Colossians

part 19


 

Second  danger & answer

5d  Baptised into Christ (8)

Type iv.  Priesthood, the Laver of regeneration





5.d.iv(a) Regeneration 


 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing (= laver /baptism) of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 

Titus 3:5


When writing to Titus Paul, in speaking of our salvation, says that we are saved according to His mercy by the washing of regeneration. The word washing can be translated as laver or bath. This language immediately connects our thinking with the piece of furniture of that name in the Tabernacle.

The explanation of this is found by Paul's letter to the  Ephesians, where the same word is used.


 

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing (=laver) 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. 

Eph.5:23-27

 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;  But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:   Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,  Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.  Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:  But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. 
 
I Pet.1:18-25

In talking of how marriage is a picture of the Church Paul says that Christ will cleanse it by the washing (= laver) of water by the word. Here we see the 'how' of it. It is by God's creative word that, just as we saw at creation, gives new life to the dead, and cleanses His Church ( all based, of course, on the finished work of Calvary). Peter in his first epistle says that this word of God, by which we born again, is incorruptible and endures forever as opposed to man's glory, which is only for a short time and then fades away.

The Laver in the Tabernacle then is a type of the washing of regeneration and of cleansing. We will consider these thoughts and  will see its purpose in relation to the Levitical priesthood. From which we can draw some lessons.

5d.iv(b) Priests unto God

 In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.  For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount.  And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel;  Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto Myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:  And ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.  

Ex.19:1-6

After leaving Egypt God led the children of Israel to Mount Sinai where He was to make a Covenant with the nation. This we know as the Old Covenant (OC), which as we learn in Galatians was only temporary, until Christ should appear to take away sacrifices for sin by the sacrifice of Himself Gal.3:19.

One of the first things God told the nation was that they were to be a kingdom of priests to Him, and a holy nation. This is quoted by Peter as referring to those who have been born again by the Spirit of God.

Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,  As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,  Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  

I Pet.2:1-5

In the New Covenant (NC) all those who are baptised into the body of Christ are a kingdom of priests unto God, there is no separate or special class of people called priests. The priesthood of believers is too vast a subject to dwell on here, but the reader is encouraged to search the scriptures as to what sacrifices we are to offer up.

In the OC this priesthood  was to be expressed by a special group of people from the tribe of Levi, who would serve in the Tabernacle. The instructions for the tabernacle begin in Ex.25 the details of which we cannot now consider here. Instead we will focus on one piece of furniture- the Laver.

5d.iv(c) A new life


 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,  Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat:  When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD:  So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations. 
 
Ex.30:17-21

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take Aaron and his sons with him, and the garments, and the anointing oil, and a bullock for the sin offering, and two rams, and a basket of unleavened bread;  And gather thou all the congregation together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.  And Moses did as the LORD commanded him; and the assembly was gathered together unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Moses said unto the congregation, This is the thing which the LORD commanded to be done.   And Moses brought Aaron and his sons, and washed them with water....................... and Moses brought Aaron's sons, and put coats upon them, and girded them with girdles, and put bonnets upon them; as the LORD commanded Moses............................  So Aaron and his sons did all things which the LORD commanded by the hand of Moses. 

Lev.8:1-35


There were two applications of the Laver. The first was when the priests were inaugurated into the priesthood, the second was the daily washing of the priests as they performed their duties in the Tabernacle.

Firstly, the inauguration into the priesthood. It was quite an elaborate ritual so we will only highlight certain parts of it, and  focus only on the ordinary priest. At their initiation the priests were washed with water, clothed with a linen garment, had bonnets put on their heads and then they were  girded with girdles.

The initiation was a ceremony that cut off the Levite from his past life and brought him into a new life, that of  one  ministering in the priesthood. The washing being symbolic of washing away that old way of life.

Once again we have the picture of water being used to symbolise the entry into a new life. Just as the Levite was transformed from an ordinary member of Israel into a priest unto God, we too, on new birth, are brought into an entirey new life; so that we  become part of that  kingdom of priests unto God, of which Peter speaks.

5d.iv(d) Clothed with Christ

After the washing the priests were clothed in specially made garments. The High Priest had his garments, but the ordinary priest had theirs as well. Clothing in scripture is a symbol of habit and character. In fact the clothing we put on is no more than a description of putting on of Christ eg. Rom.13:11-14.  So to be clothed with Christ is to put on His character Col.3:8-13.

The word for coats used in the text: Moses brought Aaron's sons, and put coats upon them, is the same word used when God put coats on Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after the fall Gen.3:21. When they disobeyed and ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, our first parents became aware of their nakedness and tried to cover themselves with leaves.  But it was of no use for when God came they had to hide in shame. By their own efforts they tried to cover their shame, but  they had lost that fellowship with their creator and nothing they did could repair that damage.  God  removed those leaves and gave them coats of slain animals, this prefiguring the sacrifice of Christ.

All our righteousnesses are indeed as filthy rags, and they do do fade as a leaf Isa.64:6. Instead we need God to clothe us in a righteousness that never fades or is blown away.

