Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have pointed out that Exodus is a book of pictures that portray God’s salvation as revealed in the New Testament. This salvation is spiritual, mysterious, and related to the divine life. Without the pictures in the book of Exodus, it would be difficult for us to have a firm grasp of the meaning of God’s salvation. Therefore, in His wisdom, God uses the pictures in Exodus to depict His salvation.
The crossing of the Red Sea marked the completion of the first stage of God’s salvation of His chosen people. This stage includes three items: the Passover, the exodus, and the crossing of the Red Sea. The Passover is related to God’s judgment. Through the enjoyment of the Passover lamb, His people were saved from the judgment of God. The exodus is related to the tyranny of Pharaoh and to enslavement in Egypt. God’s people were not only under His judgment; they were also under the tyranny of Pharaoh. For this reason, they needed the Passover and the exodus as well. By means of the exodus, the people were delivered from Pharaoh’s tyranny and from Egyptian slavery. The crossing of the Red Sea is related to the destruction of the Egyptian army, which perished in the waters of the sea. Through these three aspects of God’s salvation, the children of Israel were saved from God’s judgment, from the tyranny of Pharaoh, and from the army of the Egyptians.
We have seen that the crossing of the Red Sea signifies baptism. First Corinthians 10:2 says that the children of Israel were all “baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” Hence, the crossing of the Red Sea was a full type of baptism in the New Testament. According to Romans 6:4, baptism ushers the believers into resurrection. In baptism we are placed into Christ’s death and buried with Him. In this way we are also resurrected in Christ and with Christ. The result is that we “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), that is, in resurrection life. All those who have been baptized into Christ should walk in resurrection. To be in resurrection is to be in another realm, in a realm that is beyond death. Just as the Red Sea was the separating line between Egypt and the wilderness, so the death of Christ realized by baptism is the separating line between the old realm and the realm of resurrection. Baptism separates us from the world and brings us into the realm of resurrection.
According to 15:22, “Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness.” In the writings of Moses the wilderness has both a positive and a negative significance. However, most Christians have heard only that there is a negative significance. Many readers of Exodus may be surprised when they hear that the wilderness in this verse signifies resurrection. In order to understand this adequately, we need the proper knowledge of the Bible and some amount of spiritual experience as well.
The Red Sea was created by God as a baptistry for the children of Israel. This means that even in His creation God made some preparations to signify the salvation of His people. The geographical features signify spiritual things. Africa is on the west side of the Red Sea, and Asia is on the east side. The word Shur means a wall, and the name Migdol, mentioned in 14:2, means a fortress. According to some historians, there was a separating wall to protect the land of Egypt, a wall that began at the Mediterranean Sea and ended at Shur. After the children of Israel had crossed the Red Sea, for three days they journeyed in the wilderness of Shur (15:22). The pillar of cloud led them to the south, toward Marah.
In order to know the spiritual significance of these geographical facts, we need to consider this portion of the Word according to the revelation in the New Testament and also according to our experience. We have pointed out that baptism ushers the believers into resurrection. We have also pointed out that the Red Sea was the baptistry in which the children of Israel were baptized. Hence, after they were baptized in the Red Sea, they were brought into resurrection. According to 3:18 and 5:1, Moses told Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go so that they might make a journey of three days into the wilderness and there sacrifice to the Lord their God and hold a feast unto Him. This journey of three days signifies resurrection. This means that it is in resurrection that the people of God were separated from Egypt. Hence, the wilderness is a realm of separation.
Now we must go on to see that the wilderness also signifies the realm of resurrection. We say this according to the New Testament revelation regarding baptism and also according to our experience. Baptism brings us into resurrection. As soon as a believer is baptized, he has the sense that he has been brought out of the old realm into a new realm, the realm of resurrection. Romans 6:4 says that, having been baptized into Christ, we should walk in newness of life. No doubt, to walk in newness of life means to live in the realm of resurrection. According to the type in Exodus, this realm is the wilderness of Shur. Thus, the wilderness of Shur is a type of the realm of resurrection. As we have seen, it also signifies a realm of separation. When the children of Israel entered into this realm, they were separated from Egypt both by the Red Sea and by the wall.
We are told in 15:22 that the children of Israel “went three days in the wilderness.” Since three is the number of resurrection, this signifies that they walked in resurrection, that is, in newness of life. It is significant that the journey from the Red Sea to Marah was exactly three days, not two days, four days, or even three and a half days. According to a note in the text of the Amplified Version, the distance from the Red Sea to Marah was thirty-three miles. Surely the children of Israel could have walked this distance in less than three days. We must believe that the pace of their travel was under God’s sovereign leading and control. The fact that they traveled for three days is a portrait of walking in resurrection. When the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they certainly walked in a way that was different from the way they walked in Goshen. In Goshen they did not have the pillar of cloud, but in the wilderness they walked according to the guidance of this pillar. They were led by the Lord’s presence to walk in a new way.
Perhaps you are wondering why the Bible uses the wilderness to signify resurrection, for we do not usually think of resurrection as a wilderness. To those who have been baptized into Christ, resurrection is not a wilderness. But it is a wilderness in the eyes of the worldly people. After we were baptized, our relatives and friends may have thought that we entered into some kind of wilderness. Before we were baptized, we were in Egypt enjoying the Egyptian “garlic,” “leeks,” and “onions,” and our relatives and friends were happy with us. But by believing in the Lord Jesus and by being baptized, we were brought into a new realm, which our relatives and friends considered to be a wilderness. But in the eyes of God this wilderness is actually a realm of resurrection. If we have the heavenly view, we shall realize that the realm we entered through baptism is not a wilderness, but a realm of separation and resurrection. In this realm we walk in resurrection according to the Lord’s guidance. Praise the Lord that in His creation God prepared even the geographical features in order to present a picture of His salvation!
According to 12:37, the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. Leaving Succoth, they eventually encamped between Migdol and the sea (14:2). God did not lead His people “through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near” (13:17). Even though that was the usual way for people to journey from Egypt to the land of Canaan, God led His people southward instead, and then brought them to the Red Sea so that they could be baptized there. In the eyes of Pharaoh, it was foolish for the children of Israel to take such a way. He thought they were trapped there by the sea and had no way of escape. In the eyes of man God’s way was foolish. However, God had planned to bring His people through the Red Sea into the wilderness of Shur. Furthermore, after He led them through the sea, He did not lead them northward according to geography. He purposely took them southward on a journey of three days to Marah.
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