is what Israel looked to God for in Egypt! They needed a hope in their dire situation of slavery. Just as God gave them one in Moses and in the promised land, so God will provide one in their Messiah and the hope of the kingdom.

RevelationFirst Exodus
15:3Great and marvellous are thy worksExod 14:31And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did
15:3just and true are thy waysDeut 32:4He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he
15:4Who shall not fear thee, O LordExod 15:16Fear and dread shall fall upon them
15:4and glorify thy nameExod 15:3Yahweh is a man of war: Yahweh is his name
15:4for thou only art holyExod 15:11Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
15:4thy judgments are made manifestExod 15:7And 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

The immortal multitude which sings the song of Moses in Revelation 15:1-4 is a multitude which has also been freed from captivity – the captivity of sin and death. They have seen God’s glorious work of salvation wrought in His Son. They understand the name and character of God and they have lived a life of trust in God’s ability to perform that which He promised. What greater song shall we sing than that of Moses? In the kingdom we will be part of the Yahweh name which shall reign for ever and ever.

Listed in the accompanying chart are a number of connections between the words of the song in Revelation 15:3-4 and the events of the first exodus.

Why are the words of Exodus 15 used in Revelation 15?

  • they are used to give praise and glory to God
  • they are used in the context of God’s judgment on a corrupt and enslaving system
  • they are used to indicate a new beginning, a new exodus
  • they are used to declare the character of God to other nations

In this song of Moses and the Lamb, we also see a connection with Deuteronomy 32:4, another song of Moses.

One great significance of this song in Revelation is that it is the song of Moses and of the Lamb. But what is then the song of the Lamb? The two aspects that would appear to be unique to Revelation are the phrases “thou King of saints” (v3) and also “for all nations shall come and worship before thee” (v4). The difference between the NT and OT songs is the fact that in Revelation there has been the sacrifice of the Lamb, the new covenant has been brought in and Gentiles can be brought into the covenants of promise. In a sense, the people of God have ‘passed over’ (as in Exod 15:16) from one covenant to another, as we saw with Rahab. Once God’s judgments have removed the wicked, the remaining Gentiles need no longer be afraid. They can now come before Him and worship too.

There is a great warning, however, in the behaviour of the children of Israel. They walked through the Red Sea in faith, but a whole generation perished as they walked through the wilderness. Are we faltering like they did? Israel saw the physical hand of the Lord at work, and knew He was mighty to save, yet murmured against Him shortly after. Is our own immediate response to God working in our lives a song and prayer of praise and thanks to Him, or do we think we are triumphing in our own strength, and fail to acknowledge God in our lives? Do we thank and praise Him constantly?

Singing as a community of believers is wonderful too, for it foreshadows the saintly choirs of the future age. It also binds us together in unity as we praise our heavenly Father with a joyful noise. Do we, in our lives, show our belief in the name of Yahweh? Is His name full of renown in our lives, so much so that we are seeking to manifest it? We pray that when He sends His son, we might be part of the multitude that says, “The Lord is my strength and song, And he is become my salvation.”