Death and Resurrection

Exodus 15  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Ex. 15
THERE are two things which it is very important for every person to get clear hold of. First, that which the death and resurrection of Christ bring into in principle; and second, what they teach as a matter of practice. Both these things are brought out in the chapter before us. First we have this loud and joyful song, on the shores of the Red Sea—a song never heard before. God had been displaying Himself unmistakably on the side of His people. Israel, trembling and fearful, had thought they were brought out of Egypt to perish, they distrusted the Lord, and they stood in doubt of Moses. (Ex. 14:10-1210And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord. 11And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. (Exodus 14:10‑12).) But then comes this mighty and triumphant work, skewing how thoroughly God was in favor of His people. This sets forth the death and resurrection of Christ as a matter of principle. At the Passover, where the blood of Christ is the sole screen from destruction, there is no song. The thought of judgment is connected with it, and one wailing is heard throughout the land. “And there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.” But, while the Israelites had the sense of security, there was nothing that could draw out the full praises of their hearts. For it was a solemn time, that midnight: and even Israel must eat the lamb with bitter herbs. The judgment of God, even though we know the Holy One substituted for us, is necessarily and rightly connected with the thought of what suffering for our sins has cost Christ—God pouring out His judgment on One holy and unblemished, that He might pass over sin in us, and put it away. A song here would show that what Christ passed through was not appreciated, and that our consciences did not feel what our sin was in God's sight.
But now the people were no longer in their houses, eating the passover; they were simply called to “stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.” Thus, having witnessed His full deliverance, they could sing, “The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation.” The judgment and passing by of sin does not comprise all the salvation of God; it is only the groundwork. When sin is forgiven, then comes a free space for God to accomplish His full salvation. He is not satisfied with simply meeting the demand of His own holiness; but now He wants to show me how completely He is for me. In the Passover, God manifested Himself as against sin; but there the blood of the lamb stayed the hand of the destroyer, while on the enemies of His people judgment was dealt, but dealt individually, on each first-born alone—the destroying angel entered the houses of the Egyptians to smite. But here it is a different thing: the enemies are now mustered in full force; and this is just the opportunity for God to show that He is for His people.
In Rom. 5 we have the fuller opening out of this truth in the death and resurrection of the Lord. We are apt to content ourselves with the very smallest measure of the blessing in which God has set us; but it is only and just according to our apprehension of this that we can be on God's side. I cannot be thoroughly for God, unless I see that God is thoroughly for me. So the Apostle Paul reasons, “Much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” (Rom. 5:1010For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)). This salvation then, is not in connection with the blood of Christ alone; it takes in all the triumph of resurrection that follows. True, the shedding of His blood was absolutely necessary, for “without shedding of blood is no remission.” Christ's blood vindicated God amply and in every way, and was the fullest possible confession that we were guilty sinners, and that He is inflexibly righteous. But that is not all. When I look at Christ suffering, do I see the love of God towards His Son? The death of Christ forever vindicates God; but in the resurrection God is vindicating His Son, and vindicating me through Him He puts me in and with Christ, into the place where there can be no further question of sin.
