1In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
6Then God said, "Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters." 7Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so. 8And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day. 9Then God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear"; and it was so. 10And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
- Genesis 1:1-2; 6-10
Have you noticed in the reading from the 1st chapter of Genesis how many times the element of water is mentioned? In the first 10 verses of Genesis chapter 1:
- Heaven is mentioned 3 times
- Earth is mentioned 4 times
- Light/day is mentioned 8 times
- Water is mentioned 10 times
Water is certainly the dominant element in God's creation as far as our planet earth is concerned. 70-75% of the earth's surface is covered by water. Some other interesting facts about water:
- 97% of all water is contained in oceans.
- Only 3% of earth's water can be used for drinking.
- And 3/4 of that 3% drinkable water is frozen in polar ice caps.
It's no wonder that access to clean water for drinking, bathing, and irrigation is the key to prosperity for any country. Next to oxygen it is the most necessary element to support life in all of its forms.
It's no wonder then, that God uses water as a key symbolic element in spiritual life as well. As a matter of fact, it is the most used symbol in connection with the miracle of salvation in the Bible. For example:
The Great Flood – Genesis 7
Water here is used to execute judgment. Those above the water in the ark are saved. Those below the water who refused to enter the ark are drowned. Water separates the living from the dead and the ark is the facilitator.
Moses and the Red Sea
Exodus 14 Again, water is the key element dividing those saved from those destroyed. Moses, before parting the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to escape the pursuing Egyptians says, "Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today…" Vs. 13. Note that Moses refers to the parting of the waters, not as a miracle (which it certainly was) but rather as salvation. Water, once again being the difference between safety and destruction. The Jews walking through the parted waters in escaping the Egyptian army and the same water drowning the Pharaoh and his army as they tried to follow the Israelites through that same way with Moses performing the miracle.
Joshua and the Crossing of the Jordan River – Joshua 3:4
This is a less familiar story, but never-the-less, a powerful example of God's use of water in connection with salvation. After 40 years of wandering in the desert and the deaths of Aaron, Moses and the first generation who had left Egypt, Joshua is told to lead the people into the promised land. They could have come into the land through a land route from the South, but God has them enter the land from the East which requires them to cross over the Jordan River. The Lord tells the priests to carry the ark into the river and as they do, the waters are separated. The priests remain in the middle of the separated waters and the people are then instructed to cross over on the dry river bed as the priests remain holding the ark in mid-river. Once everyone has crossed safely over, the priests then make their way to the other side and the river once again rushes by. In this instance, the water separates the past life with its suffering and death from the new promised life of abundant and blessing, the promise fulfilled. It's interesting to note that God uses the priests as the intermediaries between the old and new separated by the water.
Baptism – Acts 2:38
Then, of course, we have water baptism used by John and Jesus to announce and prepare the people for the arrival of the kingdom of God. After Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension, the Apostles preach water baptism in Jesus' name as the point where all post symbolisms meet at once. In the past, God rescued and transported them to safety and promised blessings through miracles using water. Now He performs another miracle, this time in the waters of baptism. He grants each one who enters into the water by faith in Christ the right to be called Sons of God and live forever (Galatians 3:26).
In the Old Testament, God performed miracles with the water (worldwide flood/separation) as a sign pointing to Himself as the savior of His people.
Blessed are you, O Israel; Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord.
- Deuteronomy 33:29
In the New Testament, in Jesus' Baptism, God performs a miracle in the water (granting eternal life) as a gift to all those who believe in His Son Jesus Christ.
Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God."
- John 3:5
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
- John 3:16
In every case, whether Old Testament or New Testament, there is water, there is a miracle, and there is salvation of some kind.
Now when it comes to baptism, I don't think that God simply took a natural thing (water) and used it to make a spiritual point (salvation). God knew the plan of salvation before the founding/creation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) His choice of water in this plan was not some afterthought making stuff up as He went along. I'm persuaded that He created the element of water with the ultimate purpose of making a spiritual point. In other words, the fact that we need water to survive as humans is secondary to its use in the plan of salvation. The natural (water) was created to serve the spiritual (salvation/Baptism). I say this to underscore the importance of Baptism in a world that continually undermines its importance.
- It's not a religious afterthought.
- It's not a cultural relic from another period.
- It's not simply a symbol we can choose to ignore if we want to because we are so spiritually mature we are beyond "symbols."
Baptism is the historic time and place where we cross over from death to life, condemned to saved. Just as a very real flood separated the living from the dead. And the very real Red Sea divided the Israelites who lived from the Egyptians who died. And the Jordan River stood between the old life of wandering in the wilderness from the new life in the Promised Land.
The very real water of Baptism here and now separates those who are saved and will live eternally from those who will be condemned eternally.
This mini book is called "Miracle in the Water" not because the water itself has any miraculous power. That's magic/occult ideas. It's called this because the miracle happens in the water.
- The forgiveness of all sins…in the water
- The indwelling of the Holy Spirit…in the water
- The result of eternal life because of this happens at Baptism…in the water (Acts 2:38)
The water merely marks the time and place that the miracle happens. It doesn't cause the miracle. God does this.
No matter when or where the water appeared, the flood/Red Sea/Jordan River or Baptism, it always required faith to enter in.
- Faith that you would be safe in the ark.
- Faith that you would be saved from the Egyptian army if you walked through the Red Sea.
- Faith that God was leading you to the Promised Land and not an attack by the powerful Canaanites if you crossed the Jordan.
- Finally, faith that Jesus is the Son of God and will raise you up on the last day if you meet Him with repentance in the waters of baptism.
So what will it be for you now? Will this be the time and place in the history of your life when you crossed over from death to life in the waters of Baptism? If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and are ready to make a change, come. The miracle in the water is waiting for you.