So last time we were in Revelation we were talking about the War in Heaven, the war that operates different than the wars of earth. Because this is a war that wins not by taking lives, but by laying down lives. And it is the only war that works.
Now, what’s especially interesting about Revelation is that this book uses the Exodus story as much as any book in the New Testament. It talks a lot about the Exodus story and God’s delivering the Israelites from slavery. But it talks about it in both the future and the present tense. As if the story of the Exodus was not just something that has happened, but is happening. And it will happen, not just for Israel, but for the entire world.
I’ve talked before about how significant the plagues of the Exodus were. How they were God undoing creation on the Pharaoh.
But what is really interesting about Revelation is that it doesn’t refer to the 10 plagues, it only refers to 7. And that’s not a new thing. From the time of the Psalmist, the Israelites started referring to the plagues of the Exodus as 7 (remember to a Jewish person a number is a symbol as well) and this was the way they were saying that God’s judgment on the evil systems of Egypt was perfect.
So John, in his gospel, actually picks up on this theme. He tells the story of Jesus with an agenda. He even admits at the end of his book that Jesus had done many more things, and that if they were all written down the world couldn’t contain them. So John is just going to tell us what we need to know for life with Jesus. He’s only going to tell us certain things that Jesus did. Signs, things that point backward and forward.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus does 7 miracles. And John is very careful that we know in the first few chapters that He is counting them. But what’s interesting is the signs that John uses to tell us about. Just like the plagues there are 7, and according to some scholars they are eerily similar to the Plagues of the Exodus story.
So John starts off with Jesus turning water not into blood, but wine.
In Exodus, God destroys the crops, in John Jesus multiples the bread.
In Exodus God turns off the lights on a nation, in John, Jesus opens the eyes of a blind man.
In Exodus, God takes the firstborn of Pharaoh, in John God lays his own firstborn down for the world.
And then in the great resurrection story of John, Mary comes to the tomb. She thinks she sees the gardener (Genesis 1) only to have the gardener correct her by simply saying her name, “Mary.” But in the Greek, Jesus doesn’t say Mary. He calls her Miriam!
And this is the point of John, God in Jesus is reversing the plagues of Egypt, but in a way that no one expects, he is re-piecing Creation not by taking lives but by laying his down. And when Mary comes to the tomb she meets the man who has crossed over the red sea of death and is still standing. And just in case we’ve missed the subtleties John has been telling us all along, just to make it clear…Jesus calls her Miriam.
Because God in Jesus is doing a New Exodus.
Which brings me back to Revelation. In Revelation 15, we find this:
I saw in heaven another great and marvelous sign: seven angels with the seven last plagues—last, because with them God’s wrath is completed. 2 And I saw what looked like a sea of glass glowing with fire and, standing beside the sea, those who had been victorious over the beast and its image and over the number of its name. They held harps given them by God 3 and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb.
In Revelation, we find that the Exodus story that God began with the Israelites and is bringing to fulfillment with Jesus is happening all around us. God is fighting the forces of anti-creation, and His people are singing.
A good preacher friend of mine made the point recently that the first thing we read that the Israelites took with them when they left Egypt was a tambourine. Not snack packs for the road, or camelpaks, a tambourine. So they’re not the best campers in the world, but they were right about this. When you realize how big what God is up to in the world actually is, then the most appropriate response is to worship.
The Song of Moses is the song of God’s people throughout the ages. It’s the song of Creation and liberation and recreation.
It’s the song of death and resurrection. It is the song of the Exodus and the Martyrs. It’s the song of Moses, and ultimately the song of God.