Scripture abounds with references to the mighty deliverance God effected for His people at the Red Sea. The events that unfolded not only delivered Israel and destroyed their enemies (Neh 9:9-11) but displayed the glory of God. A beautiful summary is found in Psalm 106: “He saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known. He rebuked the Red sea also, and it was dried up …. Then believed they his words; they sang his praise” (vv8-9,12). And yet, this Saviour God of mighty power has effected a far greater deliverance and is manifested in an infinitely greater sense at Calvary, for which every believer “sings His praise.”
Typical Teaching of the Red Sea Crossing
In order to fully appreciate the important typical teaching of the crossing of the Red Sea, it is necessary to compare and contrast closely related events, such as the Passover, and apparently similar events, such as the crossing of the Jordan.
Both the Passover and the Red Sea are required to give a full picture of our deliverance in Christ. The Passover speaks of redemption by blood and deliverance from the judgment of God. The Red Sea, however, declares redemption by power and deliverance from Egypt (the world), Pharaoh (Satan) and his hosts (the flesh). It is only after these two events that God speaks of “salvation” (the second reference to the word in Scripture). As William Kelly remarks, “Salvation is more than being kept safe. It is clearance from all our foes.” No doubt Israel was at peace when they saw their enemies dead on the shore (Exo 14:30) and sang for joy unto the Lord (15:1). Are we living in the good of this deliverance? Do we know the full value of the salvation that is ours in Christ? Not only have our sins been forgiven but our enemies are defeated foes (Rom 6:6; Gal 1:4; Heb 2:14).
Though similar in many respects, the crossings of the Red Sea and Jordan are as different as the Epistles to the Romans and Ephesians. The Red Sea typifies that which Christ has brought us out of (Romans), whereas Jordan speaks of that which Christ has brought us into (Ephesians). As such, the Red Sea crossing highlights the person of Moses (Christ as Mediator) and emphasises Israel “going into” and “in the midst” of the sea (the place of death). In contrast, the focus of the crossing of Jordan is the ark (Christ in glory) and the priesthood (our Great High Priest). Again, Israel is “passing over” and “coming up” out of the river (signifying new life). Thus, both pictures are required to typify the fulness of deliverance found in Christ. Not only have we died with Him (Red Sea), but we are raised with Him to walk in newness of life (Jordan). We should be those who enjoy the Canaan life, feeding on the old corn of the land (Christ in resurrection glory), not those whose hearts yearn after the earthly sustenance of Egypt (Num 11:5).
Practical Teaching of the Red Sea Crossing
The Purpose of the Lord (Exo 14:1-4)
Strangely, the Lord caused Israel to “turn and encamp before Pihahiroth” (v2). This was a turn toward the south in the opposite direction of the land of promise. It may have been a roundabout way but it was the “right way” (Psa 107:7), for God had His purpose in leading them into a trial of faith at the Red Sea. Not only would the trial effect deliverance from the enemy (Pihahiroth means “gate of liberty”), but it would teach them the sufficiency of His grace – His power perfected in their weakness (2Co 12:9). This trial had a purpose – and so do our trials. The words of C.H. Mackintosh are most appropriate: “The Master’s presence is felt when the tempest roars and the waves roll over the ship. God’s presence in the trial is much better than exemption from the trial. The sympathy of His heart with us is sweeter far than the power of His hand for us.”
The Planning of Pharaoh and Panic of Israel (Exo 14:5-12)
Pharaoh and his host pursued Israel with the purpose of plundering and destroying their erstwhile slaves (see 15:9). Satan still pursues God’s people today. He seeks to entangle us in sin and the world, thus destroying our usefulness for the Lord. Unsurprisingly, “the children of Israel lifted up their eyes … and were sore afraid” (v10). With Pharaoh behind, the mountains around and the Red Sea before them, all hope was seemingly gone! God’s people often entertain short memories. Only three days into the Wilderness and they had apparently forgotten the mighty power of God displayed in the plagues of Egypt. The reason is not far to seek. They had “lifted up their eyes” to gaze on the difficulty rather than the Deliverer. They were judging according to sight and not by faith, ultimately crying out in unbelief and despair to the Lord. And yet, it was “by faith they passed through the Red sea” (Heb 11:29). May we be encouraged to live with total confidence in God, no matter the scale of the crisis.
The Promise of Moses and Provision of God (Exo 14:13-30)
“Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD” (v13). What a moment to stand still! One could rather be forgiven for wanting to run in such a situation. But securing salvation (deliverance) is God’s business. Sometimes, contrary to our impatient nature, it is necessary to wait upon God for His direction. Ultimately, they went “forward” in the strength of having stood still (vv14-15). Perhaps there are times when we too should stand still in dependence upon God, for when the energy of the flesh has ceased, He can work.
Much of the typical teaching of the Red Sea has already been noted, but it is beautiful to observe that before the waters of the sea were divided (v21), the Angel of God “removed and went behind them” (v19). We are thus reminded of One who “removed” from heaven to earth and graciously stood between us and the adversary at Calvary (Psa 22:12-13). Take a moment to praise God today for the full and free deliverance typified in the Red Sea and fulfilled in Christ.
 All Scripture quotations in this article are from the KJV.
 William Kelly, The Salvation of God as Typified in the Red Sea and the Jordan (Addison, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, no date).
 C.H. Mackintosh, Notes on the Pentateuch (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1972).