Baptized into Moses

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Christian Baptism is Baptism in the name of the Triune God. The Apostle Paul tells us that there was a Baptism also during the time of the Old Testament. He calls it a Baptism into Moses. "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" (1 Cor. 10:1,2).

This Baptism sanctified the Israelites, from the oldest to the youngest, to be God's people and to follow Moses, the leader God had given them. The people - among them 600,000 men who were prepared for battle - crossed the Red Sea. Being a rapidly increasing people, there were also many children among them. The cloud and the raging sea constituted the water of Baptism. The people of Israel were saved from Pharaoh's armies. These armies received a baptism by immersion and drowned in the Red Sea.

The Scribes understood the Baptism that Israel received to be a once-and-for-all Baptism, in which future generation of Israelites had been baptized along with their ancestors. Israelites were therefore not baptized. The Gentiles, who were converted to the religion of Israel, were baptized because their ancestors had not been baptized into Moses. This so-called proselyte Baptism was administered to all the members of the family, also to children under the age of eight days. Male proselytes were circumcised after they were baptized. The New Testament does not take a stand concerning this Baptism.

This information concerning the baptismal practices of the Scribes casts light on the historical situation prevailing at the time when Christian Baptism was instituted. Because the New Testament does not oppose the Jewish practice of baptizing the children of proselytes and does not forbid Christians to baptize infants, there is here, along with the many direct Biblical proofs, a support for infant Baptism.

Let us return to the Apostle Paul. Of those baptized into Moses he says: "Nevertheless with most of them God was not well pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness" (1 Cor. 10:5). So now too God is not pleased with those who reject Jesus Christ, even though through Baptism they have become partakers of Christ's death and resurrection. "He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned" (Mark 16:16). Not all baptized people will be saved, but neither shall they all perish.

We can base our faith on that Covenant which God made with us when we were baptized. "God is faithful who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able" (1 Cor. 10:13). Because God in Baptism has called us by name, adopted us and made us His own, we can continue our journey with confidence under the protection of the water of Baptism. It saves the believer and drowns his enemies.