Points to Ponder/Is There A Personal Sacrifice You Ought to Make?
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
The Book of Exodus gives specific details for the building of the tabernacle and its various implements and furnishings. It was to be God’s dwelling place among His people. The New Testament Book of Hebrews describes that first sanctuary as a “copy and a shadow of what is in heaven.” (Heb 8:5) Every detail about it served as a foreshadowing of what was to come in Jesus Christ. (See Hebrews 8-10)
A particular point that struck me was in Exodus 30:17-21 and 38:8. A bronze wash basin, or laver, on a bronze stand was placed between the Tent of Meeting and the altar. The priests were to wash in that basin prior to approaching the altar to present an offering and before entering the Tent of Meeting to serve before the Lord. God commanded that they first wash themselves before commencing their duties before the Lord, lest they die.
The origin of the bronze with which they made the basin and its base is worth considering.
“They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.” (Exodus 38:8 NIV)
There were no glass mirrors then; these were polished bronze. We do not know the size, but they must have been small enough to pack and carry on their journey. Numerous women made a significant sacrifice. These were the women who served at the entrance to the place where God came to meet with the priests and Moses. So they realized the significance of that place and the priests’ service. God called for this basin, to consecrate the priests and to make them holy in body and prepared in spirit. What the women had used for their outward appearance would be used by God now to perfect the inward condition of their spiritual leaders.
If this personal sacrifice was also (as Hebrews says) a foreshadowing of that which was to come, what could it be saying to us? The scripture purposely included that little detail.
Women in those days had no status or power. Certainly among a wandering multitude of escaped slaves, they had even less - no house, no plot of ground to work, no permanence. What they did have was the hope up ahead, the Promised Land. They also had seen and experienced the glory of the Lord as He descended in a cloud upon the Tent of Meeting when He met with Moses. What lesson could we draw from this?
Perhaps the lesson here is that when our spiritual eyes are focused on a higher vision, it is not as hard to release the precious treasures we have here for so short a time. I believe those mirrors were special to those women just as each one of us cherish certain personal effects and treasures. But for God’s greater glory, they willingly (if not cheerfully) gave up their earthly treasure. Not only that, because each one of them made that personal sacrifice, there were enough of those mirrors to melt down for the making of the basin and its stand.
When a body of believers is in one accord with the vision and plan of God, each individual’s personal devotion is multiplied in power. Often a body of God’s people has the “form of godliness but deny its power” (II Timothy 3:5) because some can not or will not see beyond themselves and their own interests. Rather than seeking to serve God, they maintain a religion that exists to serve them. They hang onto their mirrors, because they measure the standard of their holiness according to the image in their hand rather than the higher image of a righteous and eternal God.
Consider Exodus 38:8 again - how God used the personal sacrifice of the cherished treasures of some faithful women. For thousands of years their story has been read from the scripture. The mirrors are gone. The basin and its stand have long since vanished. Yet, the memory of personal sacrifice for the glory of God lives on in the scripture and in the heart of God.
What do you hold dear among your earthly treasures that could serve the greater glory of God? It may not be a thing you can hold in your hand. It may be as big as a building or as intangible as a career or position of status. Suppose you let it go and gave it up for God’s use? He might melt it down, it might be gone forever from your sight; but just suppose that THAT is the very thing God has allowed you to have so that you could give it back to Him? That’s a point to ponder.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.