Today I was privileged to officiate at a mikvah for a dear brother who will be married in a few hours.
A few things struck me. The first is that God really knows His creation! Of course, right!? But I am repeatedly impressed upon realization of a specific way in which God designed His instructions with our nature in mind.
As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. Psalms 103:13-14 (ESV)
There is something about us humans that benefits from coupling an external action with a mental determination. I suspect a lot of the significance of the ritual found in Torah is related to this.
The other thing that hit me is another aspect of the importance we attach to what has come to be known as baptism. I often related to folks that a mikvah symbolized any significant change in status. That the ancient Israelites took a mikvah when they changed from the status of unclean to clean, when they got married, when they took a vow, and when they repented of sin. I’ve written or said these words hundreds of times. But for some reason, when considering baptism as it is used in the Christian church, I have always focused in my thinking on the issue of repentance from sin, on the change from walking in darkness to turning and walking in righteousness. And this is true, but not until today when we practiced a mikvah in the context of a wedding, was I struck by the significance of baptism representing our vows of marriage to Messiah.
A change in status from that of one having no hope and without God in the world, from someone separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and a stranger to the covenants of promise to that of one who has been brought near by the blood of Messiah and bound by vows of marriage.
And this takes me back to my first thought. I was baptized at age nine, and I’ve contemplated baptism and its relation to the mikvah for years, but it wasn’t until today in the practice of this statute that a fuller awareness of its truth dawned on me.
If we consider ourselves to be “free” from the practice of God’s commands as they are outlined in the so-called “Old Testament” we are relegating ourselves to a less full apprehension of God’s truths. I choose not to debate with most folks over whether we are obligated to observe the “Old Testament” commands. However, I cannot but point out, that whether it is a matter of obligation or not, it is most certainly an opportunity potentially lost.
7 thoughts on “A Mikvah”
Knowing you as a deep thinker, and an honest seeker, I thought you’d appreciate this link to a wonderful article. No, I am not the author of control-z.com, just a friend from your past who knows your passion for truth.
“It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” – Carl Sagan
Think, my friend.
Great to hear from you! I’m thinking constantly, my friend!
Are you now a Zoroastrian? Zarathustra certainly was an interesting individual.
Has C. had that baby yet?
Shalom to you,
By the way, I completely agree with that quote from Sagan…and that is why I remain a Christian.
Sorry; I know that’s not what you wish to hear from me, but I know it’s what you would expect from me!
Though I’ve lost yet another friend to agnostic theism recently, nothing has changed over here in regard to what I believe.
I did get ordained recently! That was neat.
No, silly, Zarathustra is a play on words… See Dr. Robert M. Price’s web page.
C. … not yet.
I won’t give up on you yet, knowing you to be the intelligent guy that you are. 😀
Yes, I did hear about the mutual friend of ours. I am not surprised. As remarkably intelligent as he is I knew it was only a matter of time.
It’s sad that he has been taking some heavy criticisms from another ‘mutual friend’. Doesn’t seem very ‘Christian’.
Who did you get ordained with?
Seriously about the link.
By the way, whatever happened to Brian and the guys from Arba Minim? I can’t find their website.
Keep me posted on C. and yet to be named.
I’m still confused about Zarathustra (most scholars think he was an historical figure) but thanks for the introduction to Robert Price –sheesh!! I’m not a fan.
I was ordained with the Apostle’s Church.
I checked out the link quickly. Not my cup of tea…
I don’t know what’s going on with Arba Minim, as far as I know they’re still around. Brian has a new site instead of his old blog called Capernaum Research Institute.
Nate, it is interesting to compare baptism ritual with foot washing ritual, which was also commanded that they do unto others (John 13:14).
I know there is far more mention of immersion in the AS (which always surprises me when we think of this as a new ritual in the days of John the Baptist. Immersion not new, but new as it related to the purpose of the immersion).
That extra mention and focus on baptism in the AS, more so than say foot-washing, always leaves me wondering why such focus on that ritual to such great extent. Agreeing with you fully that the solution is seeing it beyond the reason of repentance. This is the key, and after two days of mulling this over – I think I found another part of the puzzle.
I think you are on to something of how ritual by the action creates mental determination, and marks a crucial moment in time as one state changes to another state.
Think of this: from the second the body emerges upward from that water immersion and takes a new breath an imprint on the brain by the nerves of the whole body is made.
And the focus, I think, was so strong and mentioned so much in the AS over other rituals because that first new breath was the action that would mark the spirit/body memory of the new state of being in Messiah.
Although the water dries, and is not a repeated ritual reminder, like tzitzit, the impact is lasting. Like a woman, when she immerses from an immersion of being menstruant-impure never considers a need for the ritual again until she is impure one month later. She does not say in the middle of the month, “oh I think I will immerse again.” The reminder is always there for her through the 30 days that she immersed at that moment, her status was changed and she never forgets she is pure, until the moment happens when she is impure again. I am speaking from experience.
Perhaps the immersion of baptism, likewise, should remind the believer forever that here this marks a new life in Messiah.
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