Giant of the Bible


The Passover and the Sea. (Ez. xii. 14.)

WE now come to the types of redemption, the recognized theme of the book of Exodus. That it is related to atonement in the most intimate way is evident; for if atonement is by blood, so is redemption. They are nevertheless different thoughts; and their difference, as well as their relation to each other needs to be considered.

Redemption implies purchase - price in some way paid, as the Greek words for it especially show; although it is far removed from mere purchase, with which it is, in many minds, as in some creeds, confounded. Two things are implied beyond purchase: deliverance from alien possession, and that as an object of special interest to the redeemer. Even where the redemption is by power, as often in Scripture, it is implied that there is cost, if only of labour, effort, or peril incurred. We see at once that the first promise is a promise of redemption: the woman’s Seed the Redeemer; the redemption itself by power from the serpent; the bruised heel the personal cost incurred. Yet this bruised heel, as has been shown, is, in another aspect of it, atonement; and the word kopher, in Hebrew, stands for both. The atonement is the ransom - the price of redemption.

The difference between the two thoughts is plainly this: that atonement has in view the divine righteousness; redemption, the divine pity and love: atonement has respect to guilt; redemption, to degradation and misery. But the two connect here, that in the provision of atonement is seen the love of the Redeemer; in the nature of the ransom, the righteousness of the Judge, become thus the Justifier. Atonement and ransom are two different aspects of the same blessed work. Thus it is evident why the epistle to the Romans, which dwells on the reality of atonement, has for its key-note the righteousness of God; while we are "justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." (Chap. iii. 24.)

In the book of redemption, then, we would expect to find atonement a central figure, as indeed we do; and yet not to find so much its intrinsic character dwelt upon as its delivering power for those in whose behalf it is accomplished, that is to say, its manward rather than its Godward aspect. And this is how, exactly, the passover and the deliverance at the Red Sea present it to us. We must wait for Leviticus to realize in the sanctuary with God its full character for Him. Peace and deliverance must be first known and enjoyed before we are competent, and "at leisure from ourselves," to enjoy the manifestation.

Another thing that will help our apprehension of the types before us is to connect them with the epistle to the Romans, in which we find their real interpretation. Most evidently, the theme of Romans is the gospel salvation; and this also the types of Exodus show forth. In both, the deliverance is in two parts, or stages, the first part having respect to the judgment of God; the second, to the bondage of one who reigns unto death. In the first, moreover, it is the blood that shelters; in the second, a passage through death (which the sea figures) by which we escape from the captivity in which we were enslaved.
The detail is of surpassing interest; and though a tale often told, it will bear retelling. Our present object requires the main points at least to be brought out, as we shall find in it a material development of the doctrine of atonement, as far as concerns its application to the need of the soul.

We must remember, as we consider them, that these are types of experience - of realization and attainment - as the salvation which the gospel brings is a known and enjoyed blessing, "the righteousness of God revealed to faith." The knowledge of shelter under the blood of the Lamb may long precede the knowledge of a new ground before God in Christ gone up from the dead to His place in the heavens. Blessed be God, the possession of the place does not depend upon the apprehension of it: it is ours before we can apprehend it to be ours. But let us remember, then, that we have here an order of apprehension which does not involve a corresponding order of possession.

Taking, now, Romans to interpret to us Exodus, Egypt is the world of nature, in which our standing is "in the flesh," and in which sin reigns over us unto death, as Pharaoh over Israel. It is a condition not realized as bondage until God works in the soul, but then an increasingly bitter one. Then the "law of sin" becomes a "law of death" also, and the soul groans for deliverance: this deliverance God’s hand can alone accomplish.

And God’s way is not as our way, nor His thought as our thought. Our way is, by the strength He gives, to deliver ourselves from the law of sin within us, and then to meet God, not as sinners, but as saints, and to find Him for us thus, accepting through Christ our imperfect obedience, and putting away our failures for His sake: God’s way is to deliver us Himself, not by our own efforts blessed of Him, but, first, meeting us as sinners and justifying us as ungodly by Christ’s death for such.

Israel remains, subject to their old master, and not the first step taken of a walk with God, until they have learned that the judgment of God under which they lie in common with the Egyptians themselves is over, and they are safe, saved by the blood of the lamb. The first passover is kept in Egypt, their journey not yet begun; but they eat it with girded loins and shod feet and ready staves, for that night they are to begin to go out.

