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The Brazen Laver

Exodus 30:17-21



The Brazen Altar burned brightly with flaming symbolism – it was the place where sin was judged.  Today we look to the laver, and it too is brass, but that’s about the only similarity.


  • The altar has fire in it, the laver has water.
  • The altar speaks of reconciliation, the laver of sanctification.
  • The altar deals with the penalty of sin, the laver with the practice of sin.
  • The altar is about a convicted sinner, the laver is about a consecrated believer.


1.     The Believer.

Only a believer can come to the laver.  But why come to the laver?

        a.     We have a new position.

Because of the altar, we are now positionally different in the eyes of God.

v. 19        Only Aaron and his sons could come to the laver.  You had to be a priest...part of the right family.  But today, when you got saved you became a priest, w/ direct access to God!  In the OT you had to have a priest, in the NT days now you ARE a priest!


The priesthood of the believer is one of the most cherished and precious doctrines of the NT.  Because it carries certain privileges.  “Membership has its privileges.”

  • Direct access to God.  No human mediator is needed.
  • The right to sacrifice.  In the OT if you offered strange fire it was punishable by death.  If you weren’t a priest, it was strange fire.

Romans 12:1
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Is your all on the altar of sacrifice laid?

Hebrews 13:15
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

        b.     We have a new problem.

Shortly after you got saved you sinned again.  What?  How can this be?  We’re still sinners...not perfect, just forgiven!  God wants us to do better.  He wants us to get daily victory.  He knows we don’t have the ability to be sinless, but He does want us to sin LESS!  He told the woman taken in the act of adultery, go and sin no more.  He knew she would sin again, but she doesn’t have to commit that sin ever again.  She should strive to get victory over that one, and then over another, and another on her list.

1 John 2:1
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

Because we still will sin to some degree, we need to go to the laver.  It’s the equivalent to washing your hands.  You may have had an all over bath this morning, but you’ll still wash your hands at times during the day...won’t you?

Ill.—my wife likes to engage in ‘pillow talk’ sometimes.  Especially when I’m very sleepy!  But I can think of times where I roll over, face to face with her, and I initiate the talk.  Maybe something like, “Did you see that walk off homer tonite?!”  And then she responds, “You didn’t brush your teeth today, did you?!”  “Yes, I did!”  “When?”  “This morning!”

        We need some refreshing from time to time.  At salvation we got that ‘once and for all’ all over bath, but as we tread thru this filthy world we need some regular foot washings!


And our sensitivity to sin grows as we grow and mature.  I’m more aware of my sinfulness now than the day I was saved, but no doubt I was deeper in sin back then than I am now.  But I wasn’t as tuned in as I am now to my sin.  I’m more disturbed by my sin now than then.

Ill.—as a boy I got in the dirt and made mud pies and didn’t understand why I had to take a bath when I was just going to do the same thing again tomorrow!  I went to jr. camp w/ 6 extra pair of clean underwear and got back w/ the same number.  I wore the same pair all week, even after showers.  I only got in the shower maybe twice all week when forced to, and I’d take that pair of undies off and toss them against the wall.  More disturbing than the fact that they stuck was those times when they’d actually be a few inches higher on the wall when I got back!


But as I’ve grown and matured I’ve gotten more sensitive to dirt, and my wife now has me up to 3 showers every week!  Likewise, I’m more sensitive to the spiritual dirt of this world, and more and more see the need to approach the laver for regular cleansing.  We live in a moral cesspool of a world...the filth and muck is all around...we cannot help but get some of it on us.


2.     The Laver.

There is no doubt about the placement of the laver.  It was right between the altar and the Holy Place.  You have to go to the altar first before you move on for personal cleansing.  You first have to deal w/ the penalty of sin before moving on to dealing w/ the practice of sin.

Ill.—many get the cart before the horse, wanting to clean up their lives first before they get saved.  That’s like saying, as soon as I get to feeling better I’m going to the doctor.  You go to the doctor to help you get better!  You don’t go to the laver before the altar, but after!  You’re not free to wash until the Lord has first removed your shackles.


The laver is a beautiful symbol of the Word of God:

  • The laver was sprinkled with blood, and the Bible’s pages are peppered with that common red thread all the way through.  [Heb. 9]
  • The laver was anointed with oil [Lev. 8].  That oil stands for the Spirit of God, for the Bible is a book of the Spirit, supernatural in its makeup.


a. The mystery of the laverno one knows exactly what it looked like.  God didn’t give us many specifics.  And there’s a mystery about the Word of God. 


Its inspiration...40 authors over thousands of years, writing by the Spirit, and all agreeing as one! 


Its preservation...still in print, still the all time best seller.  The average print phase of a book is 5 years.  If a book is still in print 10 or 20 years later we call it amazing, 50 years we call it phenomenal, 100 years we call it unbelievable!  But the Bible goes beyond all that, and not just thousands of years, for the Scripture says, ‘forever O Lord thy word is settled in heaven!’  Man cannot thwart it.  You might as well try to extinguish a forest fire with an eye dropper.  “Hammer away ye hostile hands, your hammers break, the Anvil stands!”  ill.—Robert Ingersoll is today a hero of the atheist movement...from central and southern Illinois.  He said in a speech, “In 15 years I shall have the Bible in the morgue.”  15 years later he was in the morgue and the Bible lives on.  A pastor bought his desk and wrote his sermons from it!  Voltaire said it would take 100 years but the Bible would be forgotten, only to be found in museums...but 100 years later he was dead and the Geneva Bible Society owned his house and distributed Bibles from it! 


Then there’s the mystery of its application...this morning it is being preached in children’s church and it applies, it was preached at the nursing home and it applied, it was preached to the teens and it applied, and I think we’re making application of it right now right here!


b. The ministry of the laver

Exodus 38:8
And he made the laver of brass, and the foot of it of brass, of the lookingglasses of the women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.

It was made of highly polished mirrors.  As you washed you could examine yourself carefully...what a picture of self judgment!  James 1 says the Word is like a mirror that tells us the truth about ourselves.


3.     The Water.

Water for washing is a picture of the Word of God.  But water for the purpose of drinking is a picture of the Holy Spirit.

John 7:37-39

...Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit...)

Ephesians 5:26

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

In Exodus 29 when the priest was consecrated he got a once all over bath, but each time he approached the holy place he needed to go to the laver.

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

But how about our hands and feet?  They symbolize our daily work for God and our daily walk with God.  We’re not talking about getting saved over and over, but a daily time of confession and cleansing.  You’re already saved from the penalty of those daily sins, but now you want to be saved from the pollution and the power and the practice of those sins.

2 Corinthians 7:1
...let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.


What was the purpose in Exodus 30 for this laver cleansing?

v. 20        ‘that they die not’

v. 21        ‘that they die not’


It doesn’t matter if you are a preacher, a teacher, an usher, a singer, a driver, scrubbing toilets or building a playground...if you try to do your ministry w/ dirty spiritual hands and feet you don’t minister life you minister death!


Have you been to the laver lately?  How big of an account do you run up with God before you pay up and do business with Him?  How long since you took a good look in the mirror of the laver?


If you aren’t sure that you have been saved, you don’t need to come to the laver at all today, you need to first stop at the altar, and see the sacrifice, the Son of God laid there, a bloody dying sacrifice that you might live!

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