From Horeb In Sinai to an Upper Room In Jerusalem: A Baptism of Fire

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament account of the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ—the Church—as it was written and recorded by the physician Luke. More specifically today’s passage begins with the twenty-third verse of the nineteenth chapter and continues through to the twelfth verse of the twentieth chapter. “And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: so that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theater. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theater. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. And when the towncleark had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth. Not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter aginast any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let him implead one another. But if ye inquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being. No cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly” (Acts 19:23-41).

 

            “And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, and there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Asia sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus, and Trophimus. These going before tarried for us at Troas. And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break brea, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Touble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted” (Acts 20:1-12).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul still dwelling and abiding in the city of Ephesus. In fact the narrative of the apostle Paul being present in the city of Ephesus begins with the first verse of the nineteenth chapter and continues through to the final verse of this chapter. If you begin reading with and from the opening verse of this chapter you will find the apostle Paul coming unto the city of Ephesus and finding certain of the disciples present in the midst of the city. Upon encountering these disciples the apostle Paul asked them a very simple yet profound question—the question whether or not they had received the Holy Spirit. In all reality this question was one that centered upon their experience with the Lord Jesus and their relationship with Him as from the right hand of the Father who was in heaven Jesus sent the person and presence of the Holy Ghost. It is actually quite interesting to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for the words we find here bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth concerning the activity of the Holy Spirit within our lives. What’s more is the question the apostle Paul asked is truly astonishing when you think about it for the question was one which asked the disciples whether or not they had received the person of the Holy Spirit. Please don’t miss and lose sight of the words the apostle Paul spoke unto these disciples for the words he spoke unto them are both personal and powerful at the same time. The question the apostle Paul asked His disciples was a question that centered upon their experience in this life—one that would be manifested through their encounter of the Holy Ghost as they continued to walk with and follow the Lord Jesus.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about how this particular chapter begins and opens I am absolutely gripped and captivated with the tremendous truth of the question the apostle Paul did in fact ask the disciples which were at Ephesus. We know that Apollos who was a Jew had already come unto the city of Ephesus and had taught and instructed them in the way of the Lord. We also know from the words which Luke writes in this passage that although Apollos was mighty in word among those who were in Ephesus his knowledge—perhaps even his experience—was entirely and altogether incomplete. Luke writes and records how Apollos came unto Ephesus and taught and preached the Lord Jesus unto and among them as well as the baptism of John which was a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for although Apollos would indeed teach and preach unto and among those in the city of Ephesus his knowledge would be incomplete as he would only speak of the first work of grace within the lives of those who believe. That which Apollos spoke in the midst of the city of Ephesus was directly connected to John’s baptism which was a baptism in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it draws and calls our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the knowledge and experience the disciples in Ephesus had leading to the arrival of the apostle Paul.

 

