Weapons of War – 3

Two Waters

Why is baptism for both males and females, when circumcision was only for males?

I have been following the Exodus pattern through the Bible, and an offshoot of that was an ‘accidental’ application to baptism. I’ll let you decide whether or not you think it holds water.

There are two ‘waters’ in the exodus pattern, the Red Sea (death) and the Jordan (resurrection).

Both are ‘baptisms’, but circumcision pertains to the Passover, the 2nd feast (unleavened bread). It is exit from the world and entry into a new people. There is blood and then water.

With Jordan, there is water, then blood – Jericho, the first conquest. This second baptism pertains to Atonement, the sixth feast. It is entry into, not a people, but an army. (The order of feasts comes from Lev. 23.)

Sabbath – God’s word through Moses (a single mediator for the people – Adam)

000PASSOVER – a baptism (death) that removes Adam’s sin. A ‘people’ assembled

000000FIRSTFRUITS – Moses ascends to receive the Law

000000000Pentecost – the Law given, the people tested

000000Trumpets – the ‘army’ is assembled and the Law repeated (Deut)

000Atonementbaptism (resurrection) and blood shed that removes ‘Eve’ from sin

BOOTHS – the army makes the Promised Land home (a corporate mediator for the nations – Eve).

Israelite males presented themselves before God at Passover/Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Booths. (Exodus 23:14-17) picturing the death, resurrection and marriage of the “bridegroom.” Trumpets summoned the people to prepare for Atonement, making ready the “bride.”


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19 Responses to “Weapons of War – 3”

  • jared Says:

    Just an observation, seeing that you are not a fan of paedobaptism. Does it matter to the discussion at all that in both baptisms (at passover and atonement respectively) there were, inevitably, infants present? I’m still trying to piece together your entire argument but it seems pretty scattered around here, so maybe you’ve addressed this before somewhere else.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Jared

    Very good point, and one that paedobaptists keep making. Infants were present because the whole body was baptized. My argument is that not all individuals can picture the nation. Females could not picture the death of the Covenant head (circumcision), yet they were still part of the “body of Moses.” Likewise, I do not believe infants can picture the resurrection of the body as individuals, the new body standing upright and deliberately approaching the throne of God as warrior-bride (Esther).

    I believe this also affects the mode of baptism. It should be “whole body.” Jordan corresponds baptism with the giving of the Spirit, as oil anointed on the head. This is *Creation*. But the New Testament, particularly the book of Acts, consistently puts baptism at *Conquest*. Baptism is not election/calling. It is induction into government.

    The baptism tag has quite a few more articles. One of the most important arguments is in “An Atheist Gets Baptism”:

    Thanks for your comment.

  • jared Says:

    You’re granting that infants were present (i.e. included) at both baptisms but proposing that neither had any affect or meaning for those infants. Why should it matter that not all individuals can picture the nation? Only one individual needs to picture the nation and while it constantly changed under the Old Covenant it doesn’t change in the New. Does not Jesus (head) stand as representative of the Bride (body)? And does not the Bride consist of infants as much as adults?

    Female infants couldn’t receive the sign of the covenant but they were covered in as much as they were under the federal authority of one who had received the sign (i.e. their father, or whoever their federal head happened to be). In the New Covenant the sign is universal, now everyone who is under that federal authority gets to receive the sign. Ultimately this authority resides in Jesus. Infants stand upright via their covenant head, the same as adults do. While it is true that Jesus never baptised any infants, He did tell His disciples that the kingdom of God belongs to them. He didn’t say it belongs to them if…

    I feel like a panel discussion with you, Jordan, Wilson and Leithart could straighten you out on this one (clearly I’m out of my league here).

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Granted, but you have missed the point. Yes, those females were covered, but they didn’t personally receive the sign.

    Also, we have moved from blood and bloodline to faith and Spirit. Yes, we need to raise our children within Covenant bounds, but paedobaptists conflate the Covenant sign with Covenant parenting. Baptism is for those who can stand (legally) and testify (legally) and govern (legally) with accountability to the church body. Circumcision was for caterpillars. Baptism is for butterflies, ie. the mature animal. Whatever the arguments for paedobaptism (and there are some really crazy ones, even from these men I admire), infants are not personally mature as individuals.

    The Old Covenant required angelic mediators. In the New Covenant, we are the mediators. We need no God-parents, and infant baptism screws up that picture right royally! : )

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments.

