The Red Sea and Jordan

Colossians 2:12  •  15 min. read  •  grade level: 8
IT is clear that the Red Sea is more the positive work of God who delivers, and the Jordan more that in us which realizes it, as associated with Christ. We are "begotten again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"—I am set free and brought to God—he that had the power of death is destroyed—I am brought to God. Christ having died and risen again, death and judgment were there, but Christ has gone through them, and I am free and with God; death and judgment ruin those not in Christ.
But I have died with Christ in Jordan. It is a real work in me in the power of the Holy Ghost, so that that flesh which does exist, and was tried and judged in the wilderness, as it is, is dead, as I am crucified with Christ, and we sit in heavenly places in Him, and war there. There is no circumcision in the wilderness; it is the first thing in Canaan, and strength there and the camp there. There are no hostile powers destroyed in Jordan, they are there to fight the other side—we being the Lord's host. The ark had dried the river—then Gilgal characterized it. "Through death he destroyed him that had the power of death and delivered them that were, all their lifetime, subject to bondage." It is ourselves in Canaan, and the ark is there, we with Christ in grace—the power in Him; death is not inflicted as judgment, but it is death to sin. God condemned sin in the flesh in Christ's death, but that is Red Sea work, but then He died to sin there, and we reckon ourselves dead to sin; but not in Jordan deliverance through Christ's death, where death and judgment were, but death in us, and with Him, as an end of flesh—not deliverance from and by, but with and to—then practiced and realized in Gilgal, not known as deliverance once for all.
Though we start from death and resurrection, I do not think that Colossians takes us out of the wilderness; it is not however Hebrews truth, but a condition between. It takes up the Red Sea, but not for the wilderness, but in view of Canaan. The wilderness was no purpose of God (see Ex. 3:88And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. (Exodus 3:8) and chap. 15) but His ways. In Colossians the hope is laid up for us in heaven. When we are said to be risen, it is only the administration of Christ's resurrection in baptism (not so in Ephesians); it is "we are buried with him in baptism, wherein also we are risen with Him through faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead." It is only, too, on our going down into death as theretofore alive in sins, which is not in Ephesians, where we are dead in sins and created anew. Hence when he speaks of the Ephesian part (chap. 2: 13) he does not go on to resurrection. But then we must remark that in the Ephesians it is a distinct point, i.e., "quickening" is alike in Ephesians and Colossians, then, without any reference to baptism, resurrection and sitting in heavenly places of Jew and Gentile is stated. In Colossians, resurrection comes by itself, connected with baptism. Being "in Christ" is in all, Romans, Colossians1 and Ephesians, except Galatians—there it is not.
What is more remarkable is that, while Romans and Colossians have also Christ in us according to John 14, in Ephesians this is not found, save in the wish that He may dwell in our hearts by faith, which is quite another thing, and could not be applied to His being in us. It is clear Colossians is only a state on earth, but dead and risen with Christ and looking up to heaven. As heretofore remarked, we have not the Holy Ghost here, but life. The Colossians, too, is exclusively to Gentiles, not the union of both Jew and Gentile in one body, though the Church and Body be specifically named. Hence also state and condition, not relationship, is fully developed; not relationship either to the Father or to Christ. It is not the plan or counsel of God, but the state of the Colossians. Hence in Ephesians we have no "if"; in Colossians we have "if" in the first chapter-as they were on earth, the question remained. But it is not through the wilderness, but holding fast the hope, for the position is in chapter 1:27; so verse 5, the condition is in verses 10-14. So Eph. 1:44According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: (Ephesians 1:4) is counsel; Col. 1:2222In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: (Colossians 1:22) is what is to be. So the result in Ephesians is the showing forth the exceeding riches of God's grace; in Colossians we have "a hope laid up in heaven." "Resurrection" in the Colossians is after burial to death (we had lived in sin); in Ephesians, it is when we were dead in sins. After this in Colossians we have no resurrection. "Quickening" makes the essential difference, resurrection and heavenly places in Christ the place. Had He taken man living on the earth, He could not have made them one, but dead in sins, Jew and Gentile were all alike.
Colossians looks back and blessedly too-forgiven all trespasses, but stops there; Ephesians forward-it is a new creation. In Colossians, renewed in knowledge, but there it is anakainoumenon, a wholly new thing really, and so eis epigeosin, for it partakes of the nature; in Ephesians, "after God created." In Colossians the believer is clearly in the wilderness, but we can have a new life, whose hope is elsewhere; in the wilderness, and by faith looking at the resurrection of Christ, we are begotten again to a living hope by Christ's resurrection; so Peter, so Col. 2:1212Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. (Colossians 2:12)—we are not baptized in Jordan, but to Christ's death (the Red Sea)—our death is the end of the wilderness position, and the end of the wilderness death itself. But in Ephesians, this is looked at in the nature that belongs to the wilderness, or Egypt as it is—sinful flesh dead towards God, and, as to God, we begin in Jordan, or rather in what He does with us there when Christ is gone there for us. It begins with Christ, not as dying but raised from the dead, and so we dead in sins, found so, where He had come in grace (hence in virtue of the blood and the Red Sea) and quickened together with Him.
