Baby Dedication?

dedication

Jim van Heiningen

In some research on the topic I found that the pagan Gaia community in the US have a baby dedication service, so have Unitarian Universalists, Buddhists, Wiccans, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, some Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Community Churches, not to speak of many house churches. How about your fellowship??

To sprinkle or not to sprinkle

Let us suppose that you are a citizen of a country where most people are either RC, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Calvinist or Methodist. It so happens that you discover that the baptismal sprinkling of babies is not scriptural. You are appalled that so many could have this so wrong for so long, but, still, whether their babies are sprinkled or not, doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference to you.

But then! Your own baby decides to arrive on the scene! It puts you on the spot. After some serious thought, prayer and more Bible study, you and your spouse decide that infant baptism is definitely not for your family. The community at large may be doing some serious frowning, but, surely, you can take that in your stride. You have come to realize that your child’s baptism must be left up to him (or her), once he can think, believe and decide for himself. That happy moment will take years, perhaps many years, but you are already praying for the time that your child has a distinctly personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So, as a Christian who has become a parent (or as a parent who has become a Christian), from this point on you want to walk a more Scriptural road.

New problem

Your home has been blessed by the arrival of a baby and you have decided there is not going to be a baptismal “christening”, but you also find yourself in a new quandary, a troubling one: Is my baby going to be left a ‘pagan’? That’s what your well-meaning grandmother is saying. And your well-meaning mother-in-law is not at all happy with her daughter, and that poor little baby, being sort of ‘led astray’ with all these new-fangled ideas… And how is she herself going to face the ladies of the Sunshine Sewing Circle?

All of this makes you wonder: Isn’t there some ceremony or ritual that can take the place of the sprinkling? Would be worth having, even if only to placate the family…

Then someone enlightens you about “baby dedication”. Now that would truly seem to fit the bill. Couldn’t the “minister” establish that as an alternative ceremony, a kind of public “covenant”? The parents could then solemnly pledge “to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. And the ceremony could end with the signing of an official “dedication certificate” – a worthy conclusion… And, of course, after that the “baby showers”.

Creepy & sleepy

Unscriptural traditions have a way of creeping in by the back door. Millions of sleepy Christians have their thinking molded and conditioned – “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Pr. 24:33-34).

This particular tradition got started not all that many years ago. It didn’t come about because of the fear of God, and not out of a concern to be faithful to his sovereign Word. In fact there was a glaring neglect to search the Scriptures, to see what they might have to say on the subject. Ideas, trends, opinions, ecclesiastical teachings – all played an important part, and these certainly weren’t “unChristian”, but where was Christ himself? He didn’t really come into it.

Human logic

One thing is clear enough: God himself is behind that wonderful happening, the birth of a new baby! So, quite “logically”, it must be right then that now some ceremony or ritual is enacted in which the parents, the family and the wider community can express gratitude to God and in which they can publicly commit themselves to the upbringing of that new life – or so the reasoning goes. It must be a ceremony that combines all the following factors: It must be religious, it must be solemn, it must involve one or more holders of ‘sacred office’, it must be celebratory and it must involve the family and the community.

If you seem to see parallel lines developing between the ‘old ceremony’ (baby baptism) and the new one (baby dedication), well, that is because they are running parallel.

Right, you have now become a firm believer in baby dedication (or “baby blessing” as some prefer to call it). After all, as you have found out, the occasion has proved to be joyful and positive to millions, making everybody feel good. And why shouldn’t it be truly ‘uplifting’ in the case of your baby? In any case, wasn’t Jesus dedicated in the temple as a baby..? And didn’t He himself say: “Let the little children come to me…”?

Preacher’s job

Let us further assume that you are a young preacher (itinerant, stationary or whatever). Being a preacher means that the moment maybabydedication_htm_m35ba3076 come, like it or not, that you are called upon to “do a baby dedication”. To the interested parents you say, ‘Okay, I don’t see why not.’ But since you have never done such a thing before, you start to do some serious scratching behind your right ear.

