Baptism for Salvation and Fire Baptism
“Baptism, the counterpart of that, saves you to-day (not the mere washing of dirt from the flesh but the prayer for a clean conscience before God).”—1 Pet. 3:21, Mo.
1. Who is the great Baptist, and in what do his baptisms result?
JEHOVAH God is the great Baptizer or Baptist. The baptisms which he performs are either to life or to death, to salvation or to destruction. History proves this. In the near future we are going to witness a tremendous baptism of fire. Will this be a great modern Pentecost, and will those who have it come on them survive it? The only way to face the happening of that fire baptism is to make sure we have the baptism for salvation now. By this we do not mean baptism in water by total immersion or by submergence of your body under water or by sprinkling or pouring water on your head by some religious clergyman. Millions in Christendom claim to have had water baptism in one form or another, but they will experience no salvation because of it. We mean the baptism which God administers, not man.
2. By whom was water baptism introduced, where, and to what baptism did he point the people?
2 About six months before Jesus came to the Jordan river, John the son of the Levite priest Zechariah was sent by Jehovah God to introduce baptism in water for Jews who repented of their sins against the Law which God gave their nation through Moses. How fitting it was that John opened up his baptismal work at the Jordan river! It was in this river that, hundreds of years before this, Jehovah’s prophet Elisha sent Naaman the Syrian general to wash himself so as to be cleansed of his leprosy. In the Jordan river Naaman baptized himself, or dipped himself (for baptizing means dipping or immersing), seven times and was healed of his deadly plague. (2 Ki. 5:10-14; see LXX translation) And now John was baptizing the Jews in the Jordan to symbolize their being washed from their sins because of their repentance toward Jehovah God. But John told them there was a greater immersion yet to be performed by someone stronger than him. John warned the Jews with these words: “Already the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree, then, that does not produce fine fruit is to be cut down and thrown into the fire. I, on the one hand, baptize you with water because of your repentance; but the one coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I am not fit to take off. That one will baptize you people with holy spirit and with fire. His winnowing shovel is in his hand, and he will completely clean up his threshing-floor, and will gather his wheat into the storehouse, but the chaff he will burn up with fire that cannot be put out [by man].”—Matt. 3:10-12, NW.
3. Who objected to Jesus’ baptism, but how was it shown to be right?
3 The one stronger than John the Baptist was Jesus Christ. Humble John honestly objected when Jesus came to him at the Jordan to be dipped. Realizing Jesus’ sinlessness, John could not see the fitness of a water baptism for him and said to Jesus: “I am the one needing to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?” But Jesus assured John the water baptism was a proper symbol for him to undergo, saying: “Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.” That it was a right symbol for Jesus to undergo Jehovah God showed, for then God baptized Jesus with his holy spirit. When Jesus came up from the water, “he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’” In this way God acted as the great Baptizer and did that which led finally to Jesus’ salvation to immortal life in heaven at God’s right hand.—Matt. 3:13-17, NW; Heb. 5:7; John 12:27; Ps. 116:7-15; Matt. 26:39.
4. What baptism for Jesus here began, and how was it completed?
4 Here Jesus began a baptism into death as a man, a human creature. Three years later he indicated this to his disciples by saying: “I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and how I am being distressed until it is finished!” Shortly afterward he said to John and James: “The cup I am drinking you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am being baptized you will be baptized.” (Luke 12:50 and Mark 10:39, NW) He was undergoing an immersion into the death as a human sacrifice for man’s sins, beginning at his water baptism at Jordan. It was finished with his death on the torture stake at Calvary, outside Jerusalem. Then God completed the great act by saving his obedient Son out of death, resurrecting him to immortal life as an invisible spirit in heaven. John the Baptist could never perform such an immersion. Only the almighty heavenly Father could do so.—1 Pet. 3:18, 21, 22.
5. Why was not the baptism with spirit at Pentecost one of fire?
5 John told the Jews that Jesus would “baptize you people with holy spirit and fire”. (Luke 3:16, NW) Many clergymen of Christendom understand the holy spirit and fire here to mean one and the same thing, so that the fire is the holy spirit. To back up their argument they point to the day of Pentecost when the Lord Jesus Christ, glorified in heaven, poured out the holy spirit upon his faithful disciples on earth and, to quote the account, “tongues as if of fire became visible and were distributed to them, and one sat upon each one of them, and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance.” But that could not be called a ‘baptism with fire’, for the appearance of a flame would have had to envelop and cover their whole bodies to be a baptism in it.
