By Grant Phillips
The Bronze Laver (Exodus 30:17-21)
Once offering our accepted sacrifice upon the Bronze Altar, we then proceed west on toward the Tabernacle. Between the Bronze Altar and the Tabernacle is the Bronze Laver. What is this telling us? Where are we in this pictograph that God has drawn out for us?
Previously, we were unrighteous and could not enter the presence of God. The white fine twined linen fence blocked us. However, there is one opening, a door if you please.
Jesus said, “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)
We entered that door. Once doing so, we see an altar, and the sacrifice has been provided for us, the Lamb of God. We accepted the sacrifice that was made for us. We now have been made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)
We belong to Him now, so we proceed onward to the Tabernacle tent to fellowship with God. However, as we walk the dusty road of life, our feet become dirty. We must be clean before entering the Tabernacle because we are on Holy ground (Exodus 3:5). So we remove our sandals and He washes our feet.
“When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” (John 13:6-11 NLT)
This is exactly what the Apostle John is talking about in 1 John 1:9 when he says, “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” At this point, we have come to the Laver.
Now some today practice washing feet in their assemblies, and that’s fine if that’s what they want to do, but this is not what the Bible is saying. We cannot make each other clean. That can only be done by God. However, we can forgive one another, and we should.
The Bronze Laver though is about being washed clean spiritually. The washing is internal, not external. Christians still sin, and we need to come to the Laver before entering the Tabernacle. We don’t come to the Laver to be saved. We’re already saved. That was accomplished at the Bronze Altar. It isn’t the whole body that needs to be washed, just the feet as Jesus points out in John 13:6-11. So how are we washed at the Laver?
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” (Ephesians 5:26-27)
We are washed by God’s Word and we are forgiven for our daily sins (Matthew 6:12) by exercising 1 John 1:9 through prayer.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Yes, I am aware of the following verses:
“If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15)
To be clear, Jesus is not telling us to physically wash each other’s feet. He is telling us to forgive each other. The washing is all about “forgiveness.” I wonder how many people have physically washed someone’s feet in a church service and before the hour was up, their sharp tongue was cutting the same person to shreds. Forgiveness folks. It’s all about forgiveness.
Jesus did two things when He washed the disciples’ feet. He forgave their sins and He made them clean. We can forgive each other, and we should, but we cannot make someone else spiritually clean. That can only be done at the Bronze Laver of Jesus Christ. Perhaps this will become clearer as we proceed.
There is one important thing about the Laver that must be pointed out. This is the only piece of furniture that has no measurements. This says to me that God’s arms are opened wide to His children. He is the Father in Luke 15:11- 32 waiting for his son or daughter to come to their senses and come home. Now it doesn’t say that the prodigal son was washed, but I’m sure after wallowing in the pigpen he was washed before donning the finest robe in the house.
There is no measurement to the Laver because our sins and they are many, are washed away by the blood of the Lamb at the Altar, and washed away by the forgiving grace of Almighty God at the Laver as we live before Him upon this earth.
There is no measurement to the Laver because some of His children may sin more than others. Just as earthly children differ, so do heavenly children. Some are more obedient. Some are not as obedient. We all have our own personalities, weaknesses and strengths, and God compensates for that. There is only one sin God cannot forgive, and it cannot be committed by a Christian. That is the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit found in Matthew 12:31-32 and Mark 3:28-30.
What a blessing it is to know that we have a forgiving Father in Heaven. Keep in mind that our Heavenly Father is not like so many parents of today who allow their unruly children to run wild. He will discipline His own.
The Laver that stands just in front of the Tabernacle tent also loudly proclaims that we are on Holy ground. Just as God told Moses to remove his shoes, for he was on Holy ground, we need to be clean to fellowship with our Lord. Jesus demonstrated in the verses above (John 13:6-11) that we don’t need to be washed all over again as in salvation. We just need to wash our feet as in restoration of fellowship when we sin.
When a Christian is baptized (all others are dunked) it signifies the cleansing power of Jesus when He saves us and the on-going cleansing in the life of His children as He washes the dust from our feet. It also signifies that we identify with His sacrifice for us at the Bronze Altar and our new life with Him as we journey toward the Holy of Holies.