            In all reality I find the question which the apostle Paul asked these twelve disciples in the city of Ephesus incredibly powerful when you truly take the time to think about it. The question which the apostle Paul asked them was not whether or not they had believed on the Lord Jesus nor whether or not they had been baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins. The question which the apostle Paul was most interested in when speaking unto these disciples was whether or not they had indeed received the person and presence of the Holy Ghost since they had believed. Please do not miss the incredible importance of this question for that which was of most importance to the apostle Paul was not simply whether or not they had believed on the Lord Jesus but whether or not they had received the promise and gift of the Holy Spirit. I have to say that I am curious whether or not there was evidence of these disciples believing and following the Lord Jesus and yet as the apostle Paul observed their walk and relationship with the Lord Jesus he noticed there was something missing. I can’t help but wonder if the apostle Paul beheld these twelve disciples which were present in the city of Ephesus and realized and understood their experience was entirely and altogether incomplete for up to that point in time they had not yet received the Holy Ghost. Oh it is true they believed the Lord Jesus and were followers of the way, however, as of yet they had not received the Holy Ghost. Upon hearing the question which the apostle Paul asked these disciples they would respond how they had not so much as even heard there was a Holy Ghost. To this the apostle Paul would ask them unto what they had been baptized which received the response of John’s baptism. It would be that after the apostle Paul heard these words that He declared how John did indeed baptize with water unto repentance for the remission of sins and declared unto men how they must needs believe on Him which should come after Him, that is, the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            The words which are present here in this particular portion of Scripture are actually truly remarkable when you take the time to consider them for they bring us face to face with a second work of grace which is needful in the lives of those who believe. These twelve disciples had indeed believed on the Lord Jesus and had indeed been baptized in water unto repentance for the remission of sins, however that was as far as their experience went. What is so incredibly powerful and beautiful about the question the apostle Paul asked them was that his question was directly linked and connected to their experience in this life being entirely incomplete. It was as if the apostle Paul was emphatically declaring unto these believers there was something missing from their walk and relationship and that there was something which needed to be manifested unto and among them. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the apostle Paul didn’t merely ask these disciples whether or not they had received the person and promise of the Holy Ghost but upon hearing their response the apostle Paul also asked them unto what they had been baptized. These twelve disciples acknowledged they had been baptized with John’s baptism which was the extent of their experience with the work of grace within their lives. The apostle Paul would hear the words these twelve disciples would speak unto him and would declare unto them how John truly baptized with water unto repentance for the remission of sins that he encouraged and called on all men to believe on He who came after him—namely, the person of the Lord Jesus.

 

            What we find here in this passage of Scripture is the apostle Paul speaking unto these twelve disciples of believing on the Lord Jesus and how John’s baptism was not only meant to call men unto repentance but also to believe on the name of the Lord Jesus. The entire purpose for John’s baptism wasn’t merely repentance unto the remission of sins as men and women would come unto his baptism confessing their sins before him. The baptism which John preached and wrought among the Jews which were in Judaea, Galilee and Jerusalem was one that pointed to something and someone far greater and far more powerful than himself. Perhaps one of the most striking truths surrounding the baptism of John is that this baptism alone was a tool and instrument in the hand of the living God calling upon men to not only enter into a place of confession and repentance for the remission of their sins but it was also a clarion call and invitation to believe upon one who was coming after Him. You cannot read the four gospel narratives and not encounter and come face to face with John the Baptist preaching unto those who came unto his baptism repentance for the remission of sins, however, in addition to that call for repentance John also preached and proclaimed the truth that there was one coming after him who was mightier than he himself was. This one who would come after him was not only the Lamb of God which would take away the sins of the world but this One who would come after him would indeed and would in fact baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. What makes the baptism of John so incredible powerful—and not only the baptism of John but also the preaching of John—is that he ministered unto and among men preparing them for the arrival of the person of the Lord Jesus. The preaching of John the Baptist was a mighty and powerful declaration unto those who came unto his baptism that the One who came after him was not only mightier than He but also one who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs understand when reading the words which are found in the New Testament concerning the baptism of John it’s that this baptism in water was but preparation for another baptism which would come at the hands of one whom John himself preached and proclaimed. The more we think about and consider the baptism of John the more we must needs understand that although men and women were indeed baptized with water it would be that baptism which would prepare them for a second baptism. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that there wasn’t merely one baptism spoken of in scripture. Moreover, even when we read the words found in the four gospel narratives we find that although John the Baptist did indeed baptize with water he knew and understood there was a second baptism which would come after his work within this earth would draw to a close. John knew and understood that his baptism was one of repentance unto the remission of sins and that it was a clarion call for men and women to believe upon the Lord Jesus who would come after Him. It would be this person of the Lord Jesus whom John called upon men and women to believe on who would indeed baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Oh although John the Baptist did indeed baptize with water he knew and understood that there was a second baptism which was coming—a baptism which was entirely and altogether different than the one which he exercised. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in each of the four gospel narratives which were written to chronicle the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ:

 

            “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: and think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:1-12).

