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Why did John the Baptist baptize with water?

In today’s Bible study, I want to teach on the true significance of water baptism in light of Hebraic thought and history, as well as the practice of the early Christian Church.

The Ministry of John the Baptizer

John was called “John the Baptist” – not because he was a member of the Baptist church, nor was he ordained in the Baptist denomination (thank God Christianity wasn’t divided into  denominations in those days), but because he practiced water baptism as an outward demonstration of a person’s repentance from sin and committing their lives to God.

John the Baptizer preaches by the River Jordan

John was a direct male descendant of Aaron, brother of Moses. He was a Kohen (or Cohen) the distinct priestly line of Kohenim that were only permitted to minister in the Old Testament Temple. Although John was raised in traditional Judaism and his father Zachariah (also a Kohan) served as a priest in the Jerusalem temple, John chose not to follow his priestly heritage. It was God’s will that John not be contaminated by the corrupt religious system of his day. He was a Nazarite from birth and was filled with the Holy Spirit while still in the womb (Luke 1:15). Instead, he obeyed God’s call to be a prophet to the nation of Israel (The prophet Jeremiah was also a Kohenim and expected to serve as a priest after his father, but later became a prophet in obedience to God’s calling). But, John was not just a prophet; he was distinguished with the great honor of being the forerunner of Jesus Christ the Messiah.

John’s greatness cannot be denied. Every one of the four Gospels begins their account of the ministry of our Lord by recording some of John’s words of introduction. Jesus Himself spoke very highly of John in this manner:

“I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is”  – Matthew 11:11.

Water Baptism in the Early Church

The early church was first comprised of all Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua in Aramaic-Hebrew). The first apostles and their growing number of disciples were but one of many Jewish sects at that time (such as the Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, etc.) In fact, the first disciples of Jesus did not call themselves “Christians” (only years later was this term coined), but simply followers of “The Way” – a shortened version of “the true way” or “the right way” in comparison to traditional Judaism and other religions. These early believers in Jesus continued to worship in the Jerusalem temple and observe the laws of Judaism.

However, these early followers of The Way differed greatly from other Jewish sects in that they believed that Jesus is the Messiah, that He had died for the remission of our sins (as the Holy Lamb of God), and that His resurrection from the dead ushered in a new age of God’s kingdom rule in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Everywhere, they preached in Jesus’ name and water baptized all new converts into The Way. They grew into a community of believers in Jerusalem devoted to practicing Jesus’ teachings, prayer and fellowship.

Water baptism (by full immersion in living water) was not a new concept to Jews. It was actually a common practice in those times. All pious Jews frequently immersed themselves in ritual pools known as “Mikveh’s”* to spiritually purify themselves. So the idea of water purification was not foreign to most Jews when John the Baptist came on the scene. They understood his message of repentance from sin and the corresponding outward act of purification by washing and immersion in a pool of water or river.

The Forerunner of Messiah.

Jesus is baptized by John to fulfill all righteousness.

John the Baptizer began his prophetic ministry around A.D. 28. His body was lean and hardened by years of solitary desert life. His hair and beard was long and unkempt, and he dressed in a single garment made of rough camel’s hair bound by a leather belt. He traveled the land preaching a passionate message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Many responded to John’s call for repentance and spiritual renewal. They would immediately wade out with John into the Jordan River, and he would baptize them as an outward demonstration of death to the old life of sin and resurrection to a new life of righteousness in Christ. Unlike the frequent Jewish Mikveh washings, John’s baptism was a one-time event for a renewed people of God.

John was God’s true prophet who led the way for the beginning of the Christian Church. Although he admitted that he was not the Messiah, the prophet Isaiah had long ago declared him to be the forerunner of Jesus the Messiah: “[John was] the one crying in the wilderness, making straight the way of the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God” (Isaiah 40:3)

John the Baptizer’s prophetic message struck conviction of sin and fear of God’s judgment among his hearers, so much so that even the religious Pharisees and Sadducees came to be baptized by him. On one occasion he thundered at these religious leaders, “You brood of snakes! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come! Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’…” John dispelled their false sense of security: neither their birthright as Jews nor their religious heritage nor their important leadership positions, would save them from God’s wrath to come if they did not open their hearts in true repentance; they were just as spiritually condemned as non-Jews.

