River Jordan near lake Kinneret

Although the Bible was written by such a variety of people over a long period of time, similar themes keep reappearing. Each time they occur, we learn a little more of the Bible message. Some people call these recurring themes “Bible echoes” In the last of the series for this month we are going to look at Bible echoes to show that the Bible is consistent with its message. We chose baptism as the topic yet there are many themes that we find in the old testament followed through into the new testament.

Those who lived before the time of Jesus could not be individually baptized into the death of Jesus, so people like Abraham were not baptized. God considered Abraham to be righteous because of his great faith. “Now the LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you’” – Genesis 12:1. Abraham obeyed God. The New Testament tells us that Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8). Abraham’s faith in God was so strong that he obeyed and left his home, not knowing where God would eventually settle him. Abraham was a man of such faith and obedience that God describes Himself as “the God of Abraham” (Exodus 3:6).

In Exodus 15:19-22 we read how Moses led his people to safety: “When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.  Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur.”

Naaman was told to go into the river Jordan to be washed of his leprosy. The account of this can be found in 2 Kings 5:12-14 – “Are not Abanah and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not have washed in them and been cleansed?” So he turned and went away in a rage. Naaman’s servants, however, approached him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”?’ So Naaman went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored and became like that of a little child, and he was clean.”

The Law that God gave to Moses showed the people of Israel that they were sinful and displeasing to God. The sacrifices of perfectly formed animals pointed forward to the sacrifice of the sinless Lord Jesus. If people in Old Testament times really wanted to be forgiven and believed that God could help, He would. David said: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit, there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1,2).

Baptism brings us into a new relationship with God and His Son. We are baptized into Christ and become members of God’s family through him. Galatians chapter 3 verse 16 shows us that by being baptized we become Abraham’s descendants (spiritual Israel) and so become heirs to the promises that God made to him   This is why we can look forward to living in God’s kingdom on earth: “… for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ … you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:26-29).

Jesus said to Nicodemus, a Jewish religious leader, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). Jesus was speaking about the birth of a new life that takes place at baptism, explaining that a person cannot have a place in God’s future kingdom unless that person is baptized. The words “and the Spirit” show that baptism is more than a physical immersion in water. It is a spiritual rebirth – being “born again” by the effect of the Word of God in our minds and hearts (1 Peter 1:23). Baptism is only effective when accompanied by a sincere attitude.

From these extracted accounts we can see the symbolism of baptism shown to us in the bible which tells the story of God’s dealings with men, from the creation of the first man to the time when the earth will be filled with the glory of God. It is God’s gift to us, showing us the way of life. We should read it every day. When you do, make sure you are on the lookout for Bible echoes and make a note of them!

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