Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: A sermon on the historiacl context of Baptism.

(Luke 3:1-3) In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar--when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene-- {2} during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. {3} He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Have you ever asked yourself the question: “why did God choose baptism to symbolize this thing called forgiveness?” Why not something like setting your hair on fire? To answer this question I want to take you though a historical context for what we now call baptism.

Lets take a look at the “Day of Atonement”.

(Leviticus 16:1-4) The LORD spoke to Moses after the death of the two sons of Aaron who died when they approached the LORD. {2} The LORD said to Moses: "Tell your brother Aaron not to come whenever he chooses into the Most Holy Place behind the curtain in front of the atonement cover on the ark, or else he will die, because I appear in the cloud over the atonement cover. {3} "This is how Aaron is to enter the sanctuary area: with a young bull for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. {4} He is to put on the sacred linen tunic, with linen undergarments next to his body; he is to tie the linen sash around him and put on the linen turban. These are sacred garments; so he must bathe himself with water before he puts them on.

Other than the account of the flood that is clearly about cleansing the entire earth ceremonially and literally with the exception of Noah’s family, this is one of the earliest correlations between the acts of ceremonial cleansing being linked to the water. We no that the act of washing oneself in a bat tub does not make one spiritually clean in a literal way but God chooses this method to speak toward the issue of ceremonial cleansing. Look at the references that will bear themselves out before you finish reading this context of scripture.

(Leviticus 16:5-10) From the Israelite community he is to take two male goats for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering. {6} "Aaron is to offer the bull for his own sin offering to make atonement for himself and his household. {7} Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the LORD at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. {8} He is to cast lots for the two goats--one lot for the LORD and the other for the scapegoat. {9} Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the LORD and sacrifice it for a sin offering. {10} But the goat chosen by lot as the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD to be used for making atonement by sending it into the desert as a scapegoat.

(Leviticus 16:23-24) "Then Aaron is to go into the Tent of Meeting and take off the linen garments he put on before he entered the Most Holy Place, and he is to leave them there. {24} He shall bathe himself with water in a holy place and put on his regular garments. Then he shall come out and sacrifice the burnt offering for himself and the burnt offering for the people, to make atonement for himself and for the people.

This is now the second time that a ceremonial cleansing with water is mentioned. It is very important to note here that God never refers to this as a form of gaining fellowship with any sort of people but as an act of cleansing.

(Leviticus 16:26) "The man who releases the goat as a scapegoat must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.

Now we have the third reference to washing and bathing with water which is to cleanse himself and also to allow himself to fellowship inside the camp after the ceremonial cleansing.

(Leviticus 16:27-28) The bull and the goat for the sin offerings, whose blood was brought into the Most Holy Place to make atonement, must be taken outside the camp; their hides, flesh and offal are to be burned up. {28} The man who burns them must wash his clothes and bathe himself with water; afterward he may come into the camp.

Now we have the forth reference to this act and it is by a person who just touches the entrails of that which has represented the sin sacrifice.

(Leviticus 16:29-30) "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work--whether native-born or an alien living among you-- {30} because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins.

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