But Colossians goes farther than Peter; in Peter, Christ having suffered, we arm ourselves with the same mind, have faith in the Red Sea work, and so arm ourselves with the same mind, begotten again to a lively hope through His resurrection. That we have in Colossians but we have more; we were dead in sins and the uncircumcision of the flesh, and are quickened with Christ. But that goes no further here. It is life, Christ as our own life in the wilderness, and our hope and affections in heaven; dead with Him in baptism gives occasion to resurrection, not quickening when we were dead, i.e., chapters 2: 20 and 3: 1, refer to chapter 2: 12, not to verse 13. It is life, and life in the power of Christ's resurrection to whose death we have been baptized, and by faith in the operation of God, are therein risen, so that our profession here is resurrection and risen life-we are not alive in the world, i.e., Egypt, Christ is our life but it is hidden; we are on earth. Hence it is Christ's appearing that is brought forward-the hidden life manifested, and here.
The link between Ephesians and Colossians is in "the truth as it is in Jesus," the having put off the old man and put on the new-difference no doubt, but still a link. Just as the Red Sea and Jordan have the same general thought, but one at the beginning of the wilderness, the other at the end—one, deliverance out of Egypt, the other, entrance into Canaan—one, smitten with the rod opens the way, and is judgment, the other, the ark in it and the way made when the priests' feet touch the water. It is the power of life in grace.
As regards figures, Ephesians, though it recognize the fact of sins and redemption, yet in its teaching sets us wholly in Canaan, as once dead and a new creation, and Christ Himself as so risen from the dead. All is in heaven. We have no wilderness, or man proved here. Man is looked at as nonexistent morally for God, and no feeling there, and none to be awaked. The Red Sea as redemption and Jordan coalesce- indeed the Red Sea comes in by the bye, that is, though redemption through blood be fully recognized (chap. 1: 7), yet our sitting in heavenly places is the beginning of our history along with Christ. It is our state, and we begin from over Jordan, i.e., as out of it; or Israel is looked at as in a lost dead state in Egypt, and, as I have said, the Red Sea and Jordan coalesce, and we, as far as the type corresponds, are out of Jordan or death. Redemption is just noticed, but the purposes of God are before us, and that is in Canaan and with Christ or in Him now—the Red Sea and Jordan—Christ's death and resurrection, and especially Jordan (ours with Him), supposes we have to die, and of this there is nothing in Ephesians, being in heavenly places. In Colossians this is hope, and death to sin through Christ's death is brought in. Man lived in sin. A new creation is no part properly of the types; we may see where it comes in, but it stands by itself. Hence the calling in Ephesians is before the redemption, the inheritance after. Redemption supposes a people, object of God's favor, to redeem, though in Ephesians only forgiveness is spoken of. In one we are associated with Christ before God according to His nature, chapter 1:3-6 (redemption); but having put us there, we are trusted with the knowledge of Christ's glory in purpose, and so made heirs with Him.
The calling is more sovereign grace, not government of what is; one, we in, the other all things under Christ. Only hence we inherit and reign with Him; of this the Holy Ghost is earnest, of our place the power, only in these earthen vessels.
Galatians and Rom. 1 have spoken of elsewhere; 2 Corinthians has the doctrine of we in Christ and Christ in us. But in Colossians we have the administration of death to the old man and resurrection in faith of Christ's, i.e., here, and are quickened with Christ so as to have His life (here), and the hope of what is in heaven.
Another thing we may remark in the difference of Ephesians and Colossians is that Colossians being life is far more subjective, compare Eph. 1:1515Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (Ephesians 1:15) and Col. 1:99For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; (Colossians 1:9) and following verses. In Ephesians it is more contrast with the old creation; compare, in the highest development of practice, Eph. 4 and 5, with Col. 3 Even in the highest subjective thought in the end of Eph. 3 the apostle turns to what is around in glory, and we are filled to this fullness. Also it is power not life. It is not development of life but contrast-the new creation and power, and the old as it actually was. Even in Eph. 3 it is power not life, as verses 16, 20. Chapter 4: 17, begins with contrast.
