Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Love Shown in God’s Redemption

Dannah Gresh: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says the gospel is good news because there’s also bad news involved.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If you don’t know the judgment and the wrath of God, you’ll never really appreciate the love and the mercy and the compassion of God. Why would we celebrate being saved if we weren’t saved from something?

Dannah: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of You Can Trust God to Write Your Story, for November 20, 2020. I’m Dannah Gresh. 

Friend, has the theme of this week sunk in yet? We’re in the middle of a series on Psalm 136, a piece of Scripture that offers a unique lens to view every part of our lives.

Now, don’t worry if you’ve missed any days of the program. You can find the audio and transcripts at ReviveOurHearts.com or on our app. Here’s Nancy in a recording from February 2020.

Nancy: You may be wondering, You’re still on Psalm 136? You tuned in five days ago, and now you’re tuning in again today and you’re saying, “You’re still on this same psalm?” You’re still talking about the same thing?” Yes we are, and we’re enjoying it, because the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever!

You say, “I think this series, maybe, is enduring forever!” (laughter) No, it’s not, but I want this theme, this song, this chorus: “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His steadfast love endures forever” to get branded on your brain, on your heart, on your emotions, on the way you think, on your perspective, on the way you view all of life. 

That’s why we’re taking more time than normal to park on this one psalm. I want to reset just a little bit, if you haven’t been with us. Let me invite you to turn in your Bible to the book of Psalms, the Old Testament Jewish psalm-book, their hymnal. We’ve been reading this psalm, which has twenty-six verses.

The second part of each of those verses is the same refrain: “. . . for his steadfast love endures forever.” And we said that this song, or psalm, was probably meant to be sung or recited responsively or antiphonally. One side says one part, and then the other side says the other part. 

They say it to each other, or a leader says the first part and then the choir joins in and says the second part. So you’re the choir. And as we read through this first part of Psalm 136, I want to invite you to join in with me in each of those refrains. 

If you’re listening to the podcast or the broadcast, you may be in your car. If you’re at work, you might not want to say this too loudly, but at least you could mouth the words. And if you’re alone, say it as loudly as you can! In fact, if you’re in a mall or you’re in a store, you might just want to say it out loud: “For His steadfast love endures forever!” People might think you’re a little crazy, but they also might come to know that His steadfast love endures forever. That’s what we’re reminding each other. 

So beginning in verse 1 of Psalm 136, we have this opening call to give thanks.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
   for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
   for his steadfast love endures forever; 

[Give thanks to the Lord,] to him who alone does great wonders,
   for his steadfast love endures forever (vv. 1–4)

That’s the call to worship, and then in this next paragraph we’ve seen that the goodness and the steadfast love of God are revealed in Creation. We’ve gone back to the book of Genesis to look at that. So let’s read those verses.

[Give thanks to the Lord] to him who by understanding made the heavens,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who spread out the earth above the waters,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
to him who made the great lights,
   for his steadfast love endures forever,
the sun to rule over the day,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
the moon and stars to rule over the night,
   for his steadfast love endures forever (vv. 5–9).

We’re going to pause there for a moment before we go on and read the next paragraph, where we’re going to see that the goodness and the steadfast love of God are revealed in the salvation of His people.

First, the goodness and the steadfast love of the Lord are revealed in creation. Now we’re going to see that the goodness and the steadfast love of the Lord are revealed in the salvation of His people. And the psalmist is going to take us back to the book of Exodus. The previous paragraph talked about the book of Genesis. 

Now we’re going to the book of Exodus, where we see that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for four-hundred years. And God sent a man, Moses, to bring them out of captivity. You remember that Pharaoh resisted; he was proud; he was resistant against God. He thought he was God, and he was determined to hold on to his work force!

In response, God sent ten plagues to force Pharaoh's hand and to confront the pride and the false gods of Egypt. Each of these plagues was an intensified expression of God’s judgment. The tenth and the final plague, you remember, was the death of the firstborn sons of Egypt. 

And even this, as we’re going to see in Psalm 136, horrific as it was . . . Imagine the shrieks, the yells, the horror of these mothers losing their firstborn sons as the Angel of Death went through Egypt and struck down these firstborn sons!

