JN Darby on The Red Sea – Christian Teaching from the Red Sea

J N Darby on The Red Sea by Subject – the second subject in this series

·     The Red Sea –  JN Darby Bible Notes & Synopsis

·     Israel’s Experience in the Red Sea

·     Red Sea and Jordan

·     The Red Sea and Prophecy

·     The Red Sea and Wilderness and God’s Purpose

·     Christian Teaching from the Red Sea

·     Moses’ Song after the Red Sea

·     The Waters of Marah


  1. Scripture quotations here are from the Darby Translation
  2. The notes are a combination of those from the 1890 and 1961 editions of the Darby Bible. Where notes refer to another scripture, the notes from that scripture are used. In many notes in the 1890 edition there is a list of which manuscripts (MSS) use which terms.  These MSS have not been listed.
  3. The Synopsis has been slightly edited to simplify the English.

Notes from Darby’s Writings


And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvellous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.’ (Rev 15:3)

There are two subjects for praise. We may sing the wonders of God, His works, as this was the case in Israel; or else we may sing the ways of God, as it is the case with the church. The church has not known the plagues of Egypt, the Red Sea, Sinai, as events happening to herself; these things are written for her instruction. She has the knowledge of the ways and of the thoughts of God. In the Jewish state, when under tutors and governors (see Galatians 4: 1-3), those things happened to them, but they were written for us; they were as children, they had need of palpable things. The Red Sea was not divided for us; but when Paul says “they were all baptised to Moses. . . in the sea,” (1 Cor 10:2) I understand better than Israel what the Red Sea means, and I have in the event the knowledge of the intention and of the thought of God, which is evidently a much greater favour.

The faithful sing the song of Moses and that of the Lamb — the visible power of God over the Red Sea and in Sinai; and the glory of God in the Lamb, His faith and His obedience unto death, having been made subject for a while to the power of the wicked. They sing the love of God, the ways of God, the glory of God — things manifested by His judgments, but concentrated in the cross of Jesus

JND Collected Writings Volume 5 (Prophetic 2) p50  


Revelation 15-16



There are two things that God employs in carrying us through the desert as spoken of in Hebrews 5. One is the word of God, and the other is the priesthood of the Lord Jesus.   Christ becomes High Priest. He is gone up where the flesh cannot enter. That is the place in which we have to say to God; and therefore, as our high priest, He has to carry on our affairs in that presence of God where nothing that defiles can enter. He lays the foundation of that in the sacrifice by virtue of which He can go there; so that this very priesthood of Christ is founded on our acceptance.


Take the redemption of Israel out of Egypt, which preceded all their journey in the wilderness. We have done with Egypt altogether. The Red Sea put death and judgment between the journeyers and Egypt; and so with the saint now. Death and judgment form the starting-point of the saint. There is that which goes before it in exercise of heart; and when a soul sets out to leave this world of ruin and condemnation, it often finds itself, as Israel did, on the banks of the Red Sea, the waters before and their enemies behind them. There they were completely shut in to this judgment, where Satan was driving them. But the moment they had passed over the Red Sea, all that was entirely and finally closed. What had been a barrier when Israel could go no farther, was now left wholly behind, and served as a barrier against Egypt. And to us, death and judgment are a securing barrier between us and all that are against us. It is not that there may be no conflict after — no weariness after; but there is no question of deliverance after that. If Israel were not faithful, they failed in gaining victories; but there was no question of God’s being against them. Next comes this journey through the wilderness, the judgment of the flesh by the word, and then the priesthood of Christ which is exercised for us. And when I come to see where Christ is, I find that it is the very One that has gone through the death and judgment that were due to me, and has taken His place in the presence of God, where He is exercising His priesthood.


JND Collected Writings Volume 7 (Doctrinal 2) p257  






The Epistle to the Romans treats of sins to the end of chapter 5: 11; it then takes up the question of sin, unfolded in connection with the law in chapter 7, the result being, not that Christ was set forth for a propitiation through His blood, but that we are not in the flesh but in Christ. You will find more than one soul rejoicing in forgiveness that could not think of the judgment-seat with peace. They do not know Christ as righteousness.

