In Part I of this teaching (here is a link to the Part I), we looked at how the Lord will illuminate the scripture for us, beyond the mere ink and page upon which it is written. We found it is important to understand passages, especially from the Old Testament in their grammatical, historical, and cultural context.
Why is this understanding so important? Because often times, well-meaning Christians and flock-fleecing false teachers and false prophets (and there are a slew of them today), not only blow by practical considerations such as context, historicity, and even grammar, but force their special “anointed” understanding on a passage. When this takes place, everybody loses.
We began looking into Exodus 30:17-21, as a means to explore what happens when we are taken beyond the ink and page the word of God is written on.
Exodus 30:17-21 (NKJV) Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.”
To summarize what we already learned we understand the Bronze Laver was between the Tent of meeting (where they would meet with God in the Holiest Place to present the blood of the atonement upon the mercy seat (upon which the Presence of God would come to judge His people’s sin as covered) and outside the alter of burnt offering, where the rest of the offering was completely consumed.
We came to find out that the burnt offering pointed towards Christ, our completely consumed perfect sacrifice, and to us, as living sacrifices, wholly consumed for the call of Christ (Romans 12:1). If that is not beyond the ink and the page, there is still more.
While I read the passage, two questions came to mind. “Why the stipulation to wash, when going between the tabernacle of meeting and the alter? Why was it so important, that death would come should the priests not obey the command?
In the most primary sense, the priests, to whom this command directly applied, were to be in constant remembrance of three realities:
- The Holiness of God
- The necessity and holiness of the burnt offering and blood atonement
- Their own need to have lives that were clean before God, as they were ministering to the LORD of heaven and earth.
Let us remember that the priestly class had no land inheritance of all the tribes of Israel. This was because they were chosen by God to minister to Him on behalf of the people. He alone was their portion.
Deuteronomy 18:1-2 1 “The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire, and His portion. 2 Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance, as He said to them.
From this passage we understand that the Levitical Priests were to be set apart for God (because of the LORD being their portion), in such a way, that even when not ministering they were sustained by His provision and presence. Their life was not their own.
Why? Because they were those who lived God’s redemption (by faith) through atonement and sacrifice, on behalf of the people. Their ministry required a different level of consecration.
It is for this reason the bronze laver was where it was located: between the two most important and sacred points of Jewish faith: the alter of sacrifice and the Holiest Place (in the Tabernacle of meeting). Hence the stipulation of washing, each time in and out; or death. But how unclean could they be from place to place, and was that really the point? Was God setting a type in place for those of us who would follow Christ, after He had completed His mission in the future?
The washing at the bronze laver was for the purpose of training them in the mind of sanctification (their need for cleansing from the blood of atonement), even when not ministering. This serious discipline was to enable them to realize sin intrusion into their lives at any time, brought risk to their relationship to God, as well as their physical life. Is it really any different for us?
This washing also tied them to the burnt offering they would sacrifice to the LORD. Let us recall that these animals needed to be clean, spotless, and blemish free. Even sacrificed inward parts were washed in a very specific way.
In like manner, the Levites were supposed to model an awareness of their need for cleansing. This desire would point toward the need of Messiah. To God Himself, the washing was no mere ritual, but an act of faith, without which their sin would not be covered, and death would come.
They were called to wash their hands and feet; a reminder that their walk of faith (feet) was to be clean as were their everyday practical life and work (hands), even outside their prescribed service.
Let us remember that the Levites are a direct foreshadowing of believers …
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Revelation 1:5-6 To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, 6 and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
It is important to note that those who served in the Tent of Meeting and the alter of burnt offering, had a ministry that was time sensitive. Once their time was complete, others would continue the service. For those in Christ, our ministry for Him is all day every day. We are called to an even more intense washing from within, because the once for all Atonement has been made by Christ’s shed blood, by which He purchased us (Acts 20:28).
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NKJV) Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Therefore, our life is not our own, not even for a second of time (I Corinthians 6:18-19).
Christ’s Atonement in His own blood is so important, as not only for the forgiveness of sins, but also for our being able to be righteous, as we submit to the Holy Spirit (Romans 6:4-14). This reality makes us able to literally be a completely consumed sacrifice, or what the burnt offering pointed to: 1) First Christ’s perfect offering of Himself 2) our being living sacrifices.
In the words of a friend, this means we are consumed by the call of God; not just a call to minister, but a call to love and a call to be clean before Him in word and deed from the world, the flesh, and the devil—a call to be wholly set apart for His purpose and use at all times.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, 5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
Let me be clear. If the Levites were called to wash as a living testimony of the call of God on their lives, or die, how much more should we be taking the call to holiness and sanctification, as very serious.
Titus 3:4-7 But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
This washing is not a passive reception, but an active positioning, as we handle and obey His word and are cleansed by the Holy Spirit, in our submission. This takes love, obedience, and perseverance in faith (John 14:15) when we have a place of much spiritual dirt. May I say it is an all-day every day wonder in our walk.
Wow! Beyond the ink and page, we learn from Exodus 30:17-22, that God calls us to obey details. This obedience is not for salvation any more than the Levites call to obedience, but not to obey places them and us at existential risk.
The difference in obedience to the washing and renewing is that we have a full view of why. Christ’s complete once for all sacrifice and all it gained for us; but even more, His love which brought Him to the cross in the first place.
Do not bypass the dry ink on the page. Let the Holy Spirit take you in the depths and heights of His love and calling, as He leads you by the Holy Spirit.