Exodus 30:17-21. 17 The Lord said to Moses, 18 “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, 19 with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. 20 When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the Lord, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. 21 They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.”
We come now to the last piece of furniture at the tabernacle. The bronze basin. The place where the priest will wash before ministering at the altar or in the Holy Place.
As with everything else at the tabernacle, this bronze basin is a shadow. A picture of an ultimate reality.
It’s made of bronze – the tabernacle is where God meets man. Everything made of gold in the tabernacle represents the purity of God. Everything made of bronze represents the baseness of man. The bronze basin reminds us that man comes needy to the presence of God.
The priests wash themselves too – yes even the priests are dirty. Even the priests sin over and over. The people were reminded every time they saw their priest wash up that he too needs a Messiah. He has not been set apart because he is more righteous than they.
The water cleanses of impurity – the ritual of washing hands and feet each time the priest entered the courtyard literally kept them alive as it demonstrated their faith. The washing with water however is just a picture of a greater washing of which we are all in need. The cleansing of our hearts from sin.
Lady Macbeth seeks cleansing.
Water as purity is a theme throughout scripture. Earlier in Exodus God’s water of life poured out on the people from the stricken Rock. Later the prophet Ezekiel will equate the water of the basin with God himself. The Spirit.
Ezekiel 36:25-27. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Ezekiel’s words point back to the tabernacle and ahead to the New Covenant. God will give us a new heart, cleansing us once and for all by placing his very own Spirit of life inside of us.
Jesus will say the same thing:
John 3:5. Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.”
The water IS the Spirit. Here’s how Jesus said it later in John’s gospel:
John 7:37-39. 37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Jesus Christ is our bronze basin. He became “bronze” for us. He took on flesh. On the cross he took on our sin. And yet inside of his body was the cleansing water of God’s divine life. The Spirit. Offered to all who would by faith receive it.
1 Corinthians 6:11. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
Now in Christ we too are the bronze basin. The fallen ones that have been cleansed from the inside out. We hold the water of life inside of us. Because we are IN CHRIST we have experienced a once for all cleansing of our sins and of our Sin. Not just our external failings, but our internal diseased heart. And because CHRIST is IN US we can go on experiencing this cleansing day after day by the Spirit who is transforming us into the image of Christ each and every time we, like the priests of old, enter his presence.
Hebrews 10:22. let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
This is the great assurance of our union with Christ – we ARE cleansed. We are made holy and righteous before God. Not only is the penalty of sin washed out of our lives but so is the power and principle of sin. Sin no longer rules us. We have a new purified heart. Therefore, we enter his presence with a full assurance of faith. Faith grounded in the sprinkled blood of Christ and the cleansing life of the indwelling Spirit. We enter not on the basis of what we have done, but on the basis of who we are. We are learning to live from BEING not from DOING.
Then we’re ready to DO. To serve in the courts of God. As priests who have been cleansed now standing confidently in the presence of God and man.
“To live is Christ” is to go to the bronze basin of Jesus Christ and receive his pure water of cleansing. His very life. And it is to live as that same bronze basin holding the life giving water of God in our flesh offering it to all who would enter the presence of God with us.