With the Priests they had come into a new life, and so needed new clothes to show their newly appointed position. They were stripped of their  old clothes, washed in the laver  and were given clothes made according to pattern. It was God provided, and  not of their own imaginations.

The priests clothing was made from fine linen. In scripture fine linen is a symbol of Christ's righteousness Rev.19:8. So we have the truth that on new birth we   put on Christ who is our righteousness, He is made unto us righteousness indeed I Cor.1:30.


 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Rev.19:8


 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

Rom.10:4

 Let thy priests be clothed with righteousness; and let thy saints shout for joy.  For thy servant David's sake turn not away the face of thine anointed.  The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. If thy children will keep my covenant and my testimony that I shall teach them, their children shall also sit upon thy throne for evermore.  For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.  This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.  I will abundantly bless her provision: I will satisfy her poor with bread.  I will also clothe her priests with salvation: and her saints shall shout aloud for joy. 

Ps.132:9-16


Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (=creation): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 

II Cor.5:17-21

 In that famous passage of Paul in second Corinthians we are taught that in Christ we are new creations. As a result we have been made the righteousness of God in Him, and have received the ministry of reconciliation, which is one aspect of the priesthood of believers.

There are other aspects to the inauguration of the priests but that would be outside the scope of these studies at this time. Sufficient to say for now is that when studied, it will be seen that, in type, God has provided all things necessary for the believer's life and walk in Christ.

5d.iv(e) Continual cleansing

In the instructions for its construction there are two thoughts to  consider with regards to the Laver: firstly no measurements are given as to its actual size! All the other furniture of the Tabernacle had precise  measurements, the Laver did not have  them! How big it was we have no way of telling but that's not important.

Secondly, we also note that the Laver was made from the looking glasses of the women. The 'looking glasses' were not made from glass! They were the womens' mirrors made from  highly polished brass. Looking glasses is the 17th century word for mirror.

We now look and see what then are the lessons we can draw from this.

And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the looking glasses (= mirror) of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 

Ex.38:8


For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure [unto Him.] 

 
Jn.3:34

The priest was cleansed completely once, but thereafter only his hands and feet needed cleaning. As he approached the Laver he would see his defilement in the reflection of the metal. He then washed himself, becoming a doer of the word, as it is in the Levitical code. This is very illustrative of the Christian's life.

At new birth a Christian has the washing of regeneration by the word of God. As  the priests were only initiated once into the priesthood so believers are only born anew once. Thereafter it is a matter of cleansing from day to day defilement, and not one of  inauguration.

Hands speak of service and the feet of the daily walk. As the priests went about their business the hands and feet would become sullied, they would be defiled, hence the need to wash them in order to keep clean. As God's  people we are in the world, though not of it, and live in its environment. We too become defiled and need constant cleansing.

Hence the washing of the disciples feet in the upper room. It was a custom of the day. As a result of daily travel and duty the feet would become dusty, dirty and when entering a house the servant would wash the feet. We can not give a full exposition of the passage in John here, but for our purposes we see that Jesus tells Peter that he that is clean only needs the feet washed.

James tells us that hearing the Word is like looking into a looking glass. It tells us what our condition is like. It tells us if we need to be cleansed of any defilement or not. Are we going to be a doer or just a hearer?

There is one detail that must not be overlooked. In the Levitical code the priests were to wash hands as well as feet. But in the upper room only the feet were washed. The priests' hands would be defiled by reason of the sacrifices of the animals at the altar of burnt offering. In the NC the one eternal sacrifice has been offered once and for all,  we do not offer up sacrifices for sin for ourselves or for anyone else. In that respect our hands do not need washing, it is only our feet that do so.

We are not of the world, but we certainly are in it. And as we live in this world defilement may come upon us, Jesus prayed that we may be kept from the evil  (one). John tells us that by walking in the light we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus continues to keep us clean. We can not keep ourselves clean no more than we can give ourselves salvation; it is His work alone, all we need do is to continue to walk in the light and He will keep us clean.


 
 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 


Jn.15:3

 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.  Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.  As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 

Jn.17:14-19


 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth (= continues to cleanse) us from all sin.

I Jn.1:7


5d.iv(f) Summary


We have  seen in this article that the Laver  in the Tabernacle has a twofold application. Firstly it is a symbol of regeneration, the baptism into Christ. The Levites who were to be appointed as priests were to wash/ bathe/ baptise and leave their old life for an  entirely new one. As part of an elaborate ceremony they would be clothed with a linen coat. This representing new birth and being clothed with the righteousness of Christ, He is made unto us righteousness.

Second, the Laver was the day to day wash basin whereat the priests would keep themselves clean from the defilement of their  duties This speaking of God's provision in His  salvation. The believer is  being kept constantly clean from the defilement of the world, as we walk with Him in the light.  



Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That keeps me clean and fit for heaven.

I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel my Saviour in my heart.

Charles Wesley




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