We are beginning to see that baptism was and should be far more than just a sacrament. It does not make anyone more holy and is not even a commandment of Yehovah. Baptism is in fact a tradition of the Jews which was used as an expatriation from one kingdom and a naturalization into Yehovah’s holy kingdom. Baptism is all about repentance. The man realizes that he has been serving other elohim (lawmakers and judges) instead of only Yehovah and keeping all of His eternal and unchanging ways.
In the 1st century and well before, baptism (immersion) was necessary for a Toshab (we talked about this man last time) to undergo in order that he might be joined with the nation of Israel in her exodus experience. The meaning of baptism in Hebraic thought is that the Gentile convert is following Moses, with the rest of the Israelites, through the Red Sea, leaving his own Egypt (the bondage of his Gentile elohim, ways and country) behind and agreeing to be led only by Moses.
“I am Yehovah, thy Elohim, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shall have no other elohim existing before My face.” (Exo 20:2-3)
Repentance Is A Turning To Yehovah And His Ways
While Rabbis had 3 requirements (circumcision, baptism, and to offer sacrifice) for the man who was joining himself to Yehovah and His people. It is not about getting wet, it is about true repentance from circumcised heart. This is the only “slaughter” that Yehovah hungers for; the cutting of a man’s heart and spirit.
Elohim’s slaughter [zavach – a slaughtered this is eaten} are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart—These, O God, You will not despise. (Psa 51:17)
Wash ye, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before my eyes; cease to do evil. … “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool if you are willing and obedient; and you shall eat the good of the land. (Isa 1:16, 18-19)
“But if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?” says my Master, Yehovah, “and not that he should turn from his ways and live? (Eze 18:21-23)
So the Gentiles and even the blood-born Israelite men who wanted to turn from the ways of men and now live according to the ways of Moses, came to Yehovah with true repentance (a contrite heart and a broken spirit) and began their journey in the Way of Life. The laws they now kept were Yehovah’s instructions given to Israel through Moses.
Repentance Is How A Man Becomes A Ger
Repentance, demonstrated by leaving the kingdom of our birth, is how a man becomes a Ger. He can not remain in Egypt and following the elohim (lawmakers and judges) and still call himself Yehovah’s man. Yehovah only leads men who leave their Egypt.
But, what now are the duties and responsibilities of a new “Ger” or stranger who now dwells with Israel?
“You shall have the same law for the Ger and for one from your own country; for I am Yehovah, your Elohim.” Lev 24:22
“One law shall be for the native-born and for the Ger who dwells among you.” Exo 12:49
And if a Ger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations, and would present an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to Yehovah, just as you do, so shall he do. One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the Ger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the Ger be before Yehovah. Num 15:14-15
The Ger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were Gerim [plural of Ger] in the land of Egypt: I am Yehovah, your God. Lev 19:34
‘But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a Ger, that one brings reproach on Yehovah, and he shall be cut off from among his people. Num 15:30
It is all very clear in this context; once a man repents and is naturalized as a new citizen of Israel, he becomes a “Ger.” And as a “Ger,” he is required to keep all the instructions of Moses.
But, learning Yehovah’s ways and incorporating them into our lives, in order to become holy as He is holy, does not happen overnight. This life-time process of becoming holy as He is holy is called sanctification and it has almost been forgotten today.
So where does this new believer start as a “Ger”? Or, put another way, what are the minimum requirements, which he should adhere to, upon his immersion into True Israel?
Our current line of reasoning is very germane to a controversy which was brewing among the disciples about circumcising the new “Ger” in Antioch; and our present study on immersion, baptism, expatriation and naturalization will add great light to the same. While this controversy begins in Antioch, it concludes in Jerusalem, and is recorded in Acts chapter 15.
But that will have to wait until next time. Go to Ger Have Minimum Requirements.