Crossing the Red Sea
The ’emigration’ from Egypt laid the foundation for the Mosaic (Old) Covenant God made with the nation of Israel. The phrase: “brought you (Israel) up out of Egypt” occurs 125 times in the Old Testament alone and it shows how important the exodus experience was.
God delivered the Hebrews from an oppressing Egyptian slavemaster who immersed them in his pagan culture and subjected their worship. The pivotal point of their breakthrough in freedom was when they crossed the Red Sea and left their oppressors sleeping with the fishes.
They have been refused to exit Egypt and worship Yahweh ten times up to this seashore, each time preceded by an intervention of God to get the message across to let His people go. Pharaoh’s army was about to overtake them and put an end to their escape. But when Moses, based on God’s guidance raised his staff over the Red Sea, God made a way where there seemed to be no way. The Hebrews passed on dry land and so they were saved out of slavery and onto neutral grounds (Exodus 14:21-22, cf. Isaiah 43:16-19).
The significance for us as Christians:
Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
1 Corinthians 10: 1-2
We must realise that there are lessons for us to learn from the events in the Old Testament. Our crossing point is the cross of Christ where we as believers have been forgiven and saved by grace through our faith in the Saviour. As the Israelites were “baptised into Moses” by passing through the see, we are “baptised into Christ” when we go through the baptismal waters (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27).
Furthermore, the Israelites were now redeemed from a land of slavery. For us as Christians, this means that once we get baptised into Christ, we break free from the slavery of sin and become obedient to our righteous Master (Romans 6:15-18).
Crossing the Jordan River
After crossing the Red Sea, the Israelites were a mere 11-day-journey from the Promised Land. But it was stretched out to 40 years because of their lack of faith in God’s promise to protect and provide for them. At the close of the 40 years Joshua, from the tribe of Ephraim succeeded Moses as the leader who would bring them into the place God prepared for them.
The book of Joshua (first book to be named after its author) is a book about courageous warfare in order to inherit a promise given by God. The narrative of entry into the promised land through the Jordan river models a partnership between God who is the Promise Maker and Enabler of His people who are the executors of His will in order to receive His promise. Without God, there will be no performance. But without the people performing His plan, there will be no fulfilment of the promise of inheritance.
The significance for us as Christians:
There is a striking parallel between the books of Joshua and Ephesians, which brings the story closer to our reality of walking out our journey as the people of God.
In both books:
- There is a promise of inheritance as a depiction of a gift given by grace, and received by faith: Joshua 1:2 and Ephesians 2:4-8
- The victory celebrated is a flaunting of God’s divine intervention, making Him famous for all to see: Joshua 4:21-24 and Ephesians 3:8-12
|Israel entering and possessing earthly inheritance (Jos 11:3)||Church entering and possessing a heavenly inheritance (Eph 1:18)|
|Given to Abraham (Gen 13:14-15)||Given to Christ (Eph 1:3,4)|
|Illustrates warfare practically (Jos 11:18)||Explains spiritual warfare doctrinally (Eph 6:10-20)|
So Joshua’s write-up is not an archaic piece of literature distant from our landscape of everyday life. A Christian’s promised land is not heaven, but to occupy the inheritance God gave to you, whether it be fighting for a relationship, business deal or a city’s moral status. To combat these battles, a Christian needs the Commander of the Lord’s Army to give both strategy and courage through His Spirit – because a discouraged army is never victorious!
Spiritual wars cannot be fought without the Spirit of God within us. Similarly, the crossing of the Jordan River is a practical reference of the New Testament believer being filled with the Holy Spirit so he can be fruitful in God. At the cross the believer was emptied of sin and self so that he can now be filled with the Spirit; filled with the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22); equipped with gifts of the Spirit; filled with the fruits of righteousness (Philippians 1:11).
The crossing of the Red Sea is a coming out of and the crossing of the Jordan river is a going into. At a Christian’s Red Sea experience, his slavemaster, sin is dealt with and he now needs faith to be able to receive the Holy Spirit at his Jordan river crossing into the inheritance promises of God.