  • jared Says:

    What does “within Covenant bounds” mean? Are our children “in Christ” or not? How can you make a distinction between “in Covenant” and “in Christ” such that one includes infants and the other does not? The Covenant is in Christ’s body and blood, is it not? I think Paul throws paedobaptists an awfully big bone in Galatians 3, “if we are in Christ then we are Abraham’s seed”; it doesn’t get much younger than that. And how do we work around “household” baptisms from which the practice of infant baptism originated?

    I think the problem is that you’re trying to split the bride into pieces and baptise only those who can literally stand, testify and govern. Baptism isn’t “for those who…” it’s for the whole Bride. One of the FV criticisms of their non-FV brothers is that their understanding of baptism is too baptistic, which is to say it’s too individualistic.

    Sorry if it seems like I’m firing all the barrels at you, it just boggles my mind that someone with your kind of grasp on biblical theology doesn’t agree with paedobaptism.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Good points again.

    I think the idea of “sanctifying” or setting apart unbelievers is a New Covenant principle, but baptizing them isn’t. So an unbelieving spouse would be in the same position as an infant: under Covenant influence. Tyre and Sidon and Babylon are under Covenant influence, but they weren’t circumcised, and there was no requirement for them to be so.

    But Israel was the Bride. The Bride responds in faith. There are no wet pagans in the New Covenant.

    Regarding households, James Jordan recently commented that these were run as businesses. That makes infants irrelevant.

    The bone you speak of I would see as further support for credo baptism. If one repents and believes, one is a descendant of Abraham. Heredity has been superseded by repentance and faith. Concerning discipleship, following Christ, Jesus used the word “if.” There is volition involved.

    The New Covenant is a better Covenant. It knows no familial or national bounds, and its sign cannot be tied down to familial or national boundaries.

  • Michael Shover Says:

    How is moving from the Old Covenant Familial to the New Covenant Non-Familial “better”? How is the OC good when it includes all the members of a family, but the NC even better when it excludes certain members of the family? And how radical would it have been for the covenant people who have included their children in the covenant for thousands of years to then find that the the Messiah tells them, their children are now excluded from the covenant until they are mature? I don’t see how considering our children to be pagans – Sidonians and Tyrians and Babylonians – is a better covenant. I don’t see how that even makes sense. How could our children whom we are raising in covenant homes, instructing in the word of God, participating in worship, be considered pagans??? Are you saying that ow in the NC everyone who is born is a pagan until they mature and respond in faith and are baptized??? Do you tell that to your grand children? “O little child, you are such a cute pagan, I can’t wait until you can use your intellect to a great enough capacity that we can arbitrarily determine that you are no longer a pagan and actually in the family of God. I know we have been raising you to sing songs like, ‘Jesus loves the little children’, and ‘Jesus loves me this I know’, and ‘Father Abraham had many sons, ad many sons had father Abraham. And I AM ONE OF THEM’, but really, that wasn’t true at all, at least, not until this moment where we have now finally determined that you have enough faith to consider you as “regenerate”. You are NOW a child of God.

    Don’t you think that is like a form of spiritual schizophrenia – raising children to live as Christians, telling them that Jesus loves them and that He died for them and teaching them to believe in Jesus, teaching them that their sins are forgiven, from as early as possible, but then actually believing none of that to be true??? In actuality, you believe the child to be a pagan who still needs to be converted who is not forgiven of her sins whom Jesus didn’t really die for, nor does he actually love, nor is she actually in the family of God??? I’m sorry Mike, but that seems to be the awful reality you must face as a baptist.

    I know a woman who told her son that he was not a Christian because he doesn’t understand what it means to be a Christian. I asked him, do you believe in Jesus, he said yes. He was 10 or 11. He wasn’t 1 or 2. I mean, how messed up is it that the child was raised believing that believing in Jesus wasn’t enough, but that he needed to pass some intellectual test before he could really be a Christian. That is not grace, but works. The whole thing is just sickening.

  • Mike Bull Says:


    I’ve made it pretty clear that the Old Covenant had a priestly border (the Laver) and a flesh (“people”) border – the “tent” of Israel.

    Well, Jesus has enlarged the “people” border to include all nations — and their children — and He has enlarged the priestly border (the Laver of baptism) to include all the regenerate.

    So all the nations are now His inheritance, under the Covenant umbrella, and commanded to repent (have a circumcised heart). This includes our children. They are not excluded in any way from the gospel. But they are included in the New Covenant priesthood once they are regenerate.

