The Red Sea and the Jordan

 •  12 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The doctrine of the Epistle to the Colossians lies between that of the Romans and the Ephesians. In Romans the believer is dead with Christ to sin, dead to the law, but not risen. Chapter 6 does not go so far as being risen with Christ. Our responsibilities, as in the old creation, are discussed most fully; all are under sin, all under judgment before God. The death of Christ -His precious blood presented to God-meets all our guilt, and we are justified freely by His grace, through righteousness. Our state then is taken up from chap. 5: 12 and onwards, and deliverance from that by our having died with Christ to sin and from under law, which had its application to our old state, as in Adam. Chapter 6 unfolds this truth with regard to sin; chap. 7. as regards the law, which is the strength of sin. But we are not seen as risen with Christ. The nearest approach to such is the statement of chap. 6: 8: "Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him;" and this verse leads us onwards towards the Colossians-putting it as a result of the doctrine there unfolded-forming the link with that Epistle. The saint, however, is not risen with Christ; but is dead with Him to sin, and to the law.
In Colossians we get a step further. Here he is risen, co-raised with Christ, and he is dead absolutely. "Ye are dead;" not merely dead to this or that, though " with Christ." He is " dead with Christ "-" dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world"-but he is not in heavenly places yet. He has a hope laid up in heaven; and his state is a subjective one suited to heaven, though not there.
In Ephesians we find his responsibility in and of the new creation unfolded; and he is not only dead with Christ to sin and the law (Romans), with the hope and result before him in the words, " If we be dead with Christ, we believe we shall also live through Him " (Rom. 6:88Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: (Romans 6:8)), nor merely " dead " absolutely and co-risen with Christ (Colossians), but he is co-quickened, co-raised, and co-seated in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, both Jew and Gentile. He has left the place of death as a sinner, and the world as formed for the first man, and he is brought into the full place of being in Christ Jesus in heavenly places.
This ground has been gone over before, and I do not follow out what has been before many; but desire to present other features of truth.
First of all, let me remark that I do not think we find the typical teaching of the "Jordan " in Rom. 6 It is the Red Sea; though, like it, Israel passed through, and enjoyed full deliverance from their enemies. In the type they saw sins, and death, and judgment all behind them. Sins were their part; death was Satan's, who wields its power (Heb. 2); judgment was God's part; and all are passed forever. They were, so to speak, dead to all these. But remark, it is never stated that they came up out of the Red Sea. Historically, of course, we know it was so; but it would have marred the type to have recorded it, as it would in Rom. 6 to have said, we were risen with Christ. It is fully stated afterward that the people came up out of the Jordan; and there it was needed to say so, but not before. Thus the Red Sea is one aspect of the truth-that which is seen in Rom. 6-and like as in this chapter (v. 8) we have to look out for more. So in the song of Moses (v. 16) they anticipate the truth, yet to be experienced, in their passing over the Jordan, and being planted in the mountain of the Lord's inheritance-in the place He had made for Himself to dwell in; in the sanctuary which His hands had established. But they only looked for this in the hope of faith. They are not therefore said to have come up out of the Red Sea, as they are not said in Rom. 6 to be risen with Christ. But in Josh. 4:17,1917Joshua therefore commanded the priests, saying, Come ye up out of Jordan. (Joshua 4:17)
19And the people came up out of Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, and encamped in Gilgal, in the east border of Jericho. (Joshua 4:19)
, we read that Joshua said to the priests, " Come ye up out of Jordan." "And the people came up out of Jordan," which rolled on in his channel as heretofore. And they were thus cut off from the world, as the death of Christ has done for us. And as at the Red Sea they looked forward to the Jordan, so now at the Jordan they look back at the Red Sea, as we read: " For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up from before us, until we were gone over." (v. 23)
The Red Sea and the Jordan thus coalesce, and form two sides of the same truth, though quite distinct. We cannot confound, and we cannot separate them. Rom. 6 does not take in the Jordan and risen with Christ, though it looks out for it. Col. 2 does not take merely dead to sin and the law and the type of the Red Sea, though it looks back at it, as we shall see. Exo. 14: 15. does not say that Israel came up out of the Red Sea, though they sang a song, which looked for more to come. At Jordan they are said to have come up out of the Jordan, and are taught to look back at and connect it with the deliverance of the Red Sea. Let the Red Sea and the Jordan coalesce for a moment in our minds, and let us drop out the wilderness from our thoughts. (Eph. 1 does this; as will Israel's future deliverance, which bases the nameless Psa. 114 on this likewise The sea saw it and fled, Jordan was driven back.") Let these two waters lie together, and let the wilderness lip of the Red Sea touch the side of Jordan eastward. Israel enter death from all who pursued at the Egyptian lip of the sea, and rise on the Canaan side of Jordan in full and complete deliverance and redemption, into the land of promise. The wilderness is never in the purpose of God, though it is His plan to test and prove His own heart and ours.
