Ritual immersion (baptism) is a simple topic that can get complex when there is a cleansed temple. However, since we are presently in the dispersion and the temple is not standing (and the next temple will be for the anti-Messiah, and will not be cleansed), we want to keep this article short. Our goal here is to explain why you should be ritually immersed into the body of Nazarene Israel and receive Yeshua’s Spirit. We will also talk about what it means to receive Yeshua’s Spirit.
Incorrect Christian Practices
When we mention ritual immersion (baptism), many people think of sprinkling of water on children. This may be because the Christian Church incorrectly teaches that baptism replaces the need for physical circumcision. As we explain in many other places, we know this is not correct because in Matthew 5:17-18, Yeshua tells us that the commandments in the Torah (including the commandments of physical circumcision) cannot pass away until heaven and earth pass away.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17-18
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Torah till all is fulfilled.”
If the commandments in the Torah cannot pass away while heaven and earth still exist, then the commands for ritual circumcision cannot be done away with as long as heaven and earth still exist. Further, there is no record of infant immersion anywhere in Scripture. Rather, immersion has always been a conscious act. For those parents who are concerned for their children’s spiritual condition, it is better to fulfill the commandment of physical circumcision (Genesis 17:10, Exodus 12:48, etc.).
Another reason the Christian teaching about baptism replacing circumcision is not correct is that in Ezekiel 44:6-8, Yahweh rebukes the house of Israel (Ephraim, who was in the Roman church) that no one may enter His sanctuary (i.e., temple) unless they are physically circumcised. It also says those Ephraimites who are joined to the nation of Israel must be physically circumcised before they can enter His house.
Yehezqel (Ezekiel) 44:6-9
6 “Now say to the rebellious, to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says Yahweh Elohim: “O house of Israel, let Us have no more of all your abominations.
7 When you brought in foreigners, uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in My sanctuary to defile it — My house — and when you offered My food, the fat and the blood, then they broke My covenant because of all your abominations.
8 And you have not kept charge of My set-apart things, but you have set others to keep charge of My sanctuary for you.”
9 Thus says Yahweh Elohim: “No foreigner, uncircumcised in heart or uncircumcised in flesh, shall enter My sanctuary, including any foreigner who is among the children of Israel.”
Traditional Hebraic Immersion
In Nazarene Israel we explain the mystery of the Two Houses of Israel. In the Two House understanding, Yahweh is using the Southern Kingdom of Judah (i.e., the Jews) to preserve many of the Hebraic customs and rituals that the house of Ephraim eventually must come back to. Only, sometimes it can be difficult for the returning Ephraimites to identify what is rabbinic custom and tradition (which should be rejected), and what customs and traditions either came down from the patriarchs, or agree with the Torah (and should be preserved).
To differentiate, Nazarene Israel rejects the rabbinic tradition of washing the hands at all meals called Netilat HaYadayim. This is not because it is bad to wash our hands before meals (and in fact it is good). Only, the rabbinical ritual is a corruption of the Torah command for the priesthood to wash their hands and feet when they serve inside the temple or tabernacle (Exodus 30:18-21). This rabbinic corruption is referred to at Mark 7:1-9.
Marqaus (Mark) 7:1-3
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem.
2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault.
3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the [rabbinical] elders.
However, Yeshua never said anything about the first century Jewish customs regarding ritual immersion. Further, since our Jewish brethren are so traditional, it seems likely that the customs in the first century were about the same as the customs today. Therefore, before we look at the Scripture sources, let us look at the traditional Jewish customs regarding ritual immersion.
In Judaism, immersion of the whole body is called tvilah (טבילה). John the Baptist was Yochanan HaMatbil (יוחנן המטביל). Sometimes living water is specified. Living water is called “mayim chayim” (מים חיים). There are questions as to what qualifies as “living water”, but traditional Judaism says that to qualify as living water, a natural source must be used. Thus, if they build a mikveh (ritual bath), it must be connected to a natural source of water, such as a spring or a creek. Others believe it refers to water capable of supporting life. With this latter definition, a shower and a bathtub can serve as fine mikveh, whereas a body of salt water (such as the Dead Sea or the Mediterranean) would not qualify. Still others believe that non-natural sources can be used for regular Sabbaths, etc., but that for going to the temple, or for special occasions, natural sources are best. Nazarene Israel agrees with this last point of view, in that we believe the more natural the source the better. However, we also can use any source of water that will support life, as Yahweh leads by His Spirit.
