June 2017


Recently I came across a series of video comparing the Christian Baptism with the Jewish Mikvah .  Calling the Christian baptism a Mikvah. He even went one step further saying that because John the Baptist was a Kohen (Priest) hence he was doing Mikvah and it is translated as baptism. He had this idea because some Jewish Rabbi explained that Baptism is equivalent to a Mikvah

https://youtu.be/vL90nL3n7fs
https://youtu.be/sRDaP65iUG8
https://youtu.be/3u3_4NApO48

He went on to quote Heb 6 and tell the believers to leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection. And his idea of perfection is to share about the types of “"Baptism” in the bible which he said are baptism a Christian ought to go through

1. Baptism of Purification (OT Mikvah)
2. Baptism of Repentance (Johns Baptism)
3. Baptism of Identification (Perform by the apostles to identify themselves with Christ)
4. Baptism of Spirit (which he felt are languages and not tongues)
5. Baptism of fire (seem to be refer to temptation , trials)
6. Baptism of suffering (Suffering of Christ on the cross, suffering of Apostles while preaching)

Initial Reaction

Fact is, there are some similarities between the Law of Purification in the Mosaic Covenant with Christian baptism. The similarities that come to my mind immediately are these

1. Under the Mosaic Law, Running (Same word as Living) are used for some of the rites
             a. There are others which just require the candidate to be bath in water
2. Many of the purification rites involves full immersion into running water.

It would be incorrect to equate baptism with a Mikvah. for there are massive differences between the two.  Lets examine the differences in a nutshell

A Mikvah A Baptism (John & Jesus)
A Mikvah washing is usually done
alone, by the individual who is unclean
There is no one administering the washing.
(Exception : Red Heifer and Lepers)
Baptism of John (Repentence) is administered
by John the Baptist to his followers

Baptism of Christ is administered by the
disciples of Jesus on believers

A person goes through Mikvah when they
are unclean. They have to do it whenever
they became unclean. Here are some 
reasons for using a Mikvah
1. Cleanse of Leprosy (Lev 14)
2. Bodily discharge (Lev 15:2-3)
3. Sexual encounter (Lev 15:16-18)
4. Menstrual Period (Lev 15:19-23  )
5. Childbirth (not from Moses)
6. Priest  red Heifer ritual (Lev 16:26,28)
7. In contact with dead body (Lev 17:15)
8. Nazirite (Not from Moses)
    (CF : Num 19:1-21)
9. Conversion to Judaism (Not from
    Moses)
John did not baptise his disciples many times.

Those who are baptised by John need to
believe in Jesus and be re-baptised by the
Apostles again.

The purpose of baptism by the Apostles
is seen clearly in acts.

“Repent, and let every one of you be 
  baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
  for the remission of sins; and you shall
  receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

While the many of the purification
requires running water. Quite a number
just required the person to bath in water
John and the disciples of Christ always conduct
baptism in living water. Despite the fact
that numerous mikvahs existing. 
                       
Definition of Living waters: Rivers, Oasis, Sea

That is why I do not equate baptisms with the Jewish Mikvah. Even though the actions and the water used could be similar, it s purpose, frequency of use, are different. Those who read Lev 14-17 may have realised that the reasons for Mikvah is somewhat similar to the reasons why we take a shower today. Perhaps that is what the Torah actually meant. The fact is that we will all do it by ourselves in the modern era.

Interestingly, Apostle Peter made a distinction between baptism and mikvah telling us that Baptism is the one that can save.

“There is also an antitype which now saves us—
  baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh,
  but the answer of a good conscience toward God),
  through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” – Peter (1 Pet 3:21)

He tells us that Baptism is made effective through the resurrection of Christ.

Misconceptions #1 : The Book Of Hebrews Are Written To Messianic Jews

The Audience Of Hebrews Are Jewish Christians who need to understand the differences between their old faith following the Mosaic covenant and their new Covenant with Christ. It is written to help them appreciate the difference between the Mosaic Covenant and their faith in Christ

When the Author of Hebrew encourage the Christians to to leave the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, on to perfection. He did not negate the need for Baptism, but rather he wanted them to go deeper, to have a perfect understanding of Christ.

As Jesus one ask ““But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”(Lk 6:46). How can one leave the elementary principles of Christ without even practicing it in the first place?

The process of perfecting faith starts with basic obedience, having their sin washed away, recieving the Spirit of God to counsel and guide them to the truth. Walking slowly but surely to put off their old conduct and to follow the commandments of God. With the blood of Jesus continuing to forgive them of their sins and transgression along the way.

