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Institute in Basic Life Principles

Command 47 : Baptize My Disciples | Day 327

Recognize Analogies of Baptism!

At the Lord's direction, 12,000 men were chosen from the tribes of Israel to go to war against the Midianites. The children of Israel were victorious and conquered the nation of Midian. (See Numbers 31:1-12.) When they returned with the spoils of the war, Eleazar the priest told the Israelites: “... Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water” (Numbers 31:23).

God's command to His people to purify the spoils of war from a Gentile nation before they could be used gives us a picture of baptism by water and fire for purification. This is the same pattern we see in the redemption of man. The Lord Jesus fought for the souls of men and conquered Satan. Believers are, in effect, the "spoils" of that war, and they need to be cleansed.

At salvation, Christ's blood redeems, cleanses, and makes our spirits righteous in God's sight. Then the Holy Spirit begins an ongoing work of searching, cleansing, and purifying our souls.

It is significant that God gives us analogies to baptism in the Old Testament. The deliverance of the nation of Israel from the bondage of Egypt is similar to God's deliverance of a person from the bondage of sin through salvation. Then, God "baptized" the entire nation of Israel by leading them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, taking them through the Red Sea. “... All our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea” (I Corinthians 10:1-2). Just as they were baptized unto Moses by water and fire, so we are baptized unto Jesus by water and fire.

The passage goes on to explain that even though all of Israel was baptized, “... with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters. ... Neither let us commit fornication. ... Neither let us tempt Christ. ... Neither murmur ye ... ." (I Corinthians 10:5-12). When we find ourselves doing those things that displease the Lord, we should seek the cleansing that He makes available to us.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9).

The Flood provides another analogy of baptism: “... In the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ" (I Peter 3:20-21).

These analogies illustrate important aspects of baptism and help us understand the great importance of the cleansing that baptism symbolizes. The Lord will use fiery trials throughout our lifetime and the water of His Word to conform us into His image. Let's purpose to allow God to take us through the water and fire to make us usable for accomplishing great works!

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

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Contributing writer: Bill Gothard