In I Corinthians 10:1 to 15 the Holy Spirit has reminded us of some experiences of God’s ancient people Israel. In the sixth verse we are told that “these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted”. And in the eleventh verse we are told that “these things happened unto them for examples; and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come”. In order that we may be admonished and instructed, and thereby derive the benefit that the Holy Spirit desires us to have, we should carefully study the “these things” to which He referred. Let us refresh our memories concerning several of these experiences. We read these words in Exodus 14:30 and 31.
“The Lord saved Israel that day out of the hands of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore.
“And Israel saw that great work which the Lord did upon the Egyptians; and the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord, and His servant Moses.”
In the preceding verses we have the details of this great deliverance. And we can see why Israel feared and believed the Lord, and believed the Lord’s servant Moses. In Exodus 14:11 and 12 we learn that the Israelites murmured against Moses and rebuked him for leading them away from Egypt. In order that the Israelites might have confidence in Moses’ leadership and Divine authority, the Lord, by the hand of Moses, performed two great miracles, mentioned in Exodus 14:19 to 21, namely, the pillar of the cloud; and the dividing of the waters of the Red Sea. Then 600,000 men of Israel, beside the women and the children, passed through the sea. This fact is told in Exodus 14:22, which we quote: “And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the DRY GROUND; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left”. When Pharaoh with his army followed after Israel God completely destroyed them and their chariots in the midst of the sea. We might ask the question, how we are to be admonished or instructed by this example? By some brethren there has been a very strange teaching concerning household baptism. They have insisted that believers should be immersed in water, and that their children should likewise be immersed with what they call “Christian” baptism. They support their theory by quoting I Corinthians 10:2 and 10:6, which we here quote:
“AND WERE ALL BAPTIZED UNTO MOSES IN THE CLOUD AND IN THE SEA; “NOW THESE THINGS WERE OUR EXAMPLES, TO THE INTENT WE SHOULD NOT LUST AFTER EVIL THINGS, AS THEY ALSO LUSTED.”
To our minds this is rather fanciful and unsound exegesis, and seems to be a desperate attempt to force the Bible to agree with their religious practice and, the traditions of some of the church fathers. Perhaps it has also resulted by insisting that the word “baptizo” has, just one meaning. In ancient Greek literature this Greek word had a number of meanings. And by carefully comparing the fourteenth chapter of Exodus with the tenth chapter of I Corinthians, there seems to be no doubt that the statement concerning the Israelites, baptized unto Moses “in the cloud and in the sea,” could better be rendered “by the cloud and by the sea”. Undoubtedly the meaning that the Holy Spirit would convey to our minds and hearts is the fact that the two miracles, which the Lord performed by the hand of Moses, were to give them implicit confidence in Moses and reliance upon him as their Divinely appointed leader. They were “baptized unto Moses.” They acknowledged him their leader. They received him as God’s servant.
In Acts 2:22 we are instructed that God, by great miracles, tried to persuade Israel to receive Jesus of Nazareth as their great Prophet and Messiah. The works that Christ did was to induce Israel to accept Him as Messiah, King and Deliverer.
These brethren who practice household baptism say that, passing through the Red Sea was symbolic; and that members of the Body of Christ should be immersed. And because the babies and little children went through the Red Sea with their parents, the infants and little children should be immersed in this day of grace with their parents.
It is quite significant that the Holy Spirit, in the fourteenth of Exodus, was very careful to tell us, more than once, that the children of Israel did not get wet. They passed over on dry land. Perhaps these brethren have overlooked the words in I Corinthians 10:6, “to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted.” There was no lusting after evil things when they accepted the leadership of Moses and followed him across the Red Sea. To my mind, the key to these instructions in I Corinthians 10:1 to 15 is found in the word “wherefore” in the twelfth verse. It is not an example of baptism; but an example of temptation.
As members of the Body of Christ we have all been baptized into Jesus Christ We have put on Christ. We have been baptized into His death. We have been raised to walk in newness of life. And because we are made of the same human material as were the children of Israel, we have this important admonition in I Corinthians 10:12, which we quote “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Our one baptism of Ephesians 4:5 identifies us with Christ.
God speaks of His Nation Israel as a disobedient and gainsaying people, as a rebellious and stiffnecked people. We quote several verses from Exodus relating their murmurings, their rebellion, their disobedience, and their idolatry. “The whole congregation of the children murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” Exodus 16:2 and 3.
“And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, is the Lord among us or not?” Exodus 17:7 .
“And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him”. Exodus 32:1.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves”. Exodus 32:7
“And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses; and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men”. Exodus 32:28.
“Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee; behold mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them;. And the Lord plagued the people because they made the calf, which Aaron made”.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived”. Numbers 21:8 and 9.