6. How does Joel’s prophecy show it was not a baptism of fire?
6 The apostle Peter then quoted Joel’s prophecy (Joe 2:28-32) to show it was there being fulfilled. But this prophecy foretold that Jehovah God would pour out his spirit, and not fire, upon all kinds of flesh in the last days. Among the signs, though, that God would produce on earth below would be “blood and fire and smoke mist; the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and illustrious day of Jehovah arrives”. (Acts 2:1-21, NW) This shows that the fire is separate from the spirit and is associated with death and destruction, blood and smoke mist.
7, 8. (a) How did John show what the fire baptism meant? (b) How did Jesus gather the wheat and burn up the chaff?
7 It is evident that the fire symbolizes destruction. In his own speech John the Baptist makes that clear, saying that the tree not producing fine fruit will be chopped down by the ax at its roots and be thrown into the fire; and that Christ Jesus, like a thresher, has his winnowing shovel in hand to clean up his threshing floor and that he gathers the wheat into his storehouse but the chaff he burns up with fire which no man can put out.
8 John spoke to the Jews in symbols. The tree that failed to produce fine fruit is the nation of natural Israel, the nation of unbelieving Jews. The wheat whom Jesus separated and gathered into his storehouse for preservation and for sustaining the lives of others are the small Jewish remnant who believed and accepted him as Jehovah’s Messiah or Christ. But the chaff that he winnowed away and burned with a fire which the Jews could not put out are the vast majority of the nation who did not believe and who persecuted Christ’s followers. The prophet Isaiah used the same symbol of chaff to show the destruction of wicked, unfaithful Israel. (Isa. 5:24, 25; 33:11, 12) The wheat class of believing Jews were baptized with the holy spirit from heaven beginning with the day of Pentecost. The chaff class of rejected faithless Jews were baptized with fiery destruction in the year 70, when their national capital Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome’s imperial legions; one million one hundred thousand Jews perished and ninety-seven thousand Jews went into captivity; and thus they were scattered to the ends of the earth, a homeless people.
9. What baptism did Jesus promise his disciples, but what baptism did his parable indicate for the Jewish unbelievers?
9 The resurrected Jesus, when instructing his disciples to remain at Jerusalem until they became clothed with power from on high, did not tell them they would be baptized with fire. He said: “John, indeed, baptized with water, but you will be baptized in holy spirit not many days after this. . . . you will receive power when the holy spirit arrives upon you, and you will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth.” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:4, 5, 8, NW) These were the ones baptized with the holy spirit, Jehovah God using the glorified Christ Jesus to pour it out; but as for the rest of the Jews who refused to accept the invitation to Jehovah’s spiritual wedding feast for his Son, Jesus said in his parable: “The king grew enraged, and sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.” (Matt. 22:7, NW) Jehovah, the heavenly King, used the Roman legions as his executional armies A.D. 70 to destroy Jerusalem and its temple, and thus those unbelievers who had brought about the murder of Jesus and his disciples were baptized with symbolic fire.
10. How was this foreshadowed in 607 B.C., and how did Jeremiah lament?
10 This baptism had already been foreshadowed by the first destruction of Jerusalem and its royal palace on Mount Zion by Babylon’s armies in 607 B.C. In foretelling this, Jehovah’s prophets also spoke of this national calamity as coming upon the apostate Israelites by fire. (Zeph. 1:18; Jer. 32:26-35) And Jeremiah, lamenting the destruction upon the nation, moaned: “He hath cut off in fierce anger all the horn of Israel; he hath drawn back his right hand from before the enemy: and he hath burned up Jacob like a flaming fire, which devoureth round about. . . . in the tent of the daughter of Zion he hath poured out his wrath like fire. Jehovah hath accomplished his wrath, he hath poured out his fierce anger; and he hath kindled a fire in Zion, which hath devoured the foundations thereof.” (Lam. 2:3, 4; 4:11, AS) In this he followed the rule of action stated in the Psalm of King David: “Jehovah trieth the righteous; but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth. Upon the wicked he will rain snares; fire and brimstone and burning wind shall be the portion of their cup.”—Ps. 11:5, 6, AS.
