"Come, you faithful, raise the strain, Of triumphant gladness! God has brought His Israel, Into joy from sadness, Loosed from pharaoh's bitter yoke, Jacob's sons and daughters, Led them with unmoistened foot, Through the Red Sea waters.
"For today among His own, Christ appeared, bestowing, His deep peace, which evermore, Passes human knowing. Neither could the gates of death, Nor the tomb's dark portal, Nor the watchers nor the seal, Hold Him as a mortal."
Set free from slavery and brought safely across the Red Sea, the Israelites sang a song of "triumphant gladness" in praise of the God who saved them: "I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously" (Exodus 15:1b). Our hymn looks in two directions, back to Israel's joyful song and forward to the day when we, having safely passed through death, will join the saints in glory to "sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, 'Great and amazing are Your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty!'" (Revelation 15:3a).
With signs and wonders, God brought Israel out of Egypt. Camped beside the Red Sea, the Israelites found themselves trapped between the pursuing Egyptian army and the sea, but it was a trap that would instead be sprung on pharaoh and his chariots. God opened a way in the sea and Israel crossed safely on dry ground. "Jacob's sons and daughters" were led "with unmoistened foot through the Red Sea waters." Then the waters returned as pharaoh's host "went down into the depths like a stone" (Exodus 15:5b).
We were held captive under the "bitter yoke" of sin and death. With signs and wonders God acted to save us, sending His Son to set us free. Jesus took onto Himself the bitter yoke of our sin and carried it to the cross, "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" (Hebrews 2:14b-15). Jesus died and was buried, but the sealed tomb and the soldiers on guard could not hold Him. Even death itself could not hold the Son of God and, on the first Easter morning, Jesus rose up in triumph from the grave.
The crucified and risen Lord appeared "among His own," proving that He was alive and bestowing "His deep peace." That same peace is ours in every time of trial, in grief and loss, in illness, and even in the face of death. When we stand at the shore of death's sea, we may feel as frightened and trapped as the Israelites did at the Red Sea, but through faith in Jesus, we will pass through death as He leads us "with unmoistened foot" to eternal life. The "gates of death" and the "tomb's dark portal" could not hold the Son of God, and death and the grave will not hold us. When Jesus returns on the Last Day, we will be raised bodily from death to enjoy forever in His presence that "deep peace, which evermore passes human knowing."
THE PRAYER: Lord Jesus, bring me safely through life and death into life in Your presence. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain," which is found on page 487 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How was the exodus an important event for the children of Israel's faith?
2. What does God do to liberate us today?
3. Have you ever felt yourself to be held captive by sin? How did you escape? Have you escaped?
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