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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Baptism of Creation

Before a good friend of mine revealed it in his latest sermon the other week, I had never really thought about it in those terms. I have been saying for the past several years, that the Scriptures, while definitely historically accurate, are not, in that sense, scientifically and chronologically precise. The Scriptures tell the story of God's enduring, long-suffering love for His people, but they tell it in a way that we westerners are not used to reading ( unless we're used to reading Middle-Eastern literature ); His ( God's ) Story is told in such a way as to reveal the deepness of His love for His entire Creation!

The Story of Creation, as we read it in Genesis 1 & 2, is such a Story. It is undoubtedly true that God did create everything that we see and enjoy, and that ultimatimately, or from the Genesis of Time, out of nothing. Scripture, while never really focusing on this point, clearly reveals Yahweh as the Creator of Heaven and Earth. Whether or not every reference to His creation of Heaven and Earth is a covenantal one, in other words, regarding His people, may be questioned; the fact that He, and He alone, engendered everything that we see, whether directly or indirectly, is without question!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. ( Genesis 1:1, 2 )

Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, 
and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 
( Genesis 1: 9 )

The language of Scripture here, or more specifically maybe, in our English Bible, does not necessarily spell it out for us, but it is clear from this account that we have recorded here the first baptism in Scripture! Although they do not specifically record for us that the Land rose up out of the water, we can safely assume that, just as the Christ rose out of the waters of His baptism, so the Land, as we read in verse 9 above, rose up out of the waters as they separated and became the Sea.

To many Christians today, the very notion that Genesis 1 & 2 in particular, and all of Scripture in general, are simply Covenant Records is almost blasphemous! There are several reasons for this, one of which is that, since we are not Israelites according to the flesh, or biological descendants of Abraham, if the Scriptures are simply a History of the Covenant, then we cannot possibly be related to that History, and the Creator ends up being just another tribal god, although the One, True, and Living God! As we have seen previously, though, it is not through, or because of physical descendancy that we have inherited through Abraham the blessings of Covenant Life, and enjoy the Presence of God as His New Temple; it was always because of the promise, and the faithfulness of our God and Father, and through the baptism of His Spirit, that we enjoy these blessings!

Another reason is that if the Genesis account is simply a record of the forming of the Covenant with God's People, and thus Adam ( man ) was not the first human being on the planet, but the first of our Father's creation to who He chose His Covenant, then the earth is likely quite a bit older than six thousand years, and the YEC ( Young-Earth Creationist ) movement is in danger of losing face, but a whole lot of money! Too much time and money have been liberally invested into this worthy cause for them to be proven wrong now! If they were to be proven wrong, think of all the business they would lose! Theme parks would go out of business, warehouses full of books would be burnt up ( or maybe they would be recycled ), and many speakers, defenders of this cause, would lose their engagements, as well as face!

On the other hand, the baptism of creation, whether Covenant Creation or YEC or Old-Earth Creationism, has some interesting and far-reaching implications! If baptism is equal to a Covenant Creation, which I believe it is, then the baptism of the Land, as chronicled in Genesis 1, was a baptism of the Holy Spirit of God, albeit through water! Through the lens of Covenant Creation, we see that through causing the Land to rise up out of the water, or Sea, God revealed His Covenant in a way that He had not before. In the view of Young-Earth Creationism, if one is to posit, for instance, that Genesis 1 is the record of the Genesis of Time itself, and Adam was indeed the first man on the face of Planet Earth, then we do have the entire planet being baptized, and thus ultimately, saved!

Whether or not any of these reasons may be valid is beyond the point, if we take literally the account of Creation in Genesis 1, which I believe we may, then we must admit that we are witnessing the first recorded baptism in Scripture, as my friend said! If the Creation was baptized, whether through natural or spiritual birth, it was most assuredly the birth of the Covenant, the Revelation, in picture form, of the Presence of God among His Creation!


When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; 
and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, 
and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
 And suddenly a voice [ came ] from heaven, saying, 
“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
( Matthew 3:16 & 17 ) 

When Israel, as the son of God ( 'Out of Egypt I called My son'-Hosea 11:1 ( Matthew 2:15 ), rose up out of the Sea of Chaos and Confusion and became the Land, he was baptized into the priesthood of the Most High God. His baptism prefigured and pointed to the Baptism of Jesus, the Son of God, and with this Son, this sacrifice, our Father was well pleased, as He was not with that first son, as we read in Hebrews 8:7.

As signified by the Land, Israel was to have been God's priest to the entire Creation; instead of cleansing the nations, as was their priestly duty, Israel was soiled by the nations around them, and became so corrupt that God sent His only begotten Son, that He might do what the fleshly son had failed to do, redeem His Creation!

The Creation has been redeemed; now what will WE do with our baptism!

Charles Haddon Shank

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