11. What is the first fire baptism on record, as Jesus showed?
11 The fiery destruction of the Jewish nation in 70 (A.D.) and in 607 B.C. for its disobedience to God’s law was not the first baptism of fire in Bible records. The earliest on record was that upon the pagan cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and that in a very literal way. (Gen. 18:20 to 19:29) Jesus himself backed up the truthfulness of the record of it, saying: “Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.” Since Jesus was there giving us his prophecy on the end of this world, he gives us to understand that a world-wide baptism of fire is ahead of the generation living today.—Luke 17:28-30, NW.
12, 13. (a) How did Isaiah show such a baptism would befall Israel? (b) How does Jude show this is a prophetic drama for our day?
12 Showing that the flaming deluge from heaven upon Sodom and Gomorrah was a prophetic picture of the baptism of fire upon the nation of natural Israel, Jehovah inspired his prophet Isaiah to address the nation of Israel as the counterpart of those cursed cities and to say: “Except Jehovah of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, we should have been like unto Gomorrah. Hear the word of Jehovah, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. What unto me is the multitude of your sacrifices? saith Jehovah: I have had enough of the burnt-offerings . . . cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.”—Isa. 1:9-17, AS.
13 Israel failed to heed this call to righteousness and proved itself to be worse than Sodom and Gomorrah for responsibility before God. Consequently it met a fate like that of those wicked cities in a terrific baptism of fire. Only a faithful remnant escaped. This is a prophetic drama making certain that a like baptism of fire will immerse the modern counterpart of Sodom, Gomorrah and apostate Israel. This is expressed by the warning the disciple Jude wrote to his fellow Christians, saying: “So, too, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, . . . are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” (Jude 7, NW) But apostate Christendom has failed to pay attention to this warning example. So she, too, will be immersed in fiery destruction, and God will never lift her out of it.
EARLIEST SYMBOLIC IMMERSION
14. In what salvation are we interested? How does Peter mention it?
14 Seeing we are facing such things, we are interested in salvation and in the immersion that leads to it. The apostle Peter tells us there was an ancient illustration of it. So we do well to study it carefully to know what to do to gain the desired salvation in this perilous time. Peter tells us the illustration was given in Noah’s days. The mention of Noah instantly reminds us of the flood—water—and that raises in our minds the thought of water baptism. But let us examine and see whether that is what Peter points to. He writes: “The patience of God was waiting in Noah’s days, while the ark was being constructed, in which a few people, that is, eight souls, were carried safely through the water. That which corresponds to this is also now saving you, namely, baptism, . . . through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is at God’s right hand, for he went his way to heaven, and angels and authorities and powers were made subject to him.” (1 Pet. 3:20-22, NW) Who are now being saved by this which corresponds to the ancient pattern which was set in Noah’s days?
15. Who in Peter’s day were saved by it? And who are so saved today?
15 We are happy to say, The Christians from both Jews and Gentiles who receive the baptism in the holy spirit, and now also a “great crowd” of their companions of good will. In Peter’s day the life-seeking Jews needed to be saved from the baptism of fire that threatened the nation, and Peter, on the day of Pentecost, urged them: “Get saved from this crooked generation.” Three thousand believed the message that Jesus was glorified in heaven to be both Lord and Christ, and later thousands more; and they were all baptized in his name for the forgiveness of their sins and to receive the gift of the holy spirit, participating in its baptism. In course of time these followed Jesus’ instructions and did not enter into the city of Jerusalem at Passover time A.D. 70. Consequently, they did not get trapped there by the Roman legions that besieged the city, and so they did not fall by famine, pestilence and the sword nor get captured and led off into exile as slaves of Rome. They were spared from a fire baptism upon that faithless nation. In this they pictured how persons with faith in God and Christ today will be spared from a similar event shortly to come upon Christendom.
16. Why must there be correspondencies between Noah’s day and now?
16 After mentioning features about Noah’s days the apostle Peter tells us that what is also now saving us “corresponds to this”. Corresponds to what? Evidently the procedure or arrangement which was the way of salvation back there during the Flood. There must be correspondencies, for Jesus spoke prophetically of the “time of the end”, where we are now, and said: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away. Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as people were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be.” (Matt. 24:35-39, NW; Luke 17:26-30) By these words Jesus added proof that the Flood was a historical fact and also that this “time of the end” of this world during which he is invisibly present in Kingdom power is like the time of the end of the ancient world when Noah was present.
