Then the Lord said to Moses, “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. Aaron and his sons are to wash their hands and feet with water from it. Whenever they enter the tent of meeting, they shall wash with water so that they will not die. Also, when they approach the altar to minister by presenting a food offering to the Lord , they shall wash their hands and feet so that they will not die. This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants for the generations to come.” – Exodus 30:17-21
This passage follows some pretty important events in the lives of the Israelites. God has already delivered the ten commandments on Mount Sinai and, as we saw in the day before yesterday’s post, He tends to show up as either a dense cloud or fire depending on who is looking. We have seen the relationship between God’s people and God become more remote and mediated more and more by Moses, Aaron, and his sons.
This passage follows a somewhat excruciating detailed description of the offerings required by God for atonement. This includes cutting rams and other animals into pieces and burning them on the altar…thus the need for a wash basin. Honestly this practice has always puzzled me a bit. Why would God want his people to destroy and seemingly waste a part of his creation? Killing animals has always been something that I have found hard to think about. Although unless I am a vegetarian someone must do it in my name.
The bit about washing their hands and feet so they would not die upon entering the tent of meeting used to confuse me before I became a Christian. After I accepted Christ I realized that this was a foreshadowing of Jesus’ sacrifice for us so that we could freely enter the “tent of meeting” to be with God. No need for “dense clouds”, “fire on the mountain”, or intermediaries like Moses and Aaron.
As I reflected and prayed about sacrifices I realized that I actually do the very thing that puzzles me about God and the sacrifices — I sacrifice parts of my body and soul on the altar of pleasure or pride. Perhaps God was providing us with a concrete reminder that we are his and so is everything we possess, including animals. He gave us everything, including the freedom to make poor choices about how we treat our body and soul.
Prayer: As I make decisions about how I will use my body and soul help me to make wise choices. Help me to remember that all that I am and all that I possess is yours.