How do you go about it, what do you preach about, what do you say to the parents? Or to the baby for that matter? What do you ask them? How do you hold someone else’s baby in front of all those people? What if the baby decides to scream..? Most importantly, what are the specific Scriptures to bring out and preach about? When a believer is baptized, there is no lack of wonderfully illuminating Scriptures, but what about a baby being dedicated..? Where do you start looking in the Bible?

The joys of surfing

Nowadays with the Internet never being far away, a huge source of information is at hand. Here’s a sample of two young preachers who, not long ago, navigated the Internet, in search of helpful ideas and info. This is what they wrote:

No. 1 – “I’m looking for ideas for a children’s dedication service. Got any creative ideas?”

No. 2 – “I have just been asked to take a dedication service for a friend and was wondering whether you had some ideas you might share with me. Which biblical passages are most relevant? Thanking you in advance…”

Thousands of others, more familiar perhaps with surfing the Internet, than with searching their old-fashioned Bibles, echo these words. Before long they hit a source of wisdom and… bingo! Answers and Scriptures at your finger tips! Yes, Scripture passages also. For baby dedication they are always the same:

1) Exodus 13:2, 11-12, 15;

2) 1 Samuel 1:11,

3) Luke 2:22-23;

4) Luke 2:25-35 and

5) Matthew 19:13-15.

Those Bereans

Five Bible passages no less. Impressive.., but it strikes you that there is nothing there at all from Acts and nothing from the Epistles! That is what you would have expected.

In Acts 17 the Berean Jews didn’t take the apostle Paul’s word for it. They even doubted that the Scriptures could possibly be stating all that Paul made out. Being a suspicious lot and wanting to be fully assured by the Scriptures alone, the Bereans searched and researched until they were sure. The Bible doesn’t censure them for being so suspicious, rather it commends them. They are said to be nobler than the Thessalonian Jews, who hadn’t bothered to research anything.

So, returning to our subject, as you ponder that list of five, you too are getting a bit suspicious: why is Acts of the Apostles missing from this list? And why is there not a single verse from an epistle about baby dedication? You do want to model your life, your family and your ministry on the Scriptures, but now that it dawns on you that Acts and the Epistles are missing from this list.., it feels like the carpet is being pulled from under your baby dedications!

Dearth of babies?

You keep on pondering this fact: Acts and the Epistles are out on the subject of baby dedication. They are silent on the topic. Never once do they refer to any babies being dedicated… But wait, the period spanned by Acts, in which also most of the Epistles were written, amounted to some 32 years. Could it be that, perhaps, as the believers were so spiritually fruitful, they had stopped being physically fruitful? In other words, could it be that no babies were born to them for those 32 years..? Or might there be some other explanation for the deafening silence on the subject?

But… back to our list. Let’s be like the Scripture-searching-Bereans – after all, those chapters are as much the Word of God as any other part of the Bible. And if we find that baby dedication is mandated, then we’d better comply, even if Acts and Epistles have nothing to say on the subject.

Exodus 13:2, 12, 15: “Consecrate to me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is mine.”

“…that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord’s.”

“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all males that open the womb; but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.”

What are we going to do with these three verses? Put into them what is foreign to them? Or find out what is there, pure and simple? It doesn’t take long to discover several things:

1) These verses are concerned with a law given to the “children of Israel” shortly after they had come out of Egypt; not to the NT church.

2) This law was exclusively concerned with the ‘firstborn’ of the Israelites, not with their offspring after the firstborn.

3) Nor did this law have anything to do with the females that were born, only with the male firstborn.

4) The chapter tells us that the law was rooted in the fact that Egypt’s firstborn were slain in the night of redemption; in contrast, Israel’s firstborn were to be presented to God.

5) It had as much to do with their cattle as with them.

1 Samuel 1:11: “Then she made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me, and not forget your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.’”

