Saturday, August 28, 2010

Through the Looking glass. . .

Reading today in Exodus for my daily devotions. Exodus is the book of the Bible where the Hebrew people, led by Moses, depart from Egypt. The leaving of Egypt was a physical occurrence. It was a historical event, but as many things in the Bible there was a heavily symbolic meaning to the historical event.

Egypt is a metaphor of and symbol for the non-religious world. The 40 year journey of the Hebrews from Egypt through the wilderness of Sin and finally to the promised land, is a journey from the world of sin and fleshly appetites into the presence of God.

After receiving the commandments of God for a second time, Moses comes back to the people and tells them everything which God has given him. Moses received the Law and the Commandments, and he also received a very detailed plan from God, for the temple the Hebrews were to use to worship and minister to God while they journeyed through the wilderness.

It was very detailed, mind numbingly so. For verse after verse. . .chapter after chapter we read very detailed instructions on the construction of the tabernacle, the priests clothing, the instruments and stations of the tabernacle. For me it is difficult to maintain my attention in these verses because I cannot really understand the construction of the items and have no mental image of what all the things described are, so I have to restrain myself from just skipping and skimming over the verses.

All this was given for a concrete physical reason to the ancient believers and there is a wealth of spiritual symbolism for the believers of today. In the midst of this mind numbing detail, is a very interesting verse:

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.

Amongst the very detailed instructions for the articles of clothing, the walls of the tabernacle, the altar, the candlestick, table for the show bread, is this stark statement: and he made the laver of brass and the foot of it of brass. . .

The laver is an essential part of the temple, it is the place where the priests cleansed themselves before working in the temple:

Exodus 30:17-21 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 18) Thou shalt also make a laver of brass, and his foot also of brass, to wash withal: and thou shalt put it between the tabernacle of the congregation and the altar, and thou shalt put water therein. (19 For Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet thereat: (20 When they go into the tabernacle of the congregation, they shall wash with water, that they die not; or when they come near to the altar to minister, to burn offering made by fire unto the LORD: (21 So they shall wash their hands and their feet, that they die not: and it shall be a statute for ever to them, even to him and to his seed throughout their generations.

Aaron and his sons had to be clean before coming before the Lord. For them to be before the Lord without first cleansing themselves, was to risk death. The physical washing of the Old Testament has given way to the symbolic washing of the New Testament. Jesus was clear, it is not physical uncleanness which is important:

Matthew 15:20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

It is also clear that there is no special class of priests today. We, who love God and follow His footsteps. . .we who call ourselves Christians. . .we who wish to be Christ-like are all priests when we come to God:

1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Revelation 1:5-6 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, (6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We the believers and followers of Christ are the priests of the New Covenant and as such we must wash before entering into the Holy of Holies. Our cleansing is accomplished by baptism:

Acts 22:16 And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

We are washed and made clean, we are sanctified and made holy, we are justified and made free from our bondage by the name which is above every other name. . .the name of Jesus and by the Spirit of God:

1 Corinthians 6:11 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.

We are cleansed and made holy by obeying the word of God, the commandment to be washed by baptism and thereby be a totally cleaned and pure bride of Christ:

Ephesians 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, (27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

We are cleansed by nothing that we can do of ourselves. We must be regenerated. . .We must be reborn. . . born of the water of baptism and born of the spirit of God:

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;

All of this washing and cleansing is only possible by the opening of the door of death. We placed ourselves under death’s dominion by Adam and Eve’s following the words of Satan rather than the Word of God. God told Adam and Eve that they would die if they ate of the fruit of the forbidden tree. They disregarded Him. Now all men must pay this price and deserve to die for the sins which we have committed, but through the death on the cross of one man who committed no sin, and yet paid the price of sin, we are able by the means of His blood to be freed from our sentence of death. Jesus paid the price for sin which He did not commit. Because of the price He paid, we are redeemed from our sins and death no longer has any hold over us. The mystery of God, is that the staining red blood can wash whiter than snow:

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood

Now to return to the verse, which started me on this study:

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.

As translated in the KJV and every other version I consulted, the Hebrew women gave up their brass lookingglasses. . . they specifically gave up their brass hand mirrors in order to construct the wash basin which the priests would use cleanse themselves before entering the Holy of Holies. . .

A woman’s appearance is very important to her. She desires to make herself as beautiful as possible. To give up her mirror was a very very great sacrifice. The Hebrews were wandering in the desert. The mining, smelting, casting and forming of metals is difficult or impossible to a nomadic people. Undoubtedly these mirrors had come from the spoils which were brought out of Egypt. These women gave up something irreplaceable, that the priests might be able to cleanse themselves and not fear death.

This brings a wonderful image to my mine, one full of symbolism on which to ponder and meditate, but let us look at the word rendered as “lookingglass”. The Hebrew word is: מַרְאָה (mar'ah)

It is found 12 times in the Old Testament. 11 times it is translated as ‘vision’ or ‘visions’. Only once is it translated as ‘lookingglass’. Here are the verses where ‘marah’ is found:

Genesis 46:2 And God spake unto Israel in the visions of the night, and said, Jacob, Jacob. And he said, Here am I.

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.

Numbers 12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a
vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.

1 Samuel 3:15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the

Ezekiel 1:1 Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw
visions of God.

Ezekiel 8:3 And he put forth the form of an hand, and took me by a lock of mine head; and the spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me in the
visions of God to Jerusalem, to the door of the inner gate that looketh toward the north; where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provoketh to jealousy.

Ezekiel 40:2 In the
visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south.

Ezekiel 43:3 And it was according to the appearance of the vision which I saw, even according to the
vision that I saw when I came to destroy the city: and the visions were like the vision that I saw by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face.

Daniel 10:7 And I Daniel alone saw the
vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves.

Daniel 10:8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great
vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.

Daniel 10:16 And, behold, one like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the
vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength.

As important, as symbolic as the Hebrew women giving up their hand mirrors would have been, would it not also have been so very beautiful if the following were the case:

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

I am surely no expert of the Hebrew language. This Hebrew word is ‘marah’, 11 times translated as 'vision' or 'visions'. In only one instance is this word translated as ‘lookingglass’. In any respect, those ancient Hebrew women saw something. . .they had a vision of the station of washing, being so extremely important that they were willing to sacrifice something of huge importance to them. The wanted to be. . .they hungered to be the instrument by which the laver was created. . . .I weep. . .I weep. . .A vision of mine, a vision of these Hebrew woman that no one could come to the holy of holies without first being cleansed. . . .A vision of the physical cleansing required by the priests of the tabernacle. . . A vision of the required spiritual cleansing made possible only by the terrible sacrifice of Mary’s Son upon the cross. . .

The beauty of their sacrifice. . .
I weep. . .
I weep. . .

Thank you my God. . .
Thank you my Lord for your sacrifice. . .
Thank you my God for the vision and for the sacrifice of these women. . .

1 comment:

P K C said...

I must say amen to this post. I weep. And we should....You are inspiring. Thank you.