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The apocalyptic Revelation given to John witnesses to this grand climax of the Exodus Epic. Behind this revelation we find the language of the Exodus from Egypt and the rabbinic understanding of the Kingdom of God. In Exodus 15, we read the Spirit-inspired “Song of Moses” – a prophetic proclamation of the victory of YHWH over Israel’s enemies. In verse 18 Moses concludes with four famous words in Jewish tradition: Adonai yimlokh l’olam va’ed! “The LORD reigns forever and ever!” The Sages of Israel understand this text to be the first proclamation of Malkhut Ha-Shamayim, the Kingdom of Heaven (God), in the Torah.
YHWH manifests His kingship in his mighty righteous deeds on Israel’s behalf, throwing Pharaoh’s horses and riders into the sea. Redemption results intentionally in the Revelation at Sinai, where the redeemed receive YHWH as King of Israel. They acknowledge their responsibility – to walk in the light of His instruction and in obedience to His commands – and they follow Him (literally, walk after Him) through the wilderness to the place of promise, the Land where His house will be built.
When Yeshua comes out of the wilderness, He announces, “The Kingdom of Heaven (God) is here!” The Kingdom first proclaimed by Moses (in Exodus 15) now comes in the person of the Messiah (in Matthew 3). This prophet like Moses announces liberty to the captives, performs mighty deeds that demonstrate Kingdom power, teaches Torah to those willing to hear, and invites them to walk after (follow) Him as disciples. His atoning death secures forgiveness of sins and freedom from their consequence, death. But the ultimate purposes of God remain the same, and the end of the Exodus still awaits.
With this background, notice now what happens at the very end of time according to the visionary, John. “Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished.” (Revelation 15.1) God’s final judgment against wickedness, unrighteousness and evil in the earth comes to completion. But is that the end of the story? Absolutely not!
John continues: “And I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, ‘Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!’” (Revelation 15.2-3)
At the climax of history and the consummation of all things, the God of Israel becomes King over every nation, and all the righteous, both Jew and Gentile, with one voice sing an old-yet-new song – the Song of Moses joined to the Song of the Lamb! The great continuum of YHWH’s redemptive agenda in the earth – from the Exodus to Sinai, to Solomon and the Temple in Jerusalem, to David’s son, Yeshua the Messiah, and His witnessing community of faith – the prophetic song of freedom and kingship comes to its intended crescendo when “all the nations come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (Revelation 15:4).
The glorious end of the Exodus occurs when all the redeemed of the LORD sing the Song of Moses and the Song of the Lamb.
The New Jerusalem Coming Down
Where will be the destined place for this perpetual praise by God’s people? If our final home is in heaven then why bother building a sanctuary for the LORD? He has no need of a residence in the heavens. But YHWH’s passion and persistent intention has always been to bring heaven to earth. He saves us, not that we can go ‘up’, but that He might come ‘down’ in the midst of us!
John the Revelator sees the place where all things are consummated. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth… And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.’” (Revelation 21.1-3)
The God of the Bible is not the Unmoved Mover of the philosophers – distant, immutable and implacable. He is the “Moved Mover” (A.J. Heschel) that is passionate, purposeful and filled with pathos for His people. Therefore, the movement of God is always down, into the earth.
He comes down in the Creation and in Gan Eden (Garden of Eden);
He comes down in clouds of glory to redeem His beloved children Israel from Egypt, to meet with them at Sinai, and to guide them through the wilderness;
He comes down in Solomon’s sanctuary and fills the House with His Shekhinah;
He comes down in the person of His Son made flesh for the salvation of all nations;
He comes down by His Spirit to indwell His disciples and empower them to walk in the promise of the new covenant.
And ultimately the glorious city of the Great King is coming down, to be established in its rightful place forever!
The exodus from Egypt led to Israel’s inheritance of its land and the construction of a sanctuary suitable for God therein. In the great exodus from sin and death through our Messiah, we too have a promised inheritance: a new earth. In our justification and eventual glorification in the resurrection to come, the universe itself will be set free from bondage and enter into the liberty and splendor of God’s children. (Romans 8.19ff)
The redemption wrought by the Lamb of God shall eventuate in the restoration of the creation itself to the beauty and bounty intended by the Creator.
Then the LORD God comes into the renewed and restored earth in the fullness of His glorious presence and tabernacles among us. Then the dwelling of the King will be “with mankind, and He will live among them.” Similar language is used of Yeshua in the Fourth Gospel: “And the Word (Torah) became flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1.14) That was for a season, but a time is coming when God will tabernacle with us forever, His presence unabated, and His glory covering the whole earth. Then the Exodus will know its destined end.
Such is the grand panorama of the Exodus Epic. It is a story being written still, even on the hearts and in the lives of covenant people everywhere. It is a revelation of the Torah, but written for our instruction as well (Romans 15.4; 1 Corinthians 10.11). Let us walk therefore in the light of His word and in cooperation with His purposes. Let us hear and do that which the LORD says: “Build Me A Sanctuary …”