Prefigurations of Baptism in the OT by St. Ambrose
Listen to the Apostle’s teaching: For all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. Moreover, Moses himself sings in triumph You sent your Spirit and the sea covered them. As you see, holy baptism was prefigured even then at the crossing of the sea, where the Egyptians perished but the Hebrews escaped. What else, after all, are we daily taught about baptism? That with the immersion in water, guilt is swallowed up and error done away with, but that virtue and innocence remain unharmed?
You hear that our fathers were under the cloud, a kindly cloud which cooled the heat of carnal passions. That kindly cloud overshadows those whom the Holy Spirit visits. Finally it came upon the Virgin Mary, and the Power of the Most High overshadowed her, when she conceived Redemption for the race of men. The miracle worked by Moses was a prefiguration of this miracle. But then – if the Spirit was in the figure, how can he not be present in the reality? As Scripture says, The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Marah was a spring of unendurably bitter water: Moses threw wood into it and it became sweet. For you see: water without the preaching of the Cross of the Lord is of no use for future salvation, but, after it has been consecrated by the mystery of the wood of the saving Cross, it is made suitable for the use of the spiritual cleansing and of the cup of salvation. So as Moses (that is, the prophet) threw wood into that fountain, so the priest utters over this font the proclamation of the Lord’s cross, and the water is made sweet for the purpose of grace.
You must not trust, then, wholly to your bodily eyes. What is not seen is in reality seen more clearly; for what we see without eyes is temporal whereas what is eternal (and invisible to the eye) is discerned by the mind and spirit.
There is a final lesson to be learned from the book of the Kings which we have just been reading. Naaman was a Syrian, and suffered from leprosy, and there was no-one who could cleanse him. Then a maiden from among the captives said that there was a prophet in
Naaman doubted until the time when he was cleansed; but you are cleansed by now, and so you should not have doubts.
Prefigurations of Baptism in the Old Covenant
1217 In the liturgy of the Easter Vigil, during the blessing of the baptismal water, the Church solemnly commemorates the great events in salvation history that already prefigured the mystery of Baptism:
Father, you give us grace through sacramental signs,
which tell us of the wonders of your unseen power.
In Baptism we use your gift of water,
which you have made a rich symbol
of the grace you give us in this sacrament.11
At the very dawn of creation
your Spirit breathed on the waters,
making them the wellspring of all holiness.13
The waters of the great flood
you made a sign of the waters of Baptism,
that make an end of sin and a new beginning of goodness.15
1220 If water springing up from the earth symbolizes life, the water of the sea is a symbol of death and so can represent the mystery of the cross. By this symbolism Baptism signifies communion with Christ's death.
You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.16
1222 Finally, Baptism is prefigured in the crossing of the