 

            “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. And there went out unto him all the land of Judaea, and they of Jerusalem, and were all baptized of him in the river of Jordan, confessing their sins. And John was clothed with camel’s hair, and with a girdle of a skin about his loins; and he did eat locusts and wild honey; and preached, saying, There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose. I indeed have baptized you with water: but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost” (Mark 1:1-8).

            “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; and all flesh shall see the salvation of God. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire” (Luke 3:1-9).

 

            “And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people” (Luke 3:15-18).

 

            “The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I k new him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

 

            I have to admit the more I read the words which are found within these passages of Scripture are absolutely and utterly captivating and astonishing. I read the words which are presented here in each of these four gospels and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth that although John the Baptist came baptizing with water unto repentance for the remission of sins his baptism was intended on preparing men and women for that One who would come after him. John the Baptist would indeed baptize with water unto repentance for the remission of sins and he would indeed call upon men and women to believe on one who would come after him. John recognized and understood that there was one coming after him who was mightier than he was who would not only baptize with the Holy Ghost but also with fire. Even though John the Baptist baptized with water he knew and understood there was coming one after him who was mightier than he was who would introduce a new and different baptism—a baptism that was not of water but rather a baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. It would be in the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John we learn how it was revealed unto John the Baptist that the one upon whom he saw the Spirit descending from heaven as a dove and abiding thereon was He who would baptize with the Holy Ghost. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for the baptism of John was intrinsically linked and connected to the baptism of Jesus which would come thereafter. Moreover the baptism of John not only pointed to belief in the Lord Jesus but the baptism of John also pointed to a secondary work of grace which would be manifested in the hearts and lives of those who believed. The baptism of John by its very nature pointed men toward one who would come after him who would baptize with the Holy Ghost and with fire.

            I sit here today thinking about the baptism of John the Baptist and I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding this baptism and how although it was a baptism in water it would be a baptism which pointed to a baptism of fire. John the Baptist would indeed baptize men and women in water as they came unto him confessing their sins before him and he knew that as he baptized in water he would baptize men and women knowing there was coming another baptism that would not be of water but of fire. In all reality it was the baptism of water that prepared and made men and women ready for this secondary baptism—a baptism which was not of water but rather was one of fire. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to read the words which are found in these passages of Scripture and understand that John the Baptist would indeed baptize with water unto repentance for the remission of sins but knew there was coming another baptism which would not be of water but would be of fire and of the Holy Ghost. John came working and ministering with and in the midst of water but there was coming one mightier than himself who would minister in the midst of the fire and would baptize men and women with that fire. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we read of the baptism of John—although we read of a baptism which would be of water he recognized and understood there was a secondary baptism which would not be of water but would be of fire. This secondary baptism is one which we must needs recognize for it is this secondary baptism which we find being first manifested unto the one-hundred and twenty which were present in the upper room. Please do not miss and lose sight of this for it draws and calls our attention to the incredible truth that the baptism of John and the baptism of Jesus directly pointed back to the journey of the children of Israel after their departure from the land of Egypt.

 

            If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Exodus you will find this motif of water and of fire which was present in the experience of the lives of the children of Israel as they departed from the land of Egypt where they and their fathers were slaves for more than four-hundred years. In all reality I would dare say these two encounters after the departure of the children of Israel were signs and portents of that which would come in the days and generations ahead as the children of Israel would not only be baptized in and through water but they would also be baptized through fire. What’s more is these baptisms of the children of Israel would be manifested at a sea on the edge of the land of Egypt and at the base of a mountain which was present in the wilderness of Sinai. As you read the Old Testament book of Exodus you will quickly encounter the awesome truth surrounding the children of Israel and how their deliverance from the bondage and oppression of the land of Egypt was but the beginning as they would both be baptized with water at the Red Sea and would be baptized with fire at mount Horeb. Oh I am absolutely and completely convinced we must needs recognize this for it helps us understand the tremendous significance of the baptism of water which John the Baptist came preaching as well as the baptism of fire which the Lord Jesus would release within the earth. It would be the baptism of water at the Red Sea where the children of Israel would pass through in the midst of the waters on dry ground. It would this baptism of water that each and every one of the children of Israel would experience as the LORD divided the waters into a wall on either side of them where they would witness and experience the destruction and devastation of the enemies which pursued them. In fact it would be at the Red Sea Moses would emphatically declare unto the children of Israel that they need stand still and see the salvation of the living God. Moreover Moses would also declare unto the children of Israel that the enemies which they saw before them today they would see no more. Oh it is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words found in the Old Testament concerning this baptism of water and not only the salvation of the LORD but also the devastation and destruction of their enemies:

 

            “And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the LORD. And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? Wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness. And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward: But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: And I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I have gotten me honour upon Pharaoh, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen. And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face and stood behind them: and it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all night. And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, and took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heaveily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the LORD fighteth for them against the Egyptiansl And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand over the sea, that the waters may come again upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots, and upon their horsemen. And Moses stretched forth his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to his strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled against it; and the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. And the waters returned, and covered the chariots, and the horsemen, and all the host of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them; there remained not so much as one of them. But the children of Israel walked upon dry land in the midst of the sea; and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses(Exodus 14:10-31).

 

            Please do not miss the words which are found in this particular portion of Scripture for what we find here in this passage reveals the baptism which the children of Israel experienced after their departure from the slavery, bondage and oppression which was present in the land of Egypt. That which we find here in this particular passage of Scripture brings us face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth of the baptism which the children of Israel had indeed experienced upon their exodus from the land of Egypt for they were all baptized in the waters of the Red Sea. It would be there at the Red Sea the living and eternal God would divide the waters asunder to the right and to the left all night thus allowing the children of Israel to pass through on dry ground. It would be the children of Israel who would pass through the midst of the waters which were present before them and would experience a mighty and powerful baptism which would in fact point to a future baptism—one that would take place during the days of the forerunner and messenger of the Messiah. What we find here in this particular passage of Scripture is truly awesome and astonishing when you take the time to consider it for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the baptism of the children of Israel in the waters of the Red Sea and how that baptism would not only lead to their salvation before the LORD but would also lead to the devastation and destruction of their enemies. That which we find here in this passage of Scripture is incredible unique and powerful for when we think about the baptism of John the Baptist which was a baptism of water we must recognize that his baptism pointed back to that baptism of water when the LORD not only fought for the children of Israel but also delivered them from the hand of their enemies which pursued them in the desert and even thought to pursue them in the midst of the waters.

 

            The more I think about John’s baptism in water—and not only John’s baptism in water but also the baptism in water which we ourselves might have experienced—the more I am convinced that it is about so much more than simply confession and repentance unto the remission of sins. I sit here today thinking about and considering the baptism of John and I find myself looking back to the baptism which the children of Israel experienced there in the wilderness and how that baptism in the midst of the waters of the Red Sea was indeed a baptism in which the LORD their God fought for them. What’s more is that not only did the LORD their God fight for them but the LORD also devastated and destroyed their enemies which thought to pursue them in the midst of the waters. Oh how absolutely marvelous and wonderful it is to read the words found in this particular passage of Scripture for it reveals the baptism which the children of Israel experienced—a baptism which would be directly and intrinsically linked and connected to the LORD their God who had already delivered them from their bondage, slavery and oppression in the land of Egypt through mighty plagues would now deliver them from their enemies which pursued them. The Egyptians thought to pursue the children of Israel in the desert and upon coming nigh to them at the Red Sea Moses emphatically declared unto the children of Israel that the Egyptians which they saw on that day they would see no more. Moses would go on to declare that they need only stand still and see the salvation of the LORD for the LORD would fight for them. What we find in this passage of Scripture is the LORD instructing Moses to stretch forth his rod toward the Sea and as he did so the LORD would cause a strong east wind to part the waters to the right and left during the night. With the waters having been parted hither and thither to their right and left the children of Israel would pass through the midst of the sea on dry ground.