Jesus the Messiah was greater than John.

John himself admitted he was not the Messiah, but a humble messenger of God. When questioned about whether he was Elijah, or “The Prophet” (spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:18-19), he told them “I am not.” “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he [Jesus the Messiah] is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry; he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (Luke 3:16).

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He came to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. One day while John was preaching, he saw a figure approaching him and immediately stopped and cried aloud, “This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who is mightier that I, for he was before me” (John 1:15) When Jesus asked John to baptize Him, he was astonished and said, “I need to be baptized by You!” But Jesus insisted, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:13-14).

So John obeyed Jesus and baptized Him (even though Jesus should be the one baptizing John). As soon as Jesus emerged from the water, everyone saw the heavens open up and the Holy Spirit descend upon Jesus “like a dove” (not an actual dove, but the Spirit’s gentle presence), and a voice came from heaven, saying, “You are my beloved Son; with You I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16).

The Christian Rite of Baptism

Water baptism by full immersion is the correct method.

John the Baptizer pioneered the rite of water baptism practiced in most Christian churches today. Although certain churches practice a “sprinkling” type of baptism, the correct way has always been by full immersion. The proper manner of baptism as performed by John, the twelve apostles, and the early Christians is the complete dunking method. The penitent sinner should acknowledge his repentance from sin and accept Jesus as his Savior while another believer or minister of God stands beside him or her, and extend God’s forgiveness and acceptance into the Christian family. According to Jesus’ command, the words should be spoken over the new convert, “I now baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit for the remission of your sins” (Matthew 28:18-19)

When I was a baby I was baptized by a Roman Catholic priest with the sprinkling of water on my forehead. But after I left the Roman Catholic Church and became a Born-Again Christian, I was baptized again. This second time it was by full immersion in a pool of water – just as Jesus and His disciples did.

If you have accepted Jesus the Messiah as your Savior and Lord and have never been water baptized (by full immersion), it’s time that you did so. You can be water baptized in a church baptismal, a swimming pool, a river, or even a spa – as long as you do it prayerfully with a repented heart towards God. Make sure you are able to go completely under the water; that’s how true believers have done it from the very beginning of the Christian church.

If water baptism was important to Jesus, it should be important to us. Don’t keep putting it off. I know God will bless you in a special way for honoring His Word.

–         Luis Josephus

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* The Jewish rite of water purifification in a Mikvah (pool) was known as Tevilah. Tevilah was by full body immersion with “living” water from a Spring. The Mikvah had the proportions 3 cubits long & 1 cubits deep and 1 cubit wide. This was done for purifications before certain events such as spiritual cleansing, coming into the presence of God, marriage, and also after certain events such as childbirth and disease. Tevilah was also one of three requirements for conversion of the Gentiles to Judaism. The washing of hands & feet commonly practiced was a miniature Tevilah.

FOR FURTHER STUDY:
“Do I need to be baptized to be saved?”


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Israel – The Royal Tour DVD

Israel_The Royal TourWe’ll ship you this great DVD for any donation of $25 or more to our ministry.

Description: This non-stop, ground-breaking adventure takes you on a historic journey throughout Israel, at the intersection of the worlds three great religions. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Peter Greenberg explore Israel as you’ve never seen it before through the eyes of its leader. Greenberg also sits down with the Prime Minister for a candid and unrehearsed discussion about the ever-changing state of affairs in the Middle East.

60 Minutes – Rated G

With your donation of $25 or more to our ministry,
we’ll send you this great book.

Mail your checks to:

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work through 4JESUS OUTREACH!