They go out with judgment passed over and behind them; for us the wrath to come anticipated by faith and met in the cross, as we have already seen illustrated in the eight saved in the ark from the judgment of the flood. Israel start, "justified instrumentally "by faith"- the faith by which they took refuge under the sheltered blood; justified effectively "by blood" which God saw, and passed over their houses. The blood declared the death inflicted upon the substitute: a penalty which in its very nature (as we have already seen) set the one for whom it was undergone outside the sphere of natural responsibility for evermore. Therefore says the apostle, "Much more, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him."

For the death threatened we here find plainly judicial; a death which, if it end not the existence of the one under it, (as with man it does not,) involves in the shadow of it all that after-state. Such indeed had death been in its real nature, apart from the mercy of God from the beginning; yet in fact the first death on earth had been that of one pronounced righteous - "righteous Abel." Here, and in the flood, it was a death impossible to be confounded with this, - a strictly penal death. And this taken, the shadow of it also is removed.

This too the "blood" implies: blood shed, not in martyrdom, as Abel’s, but by direct command of God, in exaction of penalty. How surely, then, "being now justified by His blood" insures our being "saved from wrath through Him"! All is settled - completely, finally settled, according to the type here and the apostle’s argument, when we begin to start on our path with God.

Settled forever Godward, but not yet are we outside the enemy’s jurisdiction. But his power is apparently broken, and God Himself is with us. From this point, and before the sea is reached, "the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."

This complete settlement is given to their apprehension in the feeding upon the lamb within the house. It is such an obvious type, that it needs no insisting on. Death here, as had been permitted, significantly, since the flood, becomes the food of life. But it is marked in this case, that the lamb must be, "not sodden in water," (or rather, boiled) "but roast with fire." Nothing must intervene between the fire and its object; even as with Christ made Sin no perfection of His blessed life, no excellency of His person, could modify the full wrath-bearing due to the place He took. And it is the apprehension of this that perfects peace. It was not a commuted penalty that the blessed Lord bore, as is so largely now believed, but "our sins" in their just due. Such was the righteousness of God as set forth in the cross; and that righteousness therefore now requires and proclaims the justification of the sinner who trusts in it.

Thus we start, God for us and God with us, wholly and eternally, from the first moment of our start.

Of such questions, then, the experience at the sea is no reopening. The question is there between Israel and the power that had enslaved them; and if God come in, as He does and must, it is to show Himself openly in their behalf in the accomplishment of their deliverance.

And in the second part of Romans we find such a deliverance accomplished. The question here is no more Godward; it is, "0 wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" The cause of this cry: "I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members." The deliverance itself: " The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath set me free from the law of sin and death." The ground of the deliverance: "Our old man is crucified with Christ, that the body of sin might be destroyed [or rather, annulled], that henceforth we should not serve [be slaves to] sin."

In all this, we seem to have the Red Sea passage before our eyes. Egypt, the territory of the flesh, is that within which the law of sin applies. The sea that shuts us in is death, the flesh’s limit: beyond it, (only let us remember that we have in this type, not simple fact, but realization of the fact,) we are "not in the flesh."

Then, for deliverance, first, our own powerlessness must be realized, as with Israel, and in the seventh of Romans experience; then, that God’s way for us is not by arming us with strength for conflict. Moses’ rod is uplifted, and by the east wind (of sorrow) through the night (of the cross), the sea (of death) is smitten and divided from shore to shore. Thus we pass through death, untouched by it, are dead with Him - dead to sin, and, brought out the other side of death, are (consciously) in Christ what He is, and set free from the law of sin and death.

All this has been more fully told elsewhere. It is retold now to show how the cross mediates and gives power over the corruption of the old nature, while as having life in Christ we are possessors of a new. The cross is our Pharaoh’s overthrow, the condemnation of sin in the flesh, the end of all self-bettering, and our title to turn from self-occupation to occupy ourselves with Him in whom there is no condemnation, and to find that while "with open face we behold the glory of the Lord, we are changed into His image from glory to glory." This is the "law of the Spirit" that sets us free; and walking in the Spirit, we "shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh."

But the passage through the sea does not land us in Canaan, as the doctrine of Romans does not put us in the heavenly places. We must for this add Joshua to Exodus, and Ephesians to Romans. We thus find that the passage through the flood has been divided into two for us, each part expanded and amplified, that we may the better view it. Here we pass over much of this, for our object is one precious truth, central indeed in doctrine, as the fact in divine history. May its contemplation grave it upon our hearts so as to enable us to say with the apostle, "God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ."
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