THE RED SEA
Christ’s Death and Resurrection for Us
The Lord is risen: the Red Sea’s judgment flood
Is passed in Him, who bought us with His blood.
The Lord is risen: we stand beyond the doom
Of all our sin, through Jesus’ empty tomb.
The Lord is risen: with Him we also rose,
And in His grave see vanquished all our foes.
The Lord is risen: beyond the judgment land,
In Him, in resurrection life we stand.
Introduction: God is For Us
While the Passover was a token that God was not against Israel, He still had not shown them that He was for them. That comes at the crossing of the Red Sea. “The LORD shall fight for you” (Exodus 14:14). Not only did God show that He was for them, but also that He was bringing them to Himself. God was still outside the door in the Passover, but in their exodus from Egypt they were being brought to God “that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness”.
- Introduction: God is For Us
- The Way of the Red Sea
- Between Migdol and the Sea (Exodus 14:1-14)
- Crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-31)
- Memorial: The Song of Deliverance (Exodus 15)
- Typical Significance of the Red Sea
- Applying the Truth of Deliverance
- Eternal Life
- The Sealing of the Spirit and Sonship
- The Related Subject of Baptism
The Way of the Red Sea
An important question arises; why did their journey take them the way of the Red Sea? Eventually, the Children of Israel would have to face two enemies: the Philistines (representing the flesh in the land) and the Canaanites (spiritual wickedness in heavenly places). To to “see war” before really learning their own hearts and God’s heart would only result in them being brought back into bondage in Egypt.
“God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea.” Exodus 13:17-18
Therefore, God needed to lead Israel first in the path of the Red Sea, where they would see the fullness of God’s power on their behalf. Typically, this represents the believer coming to have deliverance from the power of sin and Satan. We cannot possess our Canaan (spiritual blessings) nor battle our Canaanites (spiritual wickedness in heavenly places) without passing through the Red Sea, and seeing God for us in delivering power.
Between Migdol and the Sea (Exodus 14:1-14)
(vv.1-4) The Lord specifically tells them to camp by the sea. He states his intent to destroy Pharaoh and the host of the Egyptians.
(vv.5-9) Pharaoh feels his loss, pursues after Israel, overtakes them encamping by the sea beside Pi-hahiroth (“mouth of caverns” or “mouth of wrath”) and before Baal-zephon (“Lord of the North”). This corresponds to our experience before we find deliverance. Satan feels his loss when we appropriate the Passover, and so now he gathers his forces to bring is back into bondage. Sadly, he is often successful.
(vv.10-12) Israel is terrified as Pharaoh and his armies approach. Exodus 14 corresponds to Romans 7, partial salvation syndrome. The man in Romans 7 is quickened (he has the new nature) but does not yet have deliverance from the law of sin and death. In one sense, there is nothing more awful than being in this state, pictured by Israel between Pi-hahiroth and Baal-zephon with Pharaoh (Satan) behind them and the Red Sea (death) before them.
(vv.13-14) The Lord would win the victory. “For the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” Egypt would be defeated forever. Later, we will see that Israel was to have war with Amalek (the flesh in the wilderness) from generation to generation, but the Egyptian army (Satan and his power) are defeated forever. This is the blessed truth we often call “deliverance from the law of sin”.
Crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 14:15-31)
(vv.15-18) The way to deliverance was through the sea (death), but “on dry ground”. The Lord’s death has made the ground dry for us. The sea would be their deliverance, and the destruction of their enemies. The result would be honor to the Lord. Moses was to “lift up his rod”, a figure of God’s judicial power. The rod fell on Christ in the place of death; that sea which was the barrier trapping us in the land of Egypt, preventing us from drawing near to God. The barrier opens, and the people march through death into life, set free, and reconciled to God!
Jehovah lifted up His rod —
O Christ, it fell on Thee!
Thou wast forsaken of Thy God;
No distance now for me.
Thy blood beneath that rod has flowed:
Thy bruising healeth me.
(vv.19-31) The waters were blown back by a strong east wind, and Israel went through on dry ground. The Egyptians assay to follow, and drown. “Through death” (Red Sea) the Lord has destroyed “him that had (but no longer has) the power of death, that is the devil” (Pharaoh). Coming up out of the water into a new land, Israel represents a believer brought into a new standing before God (“in Christ”). Understanding this gives perfect peace. The waters of judgment never touched us, because the storm broke on Christ.