17. What does Noah’s name mean, but how was he active?
17 Let us, therefore, note the important correspondencies. Then we can be sure of the baptism that brings salvation. The main character on that ancient scene was Noah, the builder of the ark. Whom does he picture? Noah was given his name by Lamech his father, because at his birth Lamech said: “This same shall comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands, which cometh because of the ground which Jehovah hath cursed.” (Gen. 5:29, AS) The name Noah means “rest” or “consolation”. But Noah was no lazy man of inactivity either before or after the flood. He was the visible leader in the most important activity of that day. Noah was the tenth in line counting from Adam, and thus he completed a series of generations from Adam, ten being a number symbolizing completion with regard to earthly things. Noah did not rest before the Flood. He was a “preacher of righteousness”, and when he was given divine warning of things not yet beheld by man he “showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household, and through this faith he condemned the world, and he became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith”.—Heb. 11:7, NW.
18. After the flood how did Noah fulfill his name’s meaning?
18 The first thing Noah did after he and his family came out of the ark following the flood was to build an altar and offer sacrifice to Jehovah. This was restful to the Lord Jehovah, for we read: “And the LORD smelled a sweet savour [a savour of rest, margin; a satisfying odour, Ro]; and the LORD said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done.” Then Jehovah blessed Noah and his sons. (Gen. 8:21; 9:1) Here we see how, in accord with the meaning of his name, Noah brought comfort to mankind at its new start after the Flood, procuring relief as respects the work and the toil of their hands which they had formerly endured because of Jehovah’s curse on the ground.
19. How does Jesus correspond with him, particularly as to the meaning of Noah’s name?
19 The one who corresponds with Noah is Christ Jesus. Jesus was the seventy-seventh from Adam, according to Luke 3:23-38, and his name means “Jehovah is salvation”. But like Noah he ushers men into rest, even now. He said: “Come to me, all you who are toiling and loaded down, and I will refresh you. . . . and you will find refreshment for your souls. For my yoke is kindly and my load is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30, NW) During this “time of the end” of this world Jesus gives this rest and refreshment to all the sheep whom he serves as the Right Shepherd, both the remnant of his “little flock” of heavenly joint heirs and also the great crowd of “other sheep”. (Luke 12:32 and John 10:16) But after the battle of Armageddon baptizes this old world, including Christendom, with fire, he will comfort mankind with a great sabbath of rest for the thousand years of his reign. “For Lord of the sabbath is what the Son of man is.” He said that to Jews who objected to deeds of mercy on the sabbath day. During the thousand-year sabbath he will rule as King and High Priest and will lead mankind in the pure worship of God, so that there will be no divine curse upon obedient mankind. Jesus is indeed the antitypical Noah. Ancient Noah did a constructive work “for the saving of his household”. So does Christ Jesus. What is this construction? How does it correspond with the ark?
20, 21. What corresponds with Noah’s ark, and how so?
20 That which corresponds with the ark is Jehovah God’s theocratic system over which he has placed the antitypical Noah, Christ Jesus. This Son of God is also a builder like Noah, and he tells us that he builds his church or congregation upon himself as the Rock. (Matt. 16:18) Moreover, at Hebrews 1:1, 2, 8, 9, we read that he is a “preacher of righteousness” by whom God has spoken to us and “whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things”. (NW) The ark which this Greater Noah constructs consists of a new system of things, a new divine arrangement which affords us protection and preserves us for eternal salvation. The congregation, the theocratic organization which he builds, must live within this new system of things and must think, speak and work in harmony with it. This ark or theocratic structure is the laughingstock of the world, because it is built according to God’s instructions and for his purpose. It is different! The world has seen nothing like it and does not understand it.
21 Hence faith in God is required for its construction, and those who work for this new system of things must exercise faith to carry on under the scoffing and reproach of this world. But in the great crisis ahead it will serve its purpose faithfully by preserving all those who take refuge in it, just as the ark carried Noah and his family safely through the flood-waters. We remember, too, how such an ark, chest, or tebah (Hebrew), also saved the infant Moses from a watery death in the Nile river.—Ex. 2:3, 5.
