We can link this passage with 1 Corinthians 3 17, “the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”. Six points may be made.
The laver was made of copper, speaking of the righteousness of God. Inside the tabernacle we have gold presenting to us the glory of God, and pure gold which speaks of deity. The laver presents to us the living word - the Lord Jesus Christ in all His holiness and righteousness, exposing sin and judging it in keeping with His own character. The water speaks of the written Word that is able to cleanse.
“Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word”, Psa. 119. 9. It is so important for us to read and meditate upon the Word of God in order to maintain purity of life. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee”, 119. 11. The picture, then, is Christ in His purity, and the Word of God in its power to cleanse.
As the people passed through the wilderness, they came into contact with that which defiled them. In order to maintain communion with God, and to be of service in the sanctuary, it was necessary for the priests to come to the laver to cleanse themselves - the laver was the provision. Today, we are passing through a wilderness scene that has a defiling effect upon us. We very often see things that we should not see, and hear things that we should not hear. We are not speaking of deliberately watching or listening to things that we should not watch or hear. We are speaking of the fact that we see and hear things that we cannot avoid. We live in a corrupt world marked by immorality, deceit, violence and filth of every kind. What we see and hear brings defilement. We have within our breasts a well of lust - the flesh - and this is sufficient to negate our testimonies, dishonour Christ and bring defilement into the local assembly if not kept in check - how solemn and dreadful! We hear and see things, and we find, to our horror, there is a response within our breasts. This brings defilement, but thank God, there is a provision for us to cleanse ourselves from the defilement that we contact. That provision is the Word of God. Spending time in the presence of God, judging ourselves, and applying the Word of God to our lives, cleanses from the defilement with which we come into contact as we pass through this world. We find again and again, thal we have to learn what sin really means in the sight of God.
Sin, whether in the believer or unbeliever, is vile, foul and loathsome in the sight of God. It is only through spending time in the presence of God, judging self and applying the Word of God, that the enjoyment of fellowship with God and with His Son is maintained. The people in the midst of whom God will dwell must not only be redeemed, they must also be holy. When are we going to learn the sanctity of the local assembly in view of the fact that it is the residence of the Holy Spirit?, 1 Cor. 3.17. When are we going to learn that, because God is infinitely holy, we need to judge all that is inconsistent with His character? That is why discipline is essential in the assembly, to maintain divine standards in the midst of His people. God demands that the people in the midst of whom He will dwell should maintain His standards. In 1 Timothy we read much about godliness - godliness is vital relationship with God enjoyed and expressed We cannot be in the enjoyment of the presence of God without developing features of godliness. Thus the kind of people in the midst of whom God will dwell will be a holy people.
In John 13 we read much about washing. There we find four washings, one of which has reference to the initial bathing, “He that is washed”, v. 10. The three other washings are: (i) the Lord washing the disciples’ feet, v. 14: (ii) the disciples washing each other’s feet, v. 14, and (iii) the disciple washing his own feet, v. 10. The Lord washing the disciples’ feel speaks typically of His Advocacy and High Priestly work. Washing each other’s feet would speak of the recovery of fellow-believers and of their comfort. The individual washing his own feet would speak of self-examination and self-judgment, and this is what we have in Exodus 30. The purpose of the laver, then, was for cleansing.
We suggest that this indicates that the laver was for those who knew something of the brazen altar, and who approached the sanctuary. The truth of the laver is for those who are in the good of the work of Christ at Calvary, and who know something of communion in the sanctuary. The truth of the laver should be experienced practically by every child of God before he enters the sanctuary or before he engages in service for God. 1 Corinthians 11. 28 is important in this context, “Let a man examine himself”.
We suggest that the hands speak of service (our work), and the feet speak of walk (our manner of life). Our work should be in keeping with the character of God, as also should our walk. In regard to our work, we refer to Hebrews 12. 28. “let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear”, In regard to our walk, we refer to 1 Peter 1. 15, 16, “be ye holy in all manner of conversation (manner of life)… Be ye holy; for I am holy”.
This reminds us of 1 Corinthians 11. 30, “For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep”. It is so possible to be fit for heaven, yet not to be fit for the assembly: fit for heaven because that depends upon the finished work of Christ, but not fit for the assembly because of the life one is living. How solemn! Let us take “death” in our passage and apply it. Failure to cleanse ourselves from the defilement that we contact - from sin in our lives - results in death to our spiritual progress and death to our enjoyment of fellowship with God. We will never make spiritual progress if we allow sin in our lives. How many spiritual dwarfs there are today among the people of God, and so often the reason for this is failure to bring the Word of God to bear upon their lives.
The practice was to continue until the close of the dispensation As to the individual priest, it was to continue until the close of his service. This would remind us that we need continually to cleanse ourselves while we are in this scene. There is no defilement in heaven; it is here that we are defiled because of what we see and hear. Here we still have the flesh, and until that is forever removed we need day-by-day cleansing.
We see, then, that the people in the midst of whom God will dwell must be a pure people, who maintain purity by continual cleansing, by self-judgment and the application of the Word of God to their lives