Hannah’s prayer and vow were something precious, accepted by God to bring his servant Samuel into the world. However, some observations are in order:

1) The scene is a strictly personal one, without anything mandated for others.

2) Again it concerns a male child. Prayer and vow were not applied, or applicable, to the possible birth of a daughter.

3) From 2:21 we know that Hannah had five more children. She did not pray and vow in any similar way before they were born, neither did she take them to the Tabernacle to “lend” them to the Lord (1:28) and leave them with Eli the priest.

4) For Hannah to give Samuel to the Lord all the days of his life, without a razor coming upon his head, meant he was going to be a “Nazirite”. Samuel and his brothers and sisters were Levites, but only Samuel was a Nazirite. In Numbers 6 the Nazirite vow and separation are detailed. Apart from Samuel, only Samson is specifically mentioned in the Bible as a Nazirite.

Luke 2:22-23: “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’)”.

What really is it Joseph and Mary went to do in Jerusalem?

1) Though Luke 2 is technically a NT chapter, “NT times” and “the Church” had not yet arrived. We are confronted with Old Testament applications of the “law of Moses”. Verse 24 makes this extra clear (see Lev. 12:6-8).

2) With Jesus being the firstborn, his brothers (Mt. 13:55) were exempted from this ritual when they were born.

3) Once again we find that, in any case, a baby girl was always exempt, even if she was the real firstborn.

4) Joseph and Mary were not living in Jerusalem. They traveled there all the way from Bethlehem to have the ritual, including the sacrifice of turtledoves or pigeons, properly performed in the Jewish Temple. King Herod had started the rebuilding process of the Temple some 16 years earlier, but in AD 70 the completed edifice was entirely destroyed, and never rebuilt since…

Verses 25-35 – some of the contents: “…he took him up in his arms and blessed God…” “And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against…’”

We observe:

1) The place, once more, is the holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.

2) The occasion is unique and not repeatable: God’s Son, the Messiah, still a tiny baby, is recognized by Simeon through divine revelation, and so, led by the Holy Spirit, this devout believer does what he does and says what he says.

3) Joseph and Mary, the “parents” (devout themselves), are totally taken aback.

4) Simeon speaks to God, he speaks to the parents and he speaks of the baby, but there is no question of him dedicating the baby.

5) Simeon is described as “a man in Jerusalem.., just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” He was not a priest or a member of some sort of clergy.

6) No ceremony or ritual takes place and there is no celebration with other loved ones in attendance. Apart from God’s sovereign designs, nothing that happened had been planned, programmed or even foreseen

Matthew 19:13-15: “Then little children were brought to him that He might put his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid his hands on them and departed from there.”

1) Jesus never rejects anyone coming to him, or being brought to him. It all started in John 1 with Andrew coming to him, and then bringing his own brother Simon to him. If a mother loves him, then, of course, she brings her little ones to him.

2) These mothers (and maybe some fathers) were not looking for some kind of ceremony. Simply and spontaneously, taking advantage of Jesus passing by, they wanted him to impart a blessing on their offspring.

3) Matthew says that Jesus was expected to “pray”, but there is no record that He did so, nor do Mark and Luke say that He prayed over the children.

4) Should we not wonder why the Lord said: “Let the little children come to me”, if this was supposed to be “baby dedication? Could He not, at least, have added: “Let also the babies be brought to me”?

Conclusions?

1. Many Christian parents feel a need for something special “in church” at the birth of a baby. In some churches the choice is left up to them: a wet ceremony – “christening-through-baptism”, or a dry one – “christening-through-dedication”.

Though probably aware that neither ceremony makes a “Christian” of the baby – i.e. realizing that no one becomes a Christian without personally meeting Christ and surrendering to him through faith and repentance – they will still go ahead. The philosophy is that if it doesn’t do any good, neither will it harm. And, of course, traditional ways, majority opinion and sentiment, all play an important role – meaning, in practice, that God, and his sovereign Word, gets no more than lip service…

2. Now if there should not be a ceremony, wouldn’t that leave poor baby out in the cold? If the parents don’t “christen” it, one way or another, don’t they have a little pagan on their hands?

