John The Baptist
Dressed in Camel hair and leather belt, eating wild honey and locusts, is John the Baptist. He is first character brought forth in the Gospel of John. He is seen by the Jordan baptizing people. He is the fulfillment of Isaiah 40:3, a voice crying out in the desert preparing the way of the Lord. He was focused and faithful and committed to the call of God in his life. It is said that he had the spirit and power of Elijah. So much so that some believe that he WAS Elijah (Malachi 4:5). He is the one who baptized Jesus and started the ministry that would change my life and yours forever.
Here is a quick overview of the Jewish background of Christian baptism.
Water and blood have always been at the center of repentance and atonement of sins in the Jewish beliefs. The Jewish Mikveh occurred before the high priest conducted the service on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). It was also performed by regular priests before they participated in the Temple service and before each person would enter the temple complex. It was also performed before a scribe wrote the name of God.
What is the Jewish Mikveh?
The term Mikveh means gathering of waters. It was first used in Genesis 1:9. If you read through the book of Leviticus you will encounter that term every time it is mentioned that cleansing had to happen. Several groups observe ritual immersion to assure readiness for the coming of the Messiah. Among those are the Heterobaptists or daily bathers.
Let's not be too dogmatic about the baptism process and claimed that immersion is the only way to go. The immersion process was more complex that ours today. It had to be done in front of witnesses. The person had to make a new profession of faith, cut their nails and undress completely. I do not know about you but I do not remember the last time I went to a naked baptism.....
Immersion was NOT the only to consecrate oneself either. In Exodus 19:10 the Israelite are asked to wash their clothes before receiving the 10 commandments (also see Revelation 22:14). 1 Samuel 7:6 pictures a scene where they simply poured water before the Lord. 2 Kings 3:11 mentioned Elisha pouring water into Elijah's hands. Ezekiel 36:25 simply mentioned sprinkling. So let's not be dogmatic and lose ourselves in the "proper way" but let's focus on the big picture.
Behold the Lamb of God
The Mishnah (Oral law on how to accomplish the written law) mentions 6 descending orders of ritual bathing. The highest is that of a spring or flowing river. This order is also called the Living Water and illustrated the forgiveness of sins. When John baptized Jesus, all righteousness was being fulfilled (Matthew 3:15) and announcing who he truly was (John 1:31, John 4:10).
Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophesies regarding the Messiah. This was one of them. See Genesis 22:8, Isaiah 6:8, Isaih 40:9.
There is so much about that concept and I would encourage you to dig deeper in the word and make those truths your own.
Here are the main verses that Jews look to in order to recognize the Messiah. Look them up, mediate on them and know in the depth of your heart that Jesus is the I AM, God. Knowing this will make it so much easier to follow Him, become one of His disciple and do whatever He is asking you to do.
- Isaiah 2, 11, 42; 59:20
- Jeremiah 23, 30, 33; 48:47; 49:39
- Ezekiel 38:16
- Hosea 3:4-5
- Micah 4
- Zephaniah 3:9; 14:9
- Daniel 10:14