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Mikvah
 

Radio teaching notes from Rabbi Jeremy Storch

 

Monday

Today I'd like to talk to you about “water baptism” from a Messianic Jewish viewpoint as well as from a Christian viewpoint.

The Hebrew word for entering the waters of baptism is pronounced “Mikvah”. We first see reference to the word “Mikvah” during creation in Genesis chapter 1. In Genesis 1:9, we see that the “waters under the heavens are gathered to one place”. The waters being gathered into one place reads in Hebrew “Makom Echad” from the Hebrew root word “Makom” comes the word “Mikvah” which actually means “a pool” or “a body of water”.

In Genesis 1:2 we also see that the Spirit of God (Ruach Elohim in Hebrew), was hovering over the waters. This is of great interest to us as believers in Yeshua, for when Jesus entered the “Mikvah” (meaning when He was baptized in the Jordan River in Matthew 3:16 ), the Spirit of God also descended “upon Him in the form of a dove”. Clearly, there is a connection with entering the waters of baptism and the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit.

As believers in Yeshua, whether Jew or Gentile, we should most definitely enter the Mikvah. Romans 6:4 “we were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that first as the Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life”. 2 nd Corinthians 5:17 also says, “If anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come”.

The Holy Spirit was over the face of the waters during creation. The Holy Spirit was over the water when Yeshua entered the Mikvah. As believers in Jesus, as a “new creation” in the Messiah, there is also a special dispensation of the Holy Spirit when we enter the waters of Mikvah.

Some of you may be asking the question, “what about the word “baptism”? “Where did it come from?” “Baptism” is actually a Greek word that comes from the root word “bapto” which means, “to cover entirely with a fluid”. Of course, when we hear that word “baptism” or “water baptism”, we often think of it as something that originated with Christianity. However, it actually finds its roots in biblical Judaism in God's Torah. We'll see more of this in tomorrow's teaching as we examine the many reasons why the Israelites themselves entered the Mikvah.

In either case, we should all, whether Jew or Gentile, be “immersed” in the waters of baptism. If it's good enough for Jesus, it should be good enough for us.

I'll leave you with two last scriptures which I am sure will give you something to think about. In Mark 16:16, the Messiah said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved but he who does not believe will be condemned”. He also said in John 3:5, “unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God .”
 

Tuesday

Yesterday, we began to talk about the subject of “water baptism”. In biblical Judaism and in the Hebrew language, this is referred to as entering the waters of “Mikvah”. The Hebrew word “Mikvah” actually means “a pool” or “a gathering of waters”. We first see reference to this during the “creation”, itself in Genesis 1:9 where it says that the “waters under the heavens were gathered into one place”.

We also saw the connection between entering the waters of Mikvah and the outpouring of the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit. Genesis 1:2 says that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” during creation. The same Holy Spirit was hovering over the Jordan River when Yeshua (Jesus) Himself entered the “waters of Mikvah” and the “Spirit descended on Him in the form of a dove”. (Matthew 3:16)

For believers today who enter the waters of baptism as a “new creation” in the Messiah, there is also a special dispensation and outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In God's Torah (the first 5 books of the Bible), we see many examples of how the Israelites were commanded by God to enter the Mikvah for various reasons. Aaron and his sons (the Levitical priesthood) were commanded to “wash themselves” in the “laver of water” before ministering to the Lord in the Tabernacle of Moses (Exodus 30:17-21). There was a special “washing with water” for Aaron, the High Priest on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:4). A person with an infectious skin disease had to “bathe himself in water” (Leviticus 14: 8 & 9). There was a ritual “cleansing with water” for women during their menstrual period (Leviticus 15). Some view the Israelites “passing through the Red Sea ” as a “corporate Mikvah” for the entire nation.

For the Israelites, it was first, “the blood of the Lamb”, then the waters of baptism. It is the same for believers today! God even commanded the Israelites to “wash their clothing” before He gave them His Torah at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 19:10 ).

According to ancient Jewish wedding customs, a “bride-to-be” went into the Mikvah, a ritual cleansing preparing her for a new way of life with her husband. How appropriate this is for believers today who are the “bride of Messiah” entering into a new way of life with Yeshua (Jesus) our Heavenly Bridegroom!

Clearly, water baptism finds its roots in God's Torah and in ancient Jewish lifestyle. Of course, entering the waters of Mikvah is a dominant theme of the B'rit Hadashah (New Covenant). Yeshua Himself entered the Mikvah (as we saw earlier in Matthew 3:16 ). He commanded us to be baptized (Mark 16:16 and John 3:5). He commanded us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and to baptize them in the Name of Avinu (our Father), Yeshua (the Son), and the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). On the Day of Pentecost, 3000 Jewish believers went into the “waters of Mikvah” and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 -41). In Romans 6:4, Paul encourages Gentile believers to enter the waters of Mikvah.

Clearly, entering into the “Mikvah” (the waters of immersion) is for all believers in the Messiah, Jew and Gentile alike. For in Him we are all one! The Bride of Messiah, a Royal Priesthood and a Holy Nation.

Wednesday

For the past few days, we have been speaking about the subject of “water baptism” referred to as “entering the Mikvah” in the Hebrew language and in biblical Judaism. Of course, Yeshua (Jesus) set the example for all of us when He, Himself, was baptized in the Jordan River , that “all righteousness might be fulfilled.” (Matthew 3:15) The same scriptures also tell us that John the Baptist (Yochanan the Immerser) was the one who baptized Yeshua, “the voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord”.