What the Scriptures teach is very different. They tell us that the child of one or two believers is “holy”: “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Cor. 7:14).

Let us remind you that the Biblical sense of “holy” is simply: “set apart”. In other words, though that baby is as yet far from being a Christian, and cannot yet be a Christian in the personal sense of the word, God sees it in its relationship to the believing parents (or to the one parent).

3. His plans for a believer’s child are wonderful! To realize these plans, God needs co-workers.., and the parents are to be his co-workers. Through them God wants to work repentance and faith in that child’s heart at an early age. And through them He will lovingly teach the child to obey – before the world hardens its heart and it starts to drift away.

Plenty of adequate Bible backing for that – we recommend going to Deut. 4:9-10; 5:29; 6:7; 11:19; 31:12-13; 1 Sam. 2:29; 3:12-14; Ps. 34:11; 127:3; Prov. 3:12; 6:20-23; 13:24; 19:18; 22:6, 15; 23:13; 29:15, 17; Mark 9:36-37; Acts 16:31; Eph. 6:4. These Scriptures have nothing to do with ceremonial and sentimental “baby dedication”, but everything with the practical aspects of bringing the child up.

Recommended also: “Under Loving Command”, which you will find under E-booklets. It will give you the priceless experiences of Al & Pat Fabrizio at bringing up their four young kids.

4. Talking about Bible passages – only in three NT verses is there a word that can be translated “dedication” or “dedicate”. They are a) John 10:22 which refers to the (re)dedication of the Temple in the time of the Maccabees; b) Hebrews 9:18 where God’s first covenant is said to be dedicated not without blood; and c) Heb. 10:20 where we are told of the “new and living way which He consecrated (or dedicated) for us”. Never the slightest suggestion of “baby dedication”.

5. So, baby dedication is out – right? Wrong! There is a way, a Scriptural way. If it is true that a local church ceremony or ritual goes for mere human traditions and sentiments, muddling the issues; it is also true that God himself points to something infinitely simpler and superior.

But before going into that, take a look at Proverbs 30:5-6 with its very timely warning: “Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in him. Do not add to his words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”

You don’t want to be a party to all the “adding-to-God’s-Word” that has been going on through the centuries! Your human “straw” just will not square with God’s “pure gold” (compare 1 Cor. 3:11-15)!

6. So, if a baby can be truly dedicated to God, who is involved and what is the occasion? The occasion arises as soon as the believing parents realize that baby is on its way! And they are the ones to do it, the only ones! Furthermore, they are doing this from that moment onwards, hardly letting a day pass in which they don’t dedicate or commit their child to God. That is, before it is born and after it is born – the only valid “baby dedication”.

In Luke 1 we discover how two mothers and one father were in living touch with God about their babies yet to be born.

7. In the same chapter we also discover what part “the others” can play, i.e. the folks of the local fellowship, once the baby has come into the world: “When (Elizabeth’s) neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.” It offers a very good illustration of the others’ gratitude to God and how they rejoice with the parents at the birth of their baby.

And, who knows, even in our modern day, some elderly ‘Simeon’ might, spontaneously, happen on the scene, take the baby from the mother’s arms, and praise God for it. Or perhaps some elderly ‘Anna’ will start giving thanks to God. Don’t stop them, be grateful for the mutual rejoicing, and… continue dedicating (or committing) your child to God – only you can do that!

whoever

Mark 9:37

Jim van Heiningen

In some research on the topic I found that the pagan Gaia community in the US have a baby dedication service, so have Unitarian Universalists, Buddhists, Wiccans, Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Baptists, some Episcopalians, Presbyterians and Community Churches, not to speak of many house churches. How about your fellowship??