Now remember, they had been given the opportunity to repent, but wholesale—individually and corporately—they had refused to repent and believe in the mercy of God. The Israelites were no better than the Egyptians, but they obeyed God when God said, “Kill the Passover Lamb. Put its blood on the doorposts of your home, and when I see the blood, I will pass over your home; I will not kill your firstborn sons.” (see Ex. 12:13)

The Egyptians had said, “We’re god! We’re going to do what we want to do! We’re not going to kill a sacrificial lamb!” They didn’t believe God. And so God, having been patient through all of these ten plagues—all of them designed to bring the people to repentance—when they refused, God said, “Okay, this is it!” 

And we see that even the killing of these firstborn sons by the Angel of Death was an expression of the faithful love of God for His people. Let’s read the passage, and then we’ll talk about it. Beginning in verse 10 of Psalm 136: 

[Give thanks to the Lord,] to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt,
   for his steadfast love endures forever,
and brought Israel out from among them,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
with a strong hand and an outstretched arm,
   for his steadfast love endures forever; 

[Give thanks to the Lord,] to him who divided the Red Sea in two,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
and made Israel pass through the midst of it,
   for his steadfast love endures forever;
but overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea,
   for his steadfast love endures forever (vv. 10–15).

Okay, we’re going to stop there, and just some observations and comments. First of all, as you look at verse 13, it says that God divided the Red Sea in two. That word “divide” means, “to cut in two pieces, as with a sword.” 

It’s a word that’s used later in Scripture when King Solomon ordered that the baby be cut in half; he said it would be divided by a sword. (see 1 Kings 3:24) It’s used in Genesis chapter 15, where Abraham is told by God to make a covenant sacrifice, and he’s to cut the animals in half, divide them, separate them into two sides,.and walk between them, where God would meet with him, as this covenant sacrifice was offered. 

So God cut the Red Sea in two and the people passed through, between the two parts. The people of God were saved, they were spared the judgment, the wrath of God. He divided the Red Sea in two so His people could walk through. They were saved by that dividing of the Red Sea.

And then, Psalm 136, verse 15, you see that God overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea. Your translation may say something different here, but the word is like “to shake off.” It’s used in Isaiah about a tree shaking off its leaves. God shook off Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea. He overthrew them.

So you see in this passage that God’s steadfast love for His people is seen in two things: it’s seen in judgment, and it’s seen in salvation. And it’s seen as these two come together, the juxtaposition of judgment and salvation. This is one of the most amazing tracks to me, that you’ll see all the way through Scripture from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation.

Where you see judgment, you also see salvation, and where you see salvation you also see judgment. These run on parallel tracks throughout the Scripture. And many times in my Bible, I will just note it because they come so often together. You’ll see in the same passage judgment and salvation.

You see that here. God overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea—that’s judgment. God made Israel to pass through the Red Sea—that’s salvation. God struck down the firstborn of Egypt—that’s judgment, but He brought Israel out from among them—that’s salvation. 

You see, in order to rescue His people from slavery—that’s salvation, God dealt a fatal blow to His adversaries—that’s judgment. So where you have the salvation of God, you need to thank Him that His judgments are true and righteous. This is a song through the Scripture. It’s a song we hear in Revelation: “Faithful and true are You, O Lord! Righteous are Your judgments.” 

When you hear people say, “Oh, I just love the New Testament, but I’m not that interested in the God of the Old Testament.” Listen, if you don’t know the judgment and the wrath of God as it’s often displayed and laid out for us in Old Testament passages such as the Exodus, you’ll never really appreciate the love and the mercy and the compassion of God.

Like, why would we celebrate being saved if we weren’t saved from something? We are saved from the wrath of God! All the Israelties, all of the Egyptians, should have had their first born killed. All of the Israelites, all of the Egyptians, should have drowned in the Red Sea . . . and so should we!

But in judging those who were rebellious and unrepentant, God also extended His mercy, His grace, His saving love to His people. So in cases of judgment and salvation, the psalmist says, “His steadfast love endures forever!” 

As this passage ends, we see that when the Israelites were delivered out of Egypt, they came to the Red Sea. They were in this desperate situation, and God once again demonstrated His steadfast love for them. He made them pass through the Red Sea—that’s God’s salvation. And He overthrew, He “shook off,” Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea—that’s His judgment.

God delivered His people. We see the steadfast love and the goodness of the Lord in the deliverance and the salvation of His people: “With a strong hand and an outstretched arm.” You see this metaphor used in the Scripture, of the strong hand and the outstretched arm of God. It’s not a literal hand and arm, but metaphorical of His strength, His power, His control.

So Exodus 6:6, God told Moses: 

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. 

The arm of God that judges and that saves!

