“By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, lest he who destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were destroyed.” (Heb. 11:28-29)
Hebrews says that Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea was done by faith. We typically emphasize the unilateral miraculous aspects of these events. God said, I will save you, and then He did. But here Hebrews says that keeping the Passover and sprinkling blood on your door and then walking into the gaping jaws of the sea with the Egyptian chariots at your back took great faith.
Paul in 1 Corinthians 10 says that the Israelite fathers “were under the cloud and passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Paul says that these things are examples for us so that we might not lust after evil things and become idolaters like some of them.
How do we put these things together? Hebrews says that Israel was walking by faith as they left Egypt and passed through the sea, and Paul says that this was a baptism and later they were eating and drinking of Christ in the wilderness. But then later many of them fell, many of them were not pleasing to God, many of them were idolaters.
In one place Paul says that lawlessness is mysterious. Apostasy is a mystery. But what the Scriptures teach repeatedly is that some people begin to believe, they begin to walk by faith, and some decide to stop believing. Some throw away the gift of faith. Some allow Satan to snatch away their joy. Others stumble because of tribulations and persecution. Others allow the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts for other things to choke the Word, and they shipwreck their faith.
And we should take at least two things from these things. First, we should not allow other true doctrines to blunt the edge of this warning. Every baptism is a reminder of the great mercy and grace of God, and it is a call to faith. But there is such a thing as grieving the Spirit. There is such a thing as breaking covenant. There is such a thing as shipwrecking the faith. And Jesus says that Satan, tribulations, riches, and lusts are the usual thieves that sneak into the hearts of believers to snatch away the Word, to snatch away their joy.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and there is a godly fear that sees destruction and runs the other way. There is a godly fear that sees the confusion and darkness of sin and idolatry and stays far away. There is a godly fear that hears the warnings of Scripture and takes them to heart.
Lastly, there is only one safe place to be and that is with eyes fixed on Jesus. Baptism is a wonderful gift of God, the promises of the covenant are glorious and true, but they must be received by faith. And faith conquers. Faith throws down idols. Faith overcomes. Faith in Jesus presses on and finishes strong.
So Chris and Abby, teach Owen these things. First, you must believe. You must cling to Jesus for your own security, your own hope, your own identities, your own strength, and then you must teach Owen what you have learned. Remind him of this day as he grows up, remind him that Jesus claimed him and called him to follow Him. But remind him that there will be many distractions in this world, many opportunities to doubt, many opportunities to fear, many other passing pleasures that he must learn to ignore and give up, and he must endure many hard things, and he will only be able to do this as he learns to confess his sins and look to Jesus.