JN Darby on the Red Sea – Israel’s Experience in 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



The Israelites got so terrified, distressed, and dismayed, so under the power of evil which was against them, that they got into the practical question in conflict whether God or Satan was to have them. And so constantly it is with saints. We have been such slaves to the power of Satan that we have not a consciousness of redemption to God. There was Pharaoh (Satan to us), the power of evil, pursuing them, and driving them up to this point, till death and judgment (of which the Red Sea is the symbol) stared them in the face. The question must be settled, if they could get through death and judgment. They could not get out of the difficulty by their own strength: the Red Sea was before them, and they could not get through it; Pharaoh and all his host behind them, and there was no escaping by another road. They were quite shut in, and brought to the sense that there must be a deliverer or it was all over with them. All this was exceedingly alarming in itself, but it was God’s way of delivering. “And Moses said, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” You can neither go backward nor forward; you must just stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

The Lord steps in, and puts Himself between Satan and His people. “The angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these; so that the one came not near the other all the night.” Before He gives the comfort of deliverance, He always takes care that Satan does not touch us.


In Hebrews 11:29 it says ‘By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned’.  The very thing that seemed to be their destruction becomes their salvation. ‘And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided, And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left’ (Exodus 14:21-22) It was no battle for Israel against Pharaoh. “And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel: for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. And the Lord said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them: there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.’ (v. 23-30).


Death is the wages of sin; there is no escape; the Red Sea must be passed. “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” There is not one into whose hands this may fall, looking at it as our natural portion (I am not now speaking of Christ taking it for us, as He has for all those who believe; as it goes on to say, “So Christ was once offered,” etc.), but must come there. It is the natural consequence of sin. No matter whether Egyptians or Israelites, death and judgment overtake all. The Red Sea must be passed. But if met in grace, as it was by Israel, we shall see that this very thing is our full and unmingled deliverance. There poor Israel stood and looked at the eternal overthrow of their enemies. When the Egyptians were Iying dead on the sea shore, they were safe, singing the song of redemption. True, the wilderness had to be passed, Amalek to be fought with, and the like; but they were out of Egypt. They were singing the song of deliverance in simple-hearted confidence; Egypt was left, and left for ever; the power of Pharaoh broken; not an Egyptian to be seen.


And now about the “assaying” to pass the Red Sea: it is that, alas! which many are doing at the present hour (in a better spirit indeed than these Egyptians, yet with an equally terrible result to themselves). I am not now speaking of the avowed enemies of God, though we are all by nature enemies of God; neither of those who are pursuing after the people of God; but of those who are “assaying” to pass through death and judgment in their own way. Just because they are in a Christian country and amongst Christians, they hope! with the name of Christ to get to heaven in company with the people of God. But each must pass through all that is in God’s road there. If we have got up to the Red Sea, death and judgment must be passed; and where shall we be with all our Egyptian wisdom and learning, with all our chariots and horsemen, before death and judgment? Death and judgment must be passed through. If we are “assaying” to do this without God for us; if the question of death and judgment be not already and altogether settled (as it was for Israel when “by faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land”), it must be our destruction. People confess they have to die, and that after death there is a judgment, and that they must stand in that judgment; but if they are “assaying” to do this in their own strength, it must be then positive and infallible destruction.

–  Contined under Christian Teaching (CT5)


JND Collected Writings Volume 12 (Evangelical 1) p293  



Hebrews 11: 23-29




At the Red Sea, God acts in power according to the purposes of His love.  Consequently the enemy, who was closely pursuing His people, is destroyed without resource.  This is what will happen to the people at the last day, already in reality – to the eye of God – sheltered through the blood. Synopsis Exodus 14
It is the practical piety which proves, in its own confession, enduring mercy. It then goes through all the history of Israel with this view; and at the close shows that, in spite of all, Jehovah, remembering His covenant, thought on their affliction, and caused them to be pitied of the heathen, among whom they were. For this mercy he now looks, that they may triumph in the praise of Jehovah. Synopsis Psalm 106


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.