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What is Baptism?

In the book of Exodus, which is a book of pictures, we have a remarkable picture of baptism. The New Testament speaks in various places regarding the significance of baptism. However it is exceedingly helpful to ponder the picture of baptism in the book of Exodus.

If we have the kind of understanding that was given to Paul in 1 Corinthians 10, where he speaks of baptism, we will see that in the sight of God the Red Sea was one huge baptistry. The children of Israel passed through on dry land, the sea having been divided. They emerged on the other side safe and sound. When Pharaoh with his armies attempted to follow them, they perished in the waters of the Red Sea. On the one hand, the waters of the Red Sea were a salvation to the people of Israel. On the other hand, these same waters meant the destruction of Pharaoh and his armies.

The waters of baptism signify both death and resurrection. When a believer enters into the water, that is a burial. When this believer emerges from the water, that is a resurrection. The people of Israel passed through the Red Sea, and, typically speaking, were buried and resurrected and came forth on the other side of the sea in the wilderness. On other occasions we have pointed out that from its positive perspective, the wilderness signifies separation unto God in resurrection. So regarding the children of Israel, who are a type of the believers today, the crossing of the Red Sea portrays baptism with the steps of death, burial, and resurrection.

What is particularly significant, however, is that Pharaoh and his chariots perished in the waters of the Red Sea. Pharaoh typifies Satan, and Egypt typifies the world as a realm of both enjoyment and slavery. The children of Israel were slaves under Pharaoh’s tyranny. This indicates that as unbelievers we were slaves under the tyranny and usurpation of Satan. Once we believed in Christ and began to make our exodus from the world, Satan resisted and even pursued us. But God in His wisdom took this as an opportunity, through baptism, to deal drastically with Satan and the world. Recall how Pharaoh and his chariots perished in the waters of the Red Sea. This indicates that baptism signifies the termination of Satan and the world system organized by him to tyrannize us and usurp us.

If we have this picture in view when we speak of baptism, we will realize that baptism is a tremendously significant step in the completion of our experience of God’s salvation. Through baptism we pass through death and enter into resurrection. Through baptism we are delivered from Satan and the world. We believe it is a spiritual fact and reality in the sight of God that in the waters of baptism lie buried not only our old man but also Satan and the usurping, tyrannizing world under his dominion. Is this not a striking picture? Is not baptism a momentous event in a believer’s life? Is not the revelation of baptism both in picture and in word profoundly significant? We very much appreciate the picture in Exodus of our salvation through water and of Satan’s termination through the same water that has saved us. This is baptism as portrayed in the book of Exodus.

For further reading on this subject, please see Truth Lessons, Level One, Volume 3 (Lesson 32 and 33) and New Believers Series: Baptism, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 11, March 1999

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