Baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1-11)
Paul makes a solemn warning to the complacent Christians by referring to the history of the children of Israel. The Israelites experienced redemption when delivered from Egypt, baptism when passing through the sea and God’s continual provision and protection as they journeyed through the wilderness. Yet they returned to forbidden ways so that nearly all of them perished in the wilderness. These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall. Let us heed the warning and live Christian lives, or we will deprive ourselves of the rich blessing of eternal life.
It was a unique experience for the children of Israel to pass through the Red Sea on dry land, with the water piled up on both sides, and the cloud above them; they are described as having been baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. As they came up out of the Red Sea, the waters closed behind them. This meant that they were free from the bondage of Egypt and the domination of Pharaoh. It also meant that they could not turn back. As the wilderness opened before them, they began a new way of life with God. He guided them with the cloud and by the leadership of Moses.
When we put our faith in Jesus Christ, he helps us to break the power of the mind of the flesh (Romans 8:4-11). And if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36). He opens up the way for fellowship with God. We are under His leadership and the guidance of His word which is spirit and life (John 6:63). Baptism by immersion expresses for believers what the Red Sea meant for the Israelites that the old way of life was finished and a new one had begun. Sadly, they later returned to their former sinful ways so that we read God was not pleased with most of them. Their bodies were scattered over the desert. Having begun a new life, they failed to go through with it. After their deliverance from the Egyptians (Exodus 14), their hearts were filled with praise and thanksgiving (Exodus 15). But a short while later they failed when they met such difficulties as lack of food and water. We, today, see broken nations, suffering, violence, victimization, even lack of food which led the Isrealites to hanker after the life they had left instead of trusting God to provide for the journey ahead. Let us be careful and watch for the signs showing the coming of our Master is at hand.
In Acts 7:55-56, the heavens are opened and the Son of man stands at the right hand of God; that is to say, he is no longer sitting but standing in order to help Stephen. Our pathway will not always be easy. Jesus Christ said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We must expect to be tested. “Consider it is pure joy, brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kinds because you know that the testing of your faith works patience. Patience must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4). When we meet difficulties, we must not look for a way out but look for a way through with God’s help. When we come through trials, we shall have a firmer faith in God and be a stronger believer. If we had no problems, our faith would be very anaemic. The trials God allows (as opposed to those we inflict on ourselves) are not a sign of His displeasure, but rather the reverse. Because He loves us, He tests us in order to make us richer in character and more established in our faith (Hebrews 12:7-11).
Bro Gaius Egwu (Ohafia, Nigeria)