God's Gifts or God Himself?
by Pr. Dave Mann
In Exodus 11-14, the Israelites had just witnessed two major miraculous interventions from the hand of God. First, the people had seen the hand of the Lord work in the tenth plague, when all who lived in Egypt mourned the loss of their first-born sons on the same night, except for those who painted the blood of the lamb on their doorposts and lintels. Those who trusted in the safety of the Lord’s direction were saved from the angel of death.
Then, when the people of the Lord exited Egypt with their unleavened bread in hand, they came to the shore of the Red Sea. They turned around only to see clouds of dust kicked up by the chariots and horses of the Egyptian army in hot pursuit. What now? Again, the Lord provided a way. He opened a way through the water. The people of Israel all passed on dry land, but when the chariots attempted to follow, the waters closed in on them.
The opening verses of Exodus 15 are the joyful celebration of the people. But notice that the joy is in the Lord himself, not in God’s gifts. As great as the gifts were, the people recognized that God himself was greater.
The song does not say, “The Lord exalted us.” Rather, they sang, “The Lord is highly exalted.”
The song does not say, “The Lord has made us strong to defend ourselves.” Rather, they sang, “The Lord is my strength and my defense.”
The song does not say, “The Lord gave us salvation.” Rather, they sang, “He has become my salvation.”
The song does not say, “The Lord made us strong warriors.” Rather, they sang, “The Lord is a warrior.”
The song does not say, “God has made our right hand powerful.” Rather, they sang, “Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power.”
The song does not say, “God has made us the greatest people on earth.” Rather, they sang, “Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you – majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
As generous as the Lord is in giving us many blessings – forgiveness, hope, peace, joy, sustenance, food, shelter, safety, friends, family, harmony, etc. – being in the presence of the Lord himself is the greatest of all.
See also 2 Corinthians 4:14 and 1 John 3:1-2.
Lord God Almighty, thank you for your generous gifts that we do not deserve. However, I thank you most of all for the gift of yourself, for that is your goal, to bring us into your presence forever. I will be eternally grateful, in Jesus’ name, Amen.