Baptism of Moses

"For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea." 1 Corinthians 10:1-2

Were the Hebrews baptized into Moses just as we are baptized into Christ? In verses six and eleven of the same chapter, it says "these things occurred as examples." The main focus of this chapter is about sinning, but we can look at the example of baptism as well.

When the Hebrews were "baptized" in the cloud and sea, they were physically being separated, from slavery into freedom. Their captors were literally buried in the watery grave (Exo 14). On their march to the Red Sea the Hebrews could have turned around to return to their bondage. Once they went through the Red Sea, there was no turning back.

Some religious groups teach that baptism is just a public declaration of your faith. It is definitely a declaration, but it is much more. For the Hebrews, it was the point at which they were really free. They had left their home of bondage earlier (Exo 13:17-18), but until they passed through the Red Sea, they were not free from their former master. To walk through the walls of water was a declaration of faith for the Hebrews, but to have the watery walls fall on the Egyptians was true freedom. In that baptism, the power that once ruled them was defeated.

When we read Psalm 106:6-12, we see the Hebrews were not changed by the ten plagues but by crossing the Red Sea, "then they believed his promises and sang his praise" (v. 12).

News about the parting of the Red Sea spread all over Mesopotamia (Josh 2:10). It was not a story about the works of man, but of God's power and love for the Hebrews. In the same way, our baptism is not about what we do, but about the power and love of God (Rom 6:3-4). We, like the Hebrews, have gone through baptism to experience a new life, to escape the slavery of sin, and to begin the journey toward the Promised Land.

 


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Jay Crook
Western Hills Church of Christ
Fort Worth, TX

March 19, 2008