These ritual washings can be found in many different cultures, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. It is not my desire or place to add to or take away from baptisms, for I believe in the words of Christ as He spoke them plainly here:
3 Nephi 11
38 And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.
39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.
41 Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.
My desire here is to expound on what I have learned about baptisms or what I believe to be the Doctrine of Baptisms, the first and primary purpose of baptisms is as quoted above in 3 Nephi 11, also in 2 Nephi 31. So I have to work backward a little to lay the groundwork of what brought me to studying further on the subject of baptisms.
The Holy Ghost and the Holy Spirit
It was through studying the topic of the Holy Spirit or the Holy Ghost initially that led me to study the origins of baptism, particularly the question came to my mind; did Jews or ancient Israel have something similar to Christian baptisms. This question came to mind while pondering what the Jews believed about the Holy Spirit in contrast with what is traditionally taught in the Christian world, and even this differs from sect to sect. I learned that the “Holy Spirit in Judaism generally refers to the divine aspect of prophecy and wisdom” or knowledge. This fits well with Joseph Smith’s description of the Holy Spirit in the Lectures on Faith, the Holy Spirit is:
Baptism (English) Baptizó (Greek) Tevilah/Mikvah (Hebrew)
I have been writing this, and re-writing this for the last several weeks, part of the delay is procrastination though the time is not totally wasted as I have been pondering these things and taking care of everyday life. I have attempted to gather all my thoughts here on baptism and put it into words in such a way as to convey and or describe what it is that has had an impact on me. I have grown from this experience as I have studied the scriptures, pondered and prayed upon this subject. I do not have it all figured out – I do know that without revelation to assist it cannot all be understood, there is much more to baptisms in general than is presently understood or taught today.
“…possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit…The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fullness.” (LoF 5:2)
Joseph Smith remarked elsewhere, “This first Comforter or Holy Ghost has no other effect than pure intelligence. It is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening the understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge…” (TPJS, Pg.149)
Often the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost are used interchangeably in our speech and thought processes, even sometimes in scripture, but when closely considered and looked at in the scriptures, the Holy Spirit in some instances seems to be different than the Holy Ghost, though they are of the same power, His power, by which all things are by Him and made possible in Him. The effect of the Holy Ghost is to increase our understanding, and it is pure intelligence; it has no other effect, while the Holy Spirit itself is knowledge, wisdom, power, glory, which comes from possessing the same mind and will with the Father and the Son.
The idea of a Holy Spirit here seems then to be describing a function of the Father and the Son that results from them possessing the same mind, not literal possession of the mind, but of one mind and heart, in that they have one purpose or a shared purpose and or desire and goal, it seems to be more than a specific spirit or identity of a Spirit that is independent and of itself, but rather the Father and Son having the same mind “which [sharing of the] mind is [called] the Holy Spirit” and the function of this union between the Father and the Son, having the same mind which is the Holy Spirit results in: “wisdom, glory, power, and fullness”. So with this same analogy, the Holy Ghost and its function as revealed by Joseph Smith had “no other effect than pure intelligence, it is more powerful in expanding the mind, enlightening” YOUR “understanding, and storing the intellect with present knowledge”. It’s pretty similar but to a lesser degree. With this analogy would not the Holy Ghost be YOU, possessing the same mind with the Lord? Becoming of one heart and mind with Him, taking upon you His name, and this gift is bestowed upon ALL those who believe upon Him, are baptized in His name unto repentance and given to us by the Father. The Holy Ghost has similar functions as the Holy Spirit though of a lesser degree but of the same power. The Holy Spirit comes from possessing the same mind with the Father, and I would entertain then the idea that the Holy Ghost is you possessing the same mind and will with the Lord.
You also can take this same thought and understand why then when you speak by the Power of the Holy Ghost it is the mind of the Lord, will of the Lord, the word of the Lord. This is only possible when you possess the same mind with the Lord. (D&C 68:4)
Therefore it is given to abide in you; the record of heaven; the Comforter; the peaceable things of immortal glory; the truth of all things; that which quickeneth all things, which maketh alive all things; that which knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.