All four gospels give an account of John's ministry of water baptism. But in order to establish what time of the year it was, you have to read the accounting of Luke 3:1-6. It reveals to us that John's ministry of calling people to repentance for sin and baptizing them in the Jordan River began in the beginning of the 15 th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar. In doing the research, I discovered that the 15 th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar began in the late summer of that year, around mid-to-late August. This translates in the Hebrew calendar to the beginning of the Hebrew month of Elul.

In Judaism, the beginning of the month Elul marks the beginning of a designated season of repentance, called the season of “T'shuva” in Hebrew; a month of spiritual preparation for the coming high holy days of Rosh Hashanah (also known as The Feast of Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Both of these feasts carry a theme of judgment and repentance of sin. John, as a son of a Jewish priest, named Zecharias, in keeping with the designated season of repentance and with the theme of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, would most definitely be calling the people to repentance at that time of year.

To add further interest, according to the Jewish sages, the Messiah, Himself, would appear at the end of the month of Elul or on Rosh Hashanah, itself. According to John 1:29, as John the Baptist was immersing sinners in the Jordan River, he suddenly looked up and said, “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” as the Messiah, Himself, appeared.

As believers, what can we learn from this? First of all, that the length of Yeshua's public ministry was not 3 years, but 3½ years, beginning in the Fall and ending in the Spring, 3½ years later when He died on Passover. We also learn that God has designated “times and seasons” in the bible; His appointed feasts which all point toward the Messiah Yeshua.

We also can think about this one. If, indeed, Yeshua appeared for the first time toward the end of Elul or even on Rosh Hashanah, when the shofar is sounded over and over again, is it possible that He will appear for the second time on Rosh Hashanah, the “Feast of Trumpets” (Yom Teruah, in Hebrew, “The Day of the Awakening Blast”) when there will be a loud shout of an archangel from heaven, along with the blast of the heavenly shofar, when we will see Yeshua coming on the clouds of glory, to claim His bride?
 

Thursday

For the past few days, we've been looking at the subject of water baptism which is called “Mikvah” in Hebrew.

We've seen the connections between entering the waters of “Mikvah” and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, with Yeshua (Jesus) as our prime example of this, when He was baptized in the Jordan River and the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, descended on Him in the form of a “dove”.

We've seen God's commandments for all believers to enter the Mikvah waters of immersion in many places in the B'rit Hadashah (New Covenant), in Mark 16:16; John 3:5; Matthew 28:19; and Romans 6:4 just to name at few. We've seen how all the early Jewish believers in Yeshua went into the “Mikvah” and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38 -41).

We've also seen how entering the Mikvah, clearly finds its roots in biblical Judaism. Aaron and his sons “washed in the laver” before ministering to the Lord (Exodus 30:17-21). Those with infectious skin diseases were commanded to wash themselves with water (Leviticus 14:8 & 9). According to ancient Jewish wedding customs, a bride-to-be entered the Mikvah, in preparation for a new life with her husband. How appropriate this is for believers in Yeshua, who are the Bride of Messiah and have entered into a new way of life with Him, our Heavenly Bridegroom.

I suppose the question may arrive for believers today, “How often can I go into the waters of baptism?” or “What if I've been baptized before? and “What if I've been baptized as an infant?” These are all interesting questions; let me give you my opinion.

We've already seen how the Levitical priesthood went into the “Mikvah” on a daily basis, before ministering to the Lord. Well, we too, are a royal priesthood! When we were in Israel recently, we visited Qumran , where the Essene community lived for about 200 years between the 1 st Century B.C. and 135 A.D. In other words, shortly before and after the time when Yeshua lived on the earth, the Essenes were very devout Jewish people, who entered the Mikvah on a daily basis in preparation for prayer and for study of God's word, even in preparation for meals.

Often, as believers, we reach “new stages” in our walk with the Messiah Jesus, and new areas of ministry in serving Him. The biblical pattern of entering the Mikvah is connected with a time of “new beginnings”. It is also connected with “dedication” and re-dedication” to the Lord. While it may be “impractical” for us to enter the “Mikvah” (waters of baptism) on a daily basis, (After all, we don't want to “water the whole thing down”!), it is still very appropriate to enter the “Waters of immersion” as often as the “Spirit” leads us to do so!” Remember, water baptism and the Holy Spirit are tied together!

In addition, “infant baptism” alone seems insignificant in and of itself. It lacks any “conscious understanding” of why you are being baptized. It does not offer any opportunity, publicly and verbally, to confess your faith in the Messiah Jesus, of how much you love Him and want to serve Him all the days of your life.

There is nothing wrong with entering the waters of baptism over and over again, as the Spirit leads. It is part of the on-going life style of a born again, Spirit filled believer in the Messiah Yeshua!

Friday

Please listen to this song from one of our CDs entitled in Hebrew, “Elohay Ha K'vod”, which means the “Glory of God”! This CD can be ordered on our “merchandise” page.
 

 

 

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"The Tabernacle" is an outreach of Tabernacle of Praise Ministries, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
The Tabernacle is led by Messianic Rabbi Jeremy Storch and is located in Branson, Missouri.
If you have questions or comments, please email us at: info@TheTabernacleInBranson.com