Submerged In The Cloud And The Sea
1 Corinthians 10:1 says, “For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea.” When it talks about our “ancestors,” it talks about our spiritual ancestors in faith. When it talks about “the cloud,” it means the period of time when the people of Israel transitioned from Egypt to the Promised Land.
Paul is not talking about a ritual, but saying that the Israelites were the people of the cloud. During the day it was like a column of clouds, and by night it was like a column of fire. Other people knew the people of Israel as those who were guided by the column. Wherever the cloud would go, they would follow.
1 Corinthians 10:2 says, “They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.” The word “baptized” here means that they were submerged, but not in the literal sense of the word.
Paul says that through Moses’s leadership those who were alive at that time—the people of Israel, the people of God—had been submerged in the reality of the cloud. There were also submerged in the reality of the sea, through Moses, even though they went through a dry part of the sea. They were not physically submerged, but they were spiritually baptized by the sea, and submerged in a reality which gave them a new identity. The cloud would illuminate in the night and protect them during the day.
The people of Israel went through two very important events that identified them as a unique nation. The first one was the crossing of the Red Sea, which opened the way to complete freedom from Pharaoh’s threats of chasing them. The second event took place when they experienced the protection and the presence of the cloud over them.
The “baptism” is the event in life that leads to a new level. This baptism in the sea brought them into a new reality. The baptism in the cloud means they were protected and their path illuminated as a new experience leading them into a new identity.
Paul talks about a baptism that leads to a new level, which indicates a new beginning in our lives. He is not talking about the ritual of physically submerging one’s body into water, but about a spiritual reality that leads us to a new and higher level. You can submerge yourself in water many times, but if you do not comprehend what this baptism means, you may never be fully baptized in Christ.