The blood on the door-post was not one and the same thing as being out of Egypt by crossing the Red Sea. It will be said, But they were secure by the blood. Surely: God was for them; but for all that they did not know it as deliverance from the state they were in, and when assailed by Pharaoh at the Red Sea they were afraid. Once past that they were free. Do I for a moment mean that a full, free, finished salvation should not be preached to sinners? God forbid. Do I wish that a certain quantum of repentance should be insisted on as a preliminary? I reject such a thought altogether


JND Collected Writings Volume 10 (Doctrinal 3) p219






When Israel had passed the Red Sea, they believed in a God who had delivered them and brought them to Himself; and so do I. I know no other God but that. If I believe in Him by Christ, I do wait for a promise, for the redemption of the body, for the full results of His work. Thus Christianity gives us present affections, in peace, in a known relationship, and the energizing power of hope; the two things that give blessing and energy to man as to his position; for love is the spring of all. Love, because He first loved us; and finding our joy in Him; love to others, as partaking of His nature, and Christ’s dwelling in our hearts, so that love constrains us.  You make a Christian a wonderful person in the world; but we are very weak for such a place.

I could never make him in my words what God has made him in His. As to weakness, the more we feel it, the better. Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.

JND Collected Writings Volume 10 (Doctrinal 3) p219







Continued from Israel’s experience (IE1)

We must all, converted or unconverted, give up the world. The ultimate enthusiast of the world must sooner or later give up its vanities and its pleasures, its hopes and its interests; he must give them up. The only difference is this, that the Christian gives them up for God; the worldly person gives them up because he cannot keep them. The king of Egypt gave up Egypt and Egypt’s court, as well as Moses; but there is this difference, that the king of Egypt gave it up for judgment, Moses gave it up for Christ.


God’s rod of power was stretched out when Israel was passing through, and there was no sea (except as a wall on their right hand, and on their left, shutting out Pharaoh). Where do we find the ground of the confidence of faith? It is altogether of a different sort from that of the mere professor. That seal says the believer, I dare not go through it; I dare not put a foot in it, except at the bidding of God, and then there is no sea. Because people call themselves Christians, the mischief is that they expect to get through as well as the real people of God. Because the way has been opened to faith, so that faith can tread it, and walk through as on dry ground, they think they can go too. The path is opened to faith, and there is not a drop of water there; death is gone, and judgment is gone — all is over: it is dry ground, and God has made it so; but it is the people of faith alone who can tread it. That which is dry ground to Israel is sea to all besides. Let the Egyptians attempt to follow, and things take their natural course: death and judgment are there, and there shall be no man living justified. The believer has no such thought as that of going to stand in the judgment. When God steps in between him and Pharaoh, what does he see? The salvation of the Lord.  The very thing he dreaded becomes his security. Christ is there in the deep. He sees the judgment of God in all its weight and in all its power borne by Christ. ‘Deep calleth unto deep, at the noise of thy water-spouts: all thy waves and thy billows have gone over me’ (Psalm 42:7) The waves and the billows of the Red Sea have gone over Christ. There I have seen death and judgment; I have seen the Son of God sweating great drops of blood because of my sins; I have seen the Son of God crying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” I have seen Him made sin, bearing the judgment due to sinners; yes, I have seen all the weight and terror of those waves; but they have passed over Christ. It is the thing that saves me, is death; it is the thing that saves me, is judgment. Grace has found its way into death, and it is all “dry land.” God takes me there, and says, ‘Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord’ (Exodus 14:13)

I see this great and full salvation in a risen Christ; and what I get is, that death is mine. “All things,” the apostle says, “are ours”; yes, death is “ours.” Satan has meddled with death and judgment, and his power in death is completely broken. Like Pharaoh, he has been overcome in the last stronghold in which he held us captive. “Through death” Christ “has destroyed him that had the power of death,” etc. Have the waves of the Red Sea, the billows of the wrath of God, gone over Christ? He has abolished all that was against us. Satan has come and meddled, and what has he done? He has put Christ to death; but the triumph of the prince of darkness was but the display of his defeat. He has come and grappled with Christ, put forth all his strength against Him, struck Him with the whole sung and power he had in death; but Christ has risen out of it on the other side, beyond his reach; and now, morally, death has no power for the believer.


JND Collected Writings Volume 12 (Evangelical 1) p294  



Hebrews 11: 23-29



From the Red Sea to Sinai we find the whole picture of God’s dealings in grace in Christ by the Spirit on to the millennium, and the millennium itself. JND Collected Writings Volume 19 (Expository1) p3





All things of God“! (1 Cor 11:12)  Well then, God has, of course, no fault to find with me. But then again, if I am of God, I have nothing more to do with this world. Every Christian would own that he must have a new life; but I do not think it is always realised by us that Christ has died to this creation, and that He has begun another one.

Not merely am I renewed in mind with a new nature; but I have passed through the Red Sea, and I do not belong to Egypt at all. Our bodies do, of course, left here as they are, but I am speaking now of our place in Christ.