 

            Before I bring you face to face with the baptism of fire which the children of Israel experienced and passed through in the wilderness of Sinai I find it absolutely incredible to draw and call your attention to this baptism of water and how this baptism of water would represent so much more than simply their passing through those waters on dry ground. This baptism of water which the children of Israel would experience there at the Red Sea would be a mighty and powerful demonstration of the might, the power and the strong arm of the living God. It would be on this day the LORD would not only part the waters that the children of Israel might pass through on dry ground in the midst of the waters but might also use the waters to devastate and destroy their enemies and foes. Stop and consider the tremendous truth surrounding this reality and how the waters which were meant to be a wall of protection for the children of Israel would be the tool and weapon in the hand of the LORD to devastate and destroy their enemies. The same waters which would be a wall of safety and protection for the children of Israel would in fact be the means which the LORD would use to completely destroy and devastate their enemies. What’s more is that this baptism of water would be one in which the children of Israel would experience the salvation of the living God as He would fight for them. Oh when we think about our own baptism in water it is absolutely necessary we understand that it is about more than our old man being buried with Christ in death and our old nature being destroyed. Our baptism in water is about the salvation of the LORD and His fighting for us against our enemies and foes which are stronger and mightier than we ourselves are. The LORD had already devastated the land of Egypt through ten plagues and delivered the children of Israel out of the land of their oppression and bondage and now the LORD would deliver them from their enemies which pursued them in the wilderness and through the waters which the LORD had parted for them.

 

            There is a great need within our hearts and lives to understand that baptism is about more than simply repentance unto remission of sins but it is about the salvation of the LORD as the LORD fights for us. Baptism in water is indeed an outward declaration and profession of our faith in the LORD Jesus, however, it is also the means through which and whereby the LORD demonstrates and shows us His strong arm and His salvation. The children of Israel had already seen the outstretched hand of the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt as the living God had devastated the land with ten plagues which would include the death of all the firstborn  throughout the land of Egypt. The children of Israel would not come unto the Red Sea which would in all reality be their baptism and it would be in the midst of that baptism the children of Israel would behold and witness the salvation of the LORD as He would fight for them. In the land of Egypt the LORD devastated and decimated the land with all its crops, produce, vegetation and the like. In the land of Egypt the LORD would send plagues of flies, locusts and frogs upon the Egyptians and would bring about the death of their cattle and livestock as hail would rain down from the heavens. The LORD would cause darkness to cover and consume the entire land of Egypt—a darkness so thick that it could be felt and that one could not see their own hand before their face. It would be in the midst of the land of Egypt the LORD would stretch out His arm against the Egyptians through a series of ten plagues which would not only devastate the land but would also bring about the deliverance of the children of Israel. Now they would come to the Red Sea and the LORD would fight for them as He would destroy their enemies in the midst of the waters of the Red Sea—a reality which is still being demonstrated when we give ourselves to the waters of baptism in this generation.

 

            As you continue reading in the Old Testament book of Exodus—specifically the nineteenth and twentieth chapters—you will find the children of Israel encountering and experiencing an entirely different baptism from what they experienced at the Red Sea. It would be at Horeb the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness the children of Israel would experience a baptism of fire as the LORD of hosts—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob would descend upon the mountain causing it to become a flaming furnace. The LORD had already unto Moses in the midst of the burning bush which would burn with fire and yet would not be consumed. It would be at this same mountain the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob would appear unto Moses and emphatically declare unto him that He had heard the cries of the children of Israel and would come down to deliver them out of their slavery, bondage and oppression in the midst of the land of Egypt. It is truly something worth considering when reading the words which are recorded in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of this New Testament book for what we find here is not only a baptism of fire as the LORD would be a consuming fire upon the mountain of God but also the giving of the Law of Moses from the top of that mountain. What’s more is that it has been said that when the living God came down atop the mountain there in the midst of the wilderness it was on the day of Pentecost which would in and of itself point to an entirely different baptism of fire that would take place in the city of Jerusalem during the days of the apostles and the early church. Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that this baptism of fire which the children of Israel experienced in the wilderness would indeed be a baptism in which the living God would not only give unto them but would also teach them His law, His commandments and His statutes. It would be in the midst of the consuming fire which rested atop the mountain of God in the wilderness the LORD would speak unto Moses and give unto Him that which we would know as the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters of the Old Testament book of Exodus:

 

            “In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount. And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the peole, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD” (Exodus 19:1-9).

