Again, the LORD said to Moses,
I. THE LAVER (vers. 17-22). This was to be made of brass (bronze), and was to be placed near the door of the tabernacle between it and the altar. It was to be used by Aaron and his sons for purposes of ablution. A new symbol of the purity required in those who serve before Jehovah. The Christian contracts daily defilements in his walk, for which also daily cleansing is required (cf. John 13:10; 1 John 1:7).
II. THE ANOINTING OIL (vers. 22-34). Precious, fragrant, holy. To be applied not only to Aaron and his sons, but to the tabernacle and all its vessels. See Homily on Consecration (Exodus 24:6, 7). The oil is the symbol of the Spirit. The holiness imparted to Aaron and his sons by this anointing, and by the rites of consecration generally, was indeed no more than a ceremonial or official holiness. It pertained to the office rather than to the man. Yet the holders of the office were, in virtue of their consecration, laid under obligations to personal holiness as well. The private character of the priest might not avail to nullify his official acts; but the absence in the public representative of the spiritual qualifications for his office would not be allowed to go unpunished. Iniquity in the priest would be visited both on priest and people. - J.O.
1. This laver teaches us, among other things, that those who would come to God must approach Him with clean hands (see Psalm 26:6; Psalm 24:2-4; Psalm 119:9). I think these texts show that those who profess to serve God must cultivate holiness of heart and life, and that whilst the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin, we are to cleanse ourselves by coming constantly under the power of the Word.
A laver of brass.I. DIVINE (John 13:8).
II. SPIRITUAL (Jeremiah 4:14). Rest not in a mere social or ecclesiastical purity.
III. ESSENTIAL. "That they die not" (Revelation 7:13-15).
(J. S. Exell, M. A.)
2. None but priests were permitted to wash in this laver, and none were consecrated to the office of priests besides those who were born into the priestly family. All the Lord's people are priests, and as such they are called to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15, 16; 1 Peter 2:5, 9). They enter the priestly family when born again, and none but those who are "twice born" can offer any sacrifice to God which He will accept. At their ordination the priests were washed all over: this they did not do for themselves; it was done for them by Moses, and answered to the washing of regeneration, which God does for us when He brings us into His house and makes us His servants. Afterwards there was the daily washing of the hands and feet: this Moses did not do for them; they did it themselves, did it every day, and the neglect of it was punished with death (Leviticus 8:6; Exodus 30:18-21). God has made all His people clean. As He sees them, there is no sin on them; but as to their daily walk, they need to be constantly judging themselves by the Word. And as the action of water will remove any defilement of the hands or feet, so the action of the Word, when we come properly under its power, will correct our wrong habits, will purify our thoughts, and make us clean.
I. In the first place, let us consider what we are taught by THE LAVER WITH ITS SUPPLY OF CLEANSING WATER. The laver, with its abundant supply of pure cleansing water, points to the Spirit of God, and the truth through which that Spirit acts, as the great appointed instruments for carrying on the work of sanctification in the souls of believers.
II. But, secondly, let us inquire what lessons we are taught by THE PERSONS WHO USED THE LAVER. It was only the priests who had access to the laver. We see here the true character of God's people; the high privilege accorded them; and the nature of the service required of them.
III. But there is a third and last point of view from which to contemplate this laver, and gather instruction from it, and that is THE POSITION IT OCCUPIED. This is very significant. The direction given to Moses, on this point, was most explicit: "Thou shalt put it between the tent of the congregation and the altar." "The tent of the congregation" means the Tabernacle. Thus the laver stood, by Divine direction, midway between the brazen altar and the Tabernacle. The Jew was required to come first to the brazen altar, with its propitiatory sacrifice, and then to the laver, with its cleansing water. Not the washing first, and then forgiveness, but forgiveness first, and then the washing.
(R. Newton, D. D.)
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