22. How did that new system prove of salvation? How will it do so?
22 This is a new system of things when compared with the old system that prevailed among the Jews under the law of Moses. When that Jewish system fully ended in the fiery destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, this new Christian system of things survived. Today, nineteen centuries since then, Jehovah’s witnesses are enjoying that same new system of things and are entering into more and more of its new things. We have done well to take refuge in it rather than in the system of things which obtains in Christendom and in the rest of the world. For the hypocritical worldly system will be baptized with fiery destruction at Armageddon, but God’s new system of things will survive and prove the salvation of those who shape their lives according to it. The end of this present wicked world means the end of the things of Satan’s construction, his heavens and earth. But the Greater Noah, Christ Jesus, is in the holy heavens at God’s right hand and he will come through the conflict of Armageddon victoriously. He will survive, and so will the remnant of his anointed followers and their good-will companions who have taken refuge in the divine new system of things as an ark. When on earth Jesus, like Noah, confessed that he did not know the day or the hour when that which corresponds with the flood would break out, but now in his heavenly contact with God he knows.
INTO THE GREATER NOAH
23, 24. (a) If not in water or the ark, into what were they baptized for salvation? (b) How were they thus baptized?
23 In further examining the corresponding points between Noah’s days and this “time of the end”, we ask, What is the thing into which we are baptized for salvation in view of the approaching world destruction? Of course, the anointed remnant of Christ’s “little flock” are baptized in holy spirit, as the early disciples were on the day of Pentecost. But this is not what the apostle Peter is talking about here. In Noah’s day water was what the ancient, ungodly world was baptized in to its destruction: “the world of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water.” (2 Pet. 3:6, NW) Hence it was not this flood into which the eight survivors were baptized for salvation. Also, it was not merely the ark or vessel into which they were baptized, for doubtless there were some boats afloat on the rivers which flowed out of Eden and these may have ridden the flood waters for a time but at last became swamped and were overwhelmed. So the Scriptural conclusion is that what brought salvation from the deluge was for the survivors to be baptized or immersed into Noah the ark-builder.
24 The seven who went into the ark with Noah had to have confidence in him as Jehovah’s prophet. They had to be unbreakably attached to him and walk with him as he “walked with God”. They had to be willing to suffer the taunts and reproaches that fell upon him and suffer with him for a righteous cause. They had to be incorporated into a system of things not of that world, a theocratic arrangement in which Noah was the chief builder, the chief consultant and shipmaster or pilot. So they had to submit to him as the head who took the lead and directed the body of fellow workers. Doing all this, they were in effect baptized into Noah.
25, 26. (a) How was such a baptism duplicated in the case of Moses? (b) Who calls it a baptism, and in what were the Egyptians baptized?
25 This being baptized into a chosen servant of Jehovah was duplicated in the case of Moses. Peter tells us of the baptism into Noah, but the apostle Paul tells us of the baptism into Moses. Those who escaped from Egypt with Moses were the circumcised Jews or Israelites and the “mixed multitude” of good will, and all these were immersed or baptized into him. How? By Jehovah’s symbolic act at the Red sea; and there again Jehovah by his angel acted as the great Baptizer or Immerser. He formed the watery walls on their right hand and their left as they moved eastward through the bed of the Red sea. He provided the watery cloud above them, and with it he hid them from the view of the pursuing military hosts of Pharaoh. Then he lifted his people out of these waters by bringing them out alive on the eastern shores of the Red sea, a living free nation, But to experience this baptism they had to accept Moses’ leadership. Rebellion against him as Jehovah’s chosen one was punished with destruction. As he was the mediator between God and the Israelites, they had no approach into relationship with God except through him. They had to accept Jehovah’s laws through him. Outside of the theocratic organization under Moses’ visible headship and outside of this “state of Israel” there was no hope and a person was “without God in the world”. So we read at Ephesians 2:12, NW.
