Strange words these.

Peculiar admonition.

I would not brethren that ye should be ignorant concerning the great event of the passing through the Red Sea. Moreover, I would not that ye should be ignorant. In this clause we find the conception with the preceding chapter. The exhortation at the end of the chapter pictures a sharp contrast between the athletes in the Olympic stadium and those who run the spiritual race. There is first of all similarity between them. The contestants strove for the reward or the crown which was to be had when the race was finished. The difference is, the one received a corruptible, the other an incorruptible crown. Secondly, many began the race, but only a few received the reward. This im­plied that to enter the race is not sufficient, the race must be finished and it must be done at the expense of all other things. The big question was not am I a contestant in the race, but is my running of such a nature that I will reach the end and thus receive the reward. It is not sufficient to enter the spiritual battle, we must keep fighting because only in that way shall the end be reached.

The Apostle applied the admonition to his own life, says he: “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: but I keep under my ‘body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I my­self should be a castaway.”

You must reach the end or perish.

What the purpose of Paul might be? He means to instruct the Corinthians that they should not deceive themselves by thinking that all is well with them and that they should not worry about the outcome of their race which is to be run. He means to say, you are still at the beginning and you cannot make matters easy. The battle is now, and he alone who perseveres to the end shall receive the crown.

Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant. Ignorant about the history of the Church of the living God. The Apostle points to the history of the Old Testament Church. More particularly to the exodus from Egypt. He refers to the fact of God’s demand to Pharaoh to let God’s people go, that they may serve the Lord and sacrifice unto Him in the wilderness. This demand of the Lord was presented to Pharaoh toy Moses and Aaron. It was an easy command to obey, but Egypt’s king chose not to com­ply with it and thereby denied Jehovah the right until the Lord poured out His wrath upon the Egyptians.

Moreover, brethren, remember God’s peculiar way with Israel. This also refers to the difficult journey through the wilderness. Soon after they left the house of bondage, on the third day, the Lord commanded Moses to turn sideways. If Israel had travelled in a straight line the promised land could have been reached in a considerable short time. However, this was not the Lord’s purpose. He sent His people in a direct line toward the Red Sea. And standing before the sea they were closed in by mountains on each side. Their situa­tion is precarious. The sea before them, the mountains on each side and behind them the onrushing Pharaoh and his host. Consequently, certain destruction would be their end. There was no way of escape left.

The reason? For one thing, Israel was a child and must be instructed. Israel was not ready to inherit the promised land and had to attend the school of Jehovah. And one of the most important factors was, that Israel must learn and understand its relation to­ward Jehovah. The journey was one of the means in the hand of the Lord to reveal His wisdom, His power and His love. And through it all the people must be­come conscious of the covenant relation, to be a separ­ate people, whose help was in the Name of the Lord and that without Him they could do nothing. Another reason for the lengthy journey was, that the cup of iniquity of the Canaanites was not yet full.

The Lord intends to reveal from the outset that He is the Unchangeable One in regard to His people and in His relation toward the enemy. Pharaoh must be brought low and become the occasion of God’s revela­tion of His love toward His people at the expense of their tormentor. Therefore the precarious condition at this moment. True it is, Israel did not understand all this, to the contrary, they murmur and find fault with the Lord and Moses. The majority considered the servitude in Egypt easier to bear than to walk in faith with the Lord. And thus it continued in the desert at several occasions. Nevertheless, the Lord leads, leads all the way in spite of the rebels. He opened the way by commanding the sea to provide a dry path in its midst and by destroying the enemy. The sea became the watery-grave for Pharaoh and his army.

I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant.

Did the Corinthians not know about this episode of Israel’s history? Is it Paul’s intention to enrich their knowledge with some historical facts? Was it only a question of some information? If that were the case the preceding and the verses following have no sense and cannot be understood. But if the same people knew this history (and they did) is the question not absurd?

The answer is, they knew the history and yet the question of the Apostle is not foolish in the least. What Paul means to convey is this, do you understand the spiritual significance? He had said, all ran the race, but the greater part of them did not reach the end of the journey. I want you to know this concerning Israel in spite of the miracle at the Red Sea, in spite of all the other miracles performed by the Lord. I would not brethren, that ye should be ignorant. History is not simply the happenings in time of some natural phenomena, but the revelation of God, of His counsel and covenant, of His love and also of His wrath. It is the manifestation of His good pleasure and it reveals His divine purpose.

The passage through the Red Sea meant to Israel to be baptized unto (into) Moses.

That some explain this to mean, when Israel passed through the Red Sea they walked in or through the water and were thus baptized. The water, it does not make any difference whether it was much or little, was for them the water of baptism.

Others say, while Israel went through the Red Sea a strong wind blew across the sea and sprinkled some water on their heads and thus we have a prophecy of baptism by sprinkling instead of the baptism by sub­merging. In both cases one marvels at the ingenuity of such fertile minds. I prefer to call this home-made typology clear and simple, without Scriptural basis and very dangerous. Besides, if one holds to such an explanation, I am sure that no one among the Israelites (not even Moses) understood their baptism and could not derive any spiritual benefit from it. And the Lord does not reveal anything whereby His people are not benefited.

