Chapter 30:17-38 (ESV) - The LORD said to Moses, “You shall also make a basin of bronze, with its stand of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and you shall put water in it, with which Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet. When they go into the tent of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn a food offering to the LORD, they shall wash with water, so that they may not die. They shall wash their hands and their feet, so that they may not die. It shall be a statute forever to them, even to him and to his offspring throughout their generations.”
The LORD said to Moses, “Take the finest spices: of liquid myrrh 500 shekels, and of sweet-smelling cinnamon half as much, that is, 250, and 250 of aromatic cane, and 500 of cassia, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, and a hin of olive oil. And you shall make of these a sacred anointing oil blended as by the perfumer; it shall be a holy anointing oil. With it you shall anoint the tent of meeting and the ark of the testimony, and the table and all its utensils, and the lampstand and its utensils, and the altar of incense, and the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils and the basin and its stand. You shall consecrate them, that they may be most holy. Whatever touches them will become holy. You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests. And you shall say to the people of Israel, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured on the body of an ordinary person, and you shall make no other like it in composition. It is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’”
The LORD said to Moses, “Take sweet spices, stacte, and onycha, and galbanum, sweet spices with pure frankincense (of each shall there be an equal part), and make an incense blended as by the perfumer, seasoned with salt, pure and holy. You shall beat some of it very small, and put part of it before the testimony in the tent of meeting where I shall meet with you. It shall be most holy for you. And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.”
Question to consider: How are we made clean and holy in the church?
The “tent of meeting” was the tent that contained the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place. The altar where sacrifices were made was in the courtyard that surrounded the tent of meeting. When a priest entered into the tent, they were entering holy ground, so they washed their feet and removed the dust from a sinful world. They then washed their hands to remove the stain of sin. As I’ve mentioned before, hands are representative of our works and feet are representative of our travels. All the commentators I read speak of the practical nature of washing off blood from the sacrifice, but there wasn’t a bar of soap next to the basin. This was not an act to remove bacteria. Their very garments had years worth of blood sprinkled on them so it was not the blood that made them unclean.
Our whole body was made clean in our baptism. We can freely enter the tent of meeting without the need of the bronze basin. In Roman Catholic churches there is a basin before you enter into the sanctuary in which people will dip their finger and make the sign of the cross. If it is being used as a remembrance that we were made holy in baptism by the cross of Christ, I don’t take issue with it. If it is used in the same manner as the bronze basin to make us clean, I would argue that the act is unnecessary.
The LORD then gave Moses instructions on how to make the anointing oil and the incense for burning. These things were to be used to set apart as holy the priests and the instruments used in the tent of meeting. Since it was to be made by the people and provided to the priests, there would be the temptation for the people to use it on themselves or in their homes, for they had an enjoyable aroma. However, to do so would make common something that the LORD had set apart for His holy purposes.
In the church, all people can be anointed with oil, and incense can be burned when we are all gathered together because in Christ we have all been made holy. We have all been made priests. Therefore, we are all to be about the work of redemption. Jesus has commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Dear heavenly father, thank You for making us holy in Christ. Help us to keep from being tainted by the world, but we are grateful that when we sin, You will hear our confession and be faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Amen.