The next item in the outer court is the laver. But before sharing the meaning of the laver, we must indicate in this connection that the altar was overlaid with brass. The source of this brass was the brazen censers of the two hundred and fifty Israelites who rebelled against God and were judged by fire. The Lord instructed Moses to gather all these brazen censers and make from them brass plates to overlay the altar (Num. 16:38-40). This, of course, imparts the sense that the brazen altar is for judgment by burning. It is significant that the laver is also made of brass. However, this brass had its source in the mirrors of the women who served at the tabernacle (Exo. 38:8). The purpose of a mirror is to reflect our true image and thus to expose us. Sometimes when we ask our children to wash their faces, they reply indignantly that they are quite clean. It is helpful, then, to take them to a mirror and let them see for themselves. Even so, the laver of brass exposes and enlightens us. We immediately sense the need of cleansing, and it is the laver which also cleanses us (Exo. 40:30-32). This is the real work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5). We must be exposed and then cleansed from our fallen state.
The type of brass used in the laver differs from that used in the altar, but the nature of both is the same. This means that the Holy Spirit’s exposing or enlightening depends on the judgment of the cross. The laver of brass follows the altar of brass. From the brass altar there is the brass laver. Spiritually speaking, this means that the laver’s function issues from the altar. Judgment always brings light to us. When we are judged, we are enlightened. The more we are judged by the cross, the more the Holy Spirit enlightens and exposes us. If we do not apply the cross to ourselves, we will always say, “I am all right, there is nothing wrong with me.” If we have this attitude, the Holy Spirit will never expose us. We will simply remain in darkness. When we apply the cross, saying, “Oh, I am so sinful, I am good for nothing but death, I must be put to death, and I have already been put to death,” immediately the Holy Spirit exposes us from within. He points out that we are wrong in this matter, corrupted in that matter, and defiled in many other things. The more we apply the cross, the more we will be enlightened by the Holy Spirit. The laver follows the altar—both are of brass. At the brass altar we have the experience of being judged; at the brass laver we have the experience of being enlightened and cleansed. We must judge ourselves—this is the only way to experience the building of God.
No one can tell us the size of the laver. The exposing, enlightening, and cleansing work of the Holy Spirit is unlimited and immeasurable. Concerning all the utensils of the tabernacle, only two are without measurement—the laver and the lampstand. Both are immeasurable and unlimited.
The vital problem and main issue today is that all we are, all we have and all we can do must be put on the altar, must be put on the cross. For when we are thus judged, redeemed, and consecrated, we will continually be in the position where the light may shine upon us. The Holy Spirit will constantly expose, enlighten, and cleanse us. When we pass the brass altar and the brass laver in this way, we really experience God’s judgment. This is the first experience of God’s building. We are good for nothing but judgment, and we must realize this judgment.
THE BRASS SOCKETS
From the experiences of the altar and the laver, we go on to the experience of the brass sockets (Exo. 27:10-17). These are the bases of the wall of the outer court. All the pillars which support the hangings of the outer court rest upon these brass sockets. In spiritual experience this means that the foundation, the base of the wall of the outer court, comes out of the judgment of God. After we pass the cross and the exposing and cleansing work of the Holy Spirit, we will lay the foundation of the wall of the outer court. This constitutes the boundary line of God’s building. All things outside of this line do not belong to God’s building. When we experience the brass altar and laver, we see the brass sockets laid as a foundation, drawing the boundary line of God’s building. From our experience of being judged and cleansed comes the foundation of the outer court, the sockets of brass. In the record of the specifications of the tabernacle, the mentioning of the brass altar precedes the mentioning of the brass sockets. Spiritually speaking, this means that the sockets come out of the altar. We must first experience the dealing of the cross, and the exposing, enlightening, and cleansing of the Holy Spirit. We must experience these items extensively; then we will have the foundation laid as the boundary line for God’s building. By this line we may separate what is within from what is without God’s building. By this line we may clearly discern what must be kept without, what should not be brought within. The boundary of God’s building is the judgment of the cross and the cleansing of the Holy Spirit. Anything belonging to the building of God must be judged by the cross, exposed and cleansed by the Holy Spirit. Otherwise it is outside the building. Anyone who thinks he is clever and adequate for God’s building has not judged himself, and has no boundary line. When there is no separating line, no outer court, then the whole world will be the outer court for the building of the church. That is wrong! We must have the separating line—the judgment of the cross and the exposing and cleansing of the Holy Spirit. This is so clear.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)