The Brazen Laver
God's Wash Basin
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
Thou shalt also make a laver of brass . . . to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the Lord: So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations (Ex. 30:17-21). 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 (Ex. 38:8).
As the priest or offerer entered through the door of the tabernacle to worship Almighty God and to serve, he first came to the altar of burnt offering, a picture of the death of a substitute, and the place of the blood. It pointed to the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary, the starting point of our entire salvation. It is the place of our justification by faith, on the basis of the shed blood, and the death and resurrection of our Saviour. This settles our salvation. We are now in the tabernacle -- the symbolic habitation of God -- and we are in Christ -- the true heavenly habitation of God. Even though no further progress has been made, everyone who has stopped at the altar of burnt offering, and has come by faith in the Cross of Christ is IN, and he is saved. Since Christ is the tabernacle, we are in Christ, the moment we step through the door, and accept the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ upon the altar.
But this is only the beginning. Salvation begins at the Cross, but it certainly does not end there. The new born believer is now to go on to the next step, and then the next, and the next, until he attains the final victory, and rests underneath the Shekinah glory in the holy of holies. Keep in mind that there is no separation of the different "parts" of salvation by grace through faith in Christ. When we come to faith, we have it all, because Jesus "did it" all. But we must not make the mistake of thinking salvation as it works its way in and through our lives ends at the Cross. A new birth is but a beginning as babes. We do not wish to remain babes in the Christian life but go on to spiritual maturity.
And so after the altar, the believer comes next to the laver of cleansing. This laver was a wash basin mounted on an attached pedestal or base, and stood in the outer court of the tabernacle. It was made of brass, and was kept filled with clean water. Its function was the washing of the hands and the feet of the priests, continually, as they ministered in the tabernacle service and worship. At the altar the sinner is justified once for all, on the basis of the shed blood; at the laver he is repeatedly cleansed from the defilement of the world, day by day and hour by hour. The altar, therefore, speaks of justification, but the laver speaks of the sanctifying power of the Word of the living God and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
The laver was made of solid brass, and was filled with pure water. Brass in the Scripture speaks of the judgment of God, able to withstand the fire of testing. Water is symbolic of the Word of God. Here at the laver the “sins of the saints” are taken care of. At the altar the “penalty” of sin was settled forever, but at the laver the “defilement” of sins committed by the believer after regeneration are provided for completely. The laver speaks of separation from the world through confession of sin, and cleansing by the Word of God. It speaks of a yielding to God for His service alone.
The Tabernacle laver was made from the looking glasses (mirrors) of the women of Israel, which they had carried from Egypt on the Passover night. Mirrors were made in those days of highly polished brass. Now, a mirror reflects the natural features of the individual person looking into it. Looking glasses were for the glorification of the flesh, and the gratification of the old nature. They are a symbol of human vanity and human pride. The women of Israel were to surrender these looking glasses, and yield them, i. e. give them up to be made into a laver of cleansing. The laver, then speaks of separation from the flesh and from the world, and from the old nature with its pride and lusts, carnal habits and sins.
After a person, therefore, is saved, he must next be separated before he can go on to be of service in the tabernacle, at the table, the candlestick, and the intercessory incense altar.
The women gave up their looking glasses to be cast into the brazen laver in judgment of their sins and worldliness. The laver contained water. The water is the Word of God by which we are cleansed and sanctified. Jesus said in John 15:3,
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
In John 17:17, He prays:
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Paul says in Ephesians 5:26, concerning the Church:
That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word.
No Dimensions – Infinite in Power
The laver was the only furnishing in the Tabernacle for which God gave no dimensions. Minute instructions for every other article were given to Moses by God, but not for the laver. This speaks of its limitless application. There was no floor in the tabernacle, only ground, and no chairs for the priests to sit down. They were always standing and walking, their hands and feet becoming dirty constantly, becoming defiled every step that they took. In our walk in the world, which includes our service to the Lord, we are always becoming defiled also. We are saved and justified. We have the Holy Spirit to lead us. But we are still in the world and in the flesh, and the defilement of sin comes upon us. However, we have an infinite supply of the power of the Word of God to cleanse us of all sin. Our Advocate, Jesus Christ, is our Mediator between the Father and us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (I John 1:9.)