But I have said the Red Sea and Jordan coalesce. The desert constitutes the ways of God, seeing what man is, but Canaan was His purpose. Israel was brought to God at Sinai; nay, even at the Red Sea, and even in the song of Moses, from redemption (Ex. 15:1313Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. (Exodus 15:13)) he passes to Palestine and enemies in verse 15, which is striking (so in chapters 3 and 6). But they are different; one is Christ's death and resurrection looked at as leading forth a redeemed people to God, not merely forgiveness but redemption-deliverance by Christ by redemption. It is the redemption and deliverance itself, " He hath begotten us again to a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." I am redeemed out of the condition I was in, and brought to God, so verse 13, 14, is hope assured. But I die in Jordan, though it be by the Ark (Christ's) going into it; I do not say " He has delivered me by death and resurrection," but " I have died and am risen with Him "; I do not say " I am redeemed by glory," but " I am not alive in the world." It is Christ's death, but it is mine—the twelve stones are there, as a memorial, where the ark was, and they are where it came out, brought from the depths of Jordan. Then and then only is the reproach of Egypt-our captivity to flesh-rolled away, not in the desert; there the flesh is practically detected when we are delivered, "to know what was in thine heart." But at Gilgal, after I recognize myself dead, there is true circumcision of heart, the circumcision of Christ; then the Passover can be eaten—Christ's death looked at from God's side, in remembrance, with no blood on doorposts to secure from still threatening judgments, but all this owned much more deeply, because free and in Canaan. Then, too, we feed on the old corn of the land—a heavenly Christ. None of this could we do till we had passed Jordan.
The wilderness is no part of God's purpose, only of His ways; redemption and Canaan were His purpose; Ex. 3, 6 and 15.
I think it is important to notice that, in a certain sense, the Red Sea is complete, and closes the history—gives redemption its proper power; not the purpose but the redemption; the wicked are judged in death and judgment, and the people saved and brought to God—to His holy habitation. There is distress and guilt before redemption, but that is complete as the thief could go straight to Paradise. All that follows is experience till rest comes—experimental. There is a short epitome of experiencing grace till they come to Sinai, brought to God. But not only is the wilderness proving them, but Jordan connects itself with what is experimental, only based on faith. We have died with Christ, we are risen, we then find circumcision—return there as our perpetual basis of operation. Christ has dried up the Jordan, made it the way into Canaan; but it is not His death as a perfect redemption, the gospel as in 1 Cor. 15, but our state, crucified with Him, not death as judgment, though He bore it as such, sin in the flesh being condemned, but death, ours to sin, in Him. We go into a new order of things—the place of purpose by it; it is not perfectly meeting our condition, and saving us as the Red Sea. It is connected with experience, identified with purpose, but connected with its realization here.
There was no ark at the Red Sea, there was in the Jordan; the first was deliverance out of Egypt (natural state), the other entrance into Canaan. One was redemption, the other, the accomplishment (so far) of purpose. One was instrumentally wrought by Moses, who held the rod of God, i.e., the power of God in His dealings, the other by Joshua who led the people—the present power of Christ in the Spirit. One brought to God (in grace) in the wilderness, the other was to lead into the place of purpose-the resulting place of the people as God's host. Judgment, as well as death, was in the first, as we know from the Egyptians; in the second only death, there was no judgment—only the redeemed people had to do with it. The Red Sea was an act of sovereign power in redemption and deliverance. The blood on the lintel and doorposts having met the sin, now full deliverance is wrought by the death and resurrection of Christ. Satan's power, judgment which shut them in, were gone and secured Israel forever from them. It was finished, done, and they were delivered and with God.
But in Jordan death was there as death—it is the end of the career down here in every sense. But Christ goes down into it, and makes it the door into the heavenly blessing of God's purpose—He enters in alone when Jordan overflowed all its banks. But His going into the river destroyed all its power for His people. Here then, though going in alone, yet it is not redemption accomplished for them; He personally enters where they have to go, only they go over dry shod, and it is not a barrier but an entrance into heavenly places, and in that power they have all the good of it, i.e., done with nature and the wilderness for faith, dead to sin, to the world, to the law. They are crucified with Christ, though it be all a blessed passage into Canaan, and efficiently Christ is there till all are over. It is not redemption from and making it a wilderness where we are, but death with Christ, resurrection with Him; He associates His people with Himself, and they enter into a new place through what wholly closes the old. The differential point is that He goes where the people are to go, only making a way for them there, not delivering them from a place and state of condemnation and ruin, by redemption accomplished in Himself.
1. In Colossians even " in Christ " has a more practical character, not place but standing, "Ye are complete in him"; otherwise it is wholly " Christ in us." In Galatians even, Christ in us is "life," not "Christ in us."