Only then can one finish his journey to heaven.

Misconceptions #2 : Is John the Baptist Conducting Mikvah?

Personally I am surprised that Mr Rood just equated Mikvah with Baptism just because some Jewish Rabbis said so.  Even though I agree that John is a Kohen(Priest) as he descended from a family of Priest. I agree that he is well acquainted with the law of Moses with regard to cleanliness.

But the fact remains, that even though there are many Mikvahs all over Israel. John choose to perform his baptism in a river. When others question him behind his actions, he answered that God sent him to perform his baptism. He never said that what he was doing is according to the Law of Moses.

What is most interesting is that his actions puzzled the Pharisees

“Why then do you baptize if you are
  not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” – Pharisees

At that point of time he could have invoked his status as Kohen performing the law of Moses. But instead he answered 

“I baptize with water, but there stands One
  among you whom you do not know.  It is He
  who, coming after me, is preferred before me,
  whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose.” – John the Baptist (Jn 1:26-27)

Later on John bore testimony of Jesus saying

“I saw the Spirit descending from heaven
  like a dove, and He remained upon Him.
  I did not know Him, but He who sent
  me to baptize with water said to me,
  ‘Upon whom you see the Spirit
  descending, and remaining on Him,
  this is He who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 
   And I have seen and testified that this is the
   Son of God.” – John the Baptist (Jn 1:32-33)

It seems that the entire purpose of the ministry of John had 2 purpose

Indeed, he was here to tell people to restore the faith of Israel and to turn them back to God. He is indeed the last prophet of the Mosaic Covenant. He is here to tell Israel to repent and return to God. For the Kingdom of God is coming. Meaning to say Christ is coming and he will be his Kingdom.

“For all the prophets and
  the law prophesied until John.”  – Jesus (Matt 11:13)

His second purpose is to perform baptism (as instructed by God) to identify the Messiah. He is waiting to see a baptismal candidate whom the Spirit of God would descend on him. The purpose of his baptism is NOT the same as a mikvah. For Mikvah is done for the sake of personal hygiene and not to identify the messiah.

Misconceptions #3 : Is The Baptism of Christ merely a Baptism of Identification?

Mr Rood merely describes baptism as a baptism of Identification. Indeed, when a person received Baptism, he is identified with Christ.

Just as Paul once mentioned to the Galatians

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
  For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put 
  on Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither
  slave nor free, there is neither male nor female;
  for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s,
  then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the
  promise.” – Paul (Gal 3:26-29)

This baptism also broke the wall of separation between Jews who practice the Mosaic covenant and gentiles. Allowing all to become the seed of Abraham and to inherit the promise of God.

But Baptism is more than just about identification. For the disciples repeatedly declare that Baptism is done for the forgiveness of sin.

“Repent, and let every one of you be 
  baptized in the name of Jesus Christ
  for the remission of sins; and you shall
  receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “- Peter (Acts 2:38)

“And now why are you waiting? Arise
  and be baptized, and wash away your sins,
  calling on the name of the Lord.’”- Ananias (Acts 22:16)

This is so important to the disciples that even when they encountered disciples of John the Baptist.  They will insist that they need to be baptised in the name of Jesus. (Acts 19:5)

“John indeed baptized with a baptism of
  repentance, saying to the people that they
  should believe on Him who would come
  after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”- Paul (Acts 19:4)

Why is baptism so important to them? what really happens when a person is dipped into the water at the point of Baptism.

Or do you not know that as many of us as were
  baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into
  His death? 
   Therefore we were buried with Him through
  baptism into death, that just as Christ was
  raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,
  even so we also should walk in newness of life.” – Paul (Rom 6:3-4)

The truth is that when a person is baptised, he is crucified with Christ and died with him. When he get out from that river of living water, (John and Jesus disciples baptised in living water all along). That person is no longer a sinner, for he had died with Christ in the water.

It is no wonder that Peter tells us that the antitype that now save us is baptism (1 Pet 3:21). That baptism is no Mikvah, it is nothing about personal hygiene or the removal of filth from the flesh. It is about allowing the blood of Christ to forgive you of sin. 

How about Baptism Of Spirit, Fire and Suffering?

I believe in the baptism of the Holy Spirit. I talked about it here.  Though i am pretty much sure that my definition of tongues speaking wont be like how Mr Rood describes.

I believe that a Christian life will undergo temptation, trial, suffering (His Baptism of fire). Even though i usually do not call that a baptism. But in that aspect, I agree with Mr Rood that the baptism of fire and suffering will come. But remember, it is God who decide what we will encounter.

