In this installment of the Tabernacle Series, learn about the cleansing power of the Laver
Having atoned for his sin at the Brazen Altar, the priest
moved deeper into the courtyard toward the Tabernacle. Before he reached its
opening he came to the Laver, a large bowl-like structure made of polished
brass that held spring water.
In his reflection, he would see the blood, soot and dust that were the results of his day’s work. The priest would then use the water to wash his hands and face before going further. By law, he was forbidden to enter the Tabernacle until he first stopped by the Laver for cleansing.
There are several signiﬁcant facts about the Laver that symbolize important spiritual truths.
The Laver revealed the need for cleansing. The Laver was made from the brass mirrors donated by devout women. At this time, glass had not yet been discovered so mirrors as we know them did not exist. Instead, brass was polished until it shone providing a clear, if tinted, reflection. They were expensive and out in the wilderness where there were no shops, nearly impossible to purchase or replace. The donation of their mirrors represented a highly valued possession but they were needed in order for the Laver to provide one of its primary functions of reflecting the priest’s condition.
Looking in the Laver, the priest could see his need. The Laver, then, represents the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. The priest would have dealt with his need for forgiveness of sins at the Brazen Altar, yet he needed to see his need for further cleansing at the Laver. In the same way, our forgiveness of sins has been dealt with when we ask Christ to be our Savior. Instead of the Brazen Altar, our salvation is made possible through the cross. Yet there remains a need for further cleansing as we progress in the Christian walk. We ﬁnd that we are still troubled by nagging habits or tendencies that should no longer have a place in the believer’s life. Yet there they are. The Holy Spirit gently shows us ourselves and when we see our failures, our stumbling blocks, we want something to be done. We want them to be washed away.
The Laver provided the means of cleansing. Because of the grime from the sacriﬁces, the water was constantly changed. The priest knew that when he saw his condition there would be fresh water to wash it off.
When we are frustrated by our roller coaster spiritual life that alternates between victory and failure, when we ﬁnd ugly remains of our previous life hanging on, when we want to have a consistent walk with the Lord it is essential that we have the means to change. The Holy Spirit cleanses us so that we can better serve the Lord and enjoy His presence and power. It is not accidental that the Bible uses water as one of the symbols of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39). Part of His work in our life is this deeper cleansing.
The priest, by an act of his will, stopped at the Laver, looked in and then washed himself in the water. By his strolling to the Tabernacle he didn’t suddenly ﬁnd himself clean. In the same way, if we want God to do this work in us, it will not come by some involuntary growth. Rather, we must seek God and ask Him to purify us. This second work of grace is known by various names but the one most ﬁtting in connection with this is sanctiﬁcation, that literally means “set apart.” That idea of being set apart is a deliberate, considered action of the believer. As the priest was cleansed by using the Laver to address his condition, so God responds to the Christian who fully consecrates himself to Him.
The Laver constantly met the needs of those who came to it. In the course of their work, the priests would be dirty and dusty again, no matter how much they cleaned themselves up before. The Laver was there to provide the remedy. It is interesting to note that the Laver is the only thing in the Tabernacle for which we have no measurements. God was very speciﬁc about the dimensions and materials of other furnishings, the fence and the materials used but the Laver was curiously omitted.
Although we believe that the Bible teaches that holiness begins with an initial act of consecration on our part followed by the cleansing and empowering of the Holy Spirit, there is a constant need for renewal. The life we live is often messy. We will make mistakes and we will occasionally sin but the Lord is ready to forgive and restore us through it all. As the Laver had no measurements, so the grace of God is immeasurable. We do not presume upon God by living recklessly, “But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous” (1 John 2:1).
The Laver stands in the Tabernacle as one of the reminders that God not only wants to redeem His people and forgive them of their sins, but He wants them to be holy. Like the priest who, now cleansed, was ready to enter into the presence of God in the Tabernacle, God wants you to be pure and holy so that you can fully enjoy His presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to reflect to you any areas where purity is needed and then ask Him to cleanse you, ﬁll you and set you apart for His glory and your wholeness.
Lt. Colonel Allen Satterlee is Editor–in–Chief & National Literary Secretary.