The tempest’s awful voice was heard,
O Christ, it broke on Thee;
Thy open bosom was my ward;
It bore the storm for me.
Thy form was scarred, Thy visage marred;
Now cloudless peace for me.
Memorial: The Song of Deliverance (Exodus 15)
Without a doubt, Romans 5:10-11 answers to the Song of Deliverance:
“For if, being enemies, we have been reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much rather, having been reconciled, we shall be saved in the power of his life. And not only that, but we are making our boast in God, (or “joy in God”) through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom now we have received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:10-11
The Song of Deliverance is full of typical teaching. It pictures a soul in the joy of knowing what Christ has done for them in bringing them to God and defeating Satan through death. They could not sing this song while in Egypt, for – even while eating the Passover – Pharaoh’s power was there.
(v.2) The LORD was their strength and salvation. That is key. We need to look away from SELF and see Jesus Christ as our only Savior. The immediate response is “I will prepare him an habitation.” We want fellowship with our Savior.
(v.4) Pharaoh’s chariots and chosen captains have sunk to the bottom like a stone. The victory is final. It will never need to be repeated.
(v.9) The enemy’s true desire is revealed: “I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them”; i.e. the final destruction of God’s people.
(vv.13-15) A view from the purposes of God; they have been led into the land (still future). The victory of the Red Sea would have an effect on the enemies in the land, which would hear of Jehovah’s power. Deliverance from Egypt was but a foreshadowing of their future victory over the Canaanites and possession of their blessings.
Typical Significance of the Red Sea
We have two great things in the Red Sea: (1) we are given a perfect standing (Rom. 8:1), and (2) we have deliverance from our Enemies (Rom. 8:2). We will now proceed to examine each of these truths in greater detail.
A Perfect Standing, and Peace with God
Non-imputation vs. a righteous standing. In the application of the Passover we have the knowledge that our past sins are forgiven. But as we continue to sin (if it should happen) we feel that we need a re-application of the Passover. This is because we still have “conscience of sins” (Hebrews 10:2). When we come to the Red Sea we understand our forgiven standing, and see that “by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” Now we have no more conscience of sins,1 because we know that we stand in a forgiven position! Christ went down into the waters of death, was “delivered for our offenses”, then “raised again for our justification”. We are “in Christ,” that is, “in Christ’s place before God”.2
An illustration of a righteous standing. Let’s say you are in a dangerous battlefield. A new piece of armor has been invented which can stop any bullet. Wearing that armor in the field is like being in Egypt but sheltered by the blood. Every time a bullet comes, the armor needs to act. But a deeper sense of justification is seen in crossing the Red Sea. Let’s say you are airlifted out of the battlefield to stand in an impenetrable fortress which can never be shaken. How much greater to have a justified standing before God! Get it…? “Standing”… your feet are on different ground.
Peace with God. The result of understanding our place “in Christ” is that we have peace with God. We can see this by connecting the end of Rom. 4 with the beginning of Rom. 5. We didn’t have peace with God in Egypt, and we certainly didn’t have it between Migdol and the Sea. It is not incumbent upon us to “make peace”. He has already “made peace by the blood of His cross.” Peace is enjoyed by simple faith in the Person and finished Work of Christ.
“Therefore having been justified on the principle of faith, we have peace towards God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 5:1
Sealing of the Spirit. Until we appropriate the Red Sea, we cannot be sealed with the Spirit because we are not in the proper Christian position before God. The Spirit seals a finished work of salvation, not a partial work. That is the meaning of Romans 8:9, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Those without the Spirit of God do not yet stand in the place that Christ has won for us.
The joy of reconciliation. One who has the knowledge of their full salvation can “joy in God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” At such a time we are in Romans 5:1-11. There can be nothing higher in one sense.3 We have been brought back to God without a shadow of enmity between us… we can come into His direct presence with singing!
Our need for deliverance. The children of Israel, who had just been feeding on the roast lamb in the shelter of the blood, shortly found themselves between Migdol and the sea, crying out in alarm and fear. After we are converted (Passover applied) we are soon shocked to find the presence of indwelling sin, evil desires, the power of Satan, etc. We don’t know our true standing before God, and we don’t know deliverance yet. God’s remedy for this predicament is typified by the Red Sea. Until we apply the Red Sea, we might well join in the cry of the Israelites between Migdol and the Sea. What are the reasons for their cry? The Christian’s three enemies. In each case it is Christ’s death that delivers us.