I have also encountered many Christians who had a smooth sailing life without much suffering and sometimes. I too make the same mistake like Peter when the Lord showed him how he will die and glorify the Lord

“Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, 
  “But Lord, what about this man?”
  Jesus said to him, “If I will that he
  remain till I come, what is that to
  you? You follow Me.” – John (Jn 21:21-22)

As Christians we are not to compare our suffering and see “Who got it worst".  We are also not to question God why some of us do not go through the same trials and suffering. For God had appointed what we can handle and had given them to us. Let us walk bravely in our lives of faith. 

So How Do We Moved From Elementary Principles of Christ, On to Perfection?

We need to grow in our faith. While growth is a large topic. Let me break down a few important points quickly. As this article had taken more effort than I expected.

1. Grow in the knowledge of the Word of God

While many Christian today focus only on the love of God and nothing else. Let us dig deep into the scriptures to understand that our covenant with Christ has its requirements on us. We must adhere to the Commandments of God

Let us not foolishly think that having the salvation of Christ  means there is no longer a need to adhere to the commandments and moral standards of the old testament (Matt 5:17-20)
””For I say to you, that unless your
  righteousness exceeds the righteousness
  of the scribes and Pharisees, you will
  by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” – Jesus (Matt 5:20)

We are to adhere to the moral standards set by God since Sinai as well as to follow the instructions of Jesus. Then we would be saved. We need to be able to see Christ from Moses all the way to the new testament

2. Put To Death Our Old Sinful Nature, Put On Christ

It is true that many Christians are unable to go beyond the elementary principles of Christ. Their faith remained the same at the point of Baptism. There is no change in their lives, they allowed their old sinful self to continue living within them.

As Paul once told the Ephesian church

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord,
  that you should no longer walk as the rest of
 
the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, 
   having their understanding darkened, being
  alienated from the life of God, because of the
  ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness
  of their heart;  who, being past feeling, have
   given themselves over to lewdness, to work all
  uncleanness with greediness

  But you have not so learned Christ,  if indeed you
  have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as
  the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning
  your former conduct, the old man which grows
  corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be
  renewed in the spirit of your mind,  and that you
  put on the new man which was created according
  to God, in true righteousness and holiness..” – Paul (Eph 4:17-24)

3. To Resolve To Live For Christ

Today when Christianity talks about love, it is almost 90% about how to love one another. In that aspect, the church had did very well. However a Christians love is not just about love between fellow man. It is about  love of God as well.

To love God is to follow his commands and not sin. To Love God is to rejoice in the truth. Paul taught the Corinthian something about living of Christ

“For the love of Christ compels us, because
  we judge thus: that if One died for all,
  then all died; 
   and He died for all, that those who live should
  live no longer for themselves, but for Him who
  died for them and rose again. “- Paul(2 Cor 5:13-15)

So what does it really mean to live for Christ?

It is indeed a broad topic and I hope I will be able to share them with you. For Parenting duties does take out a lot of time which is used for  blogging.

So far we have explored many aspect of Jewish Ceremonial laws in the Shadow Of The Old Testament Series

This is what we have discussed so far

1. The Fall Feast (Part 1)
2. Pauls Explanation Of Col 2 (Part 2)
3. Day Of Atonement (Part 3)
4. Feast Of The Tabernacles (Part 4)
5. Clean And Unclean Meat (Part 5 , Part 6)
6. Burning Of Incense (Part 7, Part 8
7. Lighting Of Lamp (Part 9, Part 10 )
8. Offering Of Sacrifice (Part 11, Part 12)
9. Esther and Purim ( Part 13)
10. The Spring Feast (Part 14)
11. Jesus , The True Passover Lamb (Part 15)
12. The Red Heifer (Part 16, Part 17)

I was supposed to share this on Pentacost day, but my blogging software ran into some issues.

Purpose Of Pentecost (Feast Of The Weeks , Shavuot)

The Purpose OF the Feast, as mentioned in the Torah is as follows

“You shall rejoice before the Lord your God,
  you and your son and your daughter, your
  male servant and your female servant, the
  Levite who is within your gates, the stranger
  and the fatherless and the widow who are
  among you, at the place where the Lord your
  God chooses to make His name abide. And
  you shall remember that you were a slave
   in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe
  these statutes.”- Moses (Deut 16:11)

The real reason behind the festival is to remember the grace of God that he had brought Israel into the land of Israel. Prior to that the Jews will be counting the Omer. Between Passover to Pentacost, there are about 49 days (7 Sabbaths)

On that day Israel is supposed to offer two young bulls, one ram, and seven lambs in their first year. (Num 28:27)

Christ And First Fruits

Many Christians said that Christ is the first fruit of resurrection. But those who think like this tend to forget about another significant event that happen at the point when Jesus died on the cross. Matthew wrote about it.

