This Sunday’s sermon will cover Joshua chapter 5. Two huge theological Old Testament matters are found there: circumcision & Passover. I’m providing some of the details ahead of time so they can be digested a bit before Sunday. The hope is that our eyes will be opened to more of the depth of meaning in two huge theological matters of the New Testament: baptism and communion.
So here are four lists of how the Old Testament symbol compares to the New Testament symbol and in each how the symbol compares to the real, Jesus. Keep in mind this is an important directive for interpreting the OT Scriptures – God put these things in the Bible to show us the realities of Jesus and His gospel.
Please take a look and think it through. If you have questions or things are still not clear for you, ask your LIFE Group leader for more on the topic.
Baptism is similar to circumcision in these ways:
- Both are signs ordained by God to be used by His people to give to those coming into His covenant.
- Both mark out the visible, covenant people of God and confirm their identity in Him
- Both are physical symbols depicting Christ’s defeat of sin in the believer. Circumcision pictures the future work of Christ and inward circumcision of the heart to set it free from sin. Baptism pictures the completed work of Christ in which the sinful nature has been killed on the cross and buried with Jesus.
- Both are outward signs that are genuine only when accompanied by the inner reality of personal repentance and faith. Without the inner reality, the outward symbol loses all meaning. (circumcision-Dt. 30:6, Jer 4:4, Ezek 36:25-27 / Rom 2:25-29) (Baptism-Acts 19:1-7)
Baptism is different from circumcision in these ways:
- Circumcision was given to all Hebrews whether they were believers or not. Baptism is given to the regenerate, born again believers only.
- Circumcision was given to males only. Baptism is given to males and females when they repent and believe.
- Circumcision was given soon after birth before evidences of regeneration were evident. Baptism is given only after evidences of regeneration are evident.
- Circumcision demonstrates God gathering His covenant people by physical birth. Baptism demonstrates God gathering His people by spiritual rebirth.
Communion and Passover are the same in that they:
- Both remind us of God’s mighty acts to free His people from slavery and death (Exodus 12:1-13, 1 Cor 11:23-25).
- Both use the death of a lamb and the covering of blood for people to be rescued (Ex 12:3-7, Matt 26:26-28).
- Both emphasize that personal participation must be present in order to be rescued from slavery and death (Ex 12:12-13, John 6:51-56) (Of course participation in the symbolic body of Christ in communion is not the determining factor. Rather participation in His actual body by faith is what saves.)
- Both require that a person must belong to God’s covenant people in order to participate (by sign of circumcision in the OT- Exodus 12:43-48 or by conversion in the NT-1 Cor 11:23-32).
Communion and Passover are different in that:
- Passover is about the rescue from physical slavery in Egypt while communion is about rescue from spiritual slavery to Satan, sin, and death.
- Every year another Passover Lamb had to die yet in communion only one Lamb died, Jesus, the eternal Lamb of God.
- Every Hebrew was instructed to celebrate the Passover and was rescued from Egypt because of it but in communion only those who repent and trust the Gospel will be rescued from sin and death.
- Passover was celebrated by everyone in the household regardless of personal conversion or age yet communion is only to be observed by those bearing evidence of personal conversion (1 Cor 11:23-32).