Studying about the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost led me to baptisms, it is after our baptism we are promised to receive the Holy Ghost, traditionally this is believed that it happens when one receives the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, which is to actually say is an authoritative invitation for you to go on and receive it from the Father.
This from Elder Bednar as reported in the Deseret News:
Elder Bednar said the ordinance of confirming a new member of the Church and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost is both simple and profound.
“The simplicity of this ordinance may cause us to overlook its significance,” he said. “These four words — ‘Receive the Holy Ghost’ — are not a passive pronouncement; rather they constitute a priesthood injunction — an authoritative admonition to act and not simply be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26). The Holy Ghost does not become operative in our lives merely because hands are placed upon our heads and those four important words are spoken. As we receive this ordinance, each of us accepts a sacred and ongoing responsibility to desire, to seek, to work, and to so live that we indeed ‘receive the Holy Ghost’ and its attendant spiritual gifts.” (Elder David A. Bednar: ‘Receive the Holy Ghost’, Published: Sunday, Oct. 3 2010 2:58 p.m. MDT)
Doctrine of Baptisms
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. (Hebrew 6:1-3)
Notice the “doctrine of baptisms” (s) – plural
Some of these are necessarily physical baptisms; some are also spiritual baptisms, as well as baptisms for the dead.
Some of these are as follows:
Baptisms by water (immersion) for the remission of sins (physical/proxy for the dead)
Baptism of Fire; (Spiritual)
and of the Holy Ghost (spiritual)
Rebaptisms by water (immersion) purification, repentance, recommitting oneself to the Lord, physical/spiritually healing
So in the process of studying this out and learning about the Holy Spirit according to the understanding of Jews in connection with the revelations of Joseph Smith, I begin to study baptisms, washings, and anointings, especially among the Israelites. In Judaism, the Hebrew word “Mikvah” is often termed to mean baptism, though more appropriately it refers to the bath, or baptismal font, a body of water or where water gathers, not the act itself or the ordinance, but a ritual washing place or ritual bath. Sometimes this word is used interchangeably to mean both the baptism of immersion and the bath/font/pool itself, so as to say baptism or baptismal font. In any case a Mikvah is generally a ritual bath by full immersion and is done to be made clean from ones sins and be made holy before God, it is a sign of repentance and a sign of accepting the Messiah, who among Christians is Jesus Christ, by being buried in the water and rising again as He arose on the third day, and by this you may receive by faith the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. I will also likewise use Mikvah interchangeably to mean baptism, immersion, dipping, or ritual washing. The word Baptism comes from baptizó which is Greek and literally means dipping of cloth into a vat with dye, baptizó was the substitute in Greek for the Hebrew word Mikvah, as there was not another word closely related to the Hebrew word.
Mikvah however literally means a “collection” of water, and this could be the ocean, a river, pond, lake, a natural pool of water, these are natural Mikvah ’s and can be used as such for ritual purification/washing, while a bath, pool, etc. Manmade Mikvah’s are appropriate as well. Though in general terms a Mikvah is usually a body or collection of fresh clean (moving) water – also called “living water” because it is moving or has a current and is not still or stagnant water, which often is dirty water. Running water symbolizing the carrying away of your sins from you, when you bathe in still or stagnant water you are still surrounded by your own filth. With moving water, it illustrates symbolically your sins or your filth being carried away. In the ideal situation, Mikvah’s were performed in living waters/natural waters, rivers, etc. Customs or family traditions changed the practice of Mikvah’s or abandoned it all together, and sometimes weather or other circumstances prevented natural Mikvah’s in which case a man-made Mikvah was used and the oral Torah was fairly strict in how this was to be carried out if you were not using a natural Mikvah.