In Judaism it is understood that there is a connection between physical cleanliness and spiritual cleanliness, as Yeshayahu (Isaiah) also says.
Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:16-17
16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,
17 Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.”
Without getting into details, Yahweh also tells us in the Torah to wash anytime there is a death, and also any time there is a discharge or an issue from the body. Any time there is separation, or death, there needs to be a cleansing. This can include semen, a woman’s monthly discharge, or discharges from the skin. There may also be a parallel to sweating (which is also a discharge of sorts). Devout Jews will also immerse just before Yom Kippur, or before beginning a ministry, as Yeshua also did.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 3:13-17
13 Then Yeshua came from Galilee to Yochanan at the Jordan to be immersed by him.
14 And Yochanan tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be immersed by You, and are You coming to me?”
15 But Yeshua answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.
16 When He had been immersed, Yeshua came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of Elohim descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.
17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
In verse 15 Yeshua says it was “fitting” for Yochanan to immerse Him. This may be partly because Yochanan was of Levitical descent, being the son of Zechariah (who was a priest).
Luqa (Luke) 1:13
13 But the messenger said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard; and your wife Elisheva will bear you a son, and you shall call his name Yochanan.”
It helps to understand that immersion in Judaism is different than immersion in Christianity. In Christianity someone physically dunks you underwater (or sprinkles you with water). However, in Judaism you technically immerse yourself, while the one who is “immersing” you technically witnesses your immersion. This pattern also agrees with Scripture better, as we are the only ones who can spiritually wash ourselves and make ourselves clean (with His help).
[Note: It is considered better to have someone else there to witness your immersion. It is best done in community. However, if there are no other witnesses, you can call heaven and earth to witness.]
The other thing we need to notice here is that immersion and the infilling of the Spirit are technically two separate events. In Matthew 3:16 (above), notice how Yeshua first came up out of the water, and then the Spirit descended on Him.
Type and Shadow
Let us understand the symbolism. In immersion, we symbolically die to our flesh, and the old man of flesh is washed away by the living waters of the Spirit. Then we emerge a new creation in Messiah Yeshua. Only, to do this correctly we must abide in Him, manifesting His heart and character. Otherwise, we are not realistically part of His body, or even pleasing to Him.
Consider that when our forefathers came out of Egypt, there was a kind of immersion in passing through the Yam Suf (Red Sea). Yet with most of them Elohim was not pleased, because they had no true change of heart.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 10:1-6
1 Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea,
2 all were immersed into Moshe in the cloud and in the sea,
3 all ate the same spiritual food,
4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Messiah.
5 But with most of them Elohim was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
6 Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.
We must have such a change of heart that we no longer live for ourselves. Once we are immersed we should live our lives for Him, and His kingdom. The fruit of this Spirit should be evident in our lives, and it should be as if we become a new creation in Him.
Qorintim Bet (2 Corinthians) 5:14-17
14 For the love of Messiah compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;
15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.
16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Messiah according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
However, just as with Israel who passed through the sea, most never pray in earnest to receive a true change of heart, and so most never receive one. There is no reward in this, because it is legalism to wash the flesh, but not to purify the heart.
When we come up out of the water, the immersion of the Spirit is not automatic. Rather, it must be prayed for, but if prayed for in earnest, it will come.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 7:7-11
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!”
The Fruit of Yeshua’s Spirit
In Hebrew the word for Spirit is Ruach (רוּחַ). The Spirit is what motivates our behavior. That is why the spirit we have is so important. If we have Yeshua’s Spirit, it will motivate us to do what Yeshua wants done. Conversely, if we have some other spirit, it will motivate us to do something else. That is why, if we pay attention to what a man says and does, we can know what kind of spirit motivates him. This is also why Yeshua said that “a tree is known by its fruit.”
Luqa (Luke) 6:43-44
43 “For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.
