There is a special insight into the Word for the believer who was raised as a Jew. In the Old Testament, in the Tabernacle, there was a large bronze basin called a laver. In Solomon’s Temple, it was called a Bronze Sea: it was 15 feet across and held approximately 8,000 gallons of water for the priests to wash in. (See 2 Chronicles 4.)
This bronze laver was positioned in a special place in both the Tabernacle and the Temple. The bronze laver stood between the worshipper and the rest of the Tabernacle, providing a means of cleansing. A worshipper was required to wash before being allowed to enter into worship.
In Exodus 30:17-21, God commanded Moses to make a statute for the priesthood concerning the bronze laver. Priests were required to wash their hands and feet before they could minister before the Lord. Their hands and feet, just like yours and mine, are what touched the things of this world.
Hands and feet are symbolic of our exposure to the sin-filled, fallen world we must live in.
In the days when Israel worshipped in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple, the priesthood was to go through a ritual cleansing before they were allowed to minister to the Lord on behalf of the people. They were to do this without fail…otherwise judgment would come and they would die (Exo 30:20).
A Real washing
Since Scripture states that “all these things [in the Old Testament] happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition” (1 Cor 10:11), we can learn some principles from the bronze laver of the Tabernacle.
First, in combining Exodus 30:17- 21 with Ephesians 5:26, we see that the bronze laver is a “type”- a symbol -of the Scriptures. Just as the priests were required to go through a ritual washing before they ministered to the Lord and the people, so must we go through a real washing.
Our “washing of water by the Word” does not just happen at our salvation experience; it must happen continuously. The Old Testament priests had to wash every time they were to serve.
We, too, need regular “washings” of the Word of God to keep us dean and purified from sin and the effects of this world.
Our ministry to others needs to be with clean hands and a pure heart, in order to be blessed and useful for service (see Psalm 24:4).
Second, we need a constant washing with the Word if we want to regularly experience the fullness of life Jesus offers. The Word of God feeds both our spirit and our mind. This helps to keep us spiritually alive and strong.
God had a harsh judgement (death) for the priest who did not wash. In much the same way, God calls us to keep our lives free of the spiritual “deadness” that comes from missing the regular washing by the Word of God. We must be disciplined and daily read and meditate on God’s Word, in order to be cleansed and to receive spiritual life and strength.