Mikvah likewise is one of those things that were instituted from the beginning, the first being Adam who was baptized by water:
“And it came to pass, when the Lord had spoken with Adam, our father, that Adam cried unto the Lord, and he was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord, and was carried down into the water, and was laid under the water, and was brought forth out of the water.” (Moses 6:64)
At Solomon’s Temple in the courtyard, was a Mikvah for purification, a baptismal font placed upon the backs of 12 Ox, a sea of water, large enough for immersion of the whole body, the twelve Oxen representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Jews were required to enter the Mikvah and receive a full immersion baptism at least once in their lives, and likewise, every time after that before they could enter the temple they would immerse themselves in the Mikvah to be made clean to wash their sins away. They were forbidden from entering into the temple unless they had been made ritually clean. To enter the temple without a Mikvah would be to defile the temple, and no unclean thing can enter the temple and have the spirit of the Lord remain. Just as it was with Moses, Aaron and the priests they purified themselves of all their sins through their washings prior to entering the tent of the congregation or before making a sacrificial offering as commanded by the Lord.
Looking at an artist’s renditions of the tabernacle of Moses and Aaron in the Sinai desert you see a Levar a Mikvah (baptismal font) just outside of the tent of the congregation (temple) it was commanded by the Lord to be filled with fresh water, it was for ritual bathing/immersion of the hands and feet to be cleansed, to be made holy. It had nothing to do with making their hands or feet physically clean from dirt, though that is or was an obvious benefit but not the purpose, instead it was commanded by God for the washing of the hands and feet to make one’s self-clean and purifying themselves before God, to declare ones innocence or to be made innocent through the washing of the hands and feet. This was a Mikvah, a ritual washing, and they cleansed themselves in the Mikvah or baptismal font by immersing or dipping their hands and feet into the water and cleaning them off with a towel in the name of the Lord. (Exodus 30:17-21, 40:30-32).
Tabernacle of Moses and Aaron
Moses, Aaron and the priests were to wash in the laver (pot, basin, and large pan) prior to entering into the tent of the congregation or before coming near the altar for the offering of sacrifices. This washing of the hands and feet in the laver, a Mikvah, a ritual cleaning was a regular requirement. The washing of the hands and feet is to declare oneself as innocent, a ritual act of purification and ordinance instituted by the Lord for His people. It was about becoming clean, without spot from all sin, to be made holy in the sight of God and all this before one could enter into the temple or offering up of sacrifices to the Lord. This did not negate ones need for a full immersion Mikvah either, in fact before these other ritual washing could be done it was required that you had already been washed/baptized by immersion, the Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10 bears witness that Israel was baptized in the Red Sea with Moses.
The Lord revealed to Moses that washing of the hands and the feet would be a standing law forever through all generations. (Exodus 30:21). Some may contend that this type of washing is a strictly Mosaic law, and because the Law of Moses is fulfilled in Christ, it has no place to be observed today, that it would or should have an end. But have we forgot the law of Moses was not ended but fulfilled in Christ, or Christ is the end of the law of Moses, the law of Moses being a path that comes to the end, which is Christ as He is also the beginning. and this requiring strict obedience to the law for it to be fulfilled and before a higher law could be reintroduced, the Israelites having rejected the higher law and cursed with the law of carnal commandments. Whereas the gospel of Jesus Christ adds upon the Law of Moses, or rather expands it – the gospel of Jesus Christ requiring us to change our hearts as well. Thou shalt not kill is still a commandment, but now you are commanded to love thy neighbor as you love yourself, when you do this there is no strife, covetousness, adultery, killing between you and your neighbor, etc… the law has been expanded to be also upon our hearts, not just in our actions. Thus the law is broken when we commit sin in our hearts.
Abraham lived many years before the Mosaic law, he practiced the ritual washing of the feet (or hands) as found in Genesis 18:4 “Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:” We miss the significance of this kind of washing as mentioned in this verse. We attribute our modern understanding to it and read right past what is being taught. In Dr. Strong’s concordance dictionary from its Hebrew origin the word “wash” Strong’s number H7364 in the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible in this verse means that it is a type of washing to make oneself clean from sin, a holy rite of purification, this was practiced anciently before Moses and continued to Moses by God himself and commanded that it be a standing law forever.
Christ having lived the law perfectly was able to fulfill the law – and all those who believe on His name, and keep His commandments and Love Him shall be found spotless at the last day. The gospel or the higher law commands us to forgive one another as He has forgiven us; it also compels us to love one another as He has loved us, mercy given freely is mercy returned to us freely and wholly from the Lord. (Mosiah 26:22).
