Second danger & answer
5d Baptised into Christ (8)
Type iv. Priesthood, the Laver of regeneration
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.