As to the first explanation, namely, that Israel walked through the water, it can be said that the oppo­site was actually the case. The people went in the sea on a dry path. That was part of the miracle. While the waters stood on each side of them like a solid wall, their path was perfectly dry. And as to the sprinkling of the water by means of the wind, Scripture does not refer to this historical fact with a view to baptism. Besides, what kind of baptism must it be to be baptized unto Moses?

No, but Moses’ calling and his appointment to be the mediator were now made plain. The people did not know that this man Moses was appointed to lead them, to intercede for them, to be their mouthpiece unto the Lord and the Lord’s mouthpiece to His people. And up to this moment it seemed to the contrary, that they were an ignominious part of Egypt, the slaves of Pharaoh, they and their children. But in the passage through the Red Sea two things became plain. First, the fact that Moses and the people became one. This the Lord clearly revealed by the miraculous act of His almighty power. Through it all it became plain that under the leadership of Moses they were to set out to the land of promise. Moses was to lead them to the borders of Canaan. Moses’ calling and his place in the midst of Israel as mediator was confirmed.

And they were all under the cloud. In the cloud the Lord was present to lead and to guide, to protect and to fight for His people. We read of it when the children of Israel were pursued by Pharaoh: “And 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 night—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” (Ex. 14).

In the cloud the Lord was present and as we quoted, in the Red Sea the cloud moved between Israel and the Egyptians so that the one came not near the other all night. The Lord provided for Israel a shining light out of the midst of the cloud, while darkness prevailed over the Egyptians. Hence, that cloud was a sure sign of the one fact, the face of the Lord is over His people. And on the other hand, His wrath is upon Egypt. His people were protected, being under the cloud of the Angel of the Lord (Jesus Christ) and with and through Him, the ever faithful covenant God. Israel was under the cover of Jehovah’s wings. There­fore they were safe. Egypt was doomed through that same cloud, lightning flashing and thunder rolling, causing chaos in the army of Egypt while it was in the midst of the sea.

And in the sea.

The sea was also instrumental in bringing Israel unto Moses. It was the final act of the Lord. First, to bring His people before and in the sea and finally to lead them through the sea.

And through the sea they were separated and set free from the tyrant Pharaoh and from Egypt, the house of bondage. In a certain sense they were separ­ated from the sinful world. The Lord’s command was fulfilled, “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.” And thus the Old Testa­ment form of worship in a nationalistic sense came about and was inaugurated. Moses was to be their leader and mediator, the means of grace and the privi­leges connected with the covenant were to be given to Israel as a nation separated from the world. Israel was under the protection and guidance and the instruc­tion of the Lord. And all of Israel were on their way to Canaan.

This fact therefore, is typical of the New Testament Church and its baptism. I would not that ye be ignorant brethren. Nor would we know, had not the Apostle Paul explained it to us, that the passage through the Red Sea was as such a type. We must not spiritualize, the Scriptures will interpret its own types for us.

What happened in the Old Dispensation is here explained to us. Israel and the New Testament Church are essentially one. Israel was separated by the cloud and the sea and thus baptized unto Moses. To follow, to be prayed for and instructed and finally to be led into the land of Canaan was the goal. And in it and through it all Israel is held before the eyes of the New Testament Church. The Church is separated from the world and the devil to be a peculiar people unto the Lord. And thus the passage through the Red Sea is type of baptism. Beautifully expressed in our well-known form “Thou, who hast drowned the obstinate Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea, and hast led thy people Israel through the midst of the Sea upon dry ground, by which baptism was signified.”

For even as Israel was separated from Egypt and Pharaoh to be God’s people, dedicated unto His service, a peculiar people in distinction from the nations round about it, so also the baptismal sign and seal preach, be ye separated from this sinful world, the dominion and power of the devil and of sin. The water of bap­tism speaks of the cleansing of the unclean heart. For in the submerging or sprinkling of the water and the returning out of the water we have the sign and the seal of entering spiritually into the death of Christ and the returning out of the water, a return unto a new and sanctified life unto the Lord. No, not in the water as such (for then there be no sign nor seal left), but in the blood of Christ Jesus, Who died and was raised for us and we with Him. And by grace, through His Spirit, gives us that pure conscience toward God, through which grace we enter into the covenant fellow­ship of God Triune.

And thus Israel never returned to Egypt and the bondage of Pharaoh, so also the believer is freed from the bondage and service of Satan, the world and his sinful flesh.

That happened to the believing Israel in the passage through the Red Sea, under the cloud, following Moses. Freed from Egypt and their tormentor they were called to be an holy people unto the Lord.

For I would not brethren that ye should be ignorant.

All were under the cloud.

There is no difference, according to the Apostle Paul. The emphasis must be placed in the all. All were baptized unto Moses and all passed through the sea. The privileges connected with Israel were enjoyed by all. The means of grace were administered to all. All left Egypt, were fed in the wilderness and were called by the name ‘the people of God.’

They all entered the “race” to Canaan.

Did they all enter?

The answer is: “But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness.”

Now these things were our examples. Not some but many (het meerendeel) never reached the promised land.

The believers alone were saved. They were the spiritual people of God, separated from Egypt and look forward to the Canaan that is above. When they entered the promised land they had the hope eternal in their hearts. That was their final goal, looking for the better Mediator, Who was to give them eternal rest.

For I would not brethren that ye should be ignorant.

Also for the Church of today the admonition is imperative. It must be preached and taken to heart. There is no essential difference for the Church is one even as the Covenant God is One in the Old and the New Dispensation.

Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed, lest he fall.