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The Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost)

Shavuot (Pentecost), is a Hebrew word meaning “weeks”. “Pentecost” is the Greek word for “50th”. After the Spring Feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread/Firstfruits you should count exactly fifty days from the last Passover and you will end up on Shavuot seven weeks later  according to the Hebrew calendar.

“From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord.” – Leviticus 23:15-17

Shavuot, like so many other Jewish holidays began as an ancient agricultural festival, marking the end of the spring barley harvest and the beginning of the summer wheat harvest. All Israelite men were obligated to present themselves at the Temple in Jerusalem. Shavuotwas distinguished in ancient times by bringing firstfruits crop offerings to the Temple, marking the beginning of the summer wheat harvest.

The “Waving Ceremony”.

On the day of Shavuot (usually in May or early June), the priests offered two leavened loaves of wheat bread as firstfruits to the Lord. The waving of these two loaves and sacrifice of two lambs formed a “peace offering.” The priest waved them before the altar and set them aside for the priest’s festive meal eaten in the Temple. Pilgrim worshippers were instructed to offer freewill offerings and to rejoice before the LORD.

Why Two Loaves?

Each loaf contained about four pounds of flour (Lev. 23:17). According to Rabbinic teaching, each loaf was 7 x 4 handbreadths (28″ x 16″) and seven fingers wide (6″). The two loaves offered on Shavuot represents the Church of Jesus Christ which is “built upon the foundation of the apostles (New Testament believers) and the prophets (Old Testament believers). But just as these loaves contain leaven (yeast), so the Christian church isn’t yet perfected (1 John 1:8). Only Jesus Christ was perfect (Hebrews 4:15). The leaven may also illustrate the presence of “Tares” (weeds) (Matt.13:38) – false brethren living among both the Old and New Testament sanctified ones. The number two in the Bible is the number of WITNESS and TESTIMONY. Two witnesses establish a truth (Deut. 19:15; Matt. 18:19-20); The Ten Commandments were written on two stones (Ex. 31:18) and are fulfilled by two commandments of love (Matt. 22:34-40).

Rabbis Divert from the True Focus of Shavuot.

After the Jewish temple was destroyed in 70 A.D. by the iron fist of the Roman Empire, the Jewish people were defeated and dispersed all round the world and their homeland devastated.

Since the land was desolate worth nothing to harvest, the Jewish leaders (Sanhedrin) convened in A.D. 140 and decided to change the focus of Shavuot away from an agricultural festival.  In order to keep the holiday alive, the rabbis invented the false doctrine (still believed to this day) that Shavuot was the day that the Torah (Mosaic law) was given to Moses on Mount Sinai.  As a result, the focus of Shavuot was diverted from an agricultural feast to the commemoration of the Law and the birthday of Judaism.  The Bible never associates the Feast of Shavuot with Sinai! Unfortunately, this false man-made doctrine quickly caught on and has been practiced for centuries, although it has no biblical basis.

Pentecost-Shavuot Harvest

Pentecost – The celebration of the Summer Wheat Harvest and the birth of the Christian Church. Fifty days were carefully counted out and on the appointed day, two loaves of bread baked with leaven were waved aloft as an offering to the Lord. This is symbolic of the church being comprised of both Jews and Gentiles. On the day of Pentecost – directly following Christ’s ascension, the Holy Spirit was poured out on a large group of Jewish believers so that they would have the power to witness “to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

The New Testament Fulfillment of Shavuot (Day of Pentecost)

As recorded in the Bible (Acts chapter 1 and 2) that the New Testament Church was born. It was on the 50th day after the Feast of Passover/Unleavened Bread/Firstfruits that the apostles were praying together and the Holy Spirit descended on them. They received the “gift of tongues” – the ability to speak in other languages – and immediately began to preach about Jesus Christ the Messiah to Jewish people from all over the world who flocked to Jerusalem for the Feast of Shavuot. Christian Pentecost became not only a commemoration of the Holy Spirit’s visit but also marks the birth of Christianity – the uniting of both Jewish and Gentile believers in Jesus the Messiah.

