It’s true that I am immersing you in water so that you might turn from sin to God; but the one coming after me is more powerful than I — I’m not worthy even to carry his sandals — and he will immerse you in the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) and in fire. Matthew 3:11, CJB
Before I begin, allow me a brief(ish) disclaimer: This post is absolutely not a critique on the various denominational methods of baptism, nor is it a statement about what I believe to be correct. It is simply an observation based on my recent study of the ancient Jewish practice of mikveh and the literal translation of the Greek word commonly translated baptize in English.
It is never my desire to create division but only to share the breathtaking glimpses of glory given me in my journey with the Lord.
In a recent reading of The Complete Jewish Study Bible, Matthew 3:11 captured my attention and prompted a little word study of my own along with additional reading (in the CJB and other Jewish sources) about the Jewish mikveh or ritual bath.
Both the Greek word and the ancient Jewish practice refer to dipping or submerging, cleansing by immersion or submerging, or possibly even (according to Thayer’s), “to overwhelm.”
A brief summary of the note on Leviticus 14:1-9 in the Complete Jewish Study Bible relates:
Ceremonial washings are as old as the Torah itself…. The Bible draws a distinction between the holy and the profane. The waters of the mikveh teach the Jewish people a great deal concerning these truths. One Jewish interpretation of the mikveh relates it to an experience of death and resurrection, and also to reentry into the womb and reemergence… To this day, men still immerse in the mikveh as a sign of their inward cleansing as they spiritually prepare for the Holy Days.
Here, I see a profound kinship and a symbolism behind the practices of mikveh and Christian baptism. And John the Baptist, according to Mark 1:4, was “proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”
For the moment, I am asking you to lay aside any personal preferences or traditions you hold dear and just think about the implications of being fully immersed in the forgiveness and Presence of God. Cleansed by this immersion. Renewed.
My friends, enemies, and anyone else who may stumble across this post, this is precisely what I am praying for in the year to come. I am praying that we will be immersed in repentance and in the forgiveness of sins offered through the life and work of Yeshua Messiah – Christ the Lord.
And if I may be a trifle blunt, I do not care what your baptismal methodology is, nor do I care whether you are hostile to God or ambivalent, whether you follow Him closely or have strayed, whether you love or despise Him, whether you accept Him or deny Him; in fact no matter where you are in relation to the Almighty, this invitation is for you.
In short, it is an invitation to go deeper with the Lord. To be immersed in Him. To take leave of dabbling in the shallows and plunge fully in or to submerge yourself even deeper into the infinite, unceasing Fountain of Living Water.
This invitation is for today, for tomorrow, forever.
As I sit today and look across the unknown expanse of 2018 – or even the uncharted territory of tomorrow – I cannot help but feel excited at the prospect of venturing even deeper into the wonder and majesty of the Most High God.
Again, whoever you are, I invite you to join me. Let’s not be afraid, for there are no depths beyond His reach nor heights beyond His measure.
Let’s not be overwhelmed by fear nor consumed by anger nor anything other than our Lord. May His Spirit overwhelm us as a torrent of life-giving Water; may His will consume us as utterly as fire consumes paper.
This year, if you have not yet begun to think of God, challenge Him to reveal Himself to you – and then watch for it.
If you know Him, ask to know Him better and to love Him more.
If you feel you have had enough of Him, I ask Him to flood your heart and spirit with His goodness and astonish you with His love until His joy and peace are yours.
And if you reject this invitation today, it remains open until the day you draw your final breath.
But as an old preacher once cautioned: Be wary of putting off doing business with God until the eleventh hour, for you might die at 10:30.
My prayer is for you to find Him – or to return to Him – today, tomorrow, and always.
…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
(2 Chronicles 7:14)
If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.