#3  “The Tabernacle” Series




TEXT:         Exodus 38:8;   30:17-21;    1 John 1:9


INTRO:       Most of us take washing for granted, that is until we are around someone who hasn't had a bath or shower in a while!  When I was a boy we were expected to wash on Saturday night, it was the bath routine, a once a week ordeal.  Fortunately ... these days most of us don't wait until Saturday night anymore; most of us are accustomed to a daily shower or daily bath.


Science has recognized the importance of washing for good health, now even our soaps are made to be antibacterial in nature.  It feels so good right after you've had a shower; you might call these "showers of blessings."


Water is one of the great and unique substances of the universe ... we use it internally to survive and need it externally to grow our food and cleanse our planet, just as we do our bodies.  In the Bible water is often used as a symbol of cleansing and life.  Jesus called Himself the "LIVING WATER" (how ironic on the cross He cried, “I thirst”) … and at His crucifixion when speared in the side the Bible states that from His wound “came forth blood and water ... blood for the forgiveness of sins, water as a symbol of cleansing from sin.  Jesus used water to wash the feet of His disciples to teach them about purity in their walk and service and the importance of "water baptism" was used to demonstrate publicly the washing of our sins away as an important ordinance in the church.


TRANS. SENT:   As someone approached God's presence in the tabernacle we first find them passing through a single entrance ... the symbol of Jesus as the only way in; now once inside the believer first comes to the altar of sacrifice ... after this to the bronze basin of water.


The altar of sacrifice is the symbol of JUSTIFICATION ... whereas;

The bronze basin is the symbol of SANCTIFICATION.


PROP. SENT:   The bronze basin is an important symbol for us in our life as Christians for it speaks of the constant need of cleansing ... the priest "washed" both on the way into God's presence and on the way back to the people.  The meaning is clear; we need to approach God with clean hearts ... and we need to approach others with a clean heart, this is a daily need for God's people, don't forget your spiritual bath each day!


I.  PLACE OF CLEANSING   Ex. 38:8;   Ex. 30:17-19


A.   "Reflection"     Ex. 38:8

1.   We are told an interesting fact in this verse of what the basin was made from!

a.   They made this basin from the mirrors of the ladies!!!

b.   In Old Testament times they had no knowledge of mirrored glass, they used highly polished bronze for their mirrors.

c.   Giving these mirrors up may have symbolized the giving up of one's vanity!

2.   This basin would be highly reflective ... a good thing for the priests, they needed to see that they were indeed clean before entering the tabernacle; if they weren't they would have died in the presence of God!

3.   The polished mirrors therefore enabled the priests to see if they missed any spots once they had washed from the water.

a.   While the Pharisees of Jesus day were hung up on washing physical hands the New Testament says (Eph. 5:25-26) that Jesus washes us through the "water of His word."

b.   Thus the Word of God acts as the water to wash us each day ... and it acts also as a mirror to help us see ourselves as God really sees us, it gives us a true reflection of ourselves!

4.   It is also interesting that these same ladies who gave the mirrors also served at the entrance to the tabernacle!  (See Ex. 38:8)

a.   The term used, "MINISTERED" or as in the NIV "SERVED" literally in Hebrew meant "ORGANIZED IN BANDS FOR WAR" ... these must have been some gals!

b.   They gave up their vanity for cleansing ... and continued to serve!

c.   Perhaps it was their job to keep filled the bronze basin with water ... if so, they served like moms who make sure the "WATER" -- the Word of God was always full in the place they serve.  (the home or on the job)

5.   The Egyptian women always carried a mirror in one hand when they went to the pagan temples to worship ... perhaps these Israelite ladies imitated somewhat that custom ... but changed it by giving up those mirrors to worship the TRUE God!


B.   Requirement   Ex. 30:17-18

1.   This bronze basin for washing was a requirement from God!

a.   Failure of the priest to wash before entering the tabernacle could result in death!

b.   The message was clear; God desires us to come to Him with a clean heart!

c.   It was not difficult ... God had made provision for this washing before entering the Holy Place through this basin!

2.   God makes provision for us to approach the Father ... through Jesus Christ and now through the WORD OF GOD which if applied can wash away our sin­fulness!

3.   This was a must stop!

4.   Its function was both PRACTICAL AND SYMBOLIC.

a.   Since the priest would have just left the altar of sacrifice they would likely have "blood on their hands" ... perhaps even on their feet, they were to come to God with "clean hands and clean feet" so to speak, thus a place was needed to wash between the altar of sacrifice and the entrance to the tabernacle.

b.   They would also need a place to wash coming back to the people since they would have eaten at the table of shewbread and offered incense to God on the altar of incense.

c.   You might say this basin of washing helped them both coming and going!

d.   The symbolism was powerful ... the constant and frequent need of cleansing!


C.   Renewal   Ex. 30:19

1.   HANDS … mentioned first.  The basin had an upper and lower bowl, one for hands, and the other for feet.

a.   The hands symbolized their service since it was with the hands the priests smeared the blood on the sides of the altar ... usually with a finger.

b.   Washing their hands thus symbolized the cleansing of their service.


ILLUS:     Pilot attempted to use thIS symbol with Jesus ... he had a bowl of water brought to him while he washed his hands to symbolize the "innocence" of his actions against Jesus ... however, the symbol didn't hold ... he was guilty too!


c.   Our service to God and others needs to be pure ... full of God's love, not out of personal gain or with impure motives, but with integrity:


ILLUS:     During WW II in a French town called Le Chambon a large part of the town did something few other cities in France did, they hid their jewish friends and neighbors from the Nazi's.  After the war, when these folks were interviewed they gave the following reason for doing this.  Week after week they had heard their local pastor preach to them of obeying God over men ... to risk themselves for service unto God.  When the Nazis came to town they had by habit become servants for God, thus hiding the jews from the evil Nazis.  One woman in town faked a heart attack just as some Nazi soldiers nearly stumbled onto their hiding place, she said, "Pastor always taught us that there comes a time in every life when a person is asked to do something for Jesus ... when our time came, we knew what to do!"  Their service was pure and clean before God ... though it went againsT the evil rulers of their day!  It wasn't done for money, or personal gain, or even to make converts out of THE jews ... it was done out of their love for Jesus, and a desire to serve Him! – SOURCE UNKNOWN


2.   FEET ... this was mentioned second, it stood for their "walk."  The feet often became the symbol of someone's daily walk, as in Jesus washing Peter's feet, when Peter asked Jesus to wash all of him, Jesus replied he was already clean, just the feet needed washing!  It was the daily walk that was contaminated by this world's dust!

a.   The accumulated dirt of each day needs washing ... or our feet become dirty!

b.   The need for regular cleaning is a must to keep the daily walk clean.


ILLUS:     Several years ago the experts wanted to restore the famous painting by the dutch painter Rembrandt called, "THE NIGHT WATCH."  It had hung for many years in Amsterdam without proper protection, and had ACQUIRED a heavy layer of dust and dirt.  As they cleaned the painting they were astonished to find figures emerging from the shadows of the painting ... never really seen before because of the layers of dirt.  Nothing about the painting itself was changed, only the dirt removed, and suddenly the painting took on a whole new brightness and detail, the dirt had hidden the magnificence of the creation of this artist ... robbing others of the supreme joy of this masterpiece!  Once cleaned the artist’s creation could be seen clearly for it BRILLIANCE! ... how like this sin is in our lives if left uncleansed by God! – SOURCE UNKNOWN


c.   Our daily walk needs the cleansing of God's forgiveness each day to keep the work of the Master in all its brilliance!




A.   Reverence     Ex. 30:20a

1.   The point was clearly spoken ... whenever the priest entered the tent of meeting they were first to have washed or they died!  “Whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die.”

a.   The idea was simple; they were not to enter into fellowship with God with unclean hands or feet or death would result!

b.   This is still true in the spiritual sense, service rendered for God out of impure motives bring more spiritual death than it brings life!

c.   God was to be approached therefore seriously, not in some sloppy manner!

d.   Respect for God's character is what is at heart here!

e.   Our God is a Holy God; to approach Him one must be clean!

2.   This was made serious in the minds of the priests by death if they were unclean!

3.   How often do we approach God's presence with our hands still wringing of blood!

a.   Anger still in our hearts toward someone...

b.   Perhaps this warning symbol is still found in the communion passage in 1 Cor. 11 ... "if you eat this bread and drink this cup 'unworthily' you will eat and drink damnation unto yourself ... that is why some of you are sick..."

c.   It is important to come to God with a clean heart!


B.   Reputation    Ex. 30:20b

1.   Not only did the priest need to wash on the way into God's presence but he also washed on the way back from God to the people ... symbolic of being clean for their approach to the people -- integrity!

2.   As they approached the altar to minister to the people they were to be clean, our ministry must have genuine motives, our ministry must be clean!

a.   We’ve seen the results in the last few years of ministry that was done with impurity.

b.   An impure priest would make the sacrifices impure ... the people needed to see the priest's wash on the way to them also!

3.   It didn't mean the priest's were flawless ... if that were so they wouldn't have needed to wash ... but they needed to set the example of being clean for the people!

a.   Pastors need washing too!

b.   Anyone who ministers needs to remember to keep their ministry cleansed by the Lord and His Word!

4.   Their example of washing was important for the people ... and for the ministry!


III.  PERPETUAL CLEANSING   EX. 30:21;   1 Jn. 1:9


A.   Restorative    Ex. 30:21a;   1 Jn. 1:9

1.   Those who failed to see the need for cleansing died, for us this means to neglect the need to seek cleansing from God results in spiritual death setting in.  “They shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die.”

a.   As we fail to see our need of cleansing sin soon becomes something we no longer sense.

b.   Cleansing neglected means spiritual decline sets in until we no longer feel the need for spiritual things!

2.   This water basin was not intended to burden the priests ... it was intended to free them from contamination with death, it was thus restorative in function!

3.   We read this in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  ... this was written to the believer!

a.   This clearly shows that we will need regular cleansing even after we are saved.

b.   This clearly reveals God's intended purpose for cleansing ... to restore us daily!

c.   This will keep contaminates from building up in our lives on a day by day basis!


ILLUS:     Just as a shower refreshes or restores us after hard and dirty work, so does coming to God for a spiritual "bath" cleanse and restore our soul!


B.   Regulation    Ex. 30:21b

1.   It is quite clear in the last part of this verse that God meant this idea to be permanent ... at least the principle of cleansing.  “This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.”

2.   In Christ we find an easier access to cleansing ... we have no excuse of time or inconvenience!

3.   It was to be a lasting ordinance, cleansing is critical to our Christian life and service still.

a.   This is why the study of God's Word is so important on a daily basis, it is called by Paul in Eph. 5 the "water" that washes Christ’s church!

b.   This is why it is important to ask God's cleansing each day for that day's contamination ... which we pick up on our "spiritual" feet as we walk in this world ... to be cleansed to enter God's presence!


CONCLUSION:    The bronze altar deals with justification, the removal of all our sins by blood sacrifice; but the bronze basin speaks of sanctification, the daily cleansing we need as we walk with God (the symbol of our feet) ... and as we serve (the hand symbol).  The priests washed on the way to God and on the way back to others ... how often do you stop for cleansing?  We should be clean coming and going!  When’s the last time you had a good spiritual bath!?