We also observe in the scriptures that Christ’s feet were washed, though the Greek word “wash” in the New Testament means wetting with water and has no other significance to it as the Hebrew word “wash” remembering it means ritual cleaning/washing, we know that Christ also washed the feet of his Apostles as was with Moses, Aaron and the Priests, He revealed to them this was to be done prior to entering the tent of congregation AND before a sacrifice was to be given in preparation for Christ be offered up as a sacrifice. Mary washed the Saviors feet in preparation for Him and His personal sacrifice for us.
Interesting tidbits the ordinance of washing of the feet was done in the home of Martha in Bethany by Mary, a woman. It was preparatory I believe for His sacrifice, only she could prepare Him for what He had to do. Additionally, priests could only perform these ordinances, and Mary is performing an ordinance for the Savior, was she then a priestess? As were prophetess in the Old Testament days, prophets.
The scriptures are generally not passive information, yet we as the reader tend to read over such things as being trivial or insignificant that we miss what is being taught, because we either lack understanding or our minds are made up on the matter because of the traditions of men. We ought to search out the scriptures with new eyes; search them out and realize why certain things are said and why the writer included that piece of information. So as to teach the followers of Christ that His feet were clean from walking or something much greater is being conveyed to us about Mary washing the Saviors feet. If there be any errors, obviously it is the error of men, whether that error is yours in failing to understand what is being taught, miss translation of texts, not knowing the meaning of words as they are meant to be understood in the day they were written. Language and words meanings change over time. You want to understand the scriptures better, they know what the words mean in that day it was written.
Traditionally Jews were baptized multiple times, this began before Moses and continued on after Moses. At some point and time through their apostasy, rejecting the prophets these ritual Mikvahs became abused, having looked beyond the mark (Jacob 4:14) more careful to observe the law, than what the law itself had represented to them. It became corrupted until John the Baptist came and restored it, he coming to prepare “the way” of the Lord.
Likewise, baptisms by authority from Jesus Christ were restored again as it was with John the Baptists in his day through Joseph Smith in our day in the final dispensation, the gentiles during Joseph Smith’s day and after that for a time, like the Jews were also baptized more than once. Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery, for example, were both baptized at least twice, first when the Aaronic Priesthood was restored, and again when the church was organized. The circumstances varied for the gentiles when they would be baptized again, though it usually was a sign of a new beginning.
Baptisms were done prior to weddings marking the beginning of a new family. The gentiles rebaptized when they relocated to a new place, like when the arrived at Nauvoo or overcame great difficulties in their lives through trials and hardship. Sometimes this was done out of pure joy for their God and being filled with the Holy Spirit and desired to recommit themselves to Him. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins is a sign of a new beginning; we become Disciples of Christ, we are born again, or through the practice of rebaptism as was done early in the days of the gentile church they did this to recommit themselves to Christ, a sign of repentance, new beginning.
However, today it is forbidden by the gentiles and is unlawful in the church to take upon you, the name of Christ, through rebaptism having already had or received a baptism by one who has authority. The practice of multiple baptisms among the Gentiles was put to an end sometime during the late 1800s. For one to be rebaptized today without permission, would be acting in defiance to the church and would likely be esteemed by church leaders as a sign of apostasy. I do not believe the Lord, however, looked upon a man’s heart who is contrite and repentant and ever forbade him from being baptized unto His name, even as often as he would desire to be made clean and one with the Lord, as a sign of repentance, recommitting oneself to Him or a new beginning. The Lord has commanded those who had already received the Holy Ghost as the Apostles had to be baptized in His name. (Acts 10:46-48).
Presently, I am unaware of any scripture that forbids a person from being baptized more than once. In fact, the opposite is true, in the Book of Mormon you read about Alma and his ministry and those with him during King Noah’s day and the church’s apostasy being rebaptized again (Mosiah 18:8-13), rebaptism was common among those in the Book of Mormon. Another example is those who were converted by Samuel the Lamanite during the apostasy of the church were baptized again. (Helaman 16:3-4). And in Nephi, he had baptized those who had repented of their sins. (3 Nephi 7:24-26). Yet when the Savior came and visited among the Nephites he called Nephi from the congregation, and “the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. (3 Nephi 1:18-28). Later on, we learn “that Nephi went down into the water and was baptized. And he came up out of the water and began to baptize. And he baptized all those whom Jesus had chosen.” (3 Nephi 19:9-13). He having already been baptized was baptized anew and began baptizing again as he had before.
