Monday, March 4, 2019

The Significance of Water

"The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days." (Genesis 7:24).

God told Noah to build an ark, a box-like boat, which would float on the floodwaters and preserve two of every species of land animal and bird as well as Noah and his family. There have been reports for centuries of just such an object high up on Mount Ararat in Armenia. In recent years a number of expeditions have tried to reach it. Political instability in the region, as well as an unfriendly climate, have often worked to stymie such efforts, and such evidence as does exist is a matter of debate among earnest Christians. Even if there are no remains of the ark of Noah on Mount Ararat, however, the record of the Bible is still trustworthy. It may be, after all, that Noah and his descendants dismantled the ark for other building projects.

The Flood is an example of an “ordeal” or test by water. In the Bible, passing through water is often a trial of a person’s standing with God. For instance, the floodwaters killed almost all of mankind, but buoyed up the ark and saved Noah and his family. Similarly, the waters of the Red Sea divided to allow Moses and the Israelites to pass through but drowned Pharaoh’s army.

It is interesting to notice that the Israelites were sprinkled by rain from God as they walked dry-shod through the Red Sea (Psalm 77:16–20). It seems as if man is given a choice: either be drowned by too much water or receive a token drowning by being sprinkled with water from heaven.

God said that the Flood would “wipe” the earth (Genesis 6:7; 7:4, 23). The idea is that the earth would be cleansed and given a new start by water. Similarly, in the Levitical system ceremonial uncleanness—symbolic death—was cleansed by the sprinkling of water, an act that symbolized resurrection and the opening of a new life (Leviticus 11:40; 15:5–12; John 3:5). Jews who were guilty of very serious defilements were cleansed by sprinkling with water that had the ashes of a sacrificial heifer mixed in it (Numbers 19:11–22; cp. Leviticus 14:7). This water applied the death of the substitute to the sinner, cleansing him. All of these water “ordeals” relate to the meaning of baptism, the rite by which we pass through the Jordan into the kingdom.

Water is merely the symbol which conveys the meaning of God’s cleansing and salvation. Be careful that your faith is not wrapped up in the externals of the faith, but rather in the God who is signified by the water.