September 16, 2016
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
What was the first thing the Israelites did after they crossed the Red Sea by God’‘s miraculous parting of the waters and drying of the seabed? They looked back to see “…Moses stretch…out his hand…[and] the waters return…and cover…the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them.” (Exodus 14:27, 28). Then they broke into a song of praise – recorded in full in Exodus 15. Here are verses 1 through 4:
Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and
spoke, saying: “I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea! The LORD is my
strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I
will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him. The LORD is a
man of war; the LORD is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He
has cast into the sea; his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.”
We would expect these newly redeemed people to praise God. They were delivered from generations of slavery in Egypt by mighty miracles! And they were just saved from death or reenslavement by the pursuing Egyptian army!
Praise should be an important part of our life in the Lord Jesus! But how often do we praise Him? Too often our prayers (our communication with God) consist of requests for personal issues and those of family or close friends! Many prayers follow an outline of, “Bless me, my wife, and two kids – us four, and no more! Amen.” But what if we spent the first major part of an extended prayer time praising our God? What benefits would be derived from this?
• We would find ourselves drawn closer to the Lord! It is not that He would be closer to us – for Jesus plainly tells us in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:20 (in that order): “I will never leave you or forsake you….I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He is with us by means of the Holy Spirit, as He said in John 14:16 through 18:
…I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He
may abide with you forever, even the Spirit of truth….I will not leave
you orphans; I will come to you.
Jesus said the Holy Spirit will come, yet it is He who comes and abides! As He says in John 10:30, “I and My Father are one…,” so He and the Spirit are one! Also, God gives us His Holy Spirit to dwell in us as a down-payment – earnest – of all the good things in Him to come (see Ephesians 1:14; Philippians 1:6). But Paul tells us in Colossians 1:27, that it “…is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” So when we have the Holy Spirit, we have Jesus Christ!
Yet how is He drawn closer to us (or we to Him) by praise? It is written in Psalm 22:3 that God “…inhabit[s] the praises of Israel.” He is no different today! He inhabits the praises of His people – you and me, when we take the time to praise Him! What true Christian would not want to experience the Lord God drawn closer to him or her?
• David wrote in Psalm 34:1: “I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” We think of God blessing us, but we can bless Him – by praising and thanking Him for all His blessings upon us!
• Hosea 10:11 – “Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; but I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow. Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break the clods.” There is a lot in this verse, and it would take pages to explain it all. But I want to focus on just one phrase: “Judah shall plow….” Judah, in Hebrew means, “praise.” You could then translate it, “Praise shall plow….” Praise plows the ground, getting it ready for planting the seed! What is the seed? “The seed is the word of God.” (Luke 8:11). Praise gets the ground ready to receive the Word! The ground is the heart and life of the individual (see Matthew 13:18-23). So if you want the Word of God to be more effective in your life – or in the life of someone else for whom you are praying – spend more time praising God !
• Praise is a big part of our eternal heavenly experience! In Revelation 7:11 and 12 we read:
And all the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four liv-
ing creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
saying: Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor
and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.
This involves all the inhabitants of heaven, including the elders who, many Bible scholars think, represent the faithful of all history, both throughout Old Testament times and New! Christian, we will be there – praising and worshiping God ! And if that is going to be a big part of our eternal heavenly experience, we ought to practice praising God now!