    As I have stated, circumcision was about who could come in. That now includes all nations. Baptism is about who can then go out and mediate the priestly “clean.”

  • Mike Bull Says:

    I think the biggest factor is that “family” and “child” and “brother, sister, mother” have been redefined. It doesn’t mean that the old definitions no longer apply. It means that the New Covenant is a new family that takes us out of and beyond the old tribal and national ties.

    Telling unregenerate people that their sins are forgiven simply because of who their parents are is pretty sickening. The situation you describe has a simple solution. Sure, we’re not always going to get it right, but we are called to make it right.

  • Michael Shover Says:

    We are not talking about telling pagans who hate God and have completely rejected the faith that they are forgiven. We are talking about our children whom we tell from birth that Jesus loves them. We do this because we want our children to come to Jesus and we want them to love Jesus. We tell them that Jesus has died for them and has forgiven them of their sins when they believe in Him. This is not sickening, because as far as we know, and as far as God’s promise is concerned, which is testified to by His own sign and seal, their sins are forgiven. Their sins are forgiven them NOT b/c of who their parents are, but because God promised to save the children of those who believe in Him. They are forgiven b/c God promised that He would forgive them. And so we baptize them so that they can know that God really has promised this. Baptism is a sign of God’s promise to save, not a sign of physical lineage.

  • Mike Bull Says:


    Your entire construct hinges on this statement:
    “Their sins are forgiven them NOT b/c of who their parents are, but because God promised to save the children of those who believe in Him.”

    This is most definitely physical lineage, and there is no such promise. The promise to the Jews in Acts, as well as their children and the Gentiles “afar off” was that they would be saved if they believed the gospel. You can’t single out the children and not the Gentiles.

    This promise was for first century Jews. The gospel – and Pentecost – was what all the fathers, kings and prophets had waited for. They had one more generation – their children – before the promise to Abraham’s physical seed would be gone forever.

  • Chris W Says:

    Hang on – since when was the Old Covenant about a physical bloodline? The tab “Future of Israel” on your own blog should disprove that hypothesis! Israel was never really defined by bloodline, but by their faith in Yahweh. If they disobeyed him, they were to be cut off from the people.

    Also, what about the whole congregation of Israel being “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6)? Why is it that our children are now denied access into this wider priesthood? I think you should read this article by Leithart, he has some good arguments for a wider new covenant priesthood – http://www.biblicalhorizons.com/rite-reasons/no-45-renewing-circumcision/

    I am more convinced by infant baptism, but since this is such a complex issue, I’m always open to learning more.

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Excellent observations, Chris. And that’s an great article by Dr Leithart.

    Here’s my position:

    1) Although Abrahamic blood wasn’t important (except of course for the Messianic line), one joined Israel “by blood.” Israel was itself a genealogy, a family, then a tribe, then a nation, then a kingdom. It had physical borders, borders of blood.

    2) Dr Leithart is correct, but I believe only up to a point. Where he sees the water border of baptism replacing the border of circumcision, I see an expansion. The Laver barrier has expanded from the Tabernacle priesthood to all believers (faith, not family). But the blood barrier was not dissolved. It was expanded from the “family” of Israel to all the nations. All people are now commanded to repent, which includes children who are yet to believe. Since circumcision was fulfilled in Christ, and He has ascended, all are now “under Covenant.”

    I hope that makes sense.

  • Chris W Says:

    Thanks for the reply, I see what you’re getting at. I like the idea, it makes a lot of sense in the context of some of the ‘unlimited atonement’ texts of the New Testament. So your view is that all of humanity is the new Israel of God? Presumeably you would take 1 Cor 7:14 as a specific example of a general truth, that all of humanity are sanctified before God in the New Covenant.

    The trouble I’m having with this view is that the New Testament seems to identify the Church as the New Israel of God and not all of humanity. Gal 3:27 also seems to indicate that it is through baptism that we come under the covenant, “clothed” with Christ. How do you reconcile your view with these New Testament perspectives?

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hi Chris

    I think the New Testament is clear that the actual “Israel of God” is the Church, not all of humanity, but the Church is a priesthood, so now all Israel is priesthood. The Church shelters and mediates for the world as the priesthood mediated for Israel and Israel mediated for the world.

    Throughout the Bible, worship becomes more and more accessible. The Church-as-Tabernacle ministry is now open to all — including our children — but baptism and table are only for the actual priesthood, the believers. It is certainly a physical, historical body, but a body united by the Spirit, which shelters those who dwell in its branches — such as babies and yet unconverted children.