This is why the apostle declaims against the enemies of the cross of Christ, those who mind earthly things, because the cross of Christ has passed its sentence upon everything on earth. The world is crucified to me, and I to it.

If I had obtained righteousness under the old system, it would have been of man, but of course I could not thus obtain it. Under that system the law was a perfect rule for man.


Notes & Jottings p 210



There is plenty of priesthood for infirmities, weakness, and so on; but God has taken me up, and dealt with me, as at the Red Sea of old, and put all, all, away. We “have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear”. I was myself in such a condition for some six or seven years after I was converted, but that has only served to convince me that this is not a Christian place at all Notes & Jottings p 304




Ques. A person could not walk practically in the path of obedience without the sprinkling of the blood?

Oh! no; we should not be set apart to God at all without it. It is in contrast with Judaism, where, as a matter of fact, they were brought through the Red Sea and so separated from Egypt. Here, it is the Holy Ghost who does it, and it is thus a real thing in the soul. In Hebrews, we do not find the sanctification of the Spirit, though holiness is spoken of; they are sanctified by blood, and they are warned not to fall away; where there was faith, they had, of course, the actual value of it all, and where it is individual, it says, “Perfected for ever”. It is a great thing to take our verse absolutely and simply; here am I, set apart to have no other will but God’s; obedience consists in not having a will of my own, and that is the law of liberty. Just as if I told my child to go off and play in the street, he would be obedient in going off, but he would be doing just what he liked to do.Here, God says, ‘I am bringing you out of a sinful world, where the carnal mind is enmity against Me, and I set you apart to Myself, to do My will in the world and nothing else’.And then comes the second blessed thing, namely, the value of Christ’s blood.


Notes & Jottings p 340




Ques. Could a soul now be sheltered by the blood without having passed the Red Sea?

Yes, but it will not know its deliverance. You are taking us back into Egypt; but in Egypt the blood is as upon the mercy-seat

Notes & Jottings p 403




Ques. Do the two and a half tribes typify those who are sheltered by blood in Egypt, but who do not know the Red Sea in power?

The Red Sea and Jordan coalesce, though they may be spoken of and considered separately. It is in between these that the “ifs” come in. Across the Red Sea, they are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light. They are delivered from the power of darkness, and then we find, “And you … hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith”, (Colossians 1:21, 22)


Notes & Jottings p 413




Ques. Does not Romans 6:3 take in Jordan?

No, because there we are not risen with Christ. So when Canaan is referred to in Exodus 15, it is, “Thou shalt bring them in”. The power of death, but as broken, is seen at Jordan, and there is baptism at the Red Sea, but not at Jordan. Notice also that in Romans 6 we are not baptised to our own death, but to Christ’s death. And so at the Red Sea, it is Christ’s death, not our death and resurrection with Him. Quite true it is that, in one aspect of the Red Sea, the whole thing is finished; for we find there the judgment of the wicked, the work of redemption, and the fact that we are brought to God — “brought you to myself” — and I do not know how anybody can go further than that. If I look at redemption, the whole thing is finished, but when I come to the experimental side of things, then I find something else, namely, Christ’s death and coming up in resurrection

Notes & Jottings p 429



The Red Sea I believe to be Christ’s death and resurrection and thus redemption by which we are brought to God, as is there said. You have not the saint raised in Romans; he is looked at as we are, a man living on the earth, but having Christ as his life, forgiven and justified, and reckoning himself dead, and giving himself up to God as one that is alive in Christ from the dead. The Red Sea redeems, not from enemies, but out of flesh, and so sin and Satan’s power. Pharaoh was not an enemy, but an oppressor. Jordan is death experimentally, death with Christ; then after being risen, fighting begins. JND Letters vol 3 p 124


As a moral type, the Red Sea is evidently the death and resurrection of Jesus.   It shows deliverance by redemption, and of His people as seen in Him.  God acts in the people to bring them through death, out of sin and the flesh, and give them absolute deliverance from sin and the flesh by  death, into which Christ had gone, and consequently from all the power of the enemy

Romans 3:20 to Romans 5:11 gives Christ’s death for sins, and resurrection for our justification; thence to the end of chapter 8, death to sin. Sin in the flesh is not forgiven, but condemned (Romans 8:3); but we as having died are not in the flesh at all, we are alive unto God through, or rather in, Jesus Christ. This takes us no farther than the wilderness, though passing through it as alive to God in Christ.

