Bible Studies - Sanctuary

11. The Laver


The laver and his foot were made of brass just like the other piece of furniture in the court, the altar of burnt offering (Exodus 30:18). Scripture does not give us any dimensions or give a description of it's shape. However, we are told that the laver was to hold water so it is often presumed that it was like a round bowl, with the foot were used to support this large bowl and stop it from tipping over. The foot could also have held a smaller amount of water, making it easier for the priests to wash their feet as it was lower than the large bowl.

Unlike the altar of burnt offering, the laver was made "of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." (Exodus 38:8). "These looking - glasses were of the finest brass, burnished for that purpose. In the laver, either they were artfully joined together, or else molten down and cast anew; but it is probable the laver was so brightly burnished that the sides of it still served for looking - glasses, that the priests when they came to wash might there see their faces, and so discover the spots to wash them clean." Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible re Exodus 38:8. When the priests looked at the burnished brass which represented Christ's righteousness, they were not only to see their physical uncleanness, but their spiritual uncleanness too. By constantly looking at Christ's righteousness and comparing ourselves to Him, we will over time become changed into His holy likeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

The laver was placed between the altar of burnt offering and the entrance of the Holy Place. The priests were to wash their hands and their feet before entering the Holy Place, or before officiating at the altar of burn offering (Exodus 30:19, 20). It was to be a statue for ever to them that they die not (Exodus 30:21).

"The glory of God hallowed the sanctuary; and for this reason the priests never entered the place sanctified by God's presence with shoes upon their feet. Particles of dust might cleave to their shoes, which would desecrate the sanctuary; therefore the priests were required to leave their shoes in the court, before entering the sanctuary. In the court, beside the door of the tabernacle, stood the brazen laver, wherein the priests washed their hands and their feet before entering the tabernacle, that all impurity might be removed, 'that they die not.' All who officiated in the sanctuary were required of God to make special preparations before entering where God's glory was revealed." Spirit of Prophecy Vol. 1 by E. G. White, page 348.

It is by the leading of the Holy Spirit that a sinner enters the sanctuary court. Here he first beheld the altar of sacrifice upon which there was always a lamb burning. This lamb represented Christ the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. When the sinner confesses their sins and accepts this sacrifice on their behalf, Christ takes their sins upon Himself and the sinner goes free. This, however, is only the beginning of a long walk with God. Next comes the laver for cleansing. At the altar our past sins are forgiven; at the laver or baptism they are washed away, and we are cleansed (Acts 22:16).

"Washing at the laver in the Mosaic dispensation corresponds in the Christian dispensation not only to the ordinance of baptism, but to the ordinance of feet washing, as instituted by Christ. John 13:12-17. This Christian service is as sacred as was that of olden time.

"As failure of a priest to wash before entering upon any service for the Lord meant death, Ex. 30:21,20, so to Peter's refusal to let Christ wash his feet, Jesus said, 'If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.' John 13:8. 'The service that Peter refused was the type of a higher cleansing. Christ had come to wash the heart from the stain of sin. In refusing to allow Christ to wash his feet, Peter was refusing the higher cleansing included in the lower.' DA 646. The failure of a priest to wash was as really rejecting the Lord as was Peter's refusal, and the penalty in both cases was the same.. With what reverence and humility should we participate in the sacred ordinances that point back to the sacrifice made for us on Calvary, and symbolized at the altar and at the laver!

"This Christian ordinance of feet washing provides for continual cleansing, Jesus said to Peter, 'He that is washed - laved or baptized - needeth not save to wash his feet.' John 13:10. When defilement is contracted in our daily walk, we come again and again in this sacred ordinance, where we renew our baptismal vows and receive renewed forgiveness. Then the righteousness of Christ is once more imputed to us, and by faith in Him we are justified."
The Path To The Throne Of God by Sarah Peck, page 43.

The living water which we all need to be washed with and cleansed from all unrighteousness is the Holy Spirit. ". . . 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.

When Jesus Christ died upon the cross of Calvary a Roman soldier pierced his side to ensure that He was indeed dead. What flowed out? "But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water." John 19:34. The blood represents the blood that was placed on the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and the water represents the water in the laver. The blood cleanses us by the death and blood of Jesus Christ, the water washed the person clean from guilt.

We know from the studies that we have done so far the the sanctuary was a copy of the heavenly original. Yet when reading the book of Hebrews Paul only speaks of a Holy and Most Holy apartments in heaven. So where is the outer court? As the lamb was slain in the outer court and this represented Christ dying on Calvary, and the washing in the laver represents the washing of baptism and foot washing, the only logical conclusion one can reach is that the outer court in this earth (See Testimonies to the Church Vol. 6 by E. G. White, page 366).

As in the court of the earthly sanctuary, all the washing and cleansing were done before the sacrifices were slain and the blood was taken into the sanctuary, so all our cleansing must be done here and now, because in heaven there will be no cleansing symbolised by baptism and feet washing. If we are not thus cleansed, we are not prepared to enter the holy place for sanctification.


© S. D. Goeldner



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© S. D. Goeldner, February, 2011. Last updated October, 2017.
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