The Tabernacle of Moses

3. The brazen laver

Make a bronze basin with a bronze stand

Image65A full size model of the laver built by the State of Israel

(Exo 30:18 NRSV) You shall make a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it;

There is little to guide us in how this wash basin was formed. Its importance seems to be in its function rather than its construction. When reflecting on the way in which we baptize and where, maybe the shape of the vessel is not important. We can however be sure that the cleansing is vital. Tradition suggests that there were two water containers. One for the hands, the other for the feet. We should note that the laver is particular to the priests. The brazen altar was for sacrifice to the Lord, the Golden Ark was His throne, The table was “the Lord’s Table”, but the laver was to cleanse the priests.

This basin was placed in the outer court. It and all the articles in the court were made of bronze or brass. This metal, in Scripture, is symbolic of strength, firmness, endurance and judgement against sin.

The basin or laver points us to the ministry of the Word in our lives. Judgement upon sin comes through the Word of God. The Holy Spirit uses the Word to convict men of their wrong standing with God.

(John 16:7-11 NRSV) Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. [8] And when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment:

Cleansing comes as we judge ourselves in response to the Holy Spirit who convicts us and as the Word exposes our shortcomings. This is the washing of water by the Word.

(1 Cor 11:31 NRSV) But if we judged ourselves, we would not be judged.

(Eph 5:26 NRSV) in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word,

If the priests had entered the Holy Place before washing themselves God would have judged them on entry.

(Exo 30:20-21 NRSV) When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to make an offering by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. [21] They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die: it shall be a perpetual ordinance for them, for him and for his descendants throughout their generations.

Judgement must begin in the family of God.

(1 Pet 4:17 NRSV) For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, what will be the end for those who do not obey the gospel of God?

This happened when the priest washed at the basin. This happens when we submit and let the Word wash us, Water cannot clean unless it is applied !

The Laver was made from the mirrors of the women who served ..

(Exo 38:8 NRSV) He made the basin of bronze with its stand of bronze, from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting.

Men & women use mirrors to observe their “natural” beauty. Mirrors expose us to ourselves. We can see the result of cleansing or making beautiful AND we can see our deficiencies. How appropriate to use the bronze mirrors to make the laver. The Word of God is a mirror.

(James 1:23 NRSV) For if any are hearers of the word and not doers, they are like those who look at themselves in a mirror;

This is how God changes us. He gives us little glimpses of ourselves as we really are and with it comes the desire to change. Job saw himself as he really was.. Isaiah also. Peter saw his inner nature when in the presence of Jesus the living Word.

(Job 42:5-6 NRSV) I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; [6] therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
(Isa 6:5 NRSV) And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
(Luke 5:8 NRSV) But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”

The Word of God shows an image and provides a cleansing.

(Prov 27:19 NRSV) Just as water reflects the face, so one human heart reflects another.
(Eph 5:26 NRSV) in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word,

The tabernacle priest saw his reflection in the polished bronze and the water.

For washing

(Exo 30:18 NRSV) You shall make a bronze basin with a bronze stand for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it;

These two words sum up the purpose of the laver. Where the water came from is unknown but we surmise that the drinking water would be used. This came from the smitten rock that followed them

(Exo 17:6 NIV) I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.”

And that spiritual rock was Christ.

The experience of the water was the second experience for the priest as he approached God. He first approached the altar of substitutionary death.

First the blood (At the bronze altar) Justification from sins
Second the water. (At the bronze laver.) Sanctified to the Lord.

All through the Scriptures there is an emphasis on water and blood as agents of cleansing. Note that on the cross there came forth from the side of Jesus blood and water.

(John 19:34 NRSV) Instead, one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out.
(1 John 5:6 NRSV) This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.

This perfect sacrifice abolished the Old Testament blood and water ceremonies.

A reconstruction of and the possible appearance of the laver.

The blood cleanses from sin. Our garments are made white as we wash in the blood of Jesus.

(Rev 1:5 NRSV) and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and freed us from our sins by his blood
(Rev 7:14 NRSV) I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

(Rev 22:14 NRSV) Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they will have the right to the tree of life and may enter the city by the gates.

And sin removed from us.

The water cleanses from self-defilement. We are to be washed by the “washing” (literally, laver.) of rebirth.

(Titus 3:5 NRSV) he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

and cleansed by the “washing” (literally, ) of the Word.

Place it between the Tent of Meeting and the Bronze altar, and put water in it

In the New Testament Church water is important in two teachings.

a. The water in regeneration.

Jesus said unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. This is the initial washing of rebirth. In this we are made a new creature.

(1 Cor 6:11 NIV) And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

b. The water in baptism.

This commands us to be baptised in water in obedience. As an answer of a good conscience towards God.

(1 Pet 3:21 NIV) and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ

“They shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also when they approach the altar … they shall wash their hands and feet.”

No priest could minister the Holy things unless they had been to the laver. All must be clean who bear the vessels of the Lord.

(Isa 52:11 NIV) Depart, depart, go out from there! Touch no unclean thing! Come out from it and be pure, you who carry the vessels of the LORD.

Much spiritual death comes into the sanctuary of the New Testament church because believer- priests fail to cleanse themselves at the laver of The Word.

This is a lasting ordinance

Moses bathed Aaron and his sons initially. From then on it was their responsibility. Jesus as our Moses has ministered the initial bath of regeneration but we are to maintain the daily cleansing of hands and feet.

(2 Cor 7:1 NIV) Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

The laver was used for the cleansing of the priests but it was also used for the cleansing of the sacrifices that were made. We are priests unto the Lord but also we are to be the sacrifice.

It now remains for Christ’s seed, the church, the Kings and Priests after the order of Melchizedek to maintain their cleanness by washing in the spiritual or true laver, i.e. the Word of God as a lasting ordinance.

The Three Witnesses

1 John 5:7-8(NIV) For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.

As believer priests we need to experience all three of these witnesses if we are to be complete in Him. We need to have our hearts sprinkled with the blood. We need to have the continual washing by the water of the Word. And we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit poured over our heads to prepare us for a place of service.

We need to be complete in Him.