No wonder Moses and the children of Israel sang on the shores of the Red Sea. Those waters of death had seemed, and really were, tremendous; but now the people were on the other side, and saw their enemies dead upon the sea-shore, to vex them no more forever. Thus, too, for us, where sin abounded grace did much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign, through righteousness, unto eternal life, by Jesus Christ our Lord.” God is not content with showing us that we are justified by the blood of Christ. And now that He is risen, will God ever raise the question of sin with Him again? Thus we see how God hath blessed us, who hath nothing but sin. All that was due to sin broke out upon Christ, and now we are brought into the community of the blessing in which Christ is. There God is opening to us His heart. Such is the place the resurrection of Christ brings us into. How can there be condemnation there? “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.” He suffered that He might bring us to God, but it is in the power of His resurrection, that we know and enjoy it by the Holy Ghost. There was no such condition as being “in Christ,” before He rose again. Alone He walked in unapproachable holiness; alone He suffered for sin on the cross. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat,” &c. This changes everything for my soul; and now if I am put in Christ, when all judgment of sin is over for those who believe, I share His glory and exaltation. There is the difference in my state in the flesh and in the Spirit, which can only be measured by the distance between the cross and the right hand of God. I am free now, and stand in the favor of God, in the infiniteness of His love to His Son. The only law that I know now as the principle of my relationship to God is “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.” This is not the responsibility of a man under the law, which was all closed before Jesus rose from the dead. The law was always addressed to individuals, “Thou shalt,” “Thou shalt not,” &c. That blessed One came, and not only put Himself under its responsibility, but exhausted its strength and curse in His death. He becomes the head of a family only as risen. And now (it is not said that by and by only we shall enjoy such blessedness, but) “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free,” &c. We are not related to Christ on this side of the grave. How, then, is He associated with me? or rather how am I with Him It is with Him risen on the other side of death; and this portion is our's, not only at some future day, but now. Therefore, as far as regards our old bondage to Satan, we have nothing to do but to sing this song. Here, then, we see what the death and resurrection of Christ bring us into as a matter of principle. “There is, therefore, now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Rom. 8:1-41There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1‑4)). The power of righteousness, day by day, depends upon this. The whole condemnation fell on Christ, that we might be free to “live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world,” glorifying God as those alive unto Him through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But when we come to the death and resurrection of Christ as a matter of practice, it is a different thing—there is no song then. It is death realized, as well as resurrection. Blessed it is that God should first give me “no condemnation” before Himself—that when everything was hopeless, He should bring in deliverance; this is just what we have seen. But where did the people go out afterward? Was it into the garden of Eden?—into Canaan? No, but into the wilderness; and they went three days there and found no water. You would think there was no room for anything but joy after such a deliverance; but now they murmured. They thought it wonderful that God should deal thus with them. Yet God was just as good to His people those three days as He was before. He had proved Himself for them, and now they must prove themselves for Him; if not they must be proved by Him But because they could not drink of the bitter waters of Marah, they murmured. This just serves to show that as far as the people were concerned, their hearts were not practically right towards the Lord. God does not deal with us merely according to what we hear of Christ—it must be learned. The apostle says, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” It is exactly so when the death and resurrection of Christ are applied to practical circumstances. Supposing they had really apprehended the lesson at the Red Sea, what would they have done now? If they had not soon forgotten His works, they would have sung another song. The Lord looks that we should give thanks always for all things, even in trials and difficulties, to Him who is God and Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Are we not then to feel such things! Yes, but it is not the trial only that is to be felt; but God is there for us, in and above the trial. Am I to give up the blessed sense of victory vouchsafed to me two or three days before, just because the trial comes now?
The people were now proving the utter worthlessness of all the resources of the desert. It is an immense truth to realize, practically, that there is nothing here to give comfort. If at first sight it appears to do so, it proves bitter. When this is learned, then they come to Elim. Thus, the first thing to learn is, that there are no real resources here; and then we see that what seems so bitter and what we should throw away as such, God makes sweet. This is the application of the death and resurrection of Christ to the bitter circumstances of the wilderness. And such is the blessed way of God. Supposing trial comes, it tests how far there is love, patience, gentleness, waiting on God, above all, confidence in His love. Does it all lead us to look to the Lord? Moses entered into His ways, while Israel only saw His acts. And His way is to bring out better blessing through the trial. Even the waters of Elim were not so sweet to Israel as those of Marah when God had changed their bitterness into blessing. It was so assuring to find that God listened to them. This must have made the waters of March sweeter than those of any other well, however refreshing it might be in itself.
And how would God have us count on Him now, when weakness, fears, murmurs, heresies, &c., abound in the Church! Are we to think that He has forgotten us? The very difficulties of the way become a means of learning the Lord now, that will strengthen the soul in dependence and obedience. So with Israel: they had cried to the Lord and He had answered them, saying, “I am the Lord that healeth thee.” Thenceforward they need fear for nothing whatever. Why should His people doubt the Lord for the way, any more than for the end?. Let us be always confident. It is not the habit of faith to be looking down at what is painful in the wilderness; but to reckon on the mercy of God according to His own mercy. He would have us to know the blessed secret of grace which brings in His power to heal. Let us then be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain in the Lord.