New Creation, the House of God, and Baptism

In my last post, I noted that when God created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1, He was creating a house. Further, as Reverend Michael Morales has written, "analogical relationship between creation and tabernacle: again, the cosmos is a large temple; the temple is a small cosmos.” Indeed, as Psalm 78:69 says, “He built his sanctuary like the high heavens, like the earth, which he has founded forever.”

Now, there are a lot of implications that we can draw from this connection between creation as God’s house and the temple as God’s house. I’ll plan to post about three things I think we can learn from the first few verses of Genesis. The first, and the focus of the rest of this post, is that God baptizes His house. The second is that the church is also considered God’s house. And the last is that as His house, we are to be lights in and of God’s house.

The first point is that God baptizes His house. Let’s turn back to Genesis 1:2, where we see that the earth is formless, and the Spirit hovers over the face of the waters. Likewise, in Deuteronomy 32:10-11, several Reformed authors (Fesko, Beale, Kline, Jordan, etc.) have noted that Moses uses the same relatively rare terminology to describe the Spirit as hovering like an eagle over the Israelites while leading them out of formless wilderness of Egypt (cf. Ezekiel 20:36) during the exodus. Paul later identifies this exodus through the Red Sea as a type of baptism (1 Corinthians 10:1-2). Similarly, a dove hovered over the flood in the time of Noah, and the Holy Spirit hovered in its descent as a dove on the Christ during His baptism. This leads Reformed author J. V. Fesko notes that “the origins of baptism lie in Genesis 1:2” (see his book "Word, Water, and Spirit").

Thus, after creating His house, the first revealed act of the God is the baptism of His house. As images of God and imitators of Christ, this is the foundational grounding on which we too baptize our houses. Only after God baptizes His house does He begins a process of newly creating it. He created the heavens and the earth as formless, void, and dark, but after baptism, we see God newly creating it in light, making divisions within His house, and then filling it. And this is why our baptism symbolizes us as new creations: because it recalls historical events in which God took His house and made it new.

Now, when we say that we should baptize our houses, we don’t actually mean our physical homes that we move into and physically dwell, but rather our families. “House” is sometimes a double-entendre in Scripture. It can refer to a person’s dwelling place, or it can refer to his family – like when the Lord says in Hosea that He will have mercy on the "house of Judah" – and sometimes both a dwelling place and family are intended with just one word. There’s a good reason for this, and I will talk about that in the next post. But to give an example of what I mean, in 2 Samuel 7, the Lord reveals to David, “I will build you a house.” God was not only talking about the temple, the dwelling place of the Lord, but also the house of David, his family dynasty (2 Chronicles 21:7), including Solomon who we already noted built later built the temple-house of God.

What does all of this lead to? The first implication of creation being God's house was that because God baptized His creation house in the beginning, we should too. Our baptism symbolizes our being new creations just as God newly created His house after baptizing it. This leads into the second implication I briefly alluded to above: when we say God baptizes His house, we see that God baptizes – not only creation, not only the tabernacle (Exodus 40), and not only the temple (2 Chronicles 7) – but also His family (His Son and the church), too. And it is to this point I plan to turn in my next post: the church as God's house.

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