“The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Make a bronze basin for washing and a bronze stand for it. Set it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet from the basin. Whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister by burning a food offering to the Lord, they must wash with water so that they will not die. They must wash their hands and feet so that they will not die; this is to be a permanent statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations’ ” (Exodus 30:17–21).
God instructed Moses to place a Laver, a bronze basin, in the Tabernacle courtyard, between the Altar and the Tent. It was here, at the sanctified wash tub, that the priests stopped to wash before proceeding. If the priest was headed to the Tent, he stopped to thoroughly wash his bloody hands and his filthy feet. If he was leaving the Tent and going to the Bronze Altar, he again stopped to wash. Failing to do so, meant death!
At God’s command, the “finely spun linen” curtains were to be 7½ feet tall, enclosing a courtyard 150 feet by 75 feet (Exodus 27:9-19). The Bronze Altar was to be constructed of acacia wood overlayed with bronze, square, precisely 7½ feet on each side, and 4½ feet tall (Exodus 27:1). The materials and dimensions were specific. The blueprints were complete and clear. Interestingly, God gave little instruction concerning the size and shape of the Laver. Rather, God said, “they must wash their hands and feet so that they will not die” (Exodus 30:21). I can imagine Moses instructing the artisans. “Make it big! We’ve got a lot to wash away!”
The materials used to construct the Tabernacle were given by the Israelites for this purpose. “The Lord spoke to Moses: ‘Tell the Israelites to take an offering for me. You are to take my offering from everyone who is willing to give. This is the offering you are to receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze; blue, purple, and scarlet yarn; fine linen and goat hair; ram skins dyed red and fine leather; acacia wood; oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense…’ ” (Exodus 25:1–6).
But, at God’s instruction, Moses “made the bronze basin and its stand from the bronze mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting” (Exodus 38:8). Think about that… Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Johnson, Mrs. Nelson… will you sacrifice your mirror? Will you give up your highly-prized and irreplaceable mirror? The ladies sacrificed their vanity by giving a rare luxury, something personal, something near and dear. Remember, they were a million miles from the closest Wal-Mart. When they gave their mirror, they knew they would never have another.
While the Bronze Altar foreshadowed our salvation by Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, the ritual washing at the Laver foreshadows sanctification. When we are saved, we are cleansed eternally. But, because of our bent to sin, we must continually rely upon God’s grace to forgive and restore.
In the New Testament, the mirror is a picture of the Scriptures (James 1:23-25). We are cleansed by “the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Indeed, Jesus asked His Father to sanctify us “by the truth; your word is Truth” (John 17:17). Before we can enjoy intimate fellowship with our Creator, we must stop at the Bronze Basin!