By Thomas Newberry
The Laver and its Foot.
Verses 17, 18. "And Jehovah spake unto Moses, saying, Thou shalt also make a layer of brass, and his foot [base] also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put IT between the tabernacle [tent] of the congregation and between the altar, and thou shalt put water therein."
THESE Scriptures are "the Word of God ;" this I gives them their importance and authority. They are also "the testimony of Jesus Christ ;" this gives them their interest to us as redeemed sinners, and their value to our souls, as containing God's testimony concerning His Son.
God's thoughts about Christ are embodied in type, and given us in the Scriptures, that we might have fellowship with the Father in His own estimate of His Son, through the Spirit.
In the layer and his foot, we have the divinely given figure or shadow of CHRIST as our SANCTIFICATION. "Who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption" (1 Cor. 1.30).
In this chapter in Exodus, typically the believer is regarded, first, REDEEMED BY THE BLOOD (verses 11-16); secondly, SANCTIFIED with the washing of WATER (verses 17-21); thirdly, ANOINTED with the OIL (verses 22-33); fourthly, ACCEPTED in the PERFUME (verses 34- 38). "The Spirit, the water, and the blood" (1 John 5.6-8).
In Solomon's Temple there were TEN LAVERS, standing on their TEN BASES, and ONE MOLTEN SEA,
standing on twelve oxen (1 Kings 7.23-26).
In Ezekiel's Temple there will be no laver nor sea, but a RIVER, whose waters will issue out from under the threshold of the house eastward, deepening and widening as it flows.
In Revelation 4.6, we read of a SEA OF GLASS like unto crystal before the throne, emblematical of the fixed purity which becomes the presence of God.
In Revelation 15.2, of a SEA OF GLASS mingled with FIRE, indicative of the fiery trial through which those who come out of the great tribulation, will have passed.
In Revelation 22.1, of a PURE RIVER OF WATER OF LIFE, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. All these are figures of Christ, and of the cleansing, sanctifying, life-giving, life-sustaining power of the Spirit of God. The word "laver," in the Hebrew, signifies "like a river." The laver consisted of two parts, "the laver and his foot." The upper part or layer, being a large reservoir of water, from which, when required, the water poured down "like a river" into the foot or basin at its base. The lower part being alone used for bathing or washing, so that the water in the laver remained always pure and undefiled, reminding us of Titus 3.
5, 6, "The washing [literally layer] of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Also of "the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ," given for the ministry of the Word through the evangelist, pastor, and teacher, at the present time.
The laver presents Christ in two aspects; the FOOT, Christ in HUMILIATION on earth; and the upper part, the laver proper, Christ in His exaltation in heaven. In His life on earth, Christ left us an example that we should follow in His steps.
On the Cross, from His pierced side came forth the water and the blood.
But it is from Christ crucified, risen, and exalted, that the Holy Ghost, the Comforter, the Spirit of purity and life, is now given. "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified"
(John 7.37-39). We read in Ephesians 5.25,26, "Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word." This is His present action, "that He might (ultimately) present it to Himself, a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing" (Eph. 5.27).
"A laver of brass, and his foot [base] also of brass."
Brass is the emblem of strength, and Christ, as our sanctification, is the Strong One, mighty to sanctify as well as "mighty to save." Many trust in Christ for their salvation, but have recourse to their own efforts, or to the law, for sanctification. Justification by faith of Christ is the doctrine of the Reformation; but sanctification by the faith of Christ, how little apprehended!
There is POWER in the example of His life; constraining power in His dying and redeeming love; power in looking unto Jesus glorified at God's right hand above. Stephen found it so (Acts 7). Power in the Spirit sent down from this ascended One. The secret of power in the Christian experience is having Christ "all" as our object, "and in all" as our life.
In Exodus 38.8, we read, "And he made the laver of brass and the foot [base] of it of brass, of the looking-glasses [brazen mirrors], of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tent of the congregation." This is significant, and intimates a connection between self-examination and sanctification. The Apostle James wrote, "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the Word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful bearer, but a doer of the Word, this man shall be blessed, in his deed" (James 1. 22-25). The foot of the laver was made of burnished brass.