As to our standing and acceptance we are brought to God: our actual place is thus in the world, become the wilderness on our way to glory. We are made partakers of it already through faith. Sheltered from the judgment of God by the blood, we are delivered, by His power which acts for us, from the power of Satan, the prince of this world.  The blood keeping us from the judgment of God was the beginning.  The power which has made us alive in Christ, who has gone down into death for us, has made us free from the whole power of Satan who followed us, and, as to conscience, from all his attacks and accusations. We have done with the flesh as our standing, and Satan’s power, and, brought to God, are in the world with Him. The world, who will follow that way, is swallowed up in it.

Considered as the historical type of God’s ways towards Israel, the Red Sea terminates the sequel of events; and so for us. We are brought to God. Thus the forgiven thief could go straight to Paradise. As a moral type, it is the beginning of the Christian path, properly so called; that is to say, the accomplishment of the redemption by which the soul begins its Christian course, but is viewed as in the world, and the world become the wilderness of its pilgrimage; we are not in the flesh.

This is a solemn warning;  worldlings who call themselves Christians take the ground of judgment to come, and the need of righteousness, but not according to God.  The Christian goes through it in Christ, knowing himself otherwise lost and hopeless; the worldling in his own strength, and is swallowed up. Israel saw the Red Sea in its strength, and thought escape was hopeless: their conscience was awakened to death and judgment.  But Christ has died and borne judgment for us, and we are secured and delivered by what we dreaded in itself. The worldling, seeing this, adopts the truth in his own strength, as if there were no danger, and is lost in his false confidence.

In itself, it is Christ’s death and resurrection. But that is not only meeting the holiness of God’s nature, which is the blood-shedding, but entering into the whole power of evil that was against us and making it null. Hence, though it be not our realising death and resurrection so as to be in heavenly places, we are owned as having died in Him, and He our life, so that we have left our old standing altogether. In Colossians, we are risen with Him; in Ephesians, also sitting in Him in heavenly places. Colossians is the risen man still on earth, the subjective state, what refers to heaven but is not there, as Christ Himself for forty days-Jordan crossed, but not Canaan taken possession of.


Synopsis Exodus 14



The power of God is manifested, and manifested in judgment. Nature, the enemies of God’s people, think to pass through this judgment dry-shod, like those who are sheltered by redeeming power from the righteous vengeance of God. But the judgment swallows them up in the very same place in which the people find deliverance – a principle of marvellous import. There, where the judgment of God is, even there is the deliverance. Believers have truly experienced this in Christ. The cross is death and judgment, the two terrible consequences of sin, the lot of sinful man. To us they are the deliverance provided of God. By and in them we are delivered and (in Christ) we pass through and are out of their reach. Christ died and is risen; and faith brings us, by means of that which should have been our eternal ruin, into a place where death and judgment are left behind, and where our enemies can no longer reach us. We go through without their touching us. Death and judgment shield us from the enemy. They are our security. But we enter into a new sphere, we live by the effect not only of Christ’s death, but of His resurrection.

Those who, in the mere power of nature, think to pass through (they who speak of death and judgment and Christ, taking the Christian position, and thinking to pass through, although the power of God in redemption is not with them) are swallowed up.

With respect to the Jews, this event will have an earthly antitype; for in fact the day of God’s judgment on earth will be the deliverance of Israel, who will have been brought to repentance.

This deliverance at the Red Sea goes beyond the protection of the blood in Egypt. There God coming in the expression of His holiness, executing judgment upon evil, what they needed was to be sheltered from that judgment to be protected from the righteous judgment of God Himself. And, by the blood, God, thus coming to execute judgment, was shut out, and the people were placed in safety before the Judge. This judgment had the character of the eternal judgment. And God had the character of a Judge.

At the Red Sea it was not merely deliverance from judgment hanging over them; God was for the people, active in love and in power for them.  The deliverance was an actual deliverance: they came out of that condition in which they had been enslaved, God’s own power bringing them unhurt through that which otherwise must have been their destruction. Thus, in our case, it is Christ’s death and resurrection, in which we participate, the redemption which He therein accomplished, which introduces us into an entirely new condition altogether outside that of nature. We are no longer in the flesh.

In principle the earthly deliverance of the Jewish nation (the Jewish remnant) will be the same. Founded on the power of the risen Christ, and on the propitiation wrought out by His death, that deliverance will be accomplished by God, who will intervene on behalf of those that turn to Him by faith: at the same time that His adversaries (who are those also of His people) shall be destroyed by the very judgment which is the safeguard of the people whom they have oppressed.




Synopsis Hebrews 11



Author: Sosthenes

Once the ruler of the synagogue at Corinth Then a co-writer of a letter by Paul - just a brother - no longer an official Now a blogger seeking to serve the Lord by posting some words that the Lord has given His Church.

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