  • Chris W Says:

    Hi Mike,

    Children in the Old Covenant were permitted access to the covenant meals like passover and to sacraments like manna and the water from the rock, which were spiritual meals (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). Would you agree that under the Old Covenant, they were included in the Covenant promise: “you will be My people, and I will be your God”? Why are they now disinherited in the New Covenant?

    I don’t see a single part of the Bible which teaches that now Christ has come, God is no longer the God of our children as He was under all of the previous Covenant administrations. I agree that the Church is a Priesthood to the nations, but the Old Covenant language that was previously applied to Israel (Exodus 19:6) is now applied to the Church (1 Peter 2:9) and never to all of humanity.

    Where are you getting this idea that all humanity are now God’s Covenant people from? I’d agree that it’s true in a certain sense, since the Church is the New Humanity in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22).

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Thanks for the responses, gents. I’m finally getting around to some replies!

    Chris W writes:

    “Children in the Old Covenant were permitted access to the covenant meals like passover and to sacraments like manna and the water from the rock, which were spiritual meals (1 Corinthians 10:1-5). Would you agree that under the Old Covenant, they were included in the Covenant promise: ‘you will be My people, and I will be your God’? Why are they now disinherited in the New Covenant?”

    Because the Old Covenant inheritance was physical land, physical descendants and the promise of salvation. When salvation came, the promises were fulfilled, slain, and resurrected. The “family of God” moved from being a nation of earth-dwelling caterpillars to a nation of resurrected butterflies. And we get our wings when we are born again. It’s a different kind of family. We see this exact structure in the matrix process, but the FV gents don’t see the need to apply this to individuals. However, this is what we see in the book of Acts. The Old Covenant “Red Sea” baptism was one flesh passing through the water. It is a unity of blood, a single nation with physical borders, under a single Mediator. The New Covenant baptism is “many fleshes” passing through the waters individually with a unity of Spirit, a nation of qualified mediators.

    In some sense, all nations, including their children and ours, now inherit the promise of salvation. But only those born again have the promise of resurrection, and in the biblical structures, baptism is consistently corresponded to resurrection.

    Chris writes:
    “I don’t see a single part of the Bible which teaches that now Christ has come, God is no longer the God of our children as He was under all of the previous Covenant administrations. I agree that the Church is a Priesthood to the nations, but the Old Covenant language that was previously applied to Israel (Exodus 19:6) is now applied to the Church (1 Peter 2:9) and never to all of humanity.

    Where are you getting this idea that all humanity are now God’s Covenant people from? I’d agree that it’s true in a certain sense, since the Church is the New Humanity in Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22).”

    Yes, Israel was a priestly nation, but even in the Old Testament we see a progression. Only the priesthood worried about their genealogies, but in Ezra, we see all Israel concerned to be genealogically “pure.” This restored Covenant pictured the New Covenant, albeit in earthly terms (all genealogies were destroyed with the Temple).

    The Old Covenant put Israel under the obligation of the Law. The children did not take the oath, the adults did. I’m not saying that all nations are now a priesthood. Those who are born again are the NC priesthood, and everyone else is to be drawn to sit under our ministry as we mediate the work of the Saviour. All nations are under the obligation of the gospel.

    The division is between priesthood and people. This “carnal” (bloody) division within Israel is now a spiritual division between believers and non-believers in the nations. To include non-regenerate children in this is to misunderstand the New Covenant.

    I have fleshed all of this out more in the articles under the baptism tag at the top of the page (if you have the time).

    Thanks for the comments.

  • Chris W Says:

    Thanks for your reply Mike! Sorry I have taken so long to get back to you.

    I guess I am just not convinced that the biblical term “regeneration” refers to a moment, I think it is more about a process – one that begins at baptism (“the washing of regeneration” – Titus 3:5). I would say the same of the term “born again” (though I wouldn’t confuse this with ‘justification’ in the Romans 3 sense).

    “The children did not take the oath, the adults did.”

    I think the same is the case in covenantal infant baptism. The adults make the oath on behalf of their children and this oath is binding on the kids. I think that christian parents can consider their baptised kids to be in a kind of relationship with Jesus, I can’t see how else the children of believers can be regarded as “saints” (compare Eph 1:2 & 6:1-3).

    Anyway, I shall continue reading your other articles. It’s great to come across a credo who really knows his typology!