This post is another in the “Tabernacle” series. Select “Tabernacle” under Categories to view the other posts in this series.
The Tabernacle in the wilderness and the Temple(s) in Jerusalem both symbolized the Way to God (through Jesus) via the actual construction, the placement and purposes of the various pieces of furniture, the priesthood, the sacrifices and offerings, the festivals and God’s presence. This posting will only highlight the Brass Laver for cleansing.
THE LAVER FOR CLEANSING
“And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking glasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (Exodus 38:8)
The laver of cleansing is not mentioned at all, in the description of anything related to the Tabernacle, nor in its meaning related to the redemptive work of CHRIST. It is only until after these revelations have been completed and their meanings symbolized then, and not until then, is the laver mentioned, and its construction commanded, and its location, between the door of the Tabernacle and the altar of burnt offering indicated.
We also can find not the slightest hint as to the size or form of the Laver of Cleansing. Such directions as are given, have to do with its position, and with its use. How could such descriptions and specifications be given? Who would attempt to represent the Eternal SPIRIT of GOD, by anything material? The only way we can describe electricity is by describing its manifestations and applications, through light, heat, power, etc. So also with the HOLY SPIRIT. Believers experience through His presence in their hearts and lives, Divinely-given, Eternal Life, Light and Love, and Power. The Laver could not be mentioned, until all that symbolized the redemptive work of CHRIST was completely revealed and symbolized in everything pertaining to the Tabernacle, in all its beauty and power.
We know that the Laver was to be a fount of flowing water. Both the hands and the feet of Aaron and of his sons, and those of a long line of priests, who followed them, were to be washed and kept clean at this laver. Hence, it must have been a large fount, with some means of letting the cleansing water flow from the upper, large bowl, into a somewhat smaller and shallower bowl, below, which doubtless, formed its base.
We assume this, since the priests, who ministered at the brazen altar, on pain of death for disobedience, were warned that the moment that their hands or feet became soiled, they were instantly to go to the Laver and cleanse away every spot or stain.
What was the Laver made of? We are not left to guess. We are told that it was made of the very finest brass known in that day. The consecrated women, devoted to the service of those who came to the Tabernacle to offer sacrifices, brought their looking-glasses, which they had obtained in Egypt, knowing that beauty of soul always transcends the beauties of the flesh, they presented their mirrors to Moses and Aaron to be used for this very special service.
Though the Laver is not described in the Word, it must have been very simple in design, so that its polished surfaces would reflect, like a fine mirror, anything coming near it. Being made of brass, judgment is included in its purpose, also the disclosure of impurity. As at the altar brass spoke of judgment for sin, and the blood of the sacrifice always sufficient to cleanse and take it away; so the Laver revealed uncleanness and immediately supplied the water for its cleansing. There was however, this difference. While sins of sinners were dealt with at the altar of burnt-offering; at the Laver, sin and uncleanness in BELIEVERS was revealed and removed. Note also that the Brass Laver was to be used only for the priesthood.
In the New Testament we read in 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
And who is our High Priest? Hebrews 4:14-10:18 (NIV) reads:
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”
BELIEVERS AND OUR SINS
This is made unmistakably plain by 1 John 2:1, 2. Please notice that John is writing to those who have become “children” in the Lord, and not to unsaved sinners. John, therefore, is speaking to believers, who are conscious of sins and transgressions which they have committed, and which they know have grieved the HOLY SPIRIT. “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin NOT. And, if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, and He is the propitiation for our sins: and not for our’s only, but for the sins of the whole world.” But the sins of the world and of the worldly are dealt with at the Altar and the Cross; while sins in believers are revealed and dealt with through the ministry of the HOLY SPIRIT, on the basis of the propitiation wrought by CHRIST, and made effective through His advocacy and intercessions before the throne of GOD.
The Altar symbolized the ministry of CHRIST FOR sinners. The Laver symbolized the work of the HOLY SPIRIT for and in believers. We are saved, not by works, which we may think we have wrought: “but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Titus 3:5).
A NEW CREATION
Thus we find that the new birth is a creative work of the HOLY SPIRIT, cleansing away the sins and impurities of the old man, when we believe, and by re-generation, or being born-again, we receive a new life from GOD; through the incoming of the HOLY SPIRIT, which is the Spirit of GOD Himself. Speaking of the Church, as the Body of CHRIST, Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:26: “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the WORD.” Through regeneration we receive new life from GOD, are born of GOD; and thus become the children of GOD. “As many as received him (CHRIST) to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12, 13).
BLOOD FIRST, THEN WATER
There was no water at the altar. There was required the shedding of blood for the redemption of sinners. The laver was for water – the water of life – for the giving of life, for regeneration, and for cleansing; and to keep cleansing, and pure and holy, GOD’s believing Children: – His priesthood of Believers.
“Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all” (John 13:8-10).
Cleansing and setting apart unto GOD begins with regeneration, and continues throughout the Christian life. Because of our contacts with an unclean world, we need cleansing daily. Because our lives and possessions and attainments and capabilities increase, or are added to, we must continually be sanctified, or set apart unto GOD ALL that we have and are.
Back in the Book of Genesis, we find that the Hebrew word for “sin” and for “sin-bearer” are practically identical. CHRIST was made sin for us, and He is our sin-bearer and Saviour. Here at the Laver, sin is uncovered and the fount of flowing water, instantly, is provided to wash it all away. Before the priests entered the court of the Tabernacle, they must wash thorough and put on clean garments. They must come clean to the service of GOD. If in their service, their garments, or feet and hands, became soiled, the burnished Laver showed it, and before they continued their ministries, they MUST come to the fount of cleansing.
I don’t know about you but I find how the Brass Laver is presented in it’s use in the Tabernacle and in the Temple(s) starting away back in Exodus in the Bible very encouraging with regard to my daily shortfalls. It confirms to me again about the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures and it also reminds me how I need to start and end each day plus confess any sin the comes to my mind as it occurs. Often, when I take a physical shower, I ask God to cleanse me as the water flows over me. In the Spirit, we can do this anytime.
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”