In the dark, fleeing tyranny, escaping slavery, Israel came upon a sea of despair. The great divide, deep and wide, with laughing waves, mocked them because of the hope that had risen in their hearts.
But God knew what He would do, how He would change the course of that great Sea. Through the faith and obedience of a man, He parted the waters to reveal dry land; a path to freedom for the entire nation, believing and unbelieving.
The Sea of Despair became the waters of baptism for Israel. They entered as slaves and crossed over freemen. Free to choose whom they would serve in the desert of testing.
Forty years of daily miracles were not enough to convince an unrepentant people of the goodness of their God. All had to die in the wilderness of self and a new generation had to rise to learn the art of war and conquering. A land was waiting for rebirth from pollution to purity. A new baptism was required.
A humbled people, wrapped in the clothes of their ancestors, cloaks and sandals that had not deteriorated with the course of time or the miles of rocky wilderness, stood on the swollen banks of the Jordan. With faith burning in their hearts, and the Ark of the Covenant on their shoulders, the priests lead the way. They moved with faith-filled steps into the boiling waters. The mighty river parted, yielding to the will of its Creator and dry land was once again released as the path to freedom: freedom from the past forty years, from the unbelief, from the bitterness and complaining. The entire nation followed into the Jordan, into the baptism.
The kingdom of darkness yet lives as long as sin remains the inheritance of man. But freedom has come for all, believing and unbelieving, through the obedience of One. He alone could part the waters that divide the spirit and the flesh: his death the parting, His resurrection the crossing from dark to light, from death to life. Because of the baptism of blood and water that flowed from the cross, I am free this day to choose whom I will serve in my journey through the desert of testing. Yet still a baptism is required.
Will I succumb to the fear that keeps me from crossing over, from identifying with the One way to freedom? Will I see the path before me yet turn back to the enemy of my soul or will I trust that the ground is clear, the path is real and freedom is my true inheritance?
As I stand on the banks of this river today, surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, I am choosing to become part of the believing. As the waters enclose around me and all life-giving breath must cease, I die: to myself, to my independence, to my self-sufficiency. I am buried with Christ.
As the strong hands support me and raise me up from the watery tomb, I am raised to new life, free to breath the very breath of Heaven. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead raises me and fills me with the power to live, to live as one set-apart from the flesh and alive to the things of my Father. I can now be trained in the art of war and conquering.
The land I live in is waiting for rebirth from pollution to purity.