As we pass through the gate into the Tabernacle and pause to contemplate the bronze altar of judgment, we arrive at the Laver. The priest has slaughtered the animal, applied the blood, and needs one thing: to get clean. In the process of making atonement for the people the priest became unclean by handling the blood. He must wash and change his clothes before going through the first veil. A holy God requires a holy intercessor, one who will represent the people, and washing at the Laver symbolizes that place of cleansing.
This basin of water, the Laver, was made out of crushed mirrors gathered from the women and strategically placed behind the burning altar and before the veil into the Holy Place. There was undoubtedly a reflection of the priest as he approached the Laver and he was reminded of the impurity of himself and the people. This was a serious matter to God for if the priest didn’t cleanse his hands and feet, symbolizing his life of servanthood, he would die (Ex. 30:17-21). This lower story embodies the truth that being in the presence of God required holiness and the upper story of that truth remains in effect for us.
The image of water was God’s choice when He instituted baptism; coming to Him by faith we desire to experience His death, burial, resurrection, and life with Him in the Spirit.
For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was.
Romans 6:4-5 NLT
Our new life in Christ is empowered by the Holy Spirit; He is another Helper, just like Jesus, Who represents us as a defense attorney to the Father (John 14:16-17). He will be with us forever, living in us, bringing truth to every situation we encounter. That’s why John said,
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.” Matthew 3:11 ESV
The Laver also pictures the corporate Church as she is washed with the Word of God and walks closely with Jesus in a bridal relationship of love and trust (Eph. 5:26-27).
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit. Titus 3:5 ESV
We can be assured that when we draw near to Christ in faith our guilty conscience is cleansed and our bodies are symbolically washed at the Laver (Heb. 10:22). Let’s rejoice at this place of cleansing as we prepare to enter into the Holy Place.