Nearly 1000 years had passed since Noah’s flood, and the world had again descended into widespread sin. The Egyptian Pharaoh was cruel to God’s chosen people, and the peoples in the land of Canaan had fallen into such sin that the time of God’s judgment was drawing near. God remembered the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and He proceeded to bring about the salvation of Israel (and the destruction of Egypt and Canaan) through a man named “Moses”.
Moses was born at a dangerous time. Pharaoh was worried that the Israelites would multiply to such a great number that their force would rival that of Egypt, so he determined to reduce their numbers and weaken them, by putting all of their male children to death. Pharaoh commanded all of the Israelites to throw their infant sons into the river.
The parents of Moses were not afraid of the king’s command, so in faith, they hid him for three months. Then the mother made an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch (like Noah’s ark), put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.
Pharaoh had ordered the murder of Israelite children. Yet his very own daughter rescued this young Israelite. She drew him out of the water, and therefore gave him the name “Moses”, because the name “Moses” literally means “drawn out”. (Scripture does not record the original name which had been given to him by his parents.) Moses entered the water a slave, and came out a free man.
Moses was like Noah in several ways:
- Like Noah, Moses was plunged into the same waters which killed the others in his generation.
- Like Noah, Moses passed through the waters safely, because of an ark which had been ordained by God and prepared in faith.
- Like Noah, Baptism carried Moses from death to life. By undergoing this baptism, Moses passed from the danger of condemnation into the freedom of palace living.
- Like Noah, Moses became the leader of God’s people. His identity changed, from being the son of a slave, to being the son of a princess.
- As baptism had changed Noah into a new Adam, baptism brought about a change in this child’s actual name. His change of identity was tied directly to the water itself: For the rest of his life he was called “Moses”, reminding him that he had been drawn out of the water. Every time he heard his new name, he remembered his baptism.
Let us consider the answers to four questions:
- How do we know that Moses received a type of baptism?
- Who were the recipients of Moses’s baptism?
- How were the recipients chosen?
- What was accomplished by Moses’s baptism?
How do we know that Moses received a type of baptism?
Moses’ salvation through water is a very close parallel to Noah’s salvation through water. Since the apostle Peter called Noah’s experience a type of “baptism” (1 Peter 3:20-21), it is reasonable to make the same claim for Moses.
Also, the Hebrew word used for “ark” in the story of baby Moses, is the same Hebrew word used for “ark” in the story of Noah’s flood. Scripture seems to demonstrate a parallel between the two stories.
Who were the recipients of Moses’ baptism?
Baby Moses was the only recipient of this particular baptism.
How was this recipient of baptism chosen?
In general, God was being faithful to His covenant people. God’s people were the descendants of Seth, Enoch, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is why Moses (a descendant of God’s covenant people) was baptized, rather than a Canaanite or Egyptian child. But more specifically, why was Moses put in the ark, rather than some other Israelite baby? According to Scripture, Moses’ life was saved because of the faith of his parents (Hebrews 11:23).
What was accomplished by the baptism of Moses?
The baptism of Moses carried him from death to life, from condemnation to acceptance, from slavery to royalty. His baptism conferred a new name upon him, a new future, and a new identity.
The baptism of Moses did not merely symbolize these things. . . . it actually brought about these things:
- Without the waters of Moses’ baptism, the ark would not have floated, and would not have carried him to safety, away from the danger of condemnation.
- Without the waters of Moses’ baptism, he never would have gone from being the child of a slave to being the child of a princess.
- Without the waters of Moses’ baptism, he never would have received his new identity, and he never would have been named “Moses”.
The baptism of Moses did not merely symbolize new life; his baptism brought about new life for him, and ultimately for all of God’s people.