Another example in the scriptures of people being rebaptized is found in Moroni 6:1-4. Notice the “elders, priests and teachers” were all baptized, being an elder, priest or teacher meant you had priesthood; you cannot have priesthood until after you are baptized, yet these were being baptized again.
1 And now I speak concerning baptism. Behold, elders, priests, and teachers were baptized; and they were not baptized save they brought forth fruit meet that they were worthy of it.
2 Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins.
3 And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end.
4 And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.
Baptism is a sign of our repentance, it is also a sign of a new beginning, as it was with those who repented and became converted because of Samuel the Lamanite, it was also with Alma and those who believed upon his words, Alma baptizing himself or buried himself in the water with Helaman at the same time (Mosiah 18:14), and later with Nephi and again later with Moroni.
The Jews over time became more observant of the law and not what the law actually taught regarding Mikvahs. It became a tradition that you could not eat before ritually washing your hands, or have sex – especially after a woman’s menstrual cycle ended or a nighttime discharge from males. All these then required that person to undertake ritual cleaning by immersion in a Mikvah before being able to be pronounced spiritually clean from sins, this to me is going beyond the mark.
Tevilah/Mikvah of Healing
Another form of baptism as seen in the scriptures is to be cleansed from illness, whether blind or suffering from leprosy. Such as one is Namaan for example, he was instructed to enter the water and “dip” himself 7 times; he was not only healed from the leprosy as it states, but he was also cleansed from his sins. The scriptures indicate that he was clean, you can read the account here in 2 Kings 5:1-14. Dr. Strong’s Concordance dictionary definition of “clean” means to be morally or spiritually clean to be purified from sin. To “wash” means literally a ritual type of cleaning/washing, baptism by immersion or washing of the hands and the feet so that one is purified and made clean from all their sins.
The purpose of the Mikvah, Baptisms by Immersion, or the baptisms of dipping of the hands and feet into the water and washing them (obviously not with soap), was always for ritual purification, to be cleansed from sin, or to pronounce oneself as innocent. Obedience to the law of baptism or ritual washing, however, cannot replace or substitute what is in our hearts or what is to take place in our hearts – our hearts must also be converted and changed. All we do must be done in the name of the Lord and that He will consecrate your efforts for the salvation of your soul. (2 Nephi 32:9). Obedience to the law itself without being changed is incomplete, the law cannot save you from your dead works, you also have to change, through the law you cannot go on to perfection, but through obedience to the law which is to become like Him can we then go on to perfection, and then can we become washed and clean from all our sins.
In John 9:6-11 Jesus healed a blind man’s eyes and restored his sight, He spits on the ground picks up the mud he made from his spittle and rubs it over the blind man’s eyes and then instructs him to go and “wash” it off and his sight will be restored, this also happened with Enoch, though he had his natural sight, doing this same act as instructed by the Lord gave him sight to see beyond the veil and to see things that the natural eyes could not see, and thus he was called a seer. (Moses 6:35-36). This ritual anointing and washing had both a physical and spiritual effect.
Joseph Smith – The Restoration & Baptisms/Washings
From the Church History in the Fullness of Times Student Manual, p. 448 states, that rebaptism was very common among the saints and was officially put to an end in 1897.
Church leaders also discontinued the long-standing practice of rebaptism. Oftentimes Latter-day Saints had been rebaptized in conjunction with important milestones, such as marriage or entering the United Order or sometimes for improvement of health. These rebaptisms were recorded on Church membership records. The First Presidency grew concerned that some members were substituting rebaptism for true repentance. In 1893, stake presidents were instructed not to require rebaptism of Saints wishing to attend the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, and in 1897 the practice of rebaptism was discontinued altogether. As President George Q. Cannon explained, “It is repentance from sin that will save you, not rebaptism. (Conference Report, Oct. 1897, p. 68.)
