When the children of Israel were in the wilderness for forty years in the days of Moses, they often complained against the Lord. He punished them in a variety of ways. Do you recall the occasion when God sent fiery serpents to bite the murmuring people? Many Israelites died as a result.
God revealed a cure for those who were serpent- bitten. At God’s instruction, Moses made a bronze/ brazen serpent, put it on a pole, and lifted it up. Any person in the camp of Israel who looked on that material, lifeless serpent after being bitten by a serpent was able to live (Numbers 21:4-9). No, the power was not in the serpent. It was God’s kindness that provided the remedy and God’s power which did the healing. Praise and glory to the Lord, not the serpent, right?
After the children of Israel finally entered the land which God had promised to give them, the first city which they attacked was Jericho. Does the conquering of Jericho strike a bell with you? God gave specific instructions about the plan of attack. For the first six days, each day the soldiers of Israel were to march around the city. Then, God wanted them to change tactics on the seventh day: He charged them to march around it seven times, after which the priests were to blow trumpets and the people were to shout. That is what they did, and as a result the walls fell down and Israel scored a great victory (Joshua 6:1-20). No, the power was not in the marching feet of Israel’s soldiers, nor was it in their weapons or the priests’ trumpets. It was God’s kindness that provided the city as a gift and God’s power which made the walls fall. If someone would like to know when Jericho’s walls fell, here is the Bible’s answer: “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Hebrews 11:30). God blessed the Israelites after they complied with His word. Praise and glory to the Lord, not the humans involved, correct?
Consider another Old Testament historical event, one that involved water. Naaman was a commander in the army of Syria, “a mighty man of valor, but a leper” (2 Kings 5:1). Naaman made his way to Israel, where a servant of the prophet Elisha told him to “go and wash in the Jordan seven times” (2 Kings 5:10). At first, Naaman was furious, but in the end he obeyed the prophet’s command. When he did so, “. . . his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5:14). No, the power was not in the water. You see, according to Jesus, in the days of the prophet Elisha there were many lepers in Israel, yet the only one who was cleansed was Naaman!
If the power had been in the water, every leper could have been cleansed. There was “more to it” than the water, would you not agree? It was God’s kindness that provided the remedy and God’s power which did the cleansing. We must ask, though: When was Naaman cleansed of his leprosy? Not until he submitted to God’s word and did the seven dips. Praise and glory to the Lord, not the water, right?
Jesus used a number of different ways to heal people who had health challenges. A memorable case is recorded in John 9, where we read about how the Master healed a man who had been blind from birth. How did it transpire? Jesus spit on the ground, made clay with the saliva, anointed the man’s eyes with clay, then gave Him an order. The charge was, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (John 9:7). Did the man comply with what Jesus said? He did, indeed: “So he went and washed, and came back seeing” (9:7). We will say it again: the power was not in the water. It was the Lord’s kindness that provided the remedy and the Lord’s power which removed the blindness. When was the man healed of his blindness? After he submitted to Jesus’ word. Praise and glory to the Lord, not the water, right?
What about water baptism? Saul of Tarsus was told by a servant of the Lord, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). What was the purpose of his baptism? The Bible says it was to wash away his sins, meaning he still was lost before he was immersed. No, a thousand times, no, the power was not in the water. It was the Lord’s kindness that provided a way of cleansing and the power of Jesus’ blood which washed away his sins. When? When was Saul forgiven of his past sins? After he submitted to the Lord’s command to be immersed. Praise and glory to the Lord, not the water, right?
— Roger D. Campbell