Split Apart

Mark 1:10 (ESV)
“And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove.”

Imagery can sometimes draw us into connections between the Testaments, and this verse above is certainly one of those.

There are many connections here and in the coming verses to God’s sons—Israel—and His Son. When you look at the underlying Greek word used to describe the heavens being torn apart (or split apart) in verse 10, schizomenous, it immediately draws the attention to the events depicted in Exodus 14:21: “And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord stirred up the sea by a violent south wind during the whole night and made the sea dry ground, and the water was split.”

This is the same verb is used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) in the Exodus verse.

By linking these events, we then consider what was happening: Israel was preparing to defeat Egypt and the foreign gods served by that nation – gods hostile to the God of Israel (see Exodus 15:11). Now consider what baptism represents: a public profession of devotion to the One True God—and a defeating blow to the powers of darkness.

Immediately after the baptism of Jesus, He is whisked away into the wilderness (desert) by the Spirit to face temptations. In similar fashion, upon emerging from the parted sea, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness. Jesus was there 40 days; Israel was there 40 years.

It also needs to be noted that the wilderness was considered then to be an unholy region (c.f. Leviticus 16:9-10) and associated with bad spirits. When you look back on the journey of Israel in the wilderness, how many times did we see their faith fail and their loyalty to Yahweh vanish? (c.f. Judges 2:11-15). Israel was prone to serving foreign gods.

The nation of Israel failed in learning lessons of obedience, placed in the wilderness for the very purpose to educate them and learn what it means to live daily in complete faith in God. But where Israel failed, Jesus succeeded. Jesus uses the very words given to Israel in his three responses to Satan (Deuteronomy 8:3; 6:16; 6:13). This time, the Son of God wins, and a new exodus towards God begins.

When the heavens split apart, the gods of this world took notice, because the Kingdom of Heaven was now upon them (Matthew 4:17).

And victory is just a matter of time.