While I agree with the sentiments that true repentance will save you, and not being rebaptized a hundredfold over, putting an end to the practice of rebaptism was nothing more than the fears of men guiding the course of actions of the Gentiles, and done by those who had power to affect the change for the Gentiles in the first place, though doing so was contrary to what the Lord commanded regarding baptisms and sacred washings, and contrary to the examples of those in the Book of Mormon and Bible.
Baptism is the “sign” of repentance. Baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost is what literally comes and cleanses you from all your sins. In receiving all three of these baptisms (water, fire, spirit) you are pronounced clean from your sins, are a disciple of Christ having taken upon you His name, having been born again of both the water and the spirit. Only one baptism by immersion is needed, it has been in the past acceptable to be baptized more than once.
I wish that the followers of Christ were able to work out their own salvation between themselves and God and those men who attempt to be the Great Mediator between us and the Father would take warning that they ought NOT hedge up the way for these who seek Christ, life is hard enough, yet we have those that sit on Moses’s seat, and seek to subvert the ways of God according to their own hearts, will and pleasure. God is aware of ALL your doings, you cannot lie to God, you cannot improve upon what God has revealed, and your works in darkness are not hidden from His view. Those who trifle with the souls of men tread on dangerous ground.
Baptisms, washings, ritual cleanings are all instituted to us from God. If a person’s heart is not in the right place the ordinances avails them nothing, and instead if they do not repent sincerely and humble themselves, they curse themselves and bring condemnation upon themselves, for they cannot lie to God – and man need not worry, God will judge these pretenders in His own time according to His own will.
Ancient Ways Restored
We see a return to this ancient practice of Mikvah or washing in the latter days. It is interesting to note that prior to Moses from my understanding the Jews washed the hands, feet and the face, each of these being significant and having a specific purpose. The instructions given to Moses after Mount Sinai were for them to wash the hands and the feet; the washing of the face is omitted from the texts. However, Joseph Smith received instructions from the Lord and was commanded in our day that we are to wash our hands, face, and feet. I wonder if with Moses after Mount Sinai because the Jews rejected God and refused to come into His presence that He took the command of washing the face away from them as this seems to be specific, an ordinance, the washing of the face seems to symbolize coming face to face with God in so doing washing your face you are proclaiming you are innocent.
This from the Joseph Smith papers:
Note: Minor spelling and punctuation errors corrected.
Wednesday January 23d- Meet agreeable to adjournment. Conference opened with Prayer by the President and after much speaking praying and singing, all done in Tongues proceeded to washing hands faces & feet in the name of the Lord as commanded by of God each one washing his own after which the president girded himself with a towel and again washed the feet of all the Elders wiping them with the towel, his father presenting himself the President asked of him a blessing before he would wash his feet which he obtained by the laying on of his father’s hands, pronouncing upon his head that he should continue in his Priests office until Christ come—— at the close of which scene Br F G Williams being moved upon by the Holy Ghost washed the feet of the President as a token of his— [p. 7] fixed determination to be with him in suffering or in rejoicing, in life or in death and to be continually on his right hand in which thing he was accepted, The President said after he had washed the feet of the Elders, as I have done so do ye wash ye therefore one another’s feet pronouncing at the same time through the power of the Holy Ghost that the Elders were all clean from the blood of this generation but that those who among them who should sin willfully after they were thus cleansed and sealed up unto eternal life should be given over unto the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption. Having continued all day in fasting & prayer before the Lord at the close they partook of the Lords supper which was blessed by the president in the name of the Lord all eat and drank and were filled then sang an hymn and went out— (Minute Book 1, Pg. 7-8 [ca. 3 Dec. 1832–30 Nov. 1837])
We also read the following from Doctrine and Covenants 88:
138 And ye shall not receive any among you into this school save he is clean from the blood of this generation; 139 And he shall be received by the ordinance of the washing of feet, for unto this end was the ordinance of the washing of feet instituted. 140 And again, the ordinance of washing feet is to be administered by the president, or presiding elder of the church. 141 It is to be commenced with prayer; and after partaking of bread and wine, he is to gird himself according to the pattern given in the thirteenth chapter of John’s testimony concerning me. Amen.
