Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
God’s complete salvation for His chosen people includes the Passover, the exodus from Egypt, and the crossing of the Red Sea. The Passover signifies redemption; the exodus signifies the going out from the world; and the crossing of the Red Sea signifies baptism. A full salvation with all these aspects is exactly what we need and what we enjoy today.
It was necessary for God to have such a person as Pharaoh for the accomplishing of these three aspects of salvation. Without him there would not have been the necessary environment, circumstances, and situations. If we see this matter, we shall praise the Lord for His sovereignty. Pharaoh’s opposition created an environment that made the Passover possible. We cannot say that Pharaoh was the source of the Passover. However, we can say that without him there would not have been the necessary environment for the institution of the Passover.
The Passover included provision for redemption, which the children of Israel needed because of their sins. The Passover, however, includes much more than redemption. Christians recognize the need for redemption, but they may not see the need for the Passover. During the night of the Passover, not only were the children of Israel saved, but the Egyptians and the evil power of darkness were judged. In a normal experience of salvation, we are redeemed, and the power of darkness within us and around us is judged. However, many Christians are not saved in a normal way. They experience redemption, but they do not experience God’s judgment of the power of darkness.
We have seen that time after time Pharaoh struggled against the Lord, resisting His demand to let the children of Israel go. But the more Pharaoh struggled, the more he helped to bring about the environment that was needed for the accomplishment of God’s salvation.
Although Pharaoh continually resisted God’s demands, Moses continued to negotiate with him. None of us would have exercised the patience required of Moses. We would probably have given up after the first few conflicts. This is often what we do as we deal with people today. For example, perhaps we are burdened for the salvation of a particular person. We may expect that anyone who has been chosen by God will turn to the Lord after we have contacted him a few times. But if he continues to resist the Lord, we may give up, thinking that it is a waste of time to pursue the matter further. Moses, on the contrary, was patient and persevering in his dealings with Pharaoh.
As a result of Moses’ contact with Pharaoh and of Pharaoh’s struggle against the Lord, the situation in Egypt became very tense. Eventually, the Passover became a necessity. When Pharaoh and the Egyptians had proved that they were wholly against the Lord, the time had come for the Lord to exercise His judgment upon the rebellious Egyptians and to deliver His people. As the children of Israel were enjoying the Passover, the Egyptians were suffering under the judgment of God. The Egyptians, however, had no right to blame God for this. They had brought the judgment of God upon themselves. They were responsible for producing the environment that required the institution of the Passover, with its redemption and its judgment.
In a similar way, it was with the help of Pharaoh that God’s people made their exodus from Egypt. Otherwise, the children of Israel probably would never have left the land of Egypt. If Pharaoh and the Egyptians had been kind to them, they would have had no desire to leave Egypt. But Pharaoh’s oppression of the children of Israel created the environment for their exodus from Egypt and then made it necessary for them to go. Eventually, Pharaoh drove God’s people out of Egypt. Hence, Pharaoh was used by God to accomplish the exodus of His people.
According to God’s ordination and His economy, in His salvation there is the need for baptism, which is signified by the crossing of the Red Sea. In order to accomplish this aspect of salvation, God did not lead His people directly into the land of Canaan, through the territory of the Philistines. Rather, as we pointed out in the foregoing message, He led them to take a roundabout way. He caused them to go southward and turn toward the Red Sea, seemingly toward a dead end. The Lord, however, knew what He was planning to do. His intention was to use the Red Sea to baptize His people and to bury Pharaoh and his army. If the children of Israel had gone directly into the land of Canaan through the territory of the Philistines, they would not have crossed the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army would not have been buried. Therefore, in the crossing of the Red Sea, God used Pharaoh once again, this time to create a situation to bring about the baptism of His people. By means of the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire, God led them to take a detour. As they marched behind the pillar that guided them, they were led to camp by the sea (14:2).
According to 14:3, the Lord knew that Pharaoh would say of the children of Israel, “They are wandering aimlessly in the land, the wilderness hath shut them in” (Heb.). In the eyes of the Egyptians, the Israelites were very foolish for taking such an indirect route. Thus, the situation of the children of Israel in the wilderness tempted Pharaoh to pursue them. Therefore, the encampment of the children of Israel by the sea and the pursuit by Pharaoh and his chariots produced an ideal environment for the baptism of God’s people and the burial of Pharaoh and his army.
According to the concept of the worldly people, many of us were wandering aimlessly during the period of time between our conversion and our baptism. Before we were saved, we had a definite goal, an aim in life. But after we were saved, we apparently had no goal and had begun to wander aimlessly. We, of course, had a spiritual goal. But in the eyes of the worldly people we had no aim in life and were no longer clear about our future. This kind of aimless wandering often stirs up persecution. Others may accuse us of no longer knowing what we are doing or where we are going. Some may even think that we have lost our sanity. Many of us have undergone this kind of persecution.
However, such persecution helps us to have a proper and thorough baptism. If we are not persecuted for apparently wandering aimlessly, our baptism may be a mere procedure with little significance. But if we are persecuted for having lost our goal, our baptism will be very meaningful. Hence, we must thank the Lord for this kind of persecution. I can testify that the best baptisms I have witnessed were of those who had been persecuted by relatives and friends. In these cases, the new converts had a great deal to bury when they were immersed. However, when there is no persecution, baptism may not be as meaningful, for when the new converts are buried, nothing else is buried with them.
When the children of Israel were baptized in the Red Sea, they brought the Egyptian army into the water with them. In principle, the same thing should take place whenever a new convert is baptized. The army of the world should be brought into the baptistry and buried in the waters of baptism.
We have seen that Pharaoh was a help to the children of Israel in three aspects of God’s salvation. He helped them to have the Passover, to make their exodus from Egypt, and to have a thorough baptism. According to typology, this picture is comprehensive. If we consider the type and apply it to our situation today, we shall be able to help new believers to be baptized in a proper way.
A number of years ago I was very active in preaching the gospel, and many were saved through my gospel preaching. I always expected the newly saved ones to be baptized shortly after their conversion to Christ. I thought they would take a straight path from conversion to baptism. But according to the type in the book of Exodus, this expectation is wrong. God did not lead His people directly into the promised land. As we have pointed out, He led them to take a roundabout way. In the same principle, God may not lead the ones saved through our gospel preaching to take a straight path to baptism. On the contrary, He may lead them to take a detour. In the eyes of the world, it is ridiculous to follow such a way, for seemingly it leads to a dead end. Nevertheless, this is God’s leading, and it results in a proper baptism with a termination of the army of the world.
If we study the type in Exodus, we shall no longer expect new converts to take a straight path from conversion to baptism. We shall realize that the way God leads them may have many problems. However, this is God’s way to bring the converts into a situation where they are forced to have a proper and thorough baptism.
Let us now look into some of the details of Pharaoh’s last struggle, a struggle that was used by God in a definite way for the full salvation of His people.
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