To sprinkle or not to sprinkle
Let us suppose that you are a citizen of a country where most people are either RC, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Calvinist or Methodist. It so happens that you discover that the baptismal sprinkling of babies is not scriptural. You are ap
palled that so many could have this so wrong for so long, but, still, whether their babies are sprinkled or not, doesn’t really make a whole lot of difference to you.
But then! Your own baby decides to arrive on the scene! It puts you on the spot. After some serious thought, prayer and more Bible study, you and your spouse decide that infant baptism is definitely not for your family. The community at large may be doing some serious frowning, but, surely, you can take that in your stride. You have come to realize that your child’s baptism must be left up to him (or her), once he can think, believe and decide for himself. That happy moment will take years, perhaps many years, but you are already praying for the time that your child has a distinctly personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So, as a Christian who has become a parent (or as a parent who has become a Christian), from this point on you want to walk a more Scriptural road.

New problem
Your home has been blessed by the arrival of a baby and you have decided there is not going to be a baptismal “christening”, but you also find yourself in a new quandary, a troubling one: Is my baby going to be left a ‘pagan’? That’s what your well-meaning grandmother is saying. And your well-meaning mother-in-law is not at all happy with her daughter, and that poor little baby, being sort of ‘led astray’ with all these new-fangled ideas… And how is she herself going to face the ladies of the Sunshine Sewing Circle?
All of this makes you wonder: Isn’t there some ceremony or ritual that can take the place of the sprinkling? Would be worth having, even if only to placate the family…
Then someone enlightens you about “baby dedication”. Now that would truly seem to fit the bill. Couldn’t the “minister” establish that as an alternative ceremony, a kind of public “covenant”? The parents could then solemnly pledge “to bring up their child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord”. And the ceremony could end with the signing of an official “dedication certificate” – a worthy conclusion… And, of course, after that the “baby showers”.

Creepy & sleepy
    Unscriptural traditions have a way of creeping in by the back door. Millions of sleepy Christians have their thinking molded and conditioned - “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come like a prowler, and your need like an armed man”(Pr. 24:33-34).
    This particular tradition got started not all that many years ago. It didn’t come about because of the fear of God, and not out of a concern to be faithful to his sovereign Wo
rd. In fact there was a glaring neglect to search the Scriptures, to see what they might have to say on the subject. Ideas, trends, opinions, ecclesiastical teachings – all played an important part, and these certainly weren’t “unChristian”, but where was Christ himself? He didn’t really come into it.

Human logic
One thing is clear enough: God himself is behind that wonderful happening, the birth of a new baby! So, quite “logically”, it must be right then that now some ceremony or ritual is enacted in which the parents, the family and the wider community can express gratitude to God and in which they can publicly commit themselves to the upbringing of that new life – or so the reasoning goes. It must be a ceremony that combines all the following factors: It must be religious, it must be solemn, it must involve one or more holders of ‘sacred office’, it must be celebratory and it must involve the family and the community.
If you seem to see parallel lines developing between the ‘old ceremony’ (baby baptism) and the new one (baby dedication), well, that is because they are running parallel.
Right, you have now become a firm believer in baby dedication (or “baby blessing” as some prefer to call it). After all, as you have found out, the occasion has proved to be joyful and positive to millions, making everybody feel good. And why shouldn’t it be truly ‘uplifting’ in the case of your baby? In any case, wasn’t Jesus dedicated in the temple as a baby..? And didn’t He himself say: “Let the little children come to me…”?

Preacher’s job
Let us further assume that you are a young preacher (itinerant, stationary or whatever). Being a preacher means that the moment may come, like it or not, that you are called upon to “do a baby dedication”. To the interested parents you say, ‘Okay, I don’t see why not.’ But since you have never done such a thing before, you start to do some serious scratching behind your right ear.
How do you go about it, what do you preach about, what do you say to the parents? Or to the baby for that matter? What do you ask them? How do you hold someone else’s baby in front of all those people? What if the baby decides to scream..? Most importantly, what are the specific Scriptures to bring out and preach about? When a believer is baptized, there is no lack of wonderfully illuminating Scriptures, but what about a baby being dedicated..? Where do you start looking in the Bible?