- The flesh, indwelling sin (Romans 6:6)
- The power of Satan (Hebrews 2:14-15)
- The influence of the world (Galatians 1:4)
They were afraid of perishing in the wilderness after all. Christians who have not gone through the Red Sea are more miserable than slaves in Egypt. “And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die?” This corresponds to the miserable statement of the man in Romans 7, “For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” How could this be one who has known full deliverance?
A necessary experience. The mountains (circumstances of life) on either side of them; the sea (death) in front; Pharaoh and all his hosts (Satan and the world) are behind them. They were trapped like rats. They were utterly powerless, and they were being made to realize it. It is necessary for us all to go through it, although we don’t have to stay there. We must learn what Paul means when he says “without strength”! We don’t appreciate God’s salvation if we don’t see that we were yet “without strength.”
Identification with Christ in His death. In the Red Sea we have died with Christ in the sense of “dead to sin” and “dead to the law”. The power that held us is annulled through the death and resurrection of Christ! The law of sin still works in us, but a more powerful principle is in action, the law of the Spirit of Life!
Dead in Sins ≠ Dead to Sin ≠ Dead. There is a difference between being “personally dead” in God’s sight versus being “dead to sin” (or “dead to the law”) versus being “dead in sins”. The term “dead in sins“ refers to man’s true moral condition before the God’s sovereign action to quicken us. Romans doesn’t speak of this condition, but views a man with new life needing the gospel, we might say “alive in sins”. You only get “dead in sins” in Colossians 2 and Ephesians 2.4 The term “dead to sin” we get in Romans 6, and it carries the thought of “unresponsive to sin”, just as a dead person does not respond to temptation. “Dead to the law” we get in Romans 7 and Galatians 2, and it carries the thought of ceasing to be under the law’s jurisdiction, just as a dead man cannot be arrested, tried, found guilty, etc. But in these two cases the Spirit of God employs the word “dead” with a suffix, or in a special context. When we come to Colossians, there is no suffix, we are “dead“… period. It is a much fuller sense of deadness; everything we were in Adam is gone now in God’s sight. This is an important difference.5 Also, we are “alive unto God” in Romans 6, but not yet “risen with Him” as in Ephesians and Colossians. To summarize; we are “dead in sins” before quickening in Egypt, we are “dead to sin” and “dead to the law” in the Red Sea, but not “personally dead” until the Jordan.6
Applying the Truth of Deliverance
There are many Christians who do not realize the glorious truths of the Red Sea… the doctrine of Romans 6 and 8. Perhaps they see that the blood screens them from the judgment of God (Rom. 3); but there is no happy Song of Deliverance on their lips. They are still on Egypt’s side of the Red Sea, where the man is in Romans 7, partially saved, with a changed understanding (v.14), a changed will (v.18), and a changed heart (v.22), but no power to act on it. The song comes when we stand by faith on the wilderness side of the Red Sea, and see complete deliverance from sin, the world, and Satan. Read Rom. 6:1-11.
The truth of deliverance is that we are no longer slaves to sin, but we have the Spirit of God within us to empower the new nature. Applying this truth is a matter of faith. We need to believe what God has said, and “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin”.
Common mistakes include:
- Trying to “sense” that we are dead to sin. This is futile because everything I experience tells me I’m not dead to sin. The Word of God is what we need to believe, not our senses.
- Looking within ourselves to find the power for deliverance (like the man in Romans 7). This will only result in despair. We need to accept that God has condemned sin in the flesh (Rom. 8:3).
- Using legal methods to obtain deliverance. This is a huge mistake because the sin nature goes into high gear when presented with a law.
Many Christians today are trying legal approaches to find deliverance from sin. They have buddy systems, accountability circles, internet filters, etc. much of which is to be commended, but will never produce deliverance. They have guilt-tripping sermons directed to the old man, and a thousand other attempted remedies that always fail long-term. They might work short-term; e.g. just look at the success of the drug abuse rehabilitation programs, even with unsaved persons. But is this the only resource for the believer? No! Why are we trifling with legality and the world’s system of self-improvement in order to find deliverance? We already have it… if we would just lay hold of it by faith.
