Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 11, 1957

Spoiling The Sprinklers' Arguments

Joe S. Warlick

"So shall he sprinkle many nations." (Isaiah 52:15.) Here we are told by the prophet himself, so the Sprinkler says, just how Christ should baptize the nations — "he was to sprinkle them".

But who told you, sprinkling friend, that the prophet had any reference to baptism when he wrote the above? Did he, or any other inspired man, hint at such an idea as that any allusion is had to baptism in any sense or form in the passage? No such an intimation is found in all the book of God as that this passage refers even remotely to any kind of baptism. In fact, it is silly and simple to even imagine that it refers to baptism. Do you know that you might as well guess that the language means anything else as to guess that it means baptism? Read the entire context and you will see:

"Behold my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and shall be very high. As many were astonished at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men; So shall he sprinkle any nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider."

Any one should readily see that the sprinkling here promised is simply an "astonishing." He is to "sprinkle" the people by astonishing them. If this means baptism, then Christ is to baptize the people by searing them. Who ever heard of such a "mode" of baptism? Furthermore, the passage cannot refer to how Christ would baptize for he never baptized any one. His disciples did all the baptizing, under his immediate supervision. Moreover, during his life there were none baptized except the Jews; so the "nations" were not baptized.

But do you say that after his resurrection he told his disciples to "teach all nations, baptizing them"? Yes, he did. But in Isaiah's passage only "many" nations — not ALL nations — are to be sprinkled. So the sprinkler again loses his argument on the passage.

The passage simply means what it says, and no allusion is had to baptism of any kind in any form. The truth is the word in the original, here rendered "sprinkle", does not mean baptize at all. It means to "startle," and is so rendered in the marginal reference of the Revised Version. Let the reader who has an American Standard Version turn to the passage and read the marginal reference, and see how our sprinkling friends have to misrepresent both the wording and the meaning of the passage in order to make out what seems to them to be an argument for their sprinkling.


Another passage generally used, and as often misapplied is Ezekiel 36:25: "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." Our sprinkling friends never quote the preceding verse, neither the succeeding verses, but will cut out this one verse from all its context, and simply guess that this prophesy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost — that being the day, they surmise, when God brought out his people from among the nations and brought them into their own land. They do not seem to realize that the Jews who were in Jerusalem on that memorable Pentecost when Peter preached had come to the city for the purpose of celebrating the feast; and that they had been there the year before, and the year before that, and every year of their lives up to that time. How can anyone think that such a "gathering", an annual occasion, could be a fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy? The truth is, this prophecy was fulfilled about 58 years after it was given. At the time Ezekiel wrote the prophecy, the Jews were dispersed among the heathens. They had been carried away into captivity, and had discontinued their service and worship after the manner prescribed by the law. God simply promised (through Ezekiel's prophecy) to bring them back to their own country and have them serve him as they had done before. Read the entire passage and see if this is not the meaning:

"For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God."

Can you not see that all of the above promises including the sprinkling of the clean water, were to be fulfilled in the land of Palestine; and that, therefore, if baptism in the gospel age be the thing referred to in the "sprinkling", it would be wrong to baptize a man outside of the land of Canaan?

In the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, when the Jews were brought from among the heathens, and the temple was rebuilt in Jerusalem (as is shown in Haggai 2), and the ancient order of worship again set up, with the cleansing of the Jews (as is seen in chapters, 7, 8, and 9 of Nehemiah), and the water of purifying applied (called clean water, or water of cleansing, made by mingling the ashes of a red heifer in water as described in Numbers 19), THEN was the passage fulfilled. Any careful reader of the Bible may discover this without trouble.

The truth is, water (water only, unmixed water) was NEVER sprinkled or poured upon any person, in any age of the world, for any purpose as a religious rite.

(Concluded in later article.)