We’ve been getting a lot of rain lately in this part of the country. Rain, and water in general for that matter, is an interesting thing. We need just the right amount to keep life going. Too much or too little can have detrimental effects. Water can kill, but it can only sustain.
The experience of water getting rid of the old and making way for the new is something we see in the Bible. Consider Noah and the flood of Genesis 6-9. On the one hand, water is used to bring about a fresh start. Comparing the words spoken to Noah after the flood with those spoken to Adam and Eve after creation shows that the flood is to be understood as a new beginning. God tells Noah and his sons to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 9:1). He places them over the rest of creation (Gen 9:2). And God tells Noah that man is made in His image (Genesis 9:6).
On the other hand, the water of the flood is used to kill. We read in Genesis 7:22-23, “of all that was on the dry land, all in whose nostrils was the breath of the spirit of life, died. Thus He blotted out every living thing that was upon the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky, and they were blotted out from the earth; and only Noah was left, together with those that were with him in the ark.”
The same basic idea can be observed with the crossing of the Red Sea. “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left” (Exodus 14:28-29). Again, we see here water being used as the close of one chapter but the beginning of another.
Both the flood and the crossing of the sea are referenced in the New Testament. 1 Peter 3:21 states, “a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water. Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” In 1 Corinthians 10:1-2 we find, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, 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.”
For us, there is an event which marks the close of one chapter and the start of another. There is a time in which the old is destroyed, we are re-created, and we are liberated from captivity. For us, baptism is the great water event in our story of faith. “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
It is not that there is power in water alone, but rather that there is power in the one in whom we place our faith. May we say with the people of Israel who went through the waters long ago, “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation” (Exodus 15:2).