Chapter 36:24-32 (ESV) - I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. And I will deliver you from all your uncleannesses. And I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. I will make the fruit of the tree and the increase of the field abundant, that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations. Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations. It is not for your sake that I will act, declares the Lord God; let that be known to you. Be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O house of Israel.
Question to consider: Why did Moses sprinkle the blood on the people after he delivered the Law to them?
After the Lord promised the Israelites in exile that He would bring them back home from among the nations, the Lord also promised the mountains of Israel that they would be restored to their former glory to once again be a land of abundance and filled with God’s people. The Lord made these promises for the sake of His own holy name which had been profaned among the nations and not because anyone was deserving of it.
The Lord would gather a people for Himself from the nations, cleanse them from their idolatry, give them a heart of flesh, and put His own Holy Spirit in them. He would accomplish all of this through baptism. The description of different baptisms in the New Testament took place in lakes and rivers, and there is a wonderful depiction of our death and resurrection in Christ Jesus when we are immersed in the water. As Paul wrote to the Roman church, “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
However God’s description of “sprinkling” clean water carries with it this image of Moses that is described in Hebrews 9:19-22, “For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that God commanded for you.’ And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” The actual event took place in Exodus 24:8, but the author of Hebrews gives more details about “why” this occurred.
The amount of water used in baptism is not important. What is important is God’s promise upon the water and actions through the water. Giving us a new heart and His own Spirit is what Jesus described to Nicodemus in John 3:5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
The result of our new birth in Christ stirs up a desire to walk according to His statutes and a deep sense of shame when we fall short of them. Therefore, faithful pastors will continually proclaim God’s statutes as a reminder of our need for Christ, and the good news of God’s grace that delivers us from all uncleanness until the day when Christ returns and restores all things.
Dear heavenly father, thank You for cleansing us from sin and putting Your Spirit within us. We ask that You give us faithful pastors to preach Your word and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who will help encourage us to walk in Your ways to the glory of Your holy name. Amen.