 

            “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes, and be ready against the third day: for the third day the LORD will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai. And thou shalt set bounds unto the people round about, saying, Take heed to yourselves, that ye go not up into the mount, or touch the border of it: whosoever toucheth the mount shall be surely put to death: there shall not an hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through; whether it be beast or man, it shall not live: when the trumpet soundeth long, the shall come up to the mount. And Moses went down from the mount unto the people, and sanctified the people; and they washed their clothes. And he said unto the people, Be ready against the third day: come not at your wives. And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled. And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet with God; and they stood at the nether part of the mount. And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the LORD came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mount” (Exodus 19:10-20).

 

            “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s” (Exodus 20:1-17).

 

            “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon” (Exodus 20:18-26).

 

            I am absolutely and completely convinced we need to pay attention to the words which are found in the Old Testament book of Exodus for what is found in the nineteenth and twentieth chapters is a powerful narrative of the baptism of fire the children of Israel experienced. Although cloven tongues of fire did not come upon them as those in the upper room in the city of Jerusalem experienced they would behold the mountain of God altogether on a smoke as the LORD descended upon it in a consuming fire. The children of Israel would stand before the mountain of God in the midst of the wilderness and would behold the thunders, the lightnings, the thick cloud, the fire and the sound of a trumpet from heaven and would hear the voice of God speaking unto Moses from the midst of the thick cloud and darkness. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading these words and how the children of Israel would indeed experience a baptism at the Red Sea as they passed through the waters on either side of them and now they have come to the mountain of God where they experience a baptism of fire. It would be there at the mountain of God where they would not only experience this baptism of fire but would also experience the giving of the Law unto Moses. There at the mountain of God in the wilderness the children of Israel would hear the LORD speak unto Moses and give unto him the Ten Commandments which would be given and taught unto them upon Moses’ coming down from the mountain. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative we recognize and pay close attention to this for it brings us face to face with the baptism of the fire and the Holy Ghost which Jesus would provide for those who believed looking back to the baptism of fire in the wilderness when the Law was given unto the children of Israel. It would be there in the wilderness where the giving of the Law would be accompanied by fire as the children of Israel would indeed be baptized by the fire of God’s presence atop the mountain.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but consider as I write these words it’s how the baptism of fire in the wilderness accompanied the giving of the Law while the baptism of fire in the city of Jerusalem accompanied the giving of the Holy Ghost. In the wilderness the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would baptize the children of Israel with fire as He would give and teach them His Law, his commands, his statutes, and his decrees. It would be there in the midst of that baptism of fire in the wilderness the living and eternal God would give unto the children of Israel the Law which would govern their lives in the earth and how they lived in the land the LORD would give them as well as among the nations which surrounded them. What’s more is there is this strong connection which exists between the giving of the Law and the giving of the Spirit found in the epistle the apostle Paul wrote unto the Galatians as the apostle Paul sought to combat the teaching which had claimed men and women could be justified by the Law and by works of the Law rather than by the Spirit. It would be the baptism of fire in the wilderness where the Law would be given as the living God would grant unto His people His commandments, His decrees and His statutes, however, it would be in the city of Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost—several generations removed—there would once more be a baptism of fire which would accompany the giving of the Holy Ghost. It would be this baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost which the apostle Paul would speak of when asking the disciples in Ephesus if they had received the Holy Spirit. They had indeed experienced the baptism of John which was a baptism of water and called on them to believe in the Lord Jesus but that baptism by its very nature was meant to also point men unto a secondary baptism which was one of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it brings us face to face with the awesome and powerful reality of the baptism of fire in the wilderness and how it accompanied the giving of the Law that the children of Israel might be a peculiar people in the midst of the earth and might be a kingdom of priests unto the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob. The children of Israel had already been baptized in water upon passing through the waters of the Red Sea and three months into their departure and deliverance from the land of Egypt they came unto Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai. It would be there at Horeb where they would experience the baptism of fire as the living God would come down upon the mountain as a consuming fire in their sight and presence. The LORD who declared Himself unto Moses as being “I AM” would descend upon the mountain in the midst of thick clouds and darkness as thunders and lightnings raged before and around Him in the sight of the children of Israel. Oh although there would be no thunders, nor lightnings, nor thick clouds, nor darkness in the upper room on the day of Pentecost there would indeed be the sound of a mighty rushing wind and cloven tongues of fire. There in the upper room in the midst of the city of Jerusalem one-hundred and twenty souls who were witnesses unto the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and witnesses unto His ascension unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven would receive the Holy Ghost as they would speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Thus would be the beginning of the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost which John’s baptism and even John himself alluded and pointed to. It is absolutely necessary for us to recognize and understand that John’s baptism by its very nature not only called on men and women to believe on the Lord Jesus but also pointed to another baptism—a baptism that would not be of water but of fire and of the Holy Ghost.