A Larger Harvest.

The early summer harvest of Shavuot in Israel was a small harvest in comparison to the larger harvest that came in the autumn of each year. This has prophetic significance. Strange as it might seem to mainstream Christianity today, God is not trying to save the whole world right now. He has planned a far larger harvest of souls when Jesus returns. Those of us who are saved today are only part of the smaller harvest. When most people in this present evil age are traveling the broad road to destruction, we have been uniquely called to enter in by the narrow gate that leads to eternal life (Matthew 7:13-14) and make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10).

God Pours Out His Holy Spirit.

As recorded in the Book of Acts chapter 2, that first day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of Jeremiah 31:31. God initiated a new covenant with the house of Israel that also included the Gentile people:

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. “ (Jeremiah 31:31-33)

On that morning He poured out His Holy Spirit on all flesh, as He had foretold. And that promise is still available for you today; that if you will turn from your transgression and call upon the name of the Lord, you shall be saved.

–         Luis Josephus

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Question: When is the Feast of Pentecost (Shavuot) in 2014?

Answer: June 3

Note: The Jewish calendar date begins at sundown of the night beforehand.

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Click here to order a free copy of our booklet, “The Seven Biblical Feasts.”


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Our belief in one God.

Abraham, the father of our faith.

Abraham, the father of our faith.

“Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.” – Deuteronomy 6:4

New Testament believers can gain a deeper understanding of our faith in God and Jesus our Messiah when we study the history of Abraham, the “Father of our faith” (Romans 4:11). Abraham was the man that God personally chose to begin a new nation of people who would willingly separate themselves from the worship of false gods and follow the one true (YHVH) God, Creator of the universe. Yahovah God wants a people that would devote themselves to Him alone, and teach others the same. He is to be the sole object of our love, obedience and worship.

“The LORD said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3

In God’s divine purpose to redeem fallen humanity, Abraham became the first person of his generation to know, teach and follow the one true God. As a result of Abraham’s faithfulness, God promised to bless him and his descendants – far above all other people of the earth, and greatly multiply his offspring to become as numerous as the sand in the sea and the stars in heaven. Through him all nations have been blessed that believe (Genesis 17:1-5).

Monotheism in the Old Covenant.

Abraham’s monotheistic* faith was unique in his day since most of the people around him were pluralistic in their religious beliefs. They worshipped multiple false gods such as Dagon, Baal, Molech, Chemosh, Ishtar, Horus, Isis, Gilgamesh, Marduk, Tammuz, and so on.

God taught Abraham to separate himself from all this religious confusion (babel) and superstition, and discontinue the idolatrous practice of bowing down to graven images made of wood and stone, gold and silver. He was also to teach others to worship the one true God in Spirit and truth.

The new monotheistic religion that Abraham founded later became known as “Judaism”, and the enlightened people he fathered became known as the “Nation of Israel.” Today, under the New Covenant, all believers in Jesus the Messiah are the true Israel of God, and spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham.

The Mezuzah, traditionally hung on most doorposts which contains the SHEMA prayer.

The Mezuzah, traditionally hung on most doorposts which contains the SHEMA prayer.

The Shema prayer

For thousands of years, the holy people of God have recited the SHEMA prayer as a reminder and affirmation of their belief in the one true God. The Shema prayer comes from Deuteronomy 6:4, “Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Echad”, meaning, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD [Yahovah] our God, the LORD [Yahovah] is one.” Even today, the Shema is the central prayer in the Jewish prayerbook and is often the first prayer a child learns. Many Jews recite the Shema at least twice daily: once in the morning and once in the evening. The Shema is also written on a small scroll which is then rolled up and put inside a Mezuzah attached to the front doors of many homes.

Abraham preaches the one true God.

The Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, relates how God used Abraham to teach many in his day about the importance of monotheism and the worship of the one true God, Yahovah, also referred to as YHVH or Yahweh or Jehovah.

“When Abraham was 75 years old, he left the land of Chaldea, by the command of God, and went into another country called Canaan. He was the first to declare boldly that God, the Creator of the universe is ONE…Because of these opinions, the Chaldeans rose up against him, and so he migrated to Canaan with God’s help.’

It is interesting to note that his own countrymen in Ur of the Chaldeas, where Abraham was born, got so angry at him for preaching the truth about a “one true God” that they chased him out of their land. He probably escaped with his life. If it had not been for God’s protection, he might have been murdered by his own countrymen. These Chaldeans and Babylonians were pantheistic idol worshippers and resented being told they were wrong in their religious beliefs. Many likely refused to give up their worship of multiple gods and became furious with Abraham for pointing out their error.

Abraham then fled to the land of Canaan, and later Egypt, where he also preached the truth. Flavius Josephus doesn’t mention whether Abraham experienced the same type of religious persecution in these other nations, but it is very likely that he did. Although God always has a remnant of people in every nation that will receive the truth and worship Him alone, the majority it seems will turn a deaf ear. The apostle Paul described these type of people in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4…

“But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost; in whom the god of this world system [Satan] has blinded the minds of them which choose to believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Messiah, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

Have you been persecuted for your faith?

Has God called you to ‘come out from among them’ and separate yourself from those who are living in religious darkness? Are you being persecuted for refusing to participate in idol worship and pagan practices? Be encouraged by Abraham’s example of courage against the opposition that comes from those who believe not. Remember that all who will live godly in Messiah will suffer persecution.

Our Lord taught us, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” – Matthew 5:11-12

– Luis Josephus

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*Monotheism: From the Greek monos, meaning “single”, and theos meaning “god.” Are you worshipping the only one (YHVH) God, Creator of heaven and earth?


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US Senate Supports Israeli Strike on Iran

Israeli Fighter JetsIsraelis were relieved to hear of last week’s near-unanimous passing of a US Senate resolution demanding full American support should Israel deem it necessary to attack Iran’s nuclear program. The resolution, which was voted for by 99 out of 100 senators, read:

“If the Government of Israel is compelled to take military action in legitimate self-defense against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, the United States Government should stand with Israel and provide, in accordance with United States law and the constitutional responsibility of Congress to authorize the use of military force, diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”

The resolution went on to urge the Obama Administration to take its own steps to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon so that Israel does not reach the point where it feels compelled to take action. Last Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published yet another report casting suspicion on Iran’s nuclear activities, and validating concerns that the Islamic Republic seeks atomic weapons. The report noted that Iran has of late significantly upgraded its ability to enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels, and that work advances on a plutonium-producing reactor. Meanwhile, Iranian state television reported at the weekend that the Islamic Republic has fielded a “massive” number of mobile long-range missile launchers. The move is a clear warning against any action targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities. Should Israel or the US threaten Iran’s nuclear program, the missiles would presumably be launched at the Jewish state and American military bases in the Middle East in an overwhelming simultaneous attack

Source: Israel Today


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Rabbi urges Obama to help prevent another Holocaust

Prophecy Watch_300 pxOn the final day of President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, the following Open Letter by Chief Rabbi Goldstein was published in the Jerusalem Post

Open Letter to President Barack Obama from Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein of South Africa….CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE LETTER.

The wisdom of Rabbi Goldstein is obvious when he writes, “this is your historic opportunity. If it is seized, the moral legacy of the world will be redeemed forever, and you, Mr. President, will inscribed by G-d Himself in the heavenly book of history as the great American President who stood with Israel to save it and the world from another Holocaust, and in so doing to strengthen the forces of freedom, democracy and the sanctity and dignity of life, for these historic times.”

Let us pray for President Barack Obama to continue to support Israel and help prevent a potential Iranian Holocaust.

– Pastor Luis Yosefus

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