The positive and negative aspects. There are really two aspects of deliverance from sin: (1) the negative side – reckon yourself dead unto sin, and (2) the positive side – walk in the Spirit. We need to do both things. Both aspects are mentioned in Romans and Galatians, although in Romans Paul spends more time on the negative side, and in Galatians he spends more time on the positive side.
Another thing we come into when we stand on resurrection ground is Eternal Life. The subject of “life” is a vast subject, and I can only touch on a few details here.
An upgraded character of divine life. When we were quickened, we received a new life from God that we did not have before. But when we believe the full gospel, and are sealed with the Spirit, that new life is upgraded to the highest character,7 such that we share the same life as Christ Himself. This life is called “Resurrection Life”, “Abundant Life”, or “Life in the Son”. It cannot be had apart from Christ (hence, “life in his son”) and it cannot be sustained without feeding on Him.
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” 1 John 5:11
We call it “Resurrection life” because it is beyond the tomb, and can never be touched by sin or death.8 The disciples received this life on resurrection day, see John 20:22. Abundant life is resurrection life, but in the aspect of the full enjoyment of the characteristics of that life. Eternal life is that same life again, but the emphasis is on communion; the enjoyment of the fellowship that it brings us into.
John’s Ministry vs. Paul’s. The difference between eternal life in John’s ministry and Paul’s ministry is that John shows the character of the life in itself (life “in the Son”), whereas Paul is occupied with the position of the believer, the position in which we have that life (life “in Christ Jesus”). Compare I John 5:11 with Rom. 8:2. Paul more often speaks of eternal life in the future aspect, and a character of life we will enjoy when we get to heaven, but John speaks of it as a present possession.
One Plant with the Son. The risen life of Christ (Resurrection life) in the believer is what makes us “one plant” with the Son. We are all “one kind”; i.e. we have essentially the same life as Christ! In rising from the dead, Christ as Firstborn became the Beginning of the Creation of God (Rev. 3:14).
New Relationships. Being one plant with Christ, we are now brought into all His relationships (read John 20:17). The enjoyment of these relationships is characteristic of “Eternal Life”. It is the indwelling Holy Ghost that allows us to enjoy this life in communion with the Father and the Son (John 17:3), and makes all children in “one family”, and all the members of that one family have the same interests and goals (John 17:21).
Intelligence in divine things. The indwelling Spirit is not only the power for deliverance from sin, but is the great Interpreter of scripture. The Spirit of God is the one that teaches us spiritual truths (I Cor. 2:12-13), and guides our understanding of the Word of God (John 16:13).
The Sealing of the Spirit and Sonship
When we are sealed with the Spirit, we not only gain the power for deliverance, but we also gain an elevated status: something Paul speaks of as “adoption” or “Sonship”. Read Gal. 4:5-7 and Rom. 8:15-16. The adoption of sons is not what brings us into God’s family – that happened by new birth, making us children of God. Adoption brings us as children into an elevated position and relationship of intelligence (“sons”). It is the greatest blessing we have as believers… there is no higher place in heaven! In Ephraim and Manasseh we get a picture of adoption. They were grandchildren, but for the sake of Joseph (the Son of His Love), Israel elevated these two boys to a position equilateral with the other sons! He said of these two boys, they “are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.” (Gen. 48:5)
When we pass through the Red Sea, we receive a spirit (attitude) of adoption. The order goes:
- We are brought into the understanding of our salvation,
- We receive the adoption (status) of sons,
- God sends out he Spirit of His Son into our hearts
- We can now cry “Abba, Father” denoting familiarity and intimacy
- The Spirit begins His work: to remind us that we are the children of God (Rom. 8:16), to write Christ on our hearts (II Cor. 3), to make intercession for us (Rom. 8:26), etc.
It should be noted that “children” in Galatians refers to Israel under law, not to the family of God (as in Romans 8 and John’s ministry). When he says “ye” in v.6, he is turning to the Gentiles, who were never children. Therefore, the elect of Israel were upgraded from children to sons, but the saved Gentiles went straight from enemies to being sons!
The prodigal son is a parallel type with Israel’s transition from Egypt through the Red Sea, but it has added details that illustrate Sonship.