When He announced this purpose He left out all allusion to it. " I am come down to deliver them... and to bring them up out of that land into a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites," &c. (Exo. 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))
When Faith, accepted it, it sang, " Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance." (Exo. 15:13,1713Thou 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)
17Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established. (Exodus 15:17)
) And When Experience looked back upon it with the words, "And He brought us out from them, that He might bring us in." (Deut. 6: 23)
Now when we turn to Col. 2 we find an apparent difficulty; but, like all such, if we wait on divine instruction we shall get it from God. " If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God," surely applies indirectly even in these things. Why are we said to be " risen " with Christ before we are said to have been co-quickened with Him? (vv. 12, 13) Let me draw your attention to it for a little. I must leave full details aside in doing so, interesting though they are. One first thought in his mind is to establish their souls (as all others whom he had never seen in the flesh, chap. 2: 1) in conscious union with Christ in glory, and this without naming the bond-the Holy Ghost. He saw the danger in the want of this; and how the soul was open to every device of the enemy; and he would unfold the glories of Christ as he never had before, and give them the consciousness of " completeness in him." To have even named the bond of union-the Spirit of God, to such a state would have been to occupy them with the Holy Ghost rather than Christ Himself, and damage their souls. Instead of this he would lead them most blessedly, as in chapter 1: 9-14, into the true experience of the Spirit in the soul which is at peace-i.e. the thoughts begin with God, and flow downwards from the light of His glory into the conscience of him who is their recipient. The Spirit of God reasons ever from God to us; and when the soul is at peace and the heart free, the reasonings and experience of the soul flow in the same direction. How strange, and yet how lovely, then, to find the apostle in the one passage praying to God, writing Scripture, teaching the saints, and giving the true experience of the soul who stands in grace, by the same words! In verses 12-14, he begins in the light of the Father's presence with praise, and by seven steps he reasons downwards from His heart, to the conscience of the worshipper, giving them the true direction of thought, when the soul is right with God.
1. " Giving thanks unto the Father."
2. " Which hath made us meet."
3. " To be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light."
4. " Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness,"
5. "And hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son,"
6. " In whom we have redemption,"
7. " And the forgiveness of our sins."
We learn this in the inverse way, from us to Him: from the depths of the need of conscience, to the light of the Father's presence. We see this in the order of the offerings, and in their application. How in the unfolding of the doctrine of them He begins with God, and in their application to the sinner he begins with him, and so on constantly.
I allude to the first chapter of Colossians, because it helps us in the second. It gives us our apprehension, experimentally known, what we have through grace. Chapter 2 gives us God's side rather. He looks at Christ Jesus, the Lord; He beholds Him in whom dwelleth all the completeness (πληρωμα) of the Godhead bodily, as man In Him " we are complete." From Him he reasons in the same way as in the first chapter-from God downwards to our depths of need. Here Christ and His identification with His people, that they may be thus "complete in Him," is his theme. Again we find seven steps in the train of thought: 1, " completeness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in Him." " God is complete in Christ for us; we are complete in Him for God," as one has said.
2, " In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ." He has left the scene, given up His life here below, and all that connected Him to this scene and Israel His people. He is gone on high, the beginning of the creation of God.
3, "In whom also ye are co-risen through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead." [Remark here that in verse 12 I have omitted the first clause-" Buried with Him in baptism." I would read that clause as a parenthesis. Just as Rom. 6:8 was the link forward with Colossians (see also Ex. 15:1616Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased. (Exodus 15:16)), so this parenthesis is the link backwards with Rom. 6 (See also Josh. 4:2323For the Lord your God dried up the waters of Jordan from before you, until ye were passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red sea, which he dried up from before us, until we were gone over: (Joshua 4:23)) This, too, re-relieves us from any controversy as to whether ἐν ᾧ should be translated " in whom " or " in which; " either translation being possible from the original words; the spiritual sense alone determines the true translation. Read verses 11 and 12 for a moment, omitting the parenthesis, and the meaning is plain.* "In putting off the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ... in whom also ye are co-raised through the faith of the operation of God," &c.
(* Some may question this interpretation, but it is left for the spiritual judgment of the reader.-En)
This leaves baptism its own true meaning, that of the person baptized being buried to death. It does not, in my mind, go farther than that, and just ends there; the person is buried to death, as we read in Rom. 6, " Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism unto death." Read the first clause of 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) as a parenthetic link connecting us with Rom. 6, and read what follows as in connection with " Christ... in whom ye also are co-risen," &c., and all is plain Faith in God's operation comes in there and clears baptism of the thought of resurrection, though it follows where there is faith in God's operation.
4, " And you being dead in your offenses, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He co-quickened us. together with Him."
5, "Having forgiven us all the offenses."
6, "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us... nailing it to His cross."
7, "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it."
Thus we see the reason why the co-raising us up with Christ should come before the co-quickening; because the Spirit of God reasons in the true divine order-from God in Christ to us, and down to all our ruin in which we lay, by the seven steps of His truth. (1) Complete in Him; (2) circumcised in Him; (3) co-risen with Him; (4) co-quickened together with Him; (5) forgiven through Him; (6) the law nailed to His cross; and (7( the whole power of Satan destroyed.
Now let me notice another thing which is very fine. The seven steps of chapter i. give us our subjective consciousness, what we possess and know in our own soul's experience, what we have from God. Those in chapter ii. give us rather the objective unfolding by revelation -what is in Christ for us, apart from our experience, though known to faith, of course. Both lines of thought reasoning from God to us, whether in a revelation objectively presented in Christ, or what our own souls consciously possess in Him.
F. G. P.