Hebrews 6:1-3 “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.”
Baptism, in my life experience, has always been portrayed as an outward expression of an inward change. The common squabble has always been whether or not you’re dribbled, drenched or dunked. And to the greatest extent this concept is true. I would like to examine the thought process of the first century follower of Jesus and subsequently of the disciples and how it compares to the modern doctrines. Looking back, I feel as though my childhood baptism was the outward expression of my desire to be accepted by this group called Christians, more so, than my desire to be accepted by God.
The word mikveh, the Hebrew word for baptize, shares the same root as the word for hope (tikvah), for alignment (kav), and the concept of hoping or waiting on God (kiviti l’Adonai). The writer of Hebrews uses the Greek word G908 βάπτισμα baptisma (ɓap’-tiyz-ma) n. immersion. Turning to Websters on-line dictionary we find immersion:
- the act of immersing or the state of being immersed: such as a
- : absorbing involvement; immersion in politics
- : instruction based on extensive exposure to surroundings or conditions that are native or pertinent to the object of study
- : baptism by complete submersion of the person in water
This concept of immersion, or complete involvement is “sprinkled” throughout the Scriptures. Look at Exodus 30:18-21 “Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.”
The concept here is immersion of the whole man with his hands at his beginning and his feet being the end of his existence. This is the full immersion requested in Exodus. This is what God is asking of us…. to be all in! Have we immersed ourselves in the fullness of God? When I was in the 501(c)3, many considered the “fullness” to be the midweek attendee or the deacon, or the missionary. No one was told that an “all-in” was required, only faith, and that faith gave us unlimited grace. Paul will address this concept in the next verses.[Hebrews 6:3-5]
One of the ancient first century texts concerning baptism, the Didache, contains the understanding of the first century believers.
- 7:1-4 “But concerning baptism, thus baptize ye: having first recited all these precepts, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in running water; but if thou hast not running water, baptize in some other water, and if thou canst not baptize in cold, in warm water; but if thou hast neither, pour water three times on the head, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. But before the baptism, let him who baptizeth and him who is baptized fast previously, and any others who may be able. And thou shalt command him who is baptized to fast one or two days before.“
This should make it evident that there is an urgency to baptism. Likewise, there is a supernatural transfer of power from the Creator to the created. The representation is made again and again throughout Scripture…
- 1 Peter 3:19-21 “By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited 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:“
- Matthew 3:11 “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance. but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:”
- Romans 6:1-4 “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”
This transfer of power is the key to the resurrection promised by Yeshua. How exactly are we baptized IN Yeshua? This precept is multifaceted.
- Titus 3:4-5 “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
- Acts 2:36-38 “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.“
Once again recalling my own upbringing, I was NEVER taught the spiritual significance of the actions surrounding baptism, so this action was just an appeasement to the church clique at a very young age. Then as an adult, and after many years of heathen lifestyle, I went through the Catholic indoctrination and subsequent “baptism”, again to the appeasement of the religious crowd. Neither baptism came with supernatural power or personal connection. Why is this baptism, the baptism of Yeshua, both similar to water baptism yet very different in a spiritual significance.
If we are to live according to the “New” Testament as so many 501(c)3 churches verbalize…. we need to know the answer to that very question. 1 Peter 2:9 tells us; “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” Why would Peter speak in such a manner? Because he was echoing the ONLY BIBLE he knew… Torah.
- Exodus 19:6 “And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.”
This is another vital link to our faith. The priesthood was dedicated to the teaching and to the service of the masses. These men were well trained in the Bible/Torah, as well as, well disciplined in those Scriptures. So we can see the depth of meaning to the actions surrounding baptism:
- this is a catalyst to drawing near to God according to Exodus 30:18-21
- adds power to the life of the believer. [Titus 3:4-5]
- requires a dedication to the knowledge, memorization and teaching of Scripture. [Hosea 4:6]
The part that ties together the multifaceted precept of baptism IN Yeshua/Jesus in tucked away nicely in the Scriptures. The reason we need to study them so closely is to see these powerful examples. The Red Heifer Sacrifice:
Exodus 19:1-6 “And the Lord spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, This is the ordinance of the law which the Lord hath commanded, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring thee a red heifer without spot, wherein is no blemish, and upon which never came yoke: And ye shall give her unto Eleazar the priest, that he may bring her forth without the camp, and one shall slay her before his face: And Eleazar the priest shall take of her blood with his finger, and sprinkle of her blood directly before the tabernacle of the congregation seven times: And one shall burn the heifer in his sight; her skin, and her flesh, and her blood, with her dung, shall he burn: And the priest shall take cedar wood, and hyssop, and scarlet, and cast it into the midst of the burning of the heifer.”
