What does water do? It covers, sometimes unto death and sometimes unto life:
- Genesis 7:19-20 — And the waters prevailed so mightily on the earth that all the high mountains under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.
- Exodus 14:28 — The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained.
- Exodus 15:5, 10 — The floods covered them; they went down into the depths like a stone. . . . You blew with your wind; the sea covered them; they sank like lead in the mighty waters.
- Job 22:11 — A flood of water covers you.
- Job 36:30 — Behold, he scatters his lightning about him and covers the roots of the sea.
- Job 38:34 — Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that a flood of waters may cover you?
- Psalm 84:6 — As they go through the Valley of Baca they make it a place of springs; the early rain also covers it with pools.
- Psalm 104:5-9 — He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. . . . You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
- Psalm 106:11 — And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left.
- Isaiah 11:9 — The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
- Jeremiah 46:8 — Egypt rises like the Nile, like rivers whose waters surge. He said, ‘I will rise, I will cover the earth, I will destroy cities and their inhabitants.’
- Jeremiah 51:42 — The sea has come up on Babylon; she is covered with its tumultuous waves.
- Ezekiel 26:19 — For thus says the Lord God: When I make you a city laid waste, like the cities that are not inhabited, when I bring up the deep over you, and the great waters cover you,
- Habakkuk 2:14 — For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
This has several implications. First, this supports Leithart’s thesis that baptism is inherently an investiture, a covering. In baptism we are inducted into the priesthood of all believers. Second, this lends strong support to pouring and sprinkling as proper modes of baptism: the water and Spirit move towards us, rather than the reverse, and baptism is much more a pronouncement God makes over us than a statement we make ourselves. Finally, this links baptism with atonement: just as we are covered, our sins are covered (Isaiah 61:10, Psalm 32:1, Romans 4:7).
And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on his name. — Acts 22:16