Holiness Bible Study, Lesson 4.
“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Make a bronze basin, with its bronze stand, for washing. Place it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it.”
The next part of the tabernacle is the bronze laver. Unlike most of the other components of the tabernacle, we find that the exact dimensions and design of the laver are not specified. A laver is simply a washbasin or bowl designed to hold water. This laver was made of solid bronze and placed upon a base of some type, which would bring the laver up to a level where the priest could use it effectively. The bronze was acquired from the mirrors of the women: “Moreover, he made the laver of bronze with its base of bronze, from the mirrors of the serving women who served at the doorway of the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 38:8). This was an act of great devotion, showing that they considered service to God of more worth than their own external appearances. Traditionally, it is said that God chose to honor their sacrifice by making the laver out of bronze when the temple was constructed as well, despite the ornateness of the rest of the temple.
From this point on, only the priests would continue. The priests bathed their entire bodies in the laver when they were first ordained, but after that the priest was required to wash only his hands and feet before entering into the tent of meeting. This was a symbol of purification. It may seem odd that the hands and feet were the only parts to be washed, but once put into the spiritual perspective, it all becomes clear. Feet represent our motives: “A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil” (Proverbs 6:18). Our hands are symbolic of our actions: “Concerning evil, both hands do it well” (Micah 7:3). By washing his hands and feet in the laver, the priest was going through a symbolic cleansing of the heart in preparation for further service to God. If the priest would forego this step and enter the tent of meeting without washing, he would die: “So they shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they will not die; and it shall be a perpetual statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations” (Exodus 30:21). It is not simply enough to accept the atonement brought by the sacrifice at the altar. Purification is required before the priest can come closer to God.
The tabernacle was a place of holiness, and so the priests were to remain in a state of cleanliness when offering the sacrifices. Yeshua tells His disciples that they have already been made clean because of the Word (John 15:3), and only their feet needed to be washed (John 13:7-10). What did Yeshua mean by this? When we accept Yeshua’s sacrifice (the lamb for the sin offering) on our behalf, and we repent of our sins (that is, a heartfelt turning away from what is opposed to God’s Word), living by the whole Word of God’s counsel, we are totally washed by His blood, as if we ourselves went to the Bronze Laver. We are cleansed. But as we go day by day, we stumble, we fall, and we may drift away; so we need to be cleansed from our actions which are represented by our feet. Our feet can lead us to do good or to do bad, as it is written in Romans 3:15, “Their feet are swift to shed blood,” and again in Romans 10:15, “How beautiful are the feet of him who brings good news.” We are to make straight paths for our feet (Hebrews 12:12-13).
It is important to understand the process of purity. A person could become impure either by acting in an immoral way (sinning) or according to various ritual standards (for example, coming into contact with a dead body). Impurity does not necessarily imply a sin took place, yet it still comes between the people and God. In our natural state, we as human beings are impure, even without sin. But through the process of purification, God made a way for the people to draw near and have a relationship with Himself.
The Laver represents water—the waters of life. John writes in 1 John 5:6-8, “This is the One who came by water and by blood, Yeshua the Messiah… For there are three that bear witness, the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement.” We have seen that the outer court consists of the gate which leads to life and the altar which leads us to the wells of salvation. Why the wells of salvation? Because salvation is redemption, and when we repent of sin and turn from our ways, then we are redeemed based on Yeshua’s sacrifice and His shed blood, which cleanses us from our sin. The songwriter writes, “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stain.” We see, then, that our duty as priests is first to be holy and righteous in Yeshua. Next, we must assist others as they draw near to God, leading them to repentance and accepting Yeshua’s sacrifice on their behalf.
This is what the Bronze Laver represents: sanctification. Sanctification is an ongoing process. It is the process of being cleansed from sin initially when we accept Yeshua’s sacrifice for us, but then it is a continual cleansing of our sins when we confess them before God (Exodus 30:18-21). The laver was made of bronze and mounted on a base and lined with mirrors which the Israelite women donated to the building of the Tabernacle. Could this be what James meant when he said that we are to be doers of the Word and not just hearers? For anyone who just hears the Word and does not do it is like a man who looks into a mirror and then forgets what he looks like (James 1:22-25). When Yeshua prayed for His disciples He prayed, “Father sanctify them in the truth: Thy Word is truth” (John 17:17). It is by Yeshua’s blood we are cleansed initially, but it is in the keeping of His word that we remain clean. The sword of the Spirit, which is part of our defense against the evil one, is the Word of God, and Scripture tells us, “He saved us not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). We are to continually renew our minds through the Word of God.
So we see the Laver represents the waters of baptism. Paul continues to write in Romans 6:2 after he says that we should not continue in sin:
How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Messiah Yeshua have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Messiah was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
There is no other way to get into God’s presence unless we enter in through the gate (door), Yeshua, and then first stop at the altar, laying our lives down, crucifying the flesh, submitting to God’s will, not ours; and then off to the Laver to be washed and to drink from the wells of salvation. You see, our life—every moment that we live—is worship to God. True worship to God is not through ceremonial rituals. This was Paul’s main argument. True worship to God is from the heart that is totally surrendered to God, which leads to total devotion. So everything that we say or do must be done in the name of the Lord, giving glory to Him with praise and worship and adoration. This begins our path of worship. This begins our duties in serving God.
Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? If not, why not consider your deeds and repent? Give your life over to Yeshua and begin to walk in newness of life. Maybe you have already accepted Yeshua as your Lord and Savior, but you are not walking holy and blameless. Maybe Yeshua is not really the center of your life, or maybe you have not yet crucified the flesh; if so, then repent, consider your deeds, and turn for the good. We all need to stop at the laver daily and be cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. If we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive us of our sins. Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:20:
Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if a man cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel of honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.
What were “these things” Paul was referring to? The things that are not confessed and repented of that keep a person impure and not holy, the things we need to cleanse ourselves from.
The Holy Place
After repentance and cleansing and sacrifice, we are now ready to enter into the next section of the tabernacle: The Holy Place, the mikdash, also known as the sanctuary, which was the exact replica of Heaven’s sanctuary. God said in Exodus 25:8, “Let them construct a mikdash (Holy Place) for Me, that I may shachan (dwell) among them.” This was the whole idea behind the Feast of Tabernacles, God dwelling with man. During this feast, the people were told to dwell in tabernacles or tents, which, along with representing God dwelling among man, is a symbol of trust and reliance on God. The feast also represents the coming age when God will permanently dwell with man, the Bridegroom and the Bride dwelling in the bridal chamber. Scripture tells us that we are being built into a mikdash so that God may shachan with us (Ephesians 2:22). Shachan is the root word in shachanah, as in God’s presence. This is why the feasts are so important for us believers to celebrate. They represent and speak of God’s plan for us.
Upon entering the Holy Place, one would see the Menorah (the lamp stand) on the South, the Table of Showbread on the north, and the Altar of Incense on the west just in front of the veil into the Holy of Holies.
“Then you shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The lampstand and its base and its shaft are to be made of hammered work; its cups, its bulbs and its flowers shall be of one piece with it. And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side.”
After purifying himself at the laver, a priest could now enter the Holy Place. Here he would encounter the Golden Lampstand, or the menorah. This is not to be confused with the hanukkiyah, which is the menorah used during the festival of Hanukkah. The hanukkiyah has eight branches, while the temple menorah has six.
The lampstand was made of solid gold—molded and hammered from a 75-pound ingot. It was to have a single shaft in the middle with three branches protruding from each side. The exact shape of these branches is disputed. Some say that they were curved (as is most commonly seen), while other scholars interpret the text literally—that they protruded straight out from the center shaft diagonally: “Six branches shall extend from its sides” (Exodus 25:32). On each of these branches, we are told of “its cups, its bulbs, and its flowers.” The cups were used to hold the oil of lighting and were to be shaped like almond blossoms, complete with bulb and flower. While some interpretations use the term “candlestick,” the lampstand did not use wax candles as we are accustomed to. Instead, the decorative cups mentioned above were filled with only the best olive oil—the first, most pure pressing: “Command the sons of Israel that they bring to you clear oil from beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually” (Leviticus 24:2).
God commanded Moses to only use pure olive oil to light the menorah. That was its source. We want to take a closer look at this source.
The Olive Tree
God told Moses in Leviticus 24:2 and Exodus 27:20, “Command the sons of Israel that they bring to you clear oil from beaten olives for the light, to make the lamp burn continually.” Olive trees have played a prominent role in Scripture, not only as the source of oil for the light in the tabernacle (temple), but the doors in the temple were made from olive trees, as were the carved cherubs which covered the Mercy Seat. It was at the Mount of Olives that Yeshua was taken up to Heaven and where He will one day return. We, Gentile believers, have been grafted into the olive tree (Israel). We see in the Book of Zechariah the two olive trees next to the menorah, which were the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth. These were specifically the two branches that dripped into the receptacle, the main source of the menorah. Yeshua is referred to as the Branch in Zechariah 3:8 and Zechariah 6:12: “Hear O Joshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign; for behold, I am bringing forth My Servant, the Branch,” the Branch dripping the oil for a light to the nations. “Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD.”’”
The oil represents the Holy Spirit. The two offices of Messiah, as our High Priest and King, both were anointed with oil. The word Messiah means “anointed one.” In Revelation 11:4, we also see these two witnesses who are referred to as the two olive trees and the two menorahs that stand before the Lord of the earth. As disciples and priests, we must also be anointed with the Holy Spirit. So we are going to look at the significant relationship between the making of the oil used for the menorah and for anointing and being a disciple of Yeshua.
Squeezing Out a Disciple
To start the process of extracting the oil, the olives were crushed under a stone for thirty to forty minutes. The crushed olives were then transferred to round baskets and were placed under high pressure to squeeze out all the oil. The first pressing was the purest, and only this could be used to light the menorah. The pressing and crushing of life is in our trials and tribulations. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 38:2, “For Your arrows have sunk deep into me, and Your hand has pressed down on me.” We see this when Paul, in Philippians 3:14, refers to all things as being lost and rubbish just to know Yeshua. He says, “I press on,” giving the allusion of the olives being pressed and everything being squeezed out. Again, he writes in 2 Corinthians 1:8, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even our lives.” Yeshua was crushed for our iniquities. It’s through this pressing and crushing that we are made pure and holy. It’s through this that the anointing flows throughout us.
In Romans 5:3, Paul writes, “And not only this, but we also exalt in our tribulations knowing that tribulations bring about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope.”
James writes, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:3). To be the true light to the nations, we must first be pressed and crushed and made holy and righteous, not putting confidence in the flesh, but letting God work through us. It is “not by power nor by might, but by the Holy Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6) that we can be the “Light of the World.” It is when we walk in the Spirit that we can be that true light (Galatians 5:16), for the Spirit is Truth, and He is never contrary to the Word. He is the light that dispels the darkness. He is the lamp to our feet and the light to our path (Psalm 119:105). He is the oil in the receptacle (the source) that lights our lamp, and as priests, we too must be that menorah.
The utensils to be used with the lampstand, such as the snuffers and trays, were made out of pure gold as well. The complexities of all the designs of the utensils and the menorah are not laid out in the text, but rather God instructs Moses, “See that you make them [the menorah and its utensils] after the pattern for them, which was shown to you on the mountain” (Exodus 25:40).
The lampstand was to give light to the Holy Place. Since it was enshrouded in a tent, this was how the priests would be able to properly see and execute the rest of their duties. The lampstand was also symbolic of the Spirit of God which was manifested to the people on Mount Sinai. The menorah represents the Tree of Life. The sages called the menorah the “Light of the World.”
The menorah represented God, who is light. Yeshua said that He was the “Light of the World” in John 9:5. When Yeshua returns, He will be the Light (the menorah) in the tabernacle, as it is said in Revelation 21:23, “The Lamb will be its light.” We are to be the light of the world. We are going to stop here for a moment and take a look at what it takes for us to be the “light of the world.”
Matthew 5:14-16 says:
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under a bushel, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your righteous deeds, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
As priests, we must be filled with the Light so we can lead those who are in darkness to the truth. We do not want to overlook the command that the menorah is to remain lit at all times. The menorah, the ner tamid, which means “continual light,” hangs over the Ark which houses the Torah scrolls in the synagogue. God is ever present, and so His light never goes out; and we too as His priests should always let our light shine, always ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:15). We must be ready to preach the Word in season and out of season
(2 Timothy 4:2), never ashamed of the Gospel (Romans 1:16). We must remain sober and alert (1 Peter 5:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:6).
We see that God takes it quite seriously that we be that light. In Revelation 1:12-20, John writes:
And I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden menorahs; and in the middle of the menorah one like a Son of Man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden girdle. And His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire; and His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been caused to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of mighty waters. And in His right hand He held seven stars; and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength… As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden menorahs: the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven menorahs are the seven churches.
To the church of Ephesus He writes:
The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden menorahs says this; I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My Name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and remove your menorah out of its place—unless you repent. (Revelation 2:1-7)
As the assembly representing God, we must be holy and be the true light and not in any way misrepresent God, who is light. If we have let the light go out, or maybe our church just doesn’t have the oil any longer, then we must repent and once again light the menorah of our lives. Paul tells Timothy, “I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God (the Holy Spirit) which is in you through the laying on of my hands” (2 Timothy 1:6). We are to kindle the fire and keep it burning (through the Holy Spirit) as this was commanded to us by the True Light. Let’s be like the five wise virgins in Matthew 25, having our lamps ready and filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit.
We have seen that the menorah is called the Light of the World, and of course, Yeshua said that He was the Light of the World, and as disciples of Yeshua, we too are the Light of the World. In Isaiah 49:6, the Temple is referred to as the Light of the World, and all the nations will come to it. In fact, during the time of the Feast of Tabernacles, they would light these giant menorahs and the whole temple area would light up so that you could see the light for miles. Like a lighthouse guides ships, these menorahs would guide the pilgrims coming into the city. And why were the temple and Jerusalem called the Light of the World? Because the Torah is called the Light of the World, and Scripture tells us:
And many nations will come and say, “Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord and to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths,” for from Zion will go forth the Torah, even the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Micah 4:2, Isaiah 2:3).
Proverbs 6:23 tells us, “For the commandment is a lamp, and the teaching is light.”
Is your light shining today? Here is a little test found in 1 John 1:6: “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua His Son cleanses us from all sin.”
Verses 8-10 go on, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and the Word is not in us.”
1 John 2:4-6 continues with this thought:
The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His Word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him; the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.
Verses 9-10 continue to say:
The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him, But the one who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
Verse 15 finishes off, saying, “Do not love the world, or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”
Remember the sequence: thankfulness and praise, repentance and sacrifice, cleansing and light. Next on our path of worship, we will stop at the altar of showbread.