The Red Heifer (parah adumah in Hebrew), was the cow whose ashes were used in the purification rites for one who had been contaminated through having come into contact with a corpse. There is the physical and there is the spiritual when it comes to the cleansing of mankind. If we are to die to self as Paul states in Romans 6:8, Philippians 1:21 ….the the dead man we have been in contact is US!
- Romans 6:6 “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”
We need this baptism! This is the separation from the world we were serving. This is the preparation we need to enter into the holiness of God’s presence. This is what we are called to do. We are called to preach, teach and live a life of repentance, faith and holiness.
Only the people who were pure, or cleansed from all unrighteousness, could eat from the Passover sacrifice, in ancient times a public announcement reminded anyone who had become impure to purify themselves before making the Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Sabbath prior to Passover was called Shabbat Parah which literally means Sabbath of the Red Heifer.
This is to example to us today the perimeters for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. Only those purified in the waters of Baptism in the name of Yeshua will be allowed to partake of His sacrifice.
- John 7:38 “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
- John 4:7-14 “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
This is why John quotes Isaiah’s prophesy “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the path”; the mikvah, the immersion into His path is the preparation we need so desperately before we enter into his presence in prayer and ultimately into eternity.
Do you have this baptism? The one that powers and empowers your entire life? That says to that mountain move? and it does? One that brings you to your knees [2 Chr 7:14] while it lifts you to great heights? The one that says “I can do anything (including Torah) through (like the waters of baptism) Him the strengthen me!” I could go on for days on this beautiful picture we get from baptism but we have to touch on (puntastic) the laying on of hands.
As we witnessed in baptism there is a direct correlation between physical and spiritual contact and the unclean. There too, a connection to both physical and spiritual cleanliness exists through direct contact with Yeshua/Jesus. It is the contact of the Holy Spirit that propels us to obedience. John 4:24 reminds us of this; “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” This is why Jesus/Yeshua says the very same in John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Also a direct reference to John 1:4.
Bill Gaither once penned the song “He Touched Me”, look at the lyrics closely….
Shackled by a heavy burden
‘Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same
He touched me, oh He touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
I believe Bill may have unknowingly been attempting to express this concept of the laying on of hands. It is this direct contact with the Spirit of God that the prophets foretold the people would happen. And why? Because the Scriptures bore witness to these events.
- Ezekiel 36:27 “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.
- Isaiah 59:21″As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and forever.”
- Jeremiah 31:31-34 “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.“
The Spirit of God has his hand, which represents His might and His power [Ex 15:6] and his Authority.[Matt 26:64] When we receive this touch this is when we receive real power in overcoming sin and the world.
This precept of the laying on of hands also brings with it the transferal of blessings to the faithful. Look at the precedent we have in Scripture.
Genesis 48:13-16 “And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near unto him. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
The laying on of hands brings about a conduit for healing as well. I believe this is a way for us to focus our prayer more when we are in direct contact with the prayer concerns. There too, we have Scriptural evidence for this precept.
- Luke 4:40 “Now when the sun was setting, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them unto him; and he laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.”
- Luke 13:11-13 “And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could in no wise lift up herself. And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity. And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.”
There are mant that believe that this is the reason for Jesus statement in Matthew…. that the children were getting squeezed out of the crowd when He was healing the sick.
- Matthew 19:14-15 “But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.”
The church continually talks about their desire to ‘connect’ with people and to be a ‘conduit’ for Yeshua what better way than to example the written and the living Torah than that of physically and literally laying their hands upon the lost and dying world. Transferring the healing and powerful words of the Creator. Combining the prayer of repentance with the living waters of Torah.
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