Exodus chapter 15:6 gives to us the lyrics for the victory song that was sung on the other side of the Red Sea, when the Israelites had passed through safely. And they said, they sang, “Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power, your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.” The right hand of God that led His people through also shattered the enemy. The hand of God that judges; the hand of God that saves. Psalm 44, verse 3: 

For not by their own sword did they win the land, nor did their own arm save them, but your right hand and your arm, and the light of your face, for you delighted in them. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His steadfast love endures forever!

Now, the Exodus of God’s people out of Egypt, that is talked about just briefly in this passage we’ve just been looking at in Psalm 136. This is the most significant chapter by far in Israel’s redemptive history . . . speaking of the Exodus. 

The Old Testament writers referred to the Exodus out of Egypt, which really encompasses a whole series of events—beginning with slavery, the plagues, the striking of the first born, the release from Egypt, coming to the Red Sea, going through the Red Sea, going through the wilderness, going into the Promised Land. That whole span of events is referred to in the Scriptures as “the Exodus”—to exit, to come out of. 

God brought them out of Egypt, out of slavery, to take them into this good land, the Promised Land. And that period referred to as the Exodus is mentioned over and over and over again throughout the Old Testament, eighty-seven times to be exact! God wanted to continue reminding His people of what He had done for them and what the implications were for their relationship with Him.

“God brought you out!” What does that mean? What’s the “so what” of this? How does that change our lives? How does it make them different? Let me read to you some of these Old Testament references to God bringing His people out of the land of Egypt. I’m not going to read all eighty-seven, but here are a handful of them.

The verse that introduces the Ten Commandments in Exodus chapter 20:2–3: 

I am the Lord your God [this is just months after the children of Israel came out of Egypt], who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. [What’s the “so what?”] You shall have no other gods before me. 

The Exodus means you worship God alone!

I am the Lord who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy. (Lev. 11:45)

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God. (Lev. 25:38)

God didn’t just save us so that we could say, “Oh, that was the greatest day of my life!” and then live our lives the way we want to live them. God brought them out so He could take them into a good land, the land of Canaan, the Promised Land and to be their God!

You have people who talk about salvation from sin as if it’s just a fire escape from hell. God says, “No, it’s a whole new life, it’s a whole new relationship. I am your God now. I was not your God before, but I am your God now. I brought you out to be your God, to take you into this good land.”

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt [he’s referring to the Exodus], that you should not be their slaves. And I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect. (Lev. 26:13)

What kind of good news was that to these who, for generations, had been slaves under backbreaking, back-bending toil and labor and hardship?! 

The Jews who came out of Egypt had never known a family member who wasn’t a slave—four hundred years! And God says, “I brought you out to release you from slavery. I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you stand erect!”

The Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people of his own inheritance, as you are this day. (Deut. 4:20)

Take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (Deut. 6:12)

How could you ever forget a God who had delivered you from slavery in Egypt? You could . . . and they did. How could we ever forget the Lord our God, who brought us up out of the land of slavery to sin and to Satan? How could we forget? We can . . . and we do. That’s why the reminder, “Take care lest you forget!”

When you go out to war against your enemies, and [you] see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own . . . (Deut. 20:1)

Is anybody facing anything like this in your life right now? Somebody just told me about a huge thing you’re facing with your husband’s health. I heard that earlier today.

“When you go out . . . and [you] see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.” God could do that! Do you think He can’t take care of this enemy? God delivered you then, do you think He can’t deliver you now?

You see, remembering your exodus out of Egypt is so, so important! 

They abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. [And what happened when they abandoned God?] They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. (Judg. 2:12)

You forget to worship God for the salvation He’s given you in Christ, and you will end up worshipping other gods—lowercase “g.”

You separated them from among all the peoples of the earth to be your heritage . . . when you brought our fathers out of Egypt, O Lord God. (1 Kings 8:53)

We’ve been separated unto God, to be a people for God. We’re not of this world; we’re in this world, but not of it. He has separated us out to be His heritage, to belong to Him. 

What does that go back to? Our exodus, our deliverance, where God showed amazing goodness and steadfast love! 

You shall fear the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt with great power and with an outstretched arm. You shall bow yourselves to him, and to him you shall sacrifice. (2 Kings 17:36)

I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (Psalm 81:10)

You see, salvation—the Exodus, delivery, redemption—was not intended to be a one-time experience that has no bearing on the rest of our lives. It was the doorway into a whole new life, a whole new relationship, a whole new eternity of life with God, being part of His heritage! 