The joys of surfing
Nowadays with the Internet never being far away, a huge source of information is at hand. Here’s a sample of two young preachers who, not long ago, navigated the Internet, in search of helpful ideas and info. This is what they wrote:

No. 1 – “I’m looking for ideas for a children’s dedication service. Got any creative ideas?”
No. 2 – “I have just been asked to take a dedication service for a friend and was wondering whether you had some ideas you might share with me. Which biblical passages are most relevant? Thanking you in advance…”

    Thousands of others, more familiar perhaps with surfing the Internet, than with searching their old-fashioned Bibles, echo these words. Before long they hit a source of wisdom and… bingo! Answers and Scriptures at your finger tips! Yes, Scripture passages also. For baby dedication they are always the same:

1) Exodus 13:2, 11-12, 15;
2) 1 Samuel 1:11,
3) Luke 2:22-23;
4) Luke 2:25-35 and
5) Matthew 19:13-15.

Those Bereans
Five Bible passages no less. Impressive.., but it strikes you that there is nothing there at all from Acts and nothing from the Epistles! That is what you would have expected.
In Acts 17 the Berean Jews didn’t take the apostle Paul’s word for it. They even doubted that the Scriptures could possibly be stating all that Paul made out. Being a suspicious lot and wanting to be fully assured by the Scriptures alone, the Bereans searched and researched until they were sure. The Bible doesn’t censure them for being so suspicious, rather it commends them. They are said to be nobler than the Thessalonian Jews, who hadn’t bothered to research anything.
So, returning to our subject, as you ponder that list of five, you too are getting a bit suspicious: why is Acts of the Apostles missing from this list? And why is there not a single verse from an epistle about baby dedication? You do want to model your life, your family and your ministry on the Scriptures, but now that it dawns on you that Acts and the Epistles are missing from this list.., it feels like the carpet is being pulled from under your baby dedications!

Dearth of babies?
You keep on pondering this fact: Acts and the Epistles are out on the subject of baby dedication. They are silent on the topic. Never once do they refer to any babies being dedicated… But wait, the period spanned by Acts, in which also most of the Epistles were written, amounted to some 32 years. Could it be that, perhaps, as the believers were so spiritually fruitful, they had stopped being physically fruitful? In other words, could it be that no babies were born to them for those 32 years..? Or might there be some other explanation for the deafening silence on the subject?
But… back to our list. Let’s be like the Scripture-searching-Bereans – after all, those chapters are as much the Word of God as any other part of the Bible. And if we find that baby dedication is mandated, then we’d better comply, even if Acts and Epistles have nothing to say on the subject.

Exodus 13:2, 12, 15: “Consecrate to me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is mine.”
“…that you shall set apart to the Lord all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord‘s.”
“And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all males that open the womb; but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.”
    What are we going to do with these three verses? Put into them what is foreign to them? Or find out what is there, pure and simple? It doesn’t take long to discover several things:

1) These verses are concerned with a law given to the “children of Israel” shortly after they had come out of Egypt; not to the NT church.
2) This law was exclusively concerned with the
‘firstborn’ of the Israelites, not with their offspring after the firstborn.
3) Nor did this law have anything to do with the
females that were born, only with the male firstborn.
4) The chapter tells us that the law was rooted in the fact that
Egypt’s firstborn were slain in the night of redemption; in contrast, Israel’s firstborn were to be presented to God.
5) It had as much to do with their
cattle as with them.

