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.