44 For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.”
But if the spirit within us determines what kinds of fruit we bear, then what kinds of fruits would someone with Yeshua’s Spirit bear? We know that he would manifest the positive attributes of the Spirit, such as love, joy, and peace, and not the works of the flesh.
Galatim (Galatians) 5:19-25
19 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness,
20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies,
21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
24 And those who are Messiah’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Sometimes believers get immersed, but they do not receive Yeshua’s Spirit. This is perhaps because they don’t seek it earnestly enough, long enough. There can also be a time delay in receiving the Spirit. In my own case the Spirit fell some three months after I was called to repentance and was re-immersed, so the two things are technically separate events, and can take place separately.
If a believer manifests the works of the flesh, either it is because he has not received the Spirit, or it is because he is quenching the Spirit. That is, he may have received the Spirit, but he has not yielded control of his life to the Spirit yet.
Thessaloniquim Aleph (1 Thessalonians) 5:19
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
It does no good to get immersed or receive the Spirit if we don’t seek to live by it. In fact, quenching the Spirit may be related to the unpardonable sin, which is to speak contrary to (or against) the Spirit.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 12:31-32
31 “Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men.
32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Set-apart Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.”
Organized, Participating Fruit
In Acts 15 Order we saw how Yeshua was sent to set up a global Melchizedekian order that will rule over the nations after Armageddon. Those who are filled with Yeshua’s Spirit would want to help set it up.
27 Then the kingdom and dominion, And the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, Shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, And all dominions shall serve and obey Him.’
If someone has Yeshua’s Spirit, he will be very eager to take part in the global fivefold ministry described in Ephesians 4, because Yeshua Himself is the one who gave the command.
Ephesim (Ephesians) 4:11-16
11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers,
12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Messiah,
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of Elohim, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Messiah;
14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting,
15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Messiah —
16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
If we have Yeshua’s Spirit we will be happy to give to His cause. The love of Him will motivate us to do it. It will not be a hard thing with us, since we know that Yeshua wants it. Rather, it will be a thing of joy for us.
Yochanan Aleph (1 John) 5:3
3 For this is the love of Elohim, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.
Re-Immersion in Yeshua’s Name
In “Immersion in Yeshua’s Name Alone” (in Nazarene Scripture Studies Volume 3), we explain why we should only be immersed in Yeshua’s name (and not in the Triune formula of “the Father, the Son, and the Spirit”). Because of this, some also ask, should those who were baptized in the Church (or in the name of Jesus) get re-immersed into Nazarene Israel, in the name of Yeshua? The short answer is yes, firstly because the Church is a separate body, which is described as a harlot. If we were baptized into a harlot, then we were joined to a harlot, and we need to symbolically die to that relationship, and be re-immersed into Yeshua’s true body.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 12:13
13 For by one Spirit we were all immersed into one body — whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.
We could also add that in “The Set-apart Names” (in Nazarene Scripture Studies Volume 1) we show that the name of Jesus is not really the same as the name of Yeshua. So, because of these things, we believe it is important to be immersed into Yeshua’s true body, in Yeshua’s Hebraic name.
Some wonder what is wrong with remaining unaligned, simply learning and studying but not participating in the body ministry functions. The answer to this is simply that when we immerse into Yeshua’s body we become part of His body, and as such we should be doing the same things that His body is doing. And if we are not doing the same things Yeshua’s body is doing, then we are cut off from His body, which does not carry a reward.
Yochanan (John) 15:5-6
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Staying with the Spirit
There is much more we could say, but we want to close on a note of encouragement on staying with the Spirit. To stay with Yeshua’s Spirit means to focus on Yeshua until we feel a close sense of connection with Him, such that we feel at shalom, and our breathing is relaxed. Then we are to maintain that close sense of connection with Him as we go throughout our day, such that we abide in Him, and He in us.
Yochanan (John) 14:20
20 “At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”
If this spiritual connection is lost, we must take the time to re-establish it right then, so we can get back to abiding in our Vine. This is not an easy discipline, but if we will do it Elohim will purify our minds, our hearts, our spirits, and our bodies.
Yochanan (John) 17:23
23 “I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”
These are the things we should know before we sit down to count the cost of getting immersed into Yeshua’s true body.