The Tabernacle – The Laver

Exo 30:17-21 Exo 38:8

A. Its construction

1. bronze basin and (separate) stand or base v. 18

2. source material Exo 38:8

a. polished bronze mirrors

b. given by devout women

“It is very instructive to observe that the laver was formed of the brazen mirrors of the women assembling at the door of the tabernacle. Thus they were changed to their exactly opposite use. From being positioned between the brazen altar and tabernacle door instruments for self-admiration, and thus contributing to the gratification of the flesh, they were made into a laver, which reminded them of their pollution and their need of washing. Naturally the heart loves to see itself. Spiritually it loathes itself. The soul that sees itself in the mirror of God s law (Jas. i. 3-5) must feel its need of the laver.” Frederick Whitfield, Tabernacle Priesthood and Offerings

3. size, shape, capacity and design are not specified

a. capacity sufficient for Aaron and his sons only?

b. water would have been taken from the basin using pitchers or let out into the base through spigots

necessary to retain purity of water in the laver
“eastern” tradition to wash in running water whenever possible

The Orientals, we know, dislike exceedingly, to wash in a basin after our manner, in which the water, with which we commence washing is clearer than that with which we finish. They always prefer to wash at a falling stream, where each successive affusion is of clean water. We incline therefore to think, that the priests either washed themselves with the stream, as it fell from the spouts into the base, or else received in proper vessels so much water as was needed for the occasion. Newton, Tabernacle Furniture

c. probably much smaller than the temple laver (brazen sea)

12-15,000 gallon capacity – 15 foot diameter sphere 1 Kings 7:23
tabernacle laver would need to be portable

B. Its use

1. washing hands and feet v. 20 & 21

a. before entering the Holy Place

b. before approaching the altar to offer sacrifices

c. placement served as regular reminder

2. failure would result in death

a. no biblical record of the ordinance being violated

C. Its significance

1. of great importance – repeated warning v. 20 & 21

2. blood signifies redemption, water signifies purification Lev. 17:11

3. purity essential for one who would serve God or enter His presence –

“Be holy, for I am holy”; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; etc.

“You cannot see my face; for no man shall see me, and live” Ex. 33:20

4. repetition implies ongoing need

5. feet and hands only (along with repetition) points to sanctification John 13:6-10 Ephesians 5:25-26;

a. justification takes place at the brazen altar and atonement cover – blood

b. sanctification takes place at the laver – water

On the other hand, the outer cleansing of the body was nothing more than a symbol ot the inner cleansing of the heart. (And as the entire nation was accepted or rejected in the persons of the officiating priesthood, the pious in Israel were ever led to exclaim, “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord, or who shall stand in his holy place ? He that hath clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. xxiv. 3-4). Adams, The Mosaic Tabernacle

6. omission of dimensions

These [omissions] were two in number, and very noticeable they are. First, no dimensions were prescribed for the Laver, nor are we told the quantity of water which it contained. A similar omission was observed in connection with the lampstand. The measurements of all the other vessels are given. The absence of any here in connection with the Laver and its water plainly denotes that an unlimited provision has been made by God for our cleansing. In Christ and His Word is sufficient to minister to our every need. Pink, Gleanings in Exodus

D. Summary

At the very entrance to the court the three grand truths of the gospel of Christ were forced upon the Israelites attention.

1. The gate spoke of Christ : “I am the door: by Me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9

2. The brazen altar spoke of Christ : “without shedding of blood is no remission of sins.” Lev. 17:11; Heb. 9:22

3. The laver spoke of Christ : “if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me” John 13:8; “except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:5 Whitfield, Ibid.

All that we have hitherto said of Christ leads to this one result, that condemned, dead, and lost in ourselves, we must in him seek righteousness, deliverance, life and salvation, as we are taught by the celebrated words of Peter, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved,” (Acts 4: 12). The name of Jesus was not given him at random, or fortuitously, or by the will of man, but was brought from heaven by an angel, as the herald of the supreme decree[1]; the reason also being added, “for he shall save his people from their sins,” (Mat 1: 21). In these words attention should be paid to what we have elsewhere observed, that the office of Redeemer was assigned him in order that he might be our Saviour. Still, however, redemption would be defective if it did not conduct us by an uninterrupted progression to the final goal of safety. Therefore, the moment we turn aside from him in the minutest degree, salvation, which resides entirely in him, gradually disappears; so that all who do not rest in him voluntarily deprive themselves of all grace.” Calvin, Institutes, II.16.1


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