26 By following Moses through the Red sea under the cover of the miraculous cloud the Israelites and the “mixed multitude” of good will were baptized into Moses. From then on they were bound to his headship and dependent on his acting as mediator between Jehovah God and Israel. Consequently Moses spoke of bearing them as a father does a child in his bosom. (Num. 11:11-14) The apostle Paul pronounces all this a baptism when he writes: “Now I do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea and all got baptized into Moses by means of the cloud and of the sea.” (1 Cor. 10:1, 2, NW) The Egyptian armies in pursuit were not under that protecting cloud. So when Jehovah’s angel looked out through that cloud and saw the Egyptians in the bed of the Red sea, the walls of water were let collapse and those armies were baptized in watery destruction. They were never lifted out alive by human or by divine power.
27. Into what is baptism for salvation today, and who get it?
27 God used Moses to predict that there was coming a Prophet like him but greater than he was. The apostle Peter plainly points out that this Greater Moses who was to come is the Lord Jesus Christ. As with Moses, so with Christ. There is a baptism into him for salvation. His “little flock” who become joint heirs with him in the heavenly kingdom are baptized into him by the holy spirit which God first poured out upon Jesus as the Head and which Jesus at Pentecost began pouring upon the members of his “little flock”. For, says the apostle Paul, “just as the body is one thing but has many members, and all the members of that body, although being many, are one body, so also is the Christ. For truly by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink one spirit. Now you are Christ’s body, and members individually.” (1 Cor. 12:12, 13, 27, NW) However, Peter points to a baptism into him at this “time of the end” of this world, a baptism which includes the Right Shepherd’s “other sheep” as well as the remnant of his little flock, for he brings them all together to become “one flock, one shepherd”. (John 10:16, NW; Acts 3:19-23; Heb. 3:4-6) This is the baptism into the Greater Noah. When the ancient world ended, one’s being inside the ark was a symbol of being baptized into Noah under the theocratic system of things. Noah’s wife, his three sons and their wives were the seven baptized into Noah. Whom did these picture?
28. In whom does Noah’s wife find her correspondency?
28 First take Noah’s wife. She is a woman who has been entirely ignored in previous discussions of this prophetic drama. In whom does she find her correspondency today? Obviously in those whom the Scriptures call the “bride” of Christ, the “Lamb’s wife”. They are the “body of Christ”, his 144,000 faithful anointed followers who make up his spiritual “little flock”.—Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2, 9; John 3:29; 2 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:21-32.
29. How long did Noah have his wife? What is the correspondency?
29 Noah had his wife at least a hundred years before the flood, for her son Japheth was the oldest and was born about a hundred years before the flood, since Noah was five hundred years old when he became a father. Shem, her next son, was born ninety-eight years before the flood began. (Gen. 5:32; 7:11; 10:21, AS, margin; Ge 11:10; 9:22-25) How many years of Noah’s six hundred before the flood he had this wife we do not know. He had her well before the end of that ungodly world and possibly long before the birth of his three sons. So Christ’s bride began forming long, long before the end of this wicked world, namely, nineteen centuries ago, at the beginning of this Christian system of things. In this “time of the end” she is represented on earth by the remnant of his anointed little flock.
30. What did Noah’s wife’s intimacy with him picture?
30 Noah’s wife had a most intimate relationship with him as her husband. Just so, the “bride” class, including the remnant today, are baptized into the modern-day Noah, Christ Jesus, in a special way by holy spirit. This means they must be baptized into his death for the vindication of Jehovah God’s kingdom, that they may be finally raised up in the likeness of his resurrection, the first resurrection, to heavenly “glory and honor and incorruptibleness”. The apostle Paul asks them: “Do you not know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we were buried with him through our baptism into his death, in order that, just as Christ was raised up from the dead through the glory of the Father, we also should likewise walk in a newness of life. For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall certainly also be united with him in the likeness of his resurrection.” (Rom. 6:3-5, NW) Here Jehovah God is the great Baptizer. In ancient time Noah worked for his wife’s salvation by showing his faith in a practical way. She did not forsake him. She followed him into the ark and did not die off but spent some of her years after the flood, though not to bring forth further children to Noah. So with the remnant now.
SONS AND DAUGHTERS-IN-LAW
31, 32. Who are there to correspond with Noah’s sons and their wives?