Sanctification to the believer is especially and effectually connected with the contemplation of Christ, once crucified, but now risen and glorified, as exhibited in the mirror of the Word, through the power of the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven. This is real and divine photography. "Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
But we all, with open [unvailed] face beholding as in a glass [mirror] the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord."
THE POSITION OF THE LAVER.
"And thou shalt put IT between the tabernacle [tent] of the congregation and between the altar."
The progress of the soul in drawing near to God is that set forth.
The soul first realising PARDON at the sin-offering - without the camp.
Secondly, ACCEPTANCE at the brazen altar within the court.
Thirdly, SANCTIFICATION at the brazen layer.
Fourthly, NEARNESS IN WORSHIP at the golden altar.
Fifthly, ENTRANCE INTO THE HOLIEST through the value of the blood, and of the sweet incense from the golden censer, carried by the High Priest within the vail.
Verse 18. "And thou shalt put water therein."
Christ loved the Church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word" (Eph. 5. 26). "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy Word is truth," is His prayer to the Father (John 17.17). "It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit and they are life" (John 6.63). Not the Word apart from the Spirit, nor the Spirit apart from the Word. It is the truth that sanctifies, and the Spirit is truth. But it is the truth of Christ, "as the truth is in Jesus."
The water which filled the laver in the wilderness came first from the smitten rock (Ex. 17.); the type of Christ crucified, from whose pierced side flowed forth the water and the blood. For "that rock was Christ" (1 Cor. 10.4).
Secondly, it came from the rock which was to have been spoken to, at the end of the wilderness wanderings, in connection with the blooming, blossoming, and fruit-bearing rod (Numbers 20.). Typical of Christ glorified, and sending down the Spirit in answer to prayer (Acts 2; John 7).
THE USE OF THE LAVER.
Verse 19. "For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat [therefrom]."
The laver sets forth Christ, made of God Unto the believer SANCTIFICATION, practically (1 Cor. 1.30).
It is the action of the Lord Jesus in John 13. embodied in type. The washing of the laver was twofold.
First, of the entire person, as at the consecration of the priests (Ex. 29.4), where it should be translated, "bathe them in water." This washing, or bathing in water, at their consecration was not repeated. To this the Lord refers John 13.10, "He that is washed [bathed] needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit." The signification of this bathing is given in Romans vi., Colossians 2. etc. It sets forth the death, burial, and resurrection of the believer with Christ, and faith's apprehension of it.
Secondly, this washing was partial, the washing of the hands and feet; and it is this which is here specially mentioned - its constant use. "Aaron and his sons" typify Christ and the Church in their priestly character (Heb. 3.6). The sanctification is one: "For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth" (John 17.19). He is our sanctification. The HANDS and FEET express the whole character of the believer's ACTION and CONDUCT. In John 13. the feet only are mentioned, as including the whole course of the believer's walk. "Thereat," literally, therefrom. It was not sufficient to wash elsewhere. It is the practical, conscious cleansing which flows from faith's apprehension of Christ, which fits for God's tent, and God's altar, and not that which comes from mere moral considerations or precepts.
Verse 20. "When they go into the Tabernacle [tent] 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 Jehovah."
This cleansing by the faith of Jesus, is essential to living fellowship with the Father and the Son in the Spirit, and to true fellowship with the saints. "Holiness becometh God's house for ever." "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me." Holiness becomes God's service, as well as God's house. "Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord." "I will wash mine hands in innocency; so will I compass Thine altar, O Lord."
"That they die not," is repeated in verse 21. It may be taken as a warning. "If ye live after the flesh ye shall die." Spiritual deadness is the inevitable consequence of the foot defiled, and sanctification through personal intercourse with Christ neglected. Verse 21. "So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever for them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations."
"It shall be a statute for ever;" a principle from which God never departs. "Without holiness no man shall see the Lord." Christ ever lives, the source of life, holiness, and power, to all who draw nigh to God by Him. Thus full provision is made in Christ, that the blood-bought heirs of glory, and the royal priests of our God, might ever worship Him in the beauties of holiness, as well as in the confidence of faith and love.