“Then, behold, the veil of the temple
  was torn in two from top to bottom;
  and the earth quaked, and the rocks
  were split, and the graves were opened;
  and many bodies of the saints who had
  fallen asleep were raised;  and coming
  out of the graves after His resurrection,
  they went into the holy city and
  appeared to many.” – Matthew (Matt 27:51-53)

When Christ is raised, he was not the only one that was raise. All the Saints of the Old Testament who kept the Mosaic covenant were raised alongside with him. It is at that point all the rituals and statutes of the Mosaic Covenant had the power to save. That is also the time when the Mosaic Covenant is fulfilled completely.

From that point onwards, both Jews and Gentiles had to sign the Covenant with Christ through baptism to be saved.  Unlike the Mosaic Covenant, they are not to enter into the land of Canaan, but they are suppose to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the city that all the Jewish forefather look forward to.

Those who kept the Mosaic Covenant and were save, were those who resurrected together with Christ. When Christ fulfil that Covenant by being the Passover lamb, he saved all of them and bring them into heaven.

Under the Covenant of Christ we are no longer going to inherit the physical land of Canaan but to inherit the Spiritual promise land.  Like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, we now look forward to the city where the maker is God.

That is why Christians today no longer celebrate Pentecost to celebrate their entry into the land of Canaan. We are not farmers, so we have no Omers to count, but we keep the spirit of these feast. Knowing that God had rescued us from being slaves to sin and made us the slaves of righteousness. We as Christians ought to celebrate the fact that through the Covenant of Christ we are now Abraham’s descendent. Today we are freed from sin and we are no longer slaves of sin but slaves to righteousness. 

The Establishment Of The Church Through His Spirit On Pentecost

That is why Christ chose the day of Pentecost to establish his church. In Acts 2 the first Christians are gathered in the upper house of John Mark in Jerusalem. It was the Pentecost, where many Pilgrims from the Jewish diaspora returned to Jerusalem to keep the feast.

Jesus had promised his disciples

“If you love Me, keep My commandments.
 
And I will pray the Father, and He will 
give you another Helper, that He may 
abide with you forever—
 
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot
  receive, because it neither sees Him nor
   knows Him; but you know Him, for He
  dwells with you and will be in you. 
   I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”- Jesus (Jn 14:15-18)

Which later he spoke before he ascended to heaven he told his disciples

“you have heard from Me;  for John truly
  baptized with water, but you shall be 
  baptized with the Holy Spirit not many
  days from now … ….

  But you shall receive power when the
  Holy Spirit has come upon you; and
  you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem,
  and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the
  end of the earth.”- Jesus (Acts 1:4-5, 8)

The disciples followed his instruction and continued to wait and pray. Acts 2 narrated the coming of the Holy Spirit

“And suddenly there came a
  sound from heaven, as of a
  rushing mighty wind, and it
  filled the whole house where
  they were sitting.
  
Then there appeared to them
  divided tongues, as of fire, and
  one sat upon each of them. 
  And they were all filled with
  the Holy Spirit and began to
  speak with other tongues, as
  the Spirit gave them utterance.” – Luke (Acts 2:2-4)

While today many in Christendom debate over what tongues sounded like. But we know that it is no normal language. it is a type of Utterance. It was very loud, and many of the pilgrims who came to Jerusalem for Pentecost gathered near the upper room to witness what the din is all about.

But as they gathered. They saw a group of 120 disciples given utterance by the Holy Spirit, but yet they heard them speaking in their own languages. These are the location where they are from
1. Parthians
2. Medes
3. Elamites, 
4.  Mesopotamia,
5.  Judea and
6. Cappadocia,
7. Pontus 
8.  Asia,
9. Phrygia
10. Pamphylia,
11. Egypt and the
12. parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene,
13.  visitors from Rome,
14. Cretans
15. Arabs

Today many who are anti tongues speaking claim that the utterance was assortment of languages and not an unknown tongue. But I would like to encourage those who think so to try this simple experiment.

1. Get 15 different bibles in different language (tongues) turn to Matt 6:9-13)
2. Each of you recite the Lords prayer in your own language
3. See if you can hear distinctly 15 languages clearly.

In Acts 2 there are 2 miracles that happen. The first was that those 120 disciples spoke in an unknown tongue. One that cannot be understood clearly. The second being that some of those who gathered were moved by the spirit of God to interpreted the tongue. that is why they could hear it by their own language.