 

            As you continue reading the words which are found in the nineteenth chapter of this New Testament book you will find the apostle Paul laying his hands upon these twelve disciples and their receiving of the Holy Ghost as they spoke with other tongues and prophesied. The apostle Paul would then continue in the city of Ephesus for the space of three months teaching and speaking boldly in the synagogue the things concerning the kingdom of God. Luke goes on to record how there were divers among them who were hardened and did not believe and spoke evil of the way before the multitude. Because of this the apostle Paul would depart from them having separated the disciples and disputed daily in the school of Tyrannus. This the apostle would do for the space of two years so that all which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. Moreover the living God would work special miracles by the hands of Paul so that from his person handkerchiefs were brought unto the sick that they might be healed of whatever disease and infirmity plagued their bodies. Oh how absolutely incredible it is to read of the apostle Paul’s time in the city of Ephesus and how not only did all of Asia hear the word of the Lord Jesus but the word of the Lord Jesus was indeed accompanied by works which the living God would bring about through the hand of the apostle Paul. It would be this combination of works and the word of God that would bring about a tremendous move of the Spirit in the city of Ephesus as not only would all Asia hear the word of the Lord Jesus but would also experience the works of the living God among them in their midst.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close it is absolutely necessary that we recognize that in Ephesus it wasn’t merely these disciples receiving the Holy Ghost and it wasn’t merely all of Asia hearing the word of the Lord Jesus and the works which were accomplished at the hand of the apostle Paul. The fear of God together with awe and wonder would also grip much of the city of Ephesus as seven sons of one Sceva attempted to cast out unclean spirits by adjuring them according to the name of Jesus whom Paul preached. The unclean spirit which was present within that one they encountered declared unto them how Jesus he knew and Paul he knew but did not know who they were. The man in whom the unclean spirit was present leapt upon these seven sons and would severely overpower and beat them they were sent away naked and bleeding. That which took place was made known to all the Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus and fear fell on them all as well as the name of the Lord Jesus being magnified. Many which believed came unto the apostle Paul and those who believed confessing and showing forth their deeds. There were also a great number of them which used curious arts who brought their books together and burned them before all men. The price of the books which were burned totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver and the word of God prevailed and grew in the city of Ephesus. What would begin with twelve disciples receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost would now transition to all of Asia hearing the word of the Lord Jesus and the name of the Lord Jesus being preached and received by both Jews and Greeks alike. Perhaps the single greatest truth we must glean from this particular narrative is centered around our receiving of the Holy Ghost and His person and presence within our lives. We as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must not only be those who have been baptized in water and who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus but we must also be those who have indeed been baptized with both fire and the Holy Ghost within our lives as we are men and women who are filled with the Holy Ghost and live lives fully surrendered to His will, control and desires.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s