Exodus 30:17-21 In the New Covenant, God washes us by the Holy Spirit so that we may rule with Him.
Exodus 30:17-21 In the New Covenant, God washes us by the Holy Spirit so that we may rule with Him.
“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.”
The bronze laver reminds us of God’s all consuming holiness. And all who approach God must be holy as God is holy. The ritual of washing sets the framework for sanctification of the Spirit in the New Covenant. The first washing concerns the change of identity from a slave to a son of God. Here, he denies his personal rights, possessions, future plans to make God as his master. Subsequent washings sanctifies him to become more and more like God in divine love, wisdom and authority. In so doing, he may conform to God’s image and rule with Him in compassion, righteousness and humility. Today’s devotion teaches us: In the New Covenant, God washes us by the Holy Spirit so that we may rule with Him.
The word “laver” means a bath or wash basin containing water for the purpose of washing. It was here at the bronze laver that the priests washed their hands and feet before entering into the holy place.
Concerning its location within the tabernacle, it was the second furniture after the Bronze Altar.
No measurements or instructions are given as to the shape and size of the laver. The only thing mentioned is that it had a stand (Ex 31:9), and it was made of solid bronze from mirrors (see Exodus 38:8).
The laver served one purpose; to wash and cleanse the priests from all defilement. No one in Israel or anyone in the world could wash from the laver except the priests. However, before Aaron and his sons can serve as priests, they must first be anointed by washing the whole body.
“And you shall anoint the laver and its base, and consecrate it. “Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the door of the tabernacle of meeting and wash them with water. “You shall put the holy garments on Aaron, and anoint him and consecrate him, that he may minister to Me as priest. “And you shall bring his sons and clothe them with tunics. “You shall anoint them, as you anointed their father, that they may minister to Me as priests; for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.” Thus Moses did; according to all that the LORD had commanded him, so he did. – Exodus 40:11-16
Here, the word “wash” means to wash all over. Their bodies were washed first, then their clothing. This washing was done by Moses and it was once and final. Subsequently, the priests must wash only their hands and feet every time they enter the Holy Place lest they die.
Without the first rebirth, there is no basis for sanctification and ministry.
The ritual of washing in the Tabernacle concerns the priesthood. The first washing anoints a man making him a priest forever. Subsequent washings sanctifies him for service in the tabernacle. Both the first and subsequent washings are equally important in making a man worthy to approach God and serve Him.
In the New Covenant, the first washing concerns sonship; It changes one’s identity from a slave to a son of God. Here, a man undergoes rebirth through Christ’s blood and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. As exemplified by Jesus, He was first washed (baptised) in water by John the Baptist followed by the Holy Spirit coming upon Him. Thereafter, God responded from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” (see Matthew 3:17).
What is the significance of the first washing?
When a person undergoes the first washing (water baptism), he gives up his personal rights, possessions and plans. He denies himself to take on God’s likeness and mission. And God adopts him as His son and calls him righteous. The result: he is transformed from a slave of the devil to become a son of God to rule with Him. The transformation of identity at the first washing happens only once. Thereafter, the Holy Spirit regenerates and guides him continuously to fulfil the righteousness (perfection) of God and his divine mission. To summarise:
The first washing in the Old Covenant signifies
- complete dedication to obey the law and teach it,
- the formation of a priestly calling to reconcile Israel to God.
The first washing in the New Covenant signifies
- complete abdication of one’s personal rights to God by conforming to God’s image and mission,
- the formation of one’s identity to become a son of God to rule with Him
- the possessing of the Holy Spirit.
What is the significance of subsequent washings?
While the first washing concerns the transformation of one’s identity from a slave to a son of God, subsequent washings concerns sanctification towards righteousness (divine perfection). The purpose of sanctification is to prepare the sons to rule with God. Here, the Spirit of Christ works to sanctify his heart, mind and bodily cravings continually. When Peter insisted that Jesus wash his whole body, Jesus replied,
“He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” – John 13:10
As we know it, Jesus referred to Judas who having partaken in the first washing did not abdicate the throne of his life. For he continued to be his own master to fulfil his fleshly agenda. Likewise, there are those today who continue to hold on to their rights, possessions, plans and traditions. Because they did not surrender their lives to God, they could not conform to the image of Christ. Even though they continue to increase in biblical knowledge and serve in the church, they remain a slave.
How do believers grow in Christ-likeness?
Many equate spiritual growth to increasing in biblical knowledge and commitment to religious activities. The Pharisees possessed great religious fervour and knowledge of the Law, but yet they have no part in Christ. True spiritual growth pertains to the following:
- To love and accept all people despite their idiosyncrasies and weaknesses.
- To acquire greater understanding of how God perceives people, circumstances and the state of the world today.
- To acquire greater wisdom to know what God is about to do to fulfil His salvation plans in the world.
- To be entrusted with greater responsibilities and with it divine authority to accomplish His salvation plans.
Why do some of us stagnate in our pursuit of Christ-likeness?
Some of us stagnate because we did not deny our natural identity, dreams, ideals, convictions and traditions. We supposed to believe in Jesus is to know theology; to understand the work of the cross and how it led to the forgiveness of sins; to be baptised into the church and to serve in its ministries. Many believe that as long as we keep up with a reasonable amount of bible reading, prayer and service, we should be considered saved. However, we do not practise giving up our rights daily, to understand God’s will and walk in it. We continue to dwell on popular conceptions of God and the world; we hold onto our plans concerning family, career and retirement. No wonder our Christian journey remains largely earthly and devoid of supernatural encounters of God and His angels. What is the basis for sanctification and ministry when there is no intention to love God by giving up our fleshly identity and agenda?!! Paul said,
And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing (it would have served no purpose). – 1 Corinthians 13:2
In the New Covenant, God washes us by the Holy Spirit so that we may rule with Him.
Indeed, God cannot rule through men who do not deny and sanctify themselves continually. The mandate for priests to undergo the first and subsequent washes attests to the fact that God rules through His sons. Not just any son, but sons who sanctify themselves continually. Even as God has chosen us, He will reject us as His vessels if we do not sanctify ourselves continually. Jesus said to the church in Ephesus,
“But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place— unless you repent.” – Revelations 2:4-5
1 Samuel 15 records God rejecting Saul as king two years after he was anointed because he wanted to be his own master. God said to Saul, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you today and has given it to your neighbour, who is better than you.” (see 1 Samuel 15:28). Subsequently, God sent Samuel to anoint David as the new king of Israel. And the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul and an evil spirit terrorised him instead (see 1 Samuel 16:14).
That said, God allows men (both good and evil) to rule for a time so that they may gather their followers. When Jesus came in the flesh, the sheep recognise His voice and follow Him. Similarly, when an evil ruler arises, the goats will hear his voice and follow Him.
In the Old Covenant, God washes men with water so that they may become priests. In the New Covenant, God washes us by the Holy Spirit so that we may rule with Him.
As sons of God, we begin ruling by example. First, over our family, then, our neighbourhood and workplace. Then, the nation and beyond. We rule by establishing the spirit of compassion, justice and humility wherever I go.
- Compassion: To love all people despite their idiosyncrasies, weakness and failures.
- Justice: To uphold righteousness and fairness despite oppositions.
- Humility: To deny our rights, possessions, and plans by yielding ourselves fully to God.
Dear Lord, I deny my personal rights, possessions and plans to do your will. Draw me closer to you so that I may be virtuous, wise and powerful as you are. Use me to rule with you in my family, neighbourhood, workplace, nation and beyond. Enable me to empathise with the plight of others. Empower me to stand up for the weak. And to practise humility by putting the interest of the community before myself. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.