- Quickening (faith is now in exercise) – “he came to himself”
- Repentance (the action of the new life) – “I perish with hunger”
The prodigal still needs redemption (being set free from the far off land) and reconciliation (return to the father). It is in the same way
that Israel needed redemption (deliverance from Pharaoh’s power) and reconciliation (to hold a feast to Jehovah in the wilderness).
that Israel needed redemption (deliverance from Pharaoh’s power) and reconciliation (to hold a feast to Jehovah in the wilderness).
- Redemption – deliverance from the far country
- Reconciliation – being brought into the embrace of the father
- Sealing of the Spirit – the father’s kiss
While travelling to his father he had the spirit of a hired servant (bondage), but now he enjoys the liberty of Sonship (the spirit of adoption), whereby we cry “Abba, Father.”
The Related Subject of Baptism
Baptism pictures the truth of the Red Sea. As we have already shown from Rom. 6, the believer is identified with Christ in His death, which separates him from a sphere where sin is our master. In an outward way, baptism is what separates us from this world, which will shortly come under judgment. There is one sense (in Colossians, where baptism is connected with circumcision) where the truth of the Jordan comes in.
Baptism is the door of admission into the Christian testimony; “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Once baptized, a person is on Christian ground, regardless of the faith of the person being baptized. I Cor. 10 tells us that all Israel was “baptized” in the cloud and in the Red Sea, and as such came into the position of responsibility in the world, where that profession was tested… in the wilderness. Baptism puts us into the wilderness, but never into the heavenlies (Canaan) or in the body of Christ.
So it is that the Children of Israel entered the wilderness, with their enemies dead on the sea shore, and a song in their hearts. The Red Sea marks a pivotal event in our Christian life, as we pass from Egypt to Canaan.
The Lord is risen: redeemed now to God,
We tread the desert which His feet have trod.
The Lord is risen: the sanctuary’s our place,
Where now we dwell before the Father’s face.
The Lord is risen: the Lord is gone before,
We long to see Him, and to sin no more.
The Lord is risen: our triumph-shout shall be,
“Thou hast prevailed! Thy people, Lord, are free!”
- When we say that the believer has “no more conscience of sins” we mean that he knows sins can never be imputed to him again. What we DO NOT mean is that he can sin and without being aware that it is sin.
- Note: being “in Christ” takes us far higher than a justified position – it actually places us in a new creation (I Cor. 5:17)! But that subject isn’t taken up specifically in Romans… and we will see that when we come to the Jordan. The closest you get to it is in Romans 5, where we have a justified life due to being under Christ as our new head. But still, it is referring to justification… while New Creation isn’t even concerned with justification. Justification, our being “in Christ”, is the “platform” on which the New Creation is built.
- CHM said that “we joy in God” is the highest point in the book of Romans, even higher than Romans 8. – Mackintosh, C.H. Gilgal. Collected Writings: Vol. 2.
- “These (thoughts of dead to sin, dead to the law, etc. in Romans) think of sin, though of death to it, but never of our living in it. Colossians goes a step further, and on to ground which is fully developed in Ephesians. When man’s highest condition in this respect is spoken of, he has not died to anything: he is viewed as dead in trespasses and sins, and then as a new creation – a creation after God. It is just mentioned Colossians 2:13. This is fully developed in Ephesians 2.” – Darby, J.N. Letters of J.N. Darby: Volume 2, number 311.
- “Now here we are not crucified; we are not dead, but dead to something – only abstractedly one that has died cannot be charged with sin, is justified from it as a present working, evil working in him – and I reckon myself dead, so that sin should not reign in our mortal body, the old man crucified, so that we should not serve sin.” – Darby, J.N. Notes and Comments, Vol. 1, p. 248
- Galatians 2:20 “I am crucified with Christ” is similar to “personally dead”. Notice it is closely connected with “dead to the law”, but the Spirit of God keeps it distinct. Click here for more on this.
- “But the state of that life is modified by the consciousness of that place into which it is, in all its relationships, brought — where Christ is, which affects it in all its thoughts and affections, according to the power of the Holy Ghost which is in and with it.” – Darby, J.N. Letters of J. N. Darby: Volume 2, number 271, 1877.
- Note that the term “Resurrection Life” is not found in scripture, but the principle is. The same is true of the term, the “new nature”, the “rapture”, and many other terms.