“we hear them speaking in
  our own tongues the wonderful
  works of God” – Crowd at the upper room (Acts 2:11)

While those who hear the tongues speaking at not the interpreting mocked “They are full of new wine.” . they felt that these disciples were drunk.

Today many claims that when one believe in Christ he received the Holy Spirit. But in Acts these two event are not related and separated. For when the gospel is preached to Samaria, the book of acts recorded

“Now when the apostles who were at
  Jerusalem heard that Samaria had
  received the word of God, they sent
  Peter and John to them,  who, when
  they had come down, prayed for them
  that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”- Luke (Acts 2:14-15)

In Acts 10 the method that the disciples used to determine if one recieved the Holy Spirit is clearly stated

“And those of the circumcision who
  believed were astonished, as many
  as came with Peter, because the gift
  of the Holy Spirit had been poured
  out on the Gentiles also.
   
For they heard them speak with
  tongues and magnify God.
’”- Luke (Acts 10:45-46)

Peter when recalling this event compared it to Acts 2 saying.

“And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit
  fell upon them, as upon us at the
  beginning” – Peter (Acts 11:15)

This same standard was used by Paul when he was preaching in Ephesus

And when Paul had laid hands on
  them, the Holy Spirit came upon
  them, and they spoke with tongues
  and prophesied.”- Luke (Acts 19:6)

The Purpose Why God Poured His Spirit Onto Men

The purpose of Tongues Speaking is an evidence of receiving the Holy Spirit. But the Holy Spirit is not here just as a sound that irritates people when we pray. The Holy Spirit is a guarantee and seal that indicate that we are the children of God.

As Paul once said

“In Him you also trusted, after you
  heard the word of truth, the gospel
  of your salvation; in whom also,
  having believed, you were sealed
  with the Holy Spirit of promise,
 
who is the guarantee of our inheritance
  until the redemption of the purchased 
  possession, to the praise of His glory.” – Paul (Eph 1:13-14)

The Holy Spirit is sent to the world for 3 purpose

“And when He has come, He will convict
  the world of sin, and of righteousness,
  and of judgment: 
   of sin, because they do not believe in Me;
   of righteousness, because I go to My Father
   and you see Me no more; 
   of judgment, because the ruler of this
  world is judged.”- Jesus (Jn 16:8-10)

The Holy Spirit  is given to believers and it is God living within them. Jesus once describe what the Holy Spirit does

“I still have many things to say to you,
  but you cannot bear them now.
  
However, when He, the Spirit of truth,
  has come, He will guide you into all truth;
  for He will not speak on His own authority,
  but whatever He hears He will speak; and
  He will tell you things to come.” – Jesus (Jn 16:12-14)

He is here to help believers as a counsellor, to remind the believers the importance of keeping the word of God. To provide them comfort and strength in times of difficulty and to continually make supplication for believers before God as they pray.

We would go into this details in a separate series.

Conclusion

This article is mainly written to talk about Pentecost. In this study we have looked into the Mosaic Covenant and what Pentecost meant to the keepers of the Torah.

It is meant as a day of Thanksgiving where they remember the fact that they used to be slaves in Egypt. That is why they need to go up to Jerusalem for a sacrifice. It is one of the 3 festivals where the Israelites had to travel to Jerusalem to keep it.

We looked into the idea of first fruits. Knowing that along with Christ the saints of the old testament were raised  at the same time of Christ for Christ had finally redeem them with his blood.

When Christ sacrifice himself and offered the world the Covenant of Christ. He made use of the festival to establish the church. The Holy Spirit fell on the 120 believers , they spoke in tongues and the crowd gathered to see what was happening. Peter stood up, spoke to the Jews Pilgrim, telling them that Jesus is the Christ.

They performed Baptism on 3000 who believed. Upon Baptism their sins were forgiven and they form the first Church. It is the group of people redeemed by the blood of Christ and part of the kingdom of God.

As far as Christians are concern, there is no longer the need for us to keep this festival. For Christ had given us a better promise far better than what the Mosaic Covenant promised. Today we are pilgrims waiting to inherit the Kingdom of God, it is far better than receiving the land flowing with milk and honey.  That is why we ought to keep the Spirit of the festival and remember the fact that we used to be slaves to sin and now we serve God.

Most importantly, let us strive to pray for the Holy Spirit, which is evidence by tongues speaking. For the Holy Spirit is the seal that guarantees our inheritance in heaven. He is the Spirit of God living within us, teaching us and guiding us in our daily lives.

That is our true Pentecost.