Maybe some will recall, certainly, I remember when I was a priest blessing the sacrament that we washed our fingers in a tiny white bowl, it being filled with water prior to handling of the bread, and breaking bread for the sacrament. Today a sanitary towel is used or anti-bacterial gel to clean the fingertips (at least all the places where I have lived or visited over the last few years). I am not sure if this is the way everywhere else, though I suspect that it is.
The washing of hands in the name of the Lord prior to the handling of the emblems of Christ should be observed in our sacraments and offerings as was anciently, that we might be clean before Him and innocent, having clean hands as we prepare the sacred emblems of Christ upon the alter. Though symbolically we become clean through our washings, anointing’s and baptisms our hearts NEED to be changed and become clean also.
Baptism (English) Baptizó (Greek) Tevilah/Mikvah (Hebrew)
So far I have covered baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, baptism by immersion for purification to be cleansed of your sins and for entrance to the Temple, baptism for a new beginning or for repentance, baptism of the hands, feet, prior to entering the tent of the congregation or the altar for the making of sacrificial offerings and the baptism/washing of the face. Remembering baptism being from the Greek word Baptizó, and Baptizó from the Hebrew word Mikvah, which again refers to ritual washing/cleaning which baptism is a ritual washing or cleaning whether it is by immersion, the hands, face, and the feet.
We see then:
Baptism by water (immersion) for the remission of sins/purification from sins, a sign of repentance.
Baptism by water (immersion) for healing or health to be physically healed I would also see this to be spiritually healed as well, dipping oneself 7 times in the water in the name of the Lord as the leper had.
Baptism or washing of the hands, to have holy hands, we sometimes do works of inequity with our hands, not perfect and unjust we are not holy to do the Lords work. They are washed to be made clean in the name of the Lord before doing the works of the Lord i.e. ordinances, sacrament, laying on of hands for the sick and afflicted such as was seen in Ephraim’s Rescue (thanks dad who pointed this out in our discussion about baptisms), as is recorded in the journals the movie is based from, hands were washed prior to anointing with oil and administering to the sick, washing of hands before offering up of sacrifices and so on, washing hands first and always before washing the face and the feet.
Baptism or washing of the feet, to have a holy walk perhaps, before entering upon sacred ground, before performing the works of the Lord. We read from the scriptures this was also performed to be made clean from the blood and sins of this generation. It was also done as a witness and testimony against those who would reject those whom the Lord sent to testify of Him, as a testimony against them.
These ancient rituals are given to us from the Lord, restored to us through Joseph Smith, given to the Gentiles in this LAST dispensation for the LAST time and by commandment of the Lord. These instructions to the gentiles were given for their benefit, to prepare them to meet God and come face to face with Him, hence the washing of the face. We are to become holy, without spot and innocent, the washings teach us that we need to do His works, that we may be sanctified and brought into His presence and redeemed.
These are just the physical aspects of baptisms, washings, etc. without the accompanying spiritual, they are yet to be complete. The physical is the invitation that justifies a person to receive the spiritual, without it they are not justified to approach the Lord and receive. Once one enters in by the way and receives the baptism of water by immersion in His Sons name, they are now justified to go on and receive through faith in Christ the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. (2 Nephi 31). Then is your baptism complete, having been born again of water and of the spirit.
There is much more to cover, but I will have to follow up on the remaining parts of baptisms, washings, etc. in another blog post, as this one is already long enough.
All these things point to Christ, they teach us of Him and His ways, to become Holy as He is Holy. Those who seek to do His will, those who do His works, those who seek Him early shall find Him, and shall not be forsaken and shall know Him and know that He is.
D&C 93:1 Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;
Do we believe it, or are these just eloquent words.
D&C 88:83 He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken.
I testify that Jesus Christ is the way, enter in by the way and repent you Gentiles, and Jacob and Joseph and also you Sons and Daughters of the Forest. Awake, and arise and shake off the dust and wash the scales from off your eyes and throw down your disguises. As the world grows darker, we have an obligation to grow brighter. Be baptized in His name, repent, be baptized by one who has Gods authority to baptize you, that you through your faith might be received into His church and be made clean. (D&C 10:67-68, 2 Nephi 31)