Saturday, May 26, 2018

What Kind of Water is in the Jewish Ritual Bath (Mikveh)? (Q&A)

Q:  I just read your article on Ephesians 5:26 [The Washing of Water with the Word]. A great look at a deeply profound message. I've also been studying Jewish tradition as it relates to baptism and ritual washing. I thought that the mikveh was actually to be made up of running (i.e. living) waters rather than standing or pooled waters. Then to think about this in relationship to what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4:10:  “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’”  Very cool stuff indeed. Thanks for your insight. --Eli

A:  There are several different grades of water for ritual bathing.  Six of these are mentioned in the Mishnah in the section on Mikvaoth (“Ritual baths,” 1:1-8).  The highest grade is freely flowing water (“living water”), like that in the Jordan River where John was baptizing.  Fourth on the list, but quite common in everyday use, is the mikveh bath.  This contains 40 seahs of water, which is about 80 gallons.  These baths must be filled naturally with rainwater channeled from the roof or with water flowing in from a spring or river nearby.  Though this is standing water after it enters the mikveh, it is considered acceptable because of its source.

A constantly flowing spring of living water as described by Jesus in John 4:10 and 4:14 would be the highest grade of water.  Here it is, of course, a symbol of the purifying presence of the Holy Spirit (John 7:38-39).

(For more on this topic, see the Index category Baptism.)

Friday, May 18, 2018

Is Baptism Essential to Salvation? (Q&A)

Q:  Jeff, I chanced upon the website while surfing the internet. For the past few months, I have been trying to understand whether a person needs to be baptized to be saved. I would like to consult you on the relation between baptism and salvation, as understood by the early church (made up of mainly Jews). I have read what was written in your Q&A question “The Jewish Roots of Baptism,” and it seems like baptism is (and was) seen as a cleansing.

Did the early church (or maybe present day Jewish Christians) believe/teach that baptism is necessary for salvation? --BK

A:  Christian baptism is a rite of initiation adopted from immersion in the Jewish mikveh bath.  The mikveh bath was used for ritual cleansing from many different kinds of uncleanness, most of them found in Lev. 15.  But the use that most strongly influenced Christian baptism was the conversion of a Gentile to Judaism, for which ritual immersion was required.  In Christianity, this became an important part of the overall cleansing—both inner and outer—that marked coming to faith in Jesus (Yeshua) as the Messiah and Son of God.


The Tav Mark (Q&A)

Q:  I have read your message, "When did the 'Tav' mark start to look like a cross"?  I`d be very thankful, if you can answer some questions.

How do you know that the mark mentioned in Ezekiel 9:4 is the letter tav?  In the Bible it reads only "...and set a mark upon the forehead of the men."  Where is it mentioned in the Hebrew Bible that the mark was the letter "tav"?

You say that the Essenes marked Messianic prophecies in their Bible scrolls with a cross mark. Can you give me some example of that, how they use the cross? Is there no doubt that the crosses were placed there with some definitive purpose and not only to mark the messianic passages out of the others?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Is Jesus God? (Q&A)

This set of questions is clearly from a Muslim, and is quite interesting in that it provides insight into Muslim concerns in thinking about Jesus as the Son of God.  Parts of the original e-mail have been edited for clarity.  

Q1:  [The first e-mail began with many Bible verses indicating that Jesus is different than the Father, or stating that he is a servant of the Father or less than the Father, such as:]

John - Chapter 14
28:  …for my Father is greater than I.

John - Chapter 13
16: Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.  20: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

John - Chapter 17
3: And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Is Right Standing with God the Result of Perfect Obedience? (Q&A)

Q:  My name is Troy T.  I am a Black American (non-Jewish) believer in Yeshua of Nazareth as the Holy One anointed by G-D to usher in the Kingdom of Heaven.  While I lived in Washington, D.C., I attended a Messianic Jewish Congregation because G-D, in a dream, told me to.  Before the dream, I did not even realize that, except for a few exceptions, that Jews existed who believed in Yeshua as the Anointed One.  However, now I come across them all the time.  Well, I loved the congregation but I have also come across many Messianic Jewish groups who teach salvation by faith and observance to the Law given to Moses.  However, I love your website because it is fair, balanced, and Scriptural.

I teach, according to the Scriptures, that right standing before and with G-D is only the result of perfect obedience to the Law of G-D.  In the beginning, G-D gave all humans a conscience that contains the Law of G-D, which is composed of His eternal law (love Him will all your being and love your fellow human) and natural law (do not murder, steal, commit adultery, commit sodomy, rape, lie, etc.).  Yet, due to the transgression of the one man (Adam), all humans acquired a predisposition to do that which G-D said do not do and to not do that which G-D said do.  Even though until the giving of the written Law of G-D, disobeyed G-D like Adam by breaking a direct command of G-D but only by violating the dictates of the conscience.  This predisposition is only inherited through the father (not the mother) since the sins of the father are transferred and Adam is the father of us all.