Times were changing. The old was being replaced by the new. No longer would bulls and goats need to be sacrificed in the Temple as described in the Old Testament (Hebrews 10). As the New Testament opens John the Baptist declares while baptizing Jewish converts in the River Jordan, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world” as Jesus made His way to the banks of the river. Although John requested Jesus baptize him, Jesus insisted John baptize Him to fulfill all righteousness. In this way Jesus was identifying with sinners who were trusting in Him for salvation.
As Jesus entered the water He demonstrated His death, burial and resurrection which was to come by being placed under the water and “straightway coming up out of the water” (Mark 1:10). There was no just splashing Him with water or sprinkling a few drops on Him. It was total immersion signifying dying to self, being buried with Christ and being risen again to walk in newness of life. Peter tells us in I Peter 3:21 baptism is “not the putting away of the filth of the flesh,” in other words the water is not for the washing away of sin, for only the blood of Jesus Christ is pure enough to do that. Baptism is a picture of identifying with Christ.
Just as the Jewish converts from Judaism who trusted Christ as the Promised Messiah took a bold step in following the Lord in believer’s baptism in spite of the pronouncements of the Temple rulers that those who did so would no longer be welcome in its synagogues, believers today upon placing their total faith and trust in Christ boldly identify with Him by dying to self, being buried in the baptismal waters, and coming up out of the water to walk with Him wherever He leads, just as Jesus portrayed for us.
Ray Comfort takes his microphone to the streets and campuses of Southern California and asks some very difficult questions of young and old alike concerning Adolf Hitler and the killing of six million Jews. In this 30 minute video titled “180 Movie” seen by over 4.6 million viewers, Ray opens the eyes of those he interviews in linking the horrors of the Holocaust to present-day abortion. For some their minds are changed 180 degrees from being pro-abortion at the beginning of the video to pro-life by its conclusion. A very difficult video to watch because of scenes of the death camps but a video that asks the hard questions that need to be asked and considered by everyone.
Moses had led the Children of Israel in the wilderness for forty years. Time was drawing near for them to enter into the Promised Land. Just before their crossing of the Jordan River, God called Moses up onto Mt. Nebo to show him all the land that had been promised to Abraham’s descendants. As far as the eye could see from the mountaintop, the Lord pointed out to Moses the lands that the Children of Israel would possess northward east of the river, westward all the way to the sea, and southward unto Zoar, the city Lot fled to upon the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally they had arrived; all but Moses would enter.
Moses knew this was as close as he would get to the Promised Land. It was during their wandering in the wilderness that the people began murmuring and complaining because of lack of water to sustain them. Earlier in the exodus before the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai, the wanderers were without water and God instructed Moses to strike a rock to bring forth water (Exodus 17). Twenty years later under the same circumstances Moses was told to speak to a rock and it would bring forth water. In his anger at the lack of faith of those under his leadership, Moses struck the rock twice with his rod and the water came forth. Because of his disobedience to what God had instructed him to do, the LORD spoke to Moses and said, “Because ye believed me not, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20).
The Lord concluded His time with Moses on the mountaintop with these words, “I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither. So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD. And He (God) buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day” (Deuteronomy 34).
How important it is obey God’s Word. Many wonderful blessings that could have been elude us when we disobey God. Surely Moses would have been the first to step foot in the Promised Land after all God led him to do after encountering the burning bush. But God is in control and when we do not obey His Word He will find others to do His Will. Upon Moses’ death Joshua was called of God to lead the people through the river Jordan on dry land, just as they had done in the crossing of the Red Sea during the exodus, and on to many great victories in the history of His Chosen People.
There are those who view God as a distant figure, not one to be involved in individual lives on a personal level. But Scripture reveals He is altogether involved in the lives of those who come to trust Him and place their complete faith in Him. God gave Noah explicit details on how to build the ark to the saving of his family (Genesis 6). The Lord came to Job after his three friends proved unsuccessful in comforting him in the loss of his children and possessions, speaking to him of the greater things of God that make everything else pale in comparison (Job 38-41). The Lord personally spoke to Jonah and told him to go to Nineveh with word destruction was coming for their wickedness (Jonah 1). Even Isaiah personally heard from the Lord when it was asked of him, “Who will go for us?” and he answered, “Here am I: send me” (Isaiah 6).
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He told them to begin, “Our Father, which art in heaven” (Matthew 6). They were to address God as their Father, a familial term indicating relationship. Paul lays out in Galatians 4 what it means to be adopted into God’s family upon acceptance of His forgiveness of sin, “But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (a term of endearment). Paul continues, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
God desires a personal relationship with each one of us just as He had with Adam and Eve in the Garden before their disobedience. Just as the first inhabitants of earth were cast out of the Garden for their sin, being separated from God, God desires we come back into a right relationship with Him through Christ. He stands ready to forgive. All we have to do is accept His free gift of salvation and become His child, crying “Abba, Father.”