The Laver as Baptistry?

July 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Question: Does the washing and purification of the priests in the laver of the Old Testament Tabernacle have any significance for the New Testament ordinance of baptism?

Answer: The Tabernacle laver (made of bronze) is first mentioned in Exodus 30:18. The priests were required to use it to wash both their hands and feet every time they went from the courtyard into the Most Holy Place – upon penalty of death. Its primary function was practical: sanitary hygiene. Many of the priests handled raw meat and bloody flesh. Although “germs” weren’t common knowledge in those days, God certainly knew about their relation to disease, and many of His laws protected the people from things like Hepatitis A (which is easily spread by the failure to wash hands when dealing with shared food preparation) without their knowledge. However, the laver also had a symbolic function. Most people know the expression “cleanliness is next to Godliness.” While this expression is not precisely from the Bible, it does express the idea that holiness is associated with purity. The idea that people would approach the presence of the holy God with dirty hands and feet would be offensive as a reminder of how wrong it would be for sinful people to approach a pure and righteous God. When gentiles would convert to Judaism in the Old Testament, they would be baptized as a symbol of washing away their sin and “uncleanliness.” New Testament baptism is different, though. For Christians, our sin was borne and expiated by Jesus on the Cross, and our baptism, which should be subsequent to conversion, symbolizes our identification with Christ in His death (going down into the water), burial (being under the water), and Resurrection (coming up out of the water).

3 Comments »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

  1. […] Oh, be Careful, Little Ears, Thumbs, and Toes (Exodus 29) 49. The True Consecration (Exodus 29-31) 50. The Laver as Baptistry? (Exodus 30:18) 51. Why We Can, and Cannot, Have Nice Things (Exodus 31-32) 52. Syncretism and […]

  2. […] we are saved. Baptism is an illustration of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It does not wash away anyone’s […]

  3. […] The laver was for purifying and washing. It was to be made of brass (most likely an alloy of tin and copper in those days, probably the purest brass they had). This brass would have come from their mirrors. As a father of four daughters, this is one of the ways I know that that the Israelite people were really excited and willing about obeying and giving: The women gave up their mirrors! Seriously, though, it does make a good object lesson. They got their eyes off themselves and onto God. There’s a reason why they call a mirror you can sit down in front of a “vanity.” […]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: