Lecture 18.

The Laver

(Exodus 38:8.)

In the order of construction, "the laver and its foot" is given after the altar of burnt-offering, and in a single verse. In the directions for its construction and use (Ex. 30:17-21), there is but little actual description, which has, no doubt, its significance for silence in Scripture is not meaningless.

The word kiyor, translated "laver," is literally a "pot," used for boiling, or as a receptacle for water. Connected with this was the "foot ' or stand, and of both it is said, "to wash withal." This base or "foot seems to have been directly connected with purifying. This has led to the supposition that it was more than a mere support to the laver that it was a smaller vessel at the foot of the large one, into which some of the water was taken for cleansing.

We have already noticed that the "foot" as well as the laver was "to wash withal" (Ex. 30:18). The next verse suggests that the laver was a reservoir and not a basin: "Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet from it" (not "thereat," as in our Version). This suggests that water was taken from the laver for the purposes of washing. "The laver and his foot" were anointed (Lev. 8:11). This would be peculiar, unless the "foot" had a distinctive use.

On the other hand, in the detailed description of the "bases" (a word from the same root as "foot"), for the temple of Solomon, their purpose was evidently to support the lavers (1 Kings 7:27-39). In connection with the brazen "sea," which is also fully described, no mention is made of smaller vessels into which the water was poured for actual use (1 Kings 7:23-26).

Nor are we left to conjecture that the ten lavers were used for this purpose, for we are told, "He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand and five on the left, to wash in them; such things as they offered for the burnt-offering they washed (or, "cleansed") in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in" (2 Chr. 4:6).

We may not, therefore, dogmatize about the use of the "foot," but confine ourselves to what is obvious. The word would suggest a solid basis for the laver. This must be our primary thought. From being spoken of separately, we can at least see that our attention is drawn to it. We are certainly clear in referring to it as the support or foundation for the laver; and in addition, we may gather that either it, or some other vessel was used to take water from the laver for the various washings. The dimensions or form of the laver and its foot are not given; nothing but the material and the position it was to occupy in the court are mentioned — between the tabernacle and the altar. Explicit directions for its use were given. Aaron and his sons were to wash their hands and feet from it when they went into the tabernacle to minister, or when they came to the altar of burnt-offering in connection with sacrifice. They could not neglect this under penalty of death.

Another striking omission regarding the laver is that it was not specially committed to any of the Levite families, nor was any provision made for carrying it through the wilderness. Indeed it is only mentioned once after the account of its construction and placing, when Moses anointed it (Lev. 8:11). The laver is never mentioned again, and Solomon's "sea" is the first we hear of anything taking its place. This absence of detail is in marked contrast with the elaborate description of the "brazen sea" and the lavers in connection with the temple. Is not our attention all the more drawn to what is mentioned, and may we not thus also learn the meaning of the absence of detail?

The directions given as to the laver and its use in Ex. 30, being after the altar of incense and in the same general connection, suggest that both altar of incense and laver, were intimately connected with priestly work.

The laver's only material was copper; it was made from the mirrors of the women engaged in the manufacture of the curtains of the tabernacle. They willingly offered their mirrors for the construction of the laver willingly offered what might gratify vanity to provide for that vessel of cleansing, that God's service and worship might not be hindered.

In the consecration of the priests, Aaron and his sons were first taken and washed completely — bathed all over. That washing was once for all. It settled the whole question of their fitness for the service of God. In their daily ministry, the priests had to wash their hands and their feet at the brazen laver. Whenever they entered the tabernacle, whether it were to arrange the showbread, trim the lamps, or offer sweet incense, they first of all washed at the brazen laver; and when they came out and ministered at the altar of burnt-offering, the same action was repeated, so that the priests were continually washing.

In looking at the laver's spiritual significance, we will take it up somewhat in the order I have suggested: First, its material, copper, as we have previously seen, is symbolic of that attribute of God which represents His unyielding character in judgment, and in testing all things by His holiness. It is singularly appropriate that, in the court outside of the tabernacle, the chief metal should be copper; while inside the tabernacle it is gold. Gold, as we saw, represents divine righteousness manifested in glory, and therefore its full display is within the sanctuary where God makes Himself known. Heaven is the true sphere in which the glory of divine righteousness will be perfectly displayed. But here in the world, it is fittingly appropriate that copper should have been the metal to exhibit the character of God in relation to His creatures. It is God's inflexible holiness and justice manifested in His dealings with His creatures. It means that if they are sinful creatures, He must deal with them in judgment; or, if not with them, with One who comes under judgment as their substitute; this is where His grace put our blessed Lord, who submitted Himself to the action of God's righteous dealings with man because of sin.

In the laver we are reminded of this inflexible righteousness and justice, in Him who has manifested God in His true character: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). I quote this passage in connection with the laver, because it is singularly appropriate that the living. personal Word should be the embodiment of those attributes of God which come out in connection with the written Word, which the laver represents. That is, as we shall see later on, the laver filled with water is symbolic of the word of God. Christ Himself is the living Word, and through Him is the word of God given to us. The action of the blessed Spirit is not excluded, of course; but if God had not seen fit to speak to us of the personal Word, He would not have given us His written Word. In connection with John 1, showing us Christ as the Word, we have in John 5:22-27, judgment committed to the Son. All are to honor the Son, the living Word, as they honor the Father; and thus, the divine characteristics of righteousness and judgment are associated with the Son, who has all authority bestowed upon Him for the execution of judgment according to God's unchanging character.

If we turn to 2 Cor. 5:10, 11, we see the time is coming when this judgment, committed to the Son, will be executed by Him. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" primarily speaks of the time when the believer's works shall come in review, when the Lord will manifest just what grace did for us. He will show what we were by nature and practice. He will show how His grace led us; how He bore with us; how He delivered us from many a snare. He will show also where self-will was at work, and the bitter fruits of it; everything at the judgment-seat of Christ for His saints will be to display the glory of His grace in connection with His people's ways.

Later on, the unbeliever must stand before this judgment-seat also, as we know (Rev. 20:11-15), but the time and character of it are entirely different.

As we think of the judgment-seat of Christ, of the solemnity and holiness of the scene, of the majesty of Him who sits there, surely solemn awe and reverence fill the heart; yet, not slavish dread, nor calling upon the mountains and hills to cover us; no, thank God, nor desire to flee from that Presence. But if the judgment-seat of Christ is a solemn place for true believers, what will it be for unbelievers? "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men," says the apostle. The very thought of the judgment-seat should redouble our earnestness to urge sinners to "flee from the wrath to come," of which Scripture speaks as "the wrath of the Lamb."

The Lord in the midst of the candlesticks, which represent His assemblies on earth (Rev. 2 and 3), is now looking with eyes like a piercing flame of fire, and with heart-searching words, among those who are in the place of responsible testimony for Him. Solemn and searching scene it is! While singling out everything He can approve, He equally singles out what He must judge and condemn — He is executing judgment in the midst of the assemblies. These scriptures will be sufficient to show the appropriateness of the copper in connection with the laver. It is not the execution of judgment upon our Substitute, nor is it the infliction of judgment upon us; but it is the testing and trying of our ways by the Son of God according to the authority given Him to judge among His people, before He judges all the earth at a later day.

The laver's material was copper, but of the mirrors which the women offered. It is a beautiful indication of what the sense of God's goodness will produce in the heart. Attraction to Him ever produces holiness. It is the only way that holiness is produced. The mirror may speak to us of the vanity and self-occupation which be get pride. In Isaiah 3:23 we find, amongst an enumeration of articles by which the daughters of Israel fostered their pride, is the mention of "glasses" — which may be rendered "mirrors." What a fruit of divine grace it is, willingly to sacrifice that which naturally ministers to pride to obtain what fits us for communion with God. God's grace alone can do this convert the mirror into a laver.

We have a striking illustration of the natural use of the mirror in the man of Luke 18. Holding the glass before himself, he contemplates his excellences and beauties: "God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are." He looks again and says: "I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess." How satisfied with himself! — and that is what we naturally do.

Look at the contrast to this. See now one to whom the Lord holds up the divine mirror — the woman of Samaria in John 4. The Lord is going to show her Himself; to give her the knowledge of salvation, and through her to the town in which she lives. He holds up the mirror to her. She sees her true condition, but she also sees Himself, the Sent One, the Messiah. What is the effect? She leaves her water-pot and goes into the city saying, "Come, see a Man, which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?" The mirror of human pride is exchanged for the mirror of divine reflection — it is the word of God, showing what we are and who Christ is. Wherever Christ is permitted thus to hold up the mirror before our gaze, the Pharisee joins the Publican in saying: "God, be merciful to me the sinner!"

Look at another illustration of the mirror. In Phil. 3:4-7, Paul tells us how in former days he used to look in the looking-glass: "Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law a Pharisee," etc. How he used to delight to look at each feature and boast in his excellence! But a view of Christ in glory broke him to pieces, and the things that were gain to him, he then counted loss for Christ. Thus he discarded the mirror of self-complacency.

But in Rom. 7, he takes it up, we might say, not now to prove his righteousness, but in longing after holiness. He takes up the law of God, and says, Surely if I am to answer to God's thoughts of holiness, I must keep this law. So he turned to the law, which had once condemned him as a sinner, turns to it now as a saint for holiness. He begins to look at himself again for fruits of holiness. Notice how the Spirit of God uses the law. He gets a view of his own heart, and forty times in that chapter he says "I," "me," "my" — it is all himself; and what is the result of it all? "Oh, wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? "

The apostle James (James 1:23) uses this figure of the mirror, as we have been doing, in a somewhat different connection. A man who hears the Word without its entering into his soul, is like one who looks into a mirror indeed, but who does not remember what is revealed to him there. On the other hand, the one who hears and bows to the Word and allows it to act, looks into the perfect law of liberty; not into the law for salvation, nor to produce holiness, but into "the law of liberty," the word of God, which has set us free. He looks into that and continues therein, and is blest in his doing. It is the use of the mirror, very closely connected with what we shall see applies to the laver.

Let us gather from the Old and New Testament scriptures what will show us the spiritual significance of these washings.

There are four words in the Old Testament translated "wash;" two of these are used only a very few times.

Quah (to put away), is used twice in reference to cleansing the sacrifice (2 Chron. 4:6; Ezek. 40:38). Its only other use for cleansing is in Isa. 4:4.

Shataph means primarily to "gush," "overflow," and to "rinse," by letting the water flow over, as over the hands. It is used thus in Lev. 15:11, 12; Lev. 6:28. It also occurs in Ezek. 16:9. All of these suggest the thorough removal or sweeping away of defilement, as by a flowing stream. Ahab's chariot was washed — sluiced out — in the pool of Samaria, where the dogs licked his blood.

Rahatz (one of the two words remaining for "wash") occurs in the same verse, "They washed his armor" (1 Kings 22:38). It means primarily to "bathe," and is the word most frequently used. With this single exception* the word is used for bathing the person or the sacrifice. We will look at a few characteristic passages.

{*This is really no exception, as the word here rendered "armor" is never translated in any other way than "harlot." So that the passage probably reads, "Where the harlots bathed" — confirming the use of the word. The twofold contempt of "dogs" and "harlots" was put upon Ahab in his death.}

"And Aaron and his sons thou shalt bring unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and shalt wash them with water" (Ex. 29:4; Ex. 40:12) — from its immediately following the anointing of the laver, it might be gathered that it was from that vessel that they were washed. "And Moses and Aaron and his sons washed their hands and their feet thereat" (at the laver, Ex. 40:31).

The cleansed leper washed before he could have his place in the camp (Lev. 14:8, 9).

The person who was unclean from various causes had to bathe (Lev. 15:5, 6, etc.)

On the Day of Atonement Aaron was obliged to bathe both before and after making atonement (Lev. 16:4, 24); so also the person who took the scapegoat away, and the one who burned the sin-offering outside the camp, were to bathe (Lev. 16:26, 28). The same was true in preparing the ashes of the red heifer (Num. 19:7). Naaman was to wash seven times in Jordan (2 Kings 5:10). It was used also in reference to parts of the body, as washing the feet (Gen. 43:24), the face (Gen. 43:30, hands and feet (Ex. 40:31, 32).

In the sacrifice the same word was used, bathing the parts so that they were absolutely clean (Lev. 1:9, etc.)

We have then an evident unity in the use of this word. It was used to express the cleansing of the person in whole or in part. The sacrifice here comes under the same category as being a substitute for the person, and also a type of One who needed no cleansing but who submitted Himself to every test, and whose inherent holiness was thus perfectly manifested.

"Kabas" is the last word for "wash," the use which is fully as distinctive as the one we have, just examined. The word means to "tread," and so to wash by treading, and is applied only to the washing of clothes and other articles, or in describing the spiritual effect of cleansing, as in Psalm 51:2, 7; Jer. 2:22; Jer. 4:14. We find a number of times these two words used side by side in the same verse; the one always applied to the person and the other to the clothing (Lev. 15:7, etc.) In one passage we have three words used each in its characteristic way: rinsing the hands, washing the clothes, and bathing the person (Lev. 15:11).

These words then may well suggest to us three views of cleansing: (1) The cleansing of the person, or his members. (2) The effect secured by washing, as of clothes — the habits. (3) The uncleanness being swept away, removed.

Let us now consider the New Testament passages, and with their light as to the spiritual meaning, return to the Old Testament to gather their import there.

It is significant that in that book where the substance takes the place of the shadow, the frequency of the words for "washing" is greatly reduced. Thus the word rahatz occurs nearly as many times in Leviticus as all the words for "washing" in the New Testament; while those words which speak of the divine work of grace, such as "holiness," "peace," "love," etc., are abundantly present.

The several words for "washing" in the New Testament, are:
Luo: "Whom, when they had washed" (Acts 9:37).

"Our bodies washed with pure water" (Heb.10:22).

"Unto Him that loveth us and washed us from our sins" (Rev. 1:5).

"Washed their stripes" — more literally, "Washed them from their stripes" (Acts 16:33).

"The sow that was washed" (2 Peter 2:22).
Apoluo: "Arise . . . and wash away thy sins" (Acts 22:16).

"Ye are washed, ye are sanctified" (1 Cor. 6:11).
Brecho: "Began to wash His feet" (Luke 7:38, 44).
Nipto: "Wash thy face" (Matt. 6:17).

"They wash not their hands" (Matt. 15:2).

"Except they wash their hands" (Mark 7:3).

"Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (John 9:7; also vers. 11, 15).

"Began to wash the disciples' feet" (John 13:5); also vers. 6, 8, 10, 12, 14.

"If she have washed the saints' feet" (1 Tim. 5:10).
Aponipto: "Washed his hands" (Matt. 27:24).
Pluno: "Have washed their robes" (Rev. 7:14); also Rev. 22:14 (R. V.)
Apopluno, "Washing their nets" (Luke 5:2).

The word brecho has a special and tender meaning in the only passage where it is translated "wash." It means literally to "rain;" the tear-drops of the penitent are more than ordinary washing; they were as a refreshing shower, true drops from heaven.

The regular words luo and apoluo, refer to general washing of the person.

Nipto and aponipto refer to the washing of some part of the body, as hands, face, feet.

Pluno and apopluno refer to the washing of articles, such as clothing.

The use of luo and nipto are illustrated in the same verse: "He that is washed (bathed, from luo), needeth not save to wash (from nipto) his feet, but is clean every whit" (John 13:10); these two expressions evidently point to two different spiritual cleansings.

Let us now look at the significance of "water" as the means used for this cleansing: "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God" (John 3:5). The expression "born of water," in connection with new birth, is taken by ritualists as teaching regeneration by baptism, so that thanks are given after the baptism of a child that it has been regenerated; that by it he is "made a member of Christ and an inheritor of the kingdom of heaven." But water cannot do this. The Baptist said: "I baptize you with water unto repentance;" but the Mightier than John was coming, "He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire." There is the reality. "Born of water," in John 3, no more means baptismal regeneration than the eating Christ's flesh and drinking His blood in the 6th chapter means transubstantiation in the Lord's Supper.

What does "water" mean? In Titus 3:4, 5, we read: "But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing (laver is the word) of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." It is in contrast to the old nature, of which the Lord speaks in the 3rd of John: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh." The passage in John speaks of new birth, and so does that in Titus. In 1 Peter 1:22, 23, the instrument used in new birth is mentioned: "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever." The word of God then is the instrument used in new birth. It brings conviction to the sinner and points him to Christ. "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).

In James 1:8 we find the same truth reiterated: "Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures." The sovereign will of God has wrought in our new birth; but how? By "the word of truth."

Cleansing with water is shown us in 1 Cor. 6:9-11 where an awful enumeration of sins is given — an awful picture of what man is. Then he goes on to say: 'And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." These once defiled Corinthians had been born again. There had been a twofold action, both parts of which are spoken of in this verse: "Ye are washed . . . ye are sanctified . . by the Spirit of our God." These are by the new birth, in which a clean nature is imparted, produced by the Holy Spirit using the word of God. Then, to show the two things are not separated from each other, we have, "But ye are justified in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God." Sanctification or cleansing is thus indissolubly connected with the justification which is through the name of our Lord Jesus.

These scriptures prepare us to look at what should leave no question as to what the water in the laver means. We have it in Eph. 5:25-27. Profound truths are often brought out in apparently very common-place though important connections. In connection with the love of husbands to their wives is declared a most wondrous mystery: Christ giving Himself for the Church in order that He might cleanse it. Notice how He does it. It is not here the cleansing by the blood which gives title to stand before God in removing all guilt between the conscience and God — but the cleansing spoken of here is the inherent cleansing: "That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word." He loved the Church; He gave Himself for it, now to sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word. Water, then, is the Word as the instrument used by the Lord.

Gathering up these several scriptures, we find, first, in John 3, that new birth is a necessity; second, in Titus 3, that this new birth is "by the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost;" third, in 1 Peter 1, the new birth is by the word of God as the instrumentality; fourth, in James 1, the same truth is repeated in connection with the sovereign will of God. Then, in 1 Cor. 6, we learn that those who once were defiled, and in corruption, were cleansed and sanctified by the Spirit of God in connection with justification, through the name of Jesus; and, lastly, that our blessed Saviour died for this very purpose, to sanctify and cleanse His Church "with the washing of water by the Word." Therefore, the laver speaks to us unquestionably of Christ as the Cleanser of His people through His Word, used by His Spirit.

There was a twofold use for the laver. First, for cleansing at consecration — a complete washing, once for all. That answers to the new birth, of which we have been speaking. Then it was used for the daily cleansing of the priests in their ministration at the tabernacle and altar.

Hebrews 10:19-22 strikingly connects the cleansing by blood and the washing by water together. First the conscience is purged by the blood; then he adds, "our bodies washed with pure water" — that is washed all over, as the priests — typically, born again by the word of God. The whole man being cleansed, a new nature given, we can draw near to God with the confidence of children.

We have been looking at the laver in connection with new birth; let us now look at the daily cleansing which is necessary for communion. It is the privilege of the believer not to sin, as 1 John 2:1 teaches. But if a believer, through carelessness or self-sufficiency, has fallen into sin, what recovery is there for him? To be born again, he needs not. New birth is only once, never repeated. But "If any man sin" — note the occasion — "we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." No sin in Him, He is righteous; and "with the Father," maintaining that blessed relationship in our behalf. We may need His correction; but, thank God, He maintains our place as children with the Father.

A beautiful unfolding of this action of washing — washing by the Word — we have in John 13, where our Lord washes His disciples' feet. In John 15, speaking to His disciples, He says: "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you" — they had been cleansed by receiving His word. Then in John 17 He prays: "Sanctify them through Thy truth: Thy word is truth." This sanctifying from the evil that is in the world, then, is by the Spirit of God applying the Word to us and keeping us day by day.

At the last supper with His disciples, that He might maintain them in communion with Himself, as is typified in the table, our Lord lays aside His garment, just as He laid aside His glory that He might serve His people; then He girds Himself with the linen towel, takes a basin with water and goes to each of the disciples to wash his feet. What a lowly act of grace!

This washing of the feet is for the cleansing from any defilement that we may have gathered in our walk through this world. There may be no outward failure: it may be only inward, or even the lack of that spiritual vigor that would keep us in spirit unspotted from the world. The priest was not supposed to have failed exactly when he washed his hands and feet before offering the sacrifices or entering the tabernacle. But it reminded him that he was in a scene where the dust and defilement gathered imperceptibly and so he had constantly to apply the water. Thus the scene in John 13 does not mean some glaring failure — mud, if I may use the expression — but that which comes in to hinder full communion with our Lord. Just as the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, or the lust of other things can choke the Word, so, in the believer, household cares, daily duties, business affairs, yea, even Christian service, may be allowed to practically mar communion with the Lord. Let any one beware how he takes for granted that communion goes on undisturbed without submission to this action of our Lord — washing the feet constantly! One may have been preaching the gospel or ministering to his brethren, yet if he has not gone to the Lord for the practical cleansing — as from pride, self-sufficiency, self-complacency, etc. he will find some iniquity connected with his holy things, that he has gathered defilement even in Christian service.

What a world it is, where we can gather defilement even in service: rather may we say, what hearts are ours that they need this action of the holy Word even in connection with the Lord's service! Peter knew not this need. He thought himself especially devoted to his Lord, though he was about to deny Him. "Lord," he says (and he thinks of the dignity of the Lord whom he loved), "dost Thou wash my feet?" — such as Thou to take the servant's place and cleanse my feet: The Lord says: "What I do thou knowest not now but thou shalt know hereafter." How true that is in many ways, "Thou shalt know hereafter." To Peter's objection the Lord answers: "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me" — not, no part in salvation, but in communion, in fellowship.

Going to the other extreme, Peter answers: "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head" — as if he needed cleansing throughout. Our Lord's answer is most significant: "He that is washed" (literally, "He that is bathed," as the priest was washed all over at the laver in the day of his consecration, which answers to new birth) — "He that is bathed, needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit" — clean every whit by new birth, and fit for the presence of God; but the feet, which come in contact with the earth, need the daily cleansing. And this cleansing is carried on, as we see in the last chapter of John's Gospel, after the resurrection, when three times the Lord brings up the memory of Peter's denial, thoroughly to deliver him from his vain boast: "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I." The Lord cleanses away all that pride and self-confidence, and Peter, a cleansed man, casts himself on the Lord with these words: "Lord. Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee" and Jesus saith to him: "Feed My sheep."

Who is it that can minister to the saints, that can wash his brother's feet, that can minister as Christ ministered? It is he who knows the action of the Word in practical cleansing for himself, as the Lord said to Peter: "When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren."

There is one contrast between the cleansing at the laver and the action of John 13. The priests were to wash their hands as well as their feet at the laver, but our Lord washed only the disciples' feet. The hands are suggestive of working, as works are the law's demand. But our place as Christians is "not by works of righteousness which we have done." It is the feet, our ways, which need constantly to be cleansed by the word of God, through the advocacy of Christ our Lord and the ministry of the Holy Ghost. But the walk includes the entire earthly life of the believer. There must be no distinction made between our service and our path. This is perfectly clear. The only thought is to guard against any idea of legal obedience, which would be suggested by the washing of the hands. The entire life, even to thoughts and desires, is to come under the cleansing of the Word.

In 1 Cor. 1 1:28 we read: "Let a man examine (or judge) himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup." And again He says (vers. 31, 32): If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world." That is, if we are to partake aright of the Lord's Supper, it must be in self-judgment; we must let the light of His Word search and cleanse our ways. How constantly we should be before the Lord that He may search us, that nothing of a defiling character may be clinging to us as we come to His table, nor hinder His favor and blessing in our daily life.

In Gal. 6:1 this is applied to our mutual relationships: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted." Here we have to do with one another in brotherly love and care. Our business is not to talk to others about his fault, nor in self-satisfaction to thank God that we have not fallen into it; but in the spirit of lowliness, realizing that we too may be tempted, and if in his position might have done the same thing, go and seek to restore him to his Lord — that he may have it all out between his soul and the Lord; then we may be sure that communion is restored. This is true washing of one another's feet.

There is a beautiful example of this washing of the saints' feet in James. He says: "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed" (James 5:16). This is not to be busybodies in other men's matters, nor to take up things which do not concern us, but a godly concern to secure communion with the Lord for His people. It is not demanding confession, as the priest, that others confess to him; but in brotherly and mutual confidence, confessing your faults one to another, and praying one for another that ye may be healed.

If the laver as a whole suggests the person of Christ, and the water in it the whole word of God, what would the smaller vessel at the foot of the laver suggest? I believe Eph. 6:17 tells us: "Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (literally, the saying) of God:" not the word of God generally, but "the saying of God;" that is, the word that applies, the word spoken in due season. It is not the whole Bible we are to bring to the brother, but the needed word applying to his actual condition. This needs wisdom and the Spirit's guidance to bring the right word, that it may cleanse and help.

And in this connection, how important it is that we should read the Word and feed upon it. How shall the Spirit of God use it for our cleansing and upbuilding, or how can we use it to the help and blessing of others, if we are not really acquainted with it? If we are to know the word of God, there must be something like system in the way we read it, just as there is in the way we take our ordinary food. Mere desultory reading of favorite passages, skipping from point to point, while helpful in some ways, will not thoroughly furnish us. Let not a day pass without careful, prayerful reading of our regular portion. This may be long or short, as time permits, but it should be consecutive. Nor should we ignore those portions which to us may be more obscure — as the prophets, for instance. Let us become thoroughly acquainted with the entire contents of Scripture.

Does this seem like an impossible task? Let us then remember the encouragement: "To him that hath shall more be given." A habit formed of utilizing, if it be but a few moments of the morning and evening, will give us, during the course of a year, a fairly general knowledge of God's word. More than that, it will beget in us an appetite for more. We shall find increasing capacity to enter into the large and blessed fields that will open before us. That which we have gathered in the morning hour will be food for mind and heart during the day; and how much of the flesh, which still lurks unsuspected in our ways, will gradually be disclosed, as we are able to bear it. Thus, we shall have put at the disposal of the Lord an abundance of "water" to cleanse our ways.

We have been speaking of practical sanctification — of cleansing; let us now look at another passage which at one glance gives us the blessed truth of sanctification in a somewhat different way, and yet closely connected with all that we have been dwelling upon. It is in 2 Cor. 3:18: "Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image." The word, "Beholding as in a glass," is taking a full length view, we might say, not of our own image in the mirror, but beholding the glory of the Lord. The veil has been taken away; the glory of God is shining in the blessed face of Christ on high as our precursor there. Gaze upon that; take a full length view of Christ in glory, and as you are occupied with Him there, what shall be the effect of it? Oh, blessed effect: human pride gives place for the glories of Christ; and as we behold Him, we are "changed into the same image, from glory to glory."

Lastly, in Rev. 15:2, 3 we read: "And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the Beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God. And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb."

Here we are permitted to look into the glory. There, in the heavenly sanctuary, is the throne of God and of the Lamb, as the ark was in the tabernacle. The hidden manna is there, answering to the table of showbread. The seven Spirits of God are before the throne, answering co the candlestick; and the sea of glass, answering to that in Solomon's temple. Notice it is not now the laver filled with water — no need to remove defilement there; it is a sea of transparent glass, reminding us of the laver which has accomplished its work here. When all the redeemed of God are gathered there, the day of cleansing from defilement is over: no more need to wash one another's feet; no more need for the Lord's washing our feet, but there we stand with harps of God in our hands, nothing to hinder praise and worship. But the sea of glass, the witness and perpetual reminder of our cleansing, will flash forth there a continual remembrance of our Lord's gracious and humble service throughout our journey here.