1 Samuel 1:11: “Then she made a vow and said, ‘O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your maidservant and remember me, and not forget your maidservant, but will give your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.’”
    Hannah’s prayer and vow were something precious, accepted by God to bring his servant Samuel into the world. However, some observations are in order:

1) The scene is a strictly personal one, without anything mandated for others.
2) Again it concerns a male child. Prayer and vow were not applied, or applicable, to the possible birth of a daughter.
3) From 2:21 we know that Hannah had five more children. She did not pray and vow in any similar way before they were born, neither did she take them to the Tabernacle to “lend” them to the Lord
(1:28) and leave them with Eli the priest.
4) For Hannah to give Samuel to the Lord all the days of his life, without a razor coming upon his head, meant he was going to be a “Nazirite”. Samuel and his brothers and sisters were Levites, but only Samuel was a Nazirite. In Numbers 6 the Nazirite vow and separation are detailed. Apart from Samuel, only Samson is specifically mentioned in the Bible as a Nazirite.

Luke 2:22-23: “Now when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, ‘Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord‘)”.
    What really is it Joseph and Mary went to do in Jerusalem?

1) Though Luke 2 is technically a NT chapter, “NT times” and “the Church” had not yet arrived. We are confronted with Old Testament applications of the “law of Moses”. Verse 24 makes this extra clear (see Lev. 12:6-8).
2) With Jesus being the firstborn, his brothers (Mt. 13:55) were exempted from this ritual when they were born.
3) Once again we find that, in any case, a baby girl was always exempt, even if she was the real firstborn.
4) Joseph and Mary were not living in Jerusalem. They traveled there all the way from Bethlehem to have the ritual, including the sacrifice of turtledoves or pigeons, properly performed in the Jewish Temple. King Herod had started the rebuilding process of the Temple some 16 years earlier, but in AD 70 the completed edifice was entirely destroyed, and never rebuilt since…

Verses 25-35 – some of the contents: “…he took him up in his arms and blessed God…” “And Joseph and his mother marveled at those things which were spoken of him. Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against…’”

We observe:
1) The place, once more, is the holy Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
2) The occasion is unique and not repeatable: God’s Son, the Messiah, still a tiny baby, is recognized by Simeon through divine revelation, and so, led by the Holy Spirit, this devout believer does what he does and says what he says.
3) Joseph and Mary, the “parents” (devout themselves), are totally taken aback.
4) Simeon speaks to God, he speaks to the parents and he speaks
of the baby, but there is no question of him dedicating the baby.
5) Simeon is described as
“a man in Jerusalem.., just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” He was not a priest or a member of some sort of clergy.
6) No ceremony or ritual takes place and there is no celebration with other loved ones in attendance. Apart from God’s sovereign designs, nothing that happened had been planned, programmed or even foreseen.

Matthew 19:13-15: “Then little children were brought to him that He might put his hands on them and pray, but the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid his hands on them and departed from there.”

1) Jesus never rejects anyone coming to him, or being brought to him. It all started in John 1 with Andrew coming to him, and then bringing his own brother Simon to him. If a mother loves him, then, of course, she brings her little ones to him.
2) These mothers (and maybe some fathers) were not looking for some kind of ceremony. Simply and spontaneously, taking advantage of Jesus passing by, they wanted him to impart a blessing on their offspring.
3) Matthew says that Jesus was expected to “pray”, but there is no record that He did so, nor do Mark and Luke say that He prayed over the children.
4) Should we not wonder why the Lord said: “Let the little children come to me”, if this was supposed to be “baby dedication? Could He not, at least, have added: “Let also the babies be brought to me”?

Conclusions?