31 Here we come to a consideration of Noah’s three sons and their wives. Who today correspond with them? We must be honest and face the facts of our day, “the time of the end.” Today our glad eyes behold a great crowd of men and women, boys and girls, flocking to Jehovah’s theocratic organization and taking up sacred service at his spiritual temple. They see there is no salvation for them in any of the demon-inspired, man-made arrangements of this fateful day. So they turn from doing the will of men and of this world and dedicate themselves entirely to doing God’s will. They ascribe all power of salvation to Jehovah God who sits on the throne and to his Son Jesus Christ, whom the Father gave as a Lamb in sacrifice. They hail him with palm branches as Jehovah’s anointed King, and they follow his leadership as the Right Shepherd. He will become their “everlasting Father”. (Isa. 9:6) These now vastly outnumber the remnant with whom the Shepherd has made them one flock, and we see they have come under the new system of things at the opportune time, in the interval of favor between the opening part and the closing part of the “great tribulation” upon Satan’s world. In such terms as the above they were foretold at Revelation 7:9-17.
32 We, therefore, cannot erase them from the scene of the end of the world. We cannot leave them out of the picture. They are in the ark arrangement with the remnant of the little flock. Hence they must have a correspondency with some of those in Noah’s ark during the flood. It is only reasonable, it is only factual, that they correspond with Noah’s three sons and their three wives.
33. In the days of Sodom and Gomorrah, who pictured this same class?
33 This is nothing strange or unusual. We have already noted that a “mixed multitude” were baptized with the Israelites into Moses at the Red sea and eventually entered the Promised Land. Further, when Jesus was comparing the days of his second presence before the battle of Armageddon with ancient days when great calamities and remarkable deliverances occurred, he drew not only Noah’s days into the comparison, but also those of Lot. Lot was a nephew of Abraham, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed. Lot had taken up residence in Sodom, which was condemned to fiery destruction. Showing that Lot and his two daughters who escaped the fiery destruction were figures prophetic of persons to come, Jesus said: “Likewise, just as it occurred in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building. But on the day that Lot came out of Sodom it rained fire and sulphur from heaven and destroyed them all. The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed. Remember the wife of Lot.” (Luke 17:28-30, 32, NW) Lot and his daughters, for whose lives Abraham interceded with Jehovah’s angel, doubtless picture the same class as the mixed multitude of Moses’ time and Noah’s three sons and their wives. All this pictures that, not only is a spiritual class, the remnant, carried safely through Armageddon, but also an earthly class of good will.
34. How did Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law compare with him and his wife numerically, and what was their privilege?
34 Noah’s sons and daughters-in-law outnumbered him and his wife three to one, and after the flood they were the ones who fulfilled God’s mandate: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.” (Gen. 9:1) They had been baptized into Noah by faithfully co-operating with him as Jehovah’s servant during all the years of building the ark and by finally entering the ark with him, likely going in two by two as the male and female animals did. So they came under Jehovah’s blessing after the flood, with a mandate that agreed with part of the mandate given to Adam and Eve in Eden.
35. How are they thus a picture of the “great crowd” today?
35 How fitting a picture they are of the “great crowd” of other sheep of today! These also are being baptized into the Greater Noah, Christ Jesus. Not, however, in the same way as the remnant of the “little flock” are. They are not baptized into Christ’s death, for the great Baptizer Jehovah God does not will this concerning them. It is his will that, surviving the battle of Armageddon in the modern “ark” of salvation, they may be fruitful with children in the righteous new world and may have part in building up the paradise on the cleansed earth and inhabiting it as perfect humans in God’s image and likeness forevermore. Hence they are not like Christ’s remnant who are “buried with him through our baptism into his death” or “united with him in the likeness of his death”. Even though some “other sheep” may die in the remaining time before the battle of Armageddon, yet they never sacrifice their prospect of perfect life in the earthly paradise. They sleep away in the hope of resurrection to human life on earth under Christ’s kingdom of a thousand years. So it is by their hearing the voice of the Right Shepherd today proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom in all the earth for a witness to all nations and then devotedly following him as God’s anointed King that they are baptized into the Greater Noah. For this reason they live changed lives. They no more waste time in imitating the manners of this world, but live according to the new system of things, the ark of safety.
For all the things that were written aforetime were written for our instruction, that through our endurance and through the comfort from the Scriptures we might have hope.—Romans 15:4, New World Translation.