American believers worship the God of Israel

Published 5:18 pm Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Submitted by Michael J. Brooks

It was interesting to read in Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s recent autobiography that his children were baptized with water from the Sea of Galilee. The family was out of water when their third child was born, so kindly Israeli officials sent a fresh supply.

This is unusual since in other cases I’ve known that Jordan River water is typically used. Yes, I know, the Sea of Galilee flows into the Jordan, so it’s a close match. I’m acquainted with several Christians rebaptized in the Jordan on trips to the Holy Land, so it’s not unusual to do so.

Email newsletter signup

We tried this a few years ago when our first grandson was born.

We Baptists don’t baptize our children, but Presbyterians do. Colonel Joe Berry of Marion traveled to Israel and gave me a 20-ounce bottle of Jordan River water on his return. 

Baptists also use a lot of water when we baptize, but 20 ounces will baptize a dozen Presbyterians, who usually sprinkle rather than immerse.

Our daughter asked her pastor about the water, and he didn’t want to use it, saying there’s nothing magical about it. I wish now I had called him and explained we knew it was simply H2O, but we thought it was a special gift from a special friend.

Every time I think of this story I remember another Old Testament story  from 2 Kings 5.

Army commander Naaman of Syria had leprosy. Accounts of this terrible disease are common throughout the Bible, though modern medicine has almost eradicated it. Naaman’s  Hebrew servant urged him to contact the king of Israel to find a healer, and the king sent him to Elisha, the prophet. 

However, it seems the prophet treated him a bit shabbily. Elisha didn’t come out to talk with his guest, but simply sent word that he go and dip himself seven times in the Jordan River.

Naaman balked at the instructions, since the Jordan was muddy. Perhaps it was the rainy season. But he finally realized this task was worth his effort. After dipping in the Jordan, his flesh became like that of a newborn and this is where the story gets stranger, at least to me.

Naaman went back to Elisha and asked for two mule loads of earth. He found healing through the God of Israel, and wanted to take some of Israel home with him so he could worship this God. We have no record of Elisha exhorting him that the God of Israel was the God of Syria, too, and Naaman could worship in Syria.

There was nothing magical about Hebrew soil, or Hebrew water.

But DeSantis’s story reminded me of a gift received from a good friend.

It also reminded me that American believers worship the God of Israel whether we do so as Baptists, Presbyterians, or in his case, Roman Catholics. 

“Reflections” is a weekly faith column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church, Alabaster, Alabama. The church’s website is siluriabaptist.com.