It was important for these Old Testament Jews to remember and understand and celebrate theirredemptive history. That’s why it comes up again and again and again in the psalms. 

It’s important for us to remember how God brought us out of our slavery and our sin. The exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt pointed to a far greater Exodus. As Moses was sent by God to set the Israelites free from slavery, so Jesus was sent from God to set His people free from their bondage, their slavery to sin and Satan.

We see judgment and we see salvation that Jesus brings in our Exodus. Through His sacrificial death on the cross, He has judged, overthrown, shaken off the enemy—sin and Satan. Listen to some of these verses. Jesus said as He was headed to the cross, “Now is the judgment of this world. Now will the ruler of this world be cast out [overthrown, shaken off]” (John 12:31).

Hebrews 2:14–15 tells us that Jesus took on human flesh, “. . . that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” That’s our Exodus! Jesus judged the devil so we could be delivered from our Egypt.

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)

Judgment. It reveals the steadfast love of the Lord. And then you read in Revelation chapter 19, verse 19–20: 

And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth with their armies gathered to make war against him who was sitting on the horse and against his army. And the beast [think of Pharaoh’s armies here] was captured, and with it the false prophet who . . . had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast . . . These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. 

Picture those Egyptians drowning in that Red Sea; all those strong powerful hopes of Egypt met their end.

The judgment of God reveals His steadfast love for His people. The fact that He’s not judging us, but He will judge those who don’t repent, is an appeal, a plea, to believe the steadfast love of the Lord. 

By sending his own Son [as God sent Moses to Egypt, so God sent His Son to this earth] in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. (Rom. 8:3) 

He judged it! He overcame it! 

From Colossians 2:14, He nailed to the cross the record of the debt that we owed for our sins. Then in verse 15 it says, 

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them.

Do you see how part of the good news of the gospel is that God overcomes that which is evil and sinful and rebellious, the devil and all his minions and all his forces and sin and evil? God is putting it to death! He’s even going to put death to death! 

He began that work on the cross, and the day will come when there will be no more death, no more dying, no more sin, no more Satan to torment and to accuse the children of God. But the good news is not only seen in His judgment of that which is evil, but it’s seen in His deliverance—salvation—from the enemy of sin and Satan.

In Luke 1:74: “. . .that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear.” John 8:32: “You will know the truth, and the truth will . . .” What? “. . .set you free.” “So if the Son sets you free [deliverance, exodus], you will be free indeed” (v. 36).

He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again. (2 Cor. 1:10)

Our Exodus, it’s past, present, and future! “The law of the Spirit of life,” Romans 8:2 tells us, “has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

And one day, praise Jesus, the Creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. Deliverance, exodus! The One who has brought about our exodus from sin and judgment is the One who will also bring us into our eternal inheritance. And we’re going to see that in our next session, when we continue in Psalm 136.

As you reflect on your salvation, on how God has delivered you from sin and self and Satan, on how He’s overcoming the enemies of God in your life, what’s our response? It’s back to Psalm 136: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good [say it with me], for his steadfast love endures forever.”

And thank You, oh Lord, for that amazing steadfast love shown in Your judgment of sin and Satan and in Your salvation of Your people! Thank You for delivering us from our Egypt, from sin, from our past, from guilt, from shame. Thank You that the steadfast love of the Lord—Your hesed, covenant-keeping, faithful love endures forever. For that we give You thanks, amen!

Dannah: Amen! Well, how do you respond to God’s salvation? It’s easy to be like the Israelites and slip back into our old ways or get distracted by the shouts of the world. That’s why we need reminders, like Psalm 136, to navigate our minds toward God’s goodness and love.

One resource to help you keep coming back to the truth is the new 2021 wall calendar from Revive Our Hearts. Our theme this year is “Heaven Rules.” Every month you’ll be greeted by a Scripture challenge as well as a quote from Nancy. It’s such a beautifully illustrated calendar! I think you’ll find it visually soothing and a delight to be seen on your wall in your home or your office.

I hope that it reminds you that whatever happens this next year, God is still in control. Heaven rules! We hope you’ll use this calendar to keep you walking in full confidence of that truth. When you donate any amount to support Revive Our Hearts this month, we’ll send you the new calendar to say “thanks.” Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to give now or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

Now, we won’t ever be good enough to receive God’s love! It’s a true gift from the Lord that doesn’t depend on us. Nancy will talk about this next week and continue walking us through Psalm 136. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants you to experience the redemption that comes through Christ. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

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About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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