It should be noted that we do not get lost again every time we sin and get saved again when we confess our sins. Our faith in the finished work of Christ sustains us every moment of every day. We come to God in confession, however, to cleanse our conscience before Him and to restore a sense of fellowship with Him in our hearts.
When Jesus washed the disciples feet, Peter asked that his whole body be washed. Jesus said, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit. – John 13:10.
At regeneration (getting saved) we are washed positionally clean, never to be repeated. Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5.) But this washed and cleansed believer still needs the washing of his feet from the defilement of sin day by day, for there is no floor in the tabernacle. As long as we are here on the earth, we are in the world, although we are not of the world, and stand in constant need of cleansing. The priest, representative of all Israel, was given a complete bath upon his induction into the priesthood, on the basis of the blood. This admitted him into the tabernacle, and he was typically forever in Christ, but in his service he still needed the constant cleansing of the Laver. This the Lord Jesus Christ impressed upon Peter when He washed His feet. "He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." The washing of regeneration is once for all, but we need to come to the Throne of Grace daily to help in time of need.
From these Scriptures and many, many more, we find that the Word (spiritually received) is the cleansing and sanctifying power in our lives and speaks of the water of the washing of the Word. We are regenerated by faith in the Blood, “kept” clean and set apart by the washing of the water of the Word -- by confession, by a willing surrender of all those things which belong to our old nature, and by a willing submission of all to Him.
Not just cleansing, but transformation
God does not save us FROM something alone; He saves us FROM something and redeems us UNTO something far greater.
It was very significant that God wanted the brazen laver to be made of the looking glasses of the women of Israel. In a literal sense they are symbolic of objects used for the vanity of the world transformed into objects used to the glory of God.
The water in the Laver typifies the transforming power of the Word of God. Not only does the Word cleanse, it transforms by a renewing of the mind. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Rom. 12:2) The priests looked into the laver and saw their images in the transformed looking glasses of the Israelites; they saw their images through the water of the Word. The Word changes (transforms) our spiritual images! We are to look into the Word and see, not our sinful flesh, but ourselves being transformed into the Image of Christ by the Word of God. It is wrong to continually view your own sinful image and try to beat it into submission. That is the flesh attempting to transform the flesh! True victory comes when we behold Jesus and are transformed by beholding Him! 2 Corinthians 3:18 says, But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. The Spirit illuminating the Word is an agent of transformation!
Therefore the Laver typifies more than just a cleansing process. Along with cleansing, it typifies a transforming process also. It was in the outer court because the priests were to wash their own hands and feet, parts of the body. The Brazen Altar was about the physical and external, and typified the Cross of Christ, Who was crucified in His body; yet His Perfect Sacrifice has infinite spiritual benefits to the believer. The Brazen Laver was about the physical and external washing by the priests of their hands and feet, but it typifies infinite spiritual cleansing and transformation of the believer. The cleansing was necessary because of sins done in the flesh, which the dirt of the ground represents; but transformation deals with the internal nature of a life transformed. When the heart is changed, the external deeds will change also, from carnal sin to spiritual life lived outwardly. The transformation of the internal nature comes from “Looking into the Word of God” on a regular basis and setting forth His Image before us, which we will become.
There is infinitely more to be said about the Laver as an instrument of transformation than as an instrument of sinning and cleansing, sinning and cleansing – over and over. Too many Christians are focused on and consumed by judgement, even after they are born again. This is because they are largely carnal, not having been taught the Truth of close fellowship with God. A redeemed Christian is past judgement; he is a very son of God! The Christian life is not about sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting, sinning and repenting in order to escape judgement. It is about walking after the Spirit and living unto God. (Read Romans Chapters 6 and 8, and Galatians 5:16-26 and meditate thereon.) As we gain victory over the flesh as Christians, the transformation process will be more and more manifest. And that is the larger message of the Laver: transformation by the Word of God into the Image of Christ.
Next: The Holy Place
Index of Tabernacle Subjects