    1. Many Christian parents feel a need for something special “in church” at the birth of a baby. In some churches the choice is left up to them: a wet ceremony – “christening-through-baptism”, or a dry one – “christening-through-dedication”.
Though probably aware that
neither ceremony makes a “Christian” of the baby – i.e. realizing that no one becomes a Christian without personally meeting Christ and surrendering to him through faith and repentance – they will still go ahead. The philosophy is that if it doesn’t do any good, neither will it harm. And, of course, traditional ways, majority opinion and sentiment, all play an important role – meaning, in practice, that God, and his sovereign Word, gets no more than lip service…

2.Now if there should not be a ceremony, wouldn’t that leave poor baby out in the cold? If the parents don’t “christen” it, one way or another, don’t they have a little pagan on their hands?
What the Scriptures teach is very different. They tell us that the child of one or two believers is “holy”:
“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy”
(1 Cor. 7:14).
Let us remind you that the Biblical sense of “holy” is simply:
“set apart”. In other words, though that baby is as yet far from being a Christian, and cannot yet be a Christian in the personal sense of the word, God sees it in its relationship to the believing parents (or to the one parent).

    3. His plans for a believer’s child are wonderful! To realize these plans, God needs co-workers.., and the parents are to be his co-workers.Through them God wants to work repentance and faith in that child’s heart at an early age. And through them He will lovingly teach the child to obey – before the world hardens its heart and it starts to drift away.
Plenty of adequate Bible backing for that – we recommend going to Deut. 4:9-10; 5:29; 6:7; 11:19; 31:12-13; 1 Sam. 2:29; 3:12-14; Ps. 34:11; 127:3; Prov. 3:12; 6:20-23; 13:24; 19:18; 22:6, 15; 23:13; 29:15, 17; Mark 9:36-37; Acts 16:31; Eph. 6:4. These Scriptures have nothing to do with ceremonial and sentimental “baby dedication”, but everything with the practical aspects of bringing the child up.

Recommended also: “Under Loving Command”, which you will find under E-booklets. It will give you the priceless experiences of Al & Pat Fabrizio at bringing up their four young kids.

    4. Talking about Bible passages – only in three NT verses is there a word that can be translated “dedication” or “dedicate”. They are a) John 10:22 which refers to the (re)dedication of the Temple in the time of the Maccabees; b) Hebrews 9:18 where God’s first covenant is said to be dedicated not without blood; and c) Heb. 10:20 where we are told of the “new and living way which He consecrated (or dedicated) for us”. Never the slightest suggestion of “baby dedication”.

    5.So, baby dedication is out – right? Wrong! There is a way, a Scriptural way. If it is true that a local church ceremony or ritual goes for mere human traditions and sentiments, muddling the issues; it is also true that God himself points to something infinitely simpler and superior.
But before going into that, take a look at Proverbs 30:5-6 with its very timely warning:
“Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in him. Do not add to his words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar.”
You don’t want to be a party to all the “adding-to-God’s-Word” that has been going on through the centuries! Your human “straw” just will not square with God’s “pure gold”
(compare 1 Cor. 3:11-15)!

    6. So, if a baby can be truly dedicated to God, who is involved and what is the occasion? The occasion arises as soon as the believing parents realize that baby is on its way! And they are the ones to do it, the only ones! Furthermore, they are doing this from that moment onwards, hardly letting a day pass in which they don’t dedicate or commit their child to God. That is, before it is born and after it is born – the only valid “baby dedication”.
In Luke 1 we discover how two mothers and one father were in living touch with God about their babies yet to be born.


7. In the same chapter we also discover what part “the others” can play, i.e. the folks of the local fellowship, once the baby has come into the world: “When (Elizabeth’s) neighbors and relatives heard how the Lord had shown great mercy to her, they rejoiced with her.” It offers a very good illustration of the others’ gratitude to God and how they rejoice with the parents at the birth of their baby.
And, who knows, even in our modern day, some elderly ‘Simeon’ might, spontaneously, happen on the scene, take the baby from the mother’s arms, and praise God for it. Or perhaps some elderly ‘Anna’ will start giving thanks to God.
Don’t stop them, be grateful for the mutual rejoicing, and… continue dedicating (or committing) your child to God – onlyyou can do that!

"Whoever recieves one of these little children in my name receives Me..."

Mark 9:37