Christian Churches of God
Brazen Sea and
(Edition 1.0 20070720-20070720)
From the paper on the Tabernacle in the Wilderness we see that there was one laver wherein the High Priest and the priests washed themselves and the offering. In this paper we will look at what concept the laver prefigured and how this expanded over time in the Temple buildings. We will also review the concepts of water and what that involves.
Brazen Sea and Ten Lavers
We all know what water is and how it is so important to every aspect of our lives. Water is for drinking, cooking, washing – just to name a few uses. Without water people and animals will die. In this paper we will look at the concept of water and what is shown to us spiritually and physically about water and its purpose in God’s Temple. First of all let us look at God’s Throne and see if there are any references to water there.
Revelation 4:6 and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass like crystal and in the centre and around the throne, four living creatures full of eyes in front and behind. (NASV)
In the abovementioned text we see a spiritual sea which is before God’s Throne. Let us briefly review scriptures that relate to water and see what we can learn about the importance of water to God and what it symbolizes.
Scriptures that refer to the water of life
Jeremiah 2:13 For My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, The fountain of living waters, To hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (NASV)
Jeremiah 17:13 O Lord, the hope of Israel, All who forsake Thee will be put to shame. Those who turn away on earth will be written down, because they have forsaken the fountain of living Water, even the Lord. (NASV)
Psalm 36:8,9 They drink their fill of the abundance of Thy house; and Thou dost give them to drink of Thy delights. For with Thee is the fountain of life (NASV)
From the abovementioned scriptures we see God is the fountain of living water or life. Just as we saw in other lessons, people can turn away from God’s way of life. Jeremiah 4:13 talks of people turning away from God and attempting to learn to live without God. We know this does not work. We will also see later how water is a component of baptism, footwashing, and can represent the Holy Spirit.
Now let us look at how and in what vessels water was used in the first Tabernacle in the Wilderness.
The laver in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness
Between the Tabernacle and the altar was a large copper or bronze bowl called the laver, which was always to be full of water. In it the priests were to wash their hands and feet before going about their duties (Ex. 30:18-21). The penalty for not washing was death (Ex. 30:20, 21).
The laver and basin were made from the copper (or bronze, which is a copper alloy) mirrors of the women who served at the doorway of the Tent of Meeting (Ex. 30:18; 38:8). Just as a woman is symbolic of the Church, this pointed forward in time to signify that people came to God through His servants and it now signifies that they come to Christ through the Church.
There is really very little description of how large the laver was to be or how it was to look. This is very different to all the details given for the brazen sea and the ten lavers in Solomon’s Temple.
Brazen Sea in the Temple Solomon built
The brazen sea is described in 1Kings 7:23-26 and 2Chronicles 4:2-5,10. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court (1Kgs. 7:39; 2Chr. 4:10). It is outside of the House of God as was the altar, to symbolize the fact that Christ died outside of the camp as a sacrifice once and for all.
In 1Kings 7:23ff., we note that the sea was five cubits high, ten cubits from one rim to the other and thirty cubits around. Therefore, the diameter or distance across was ten cubits and the circumference was thirty cubits. Great detail is given as to how the brazen sea appeared in contrast to the limited detail of the laver in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness (Ex. 30:18-21).
We know the number 30 indicates divine order and government. There are 30 Beings in the Inner Council, inclusive of Eloah. For more information see the Symbolism of Numbers (No. 7); The Government of God (No. 174) and The Creation of the Family of God (No. CB4).
The Bible does not describe how the water got into the brazen sea. Wikipedia has this comment:
Solomon also provided a water supply by having vast cisterns hewn from the underground rock of the ancient Jewish Citadel (currently Haram). Water, originating from the Etam sources, flowed along the Aqueduct of Etam, (or Aqueduct of Solomon, or ancient Aqueduct) into "the Solomon Pools" near Bethlehem. These pools collected and stored 400 million liters of purifying waters. One of the (Haram) underground cisterns--called the Brazen Sea (Septuagint)--was dug by Solomon upstream of the Temple platform. This cistern (Cistern n°8, according to the numeration established by Charles Warren, a 19th century archaeologist), was (and still is) capable of containing twelve million liters.
Easton’s comments about the water are as follows, from the article on the 'Temple, Solomon':
Solomon also provided for a sufficient water supply for the temple by hewing in the rocky hill vast cisterns, into which water was conveyed by channels from the "pools" near Bethlehem. One of these cisterns, the "Brazen Sea," was capable of containing millions of gallons. The overflow was led off by a conduit to the Kidron.
In the article on the ‘Sea, Brazen’, Easton comments:
The great laver made by Solomon for the use of the priests in the temple, described in 1Ki 7:23-26; 2Ch 4:2-5. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court. It was 5 cubits high, 10 in diameter from brim to brim, and 30 in circumference. It was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, standing with their faces outward. It was capable of containing two or three thousand baths of water (2Ch 4:5), which was originally supplied by the Gibeonites, but was afterwards brought by a conduit from the pools of Bethlehem. It was made of "brass" (copper), which Solomon had taken from the captured cities of Hadarezer, the king of Zobah (1Ch 18:8). Ahaz afterwards removed this laver from the oxen, and placed it on a stone pavement (2Ki 16:17). It was destroyed by the Chaldeans (25:13).
The Companion Bible also has information about the water supply in Appendix 68 on Zion.
Some parts of scripture are vague or unclear for a purpose; yet other parts go into much more detail. Let’s look at 1Kings 7 and see what detail we can learn about the brazen sea.
1Kings 7:24 describes the ten knops or balls to a cubit (NASV), which would be 300 total in each row with 600 total for the entire piece. They were part of the brazen piece when it was cast. Here again we see the two rows just as we have seen on the top of the pillars.
Regarding the “knop”, Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as: “some architectural ornament. (1.) Heb. kaphtor (Ex. 25:31-36), occurring in the description of the lampstand. It was an ornamental swell beneath the cups of the lampstand, probably an imitation of the fruit of the almond. (2.) Heb. peka'im, found only in 1Ki 6:18 and 1Ki 7:24, an ornament resembling a small gourd or an egg, on the cedar wainscot in the temple and on the castings on the brim of the brazen sea.”
2Chronicles goes on to expand the description of these knops or balls. We actually see they were made in the image of a bull’s head.
2Chronicles 4:2-3 Also he made a Brazen sea of ten cubits from brim to brim, round in compass, and five cubits the height thereof; and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about. 3 And under it was the similitude of oxen, which did compass it round about: ten in a cubit, compassing the sea round about. Two rows of oxen were cast, when it was cast.
Here we see two rows of 300 bull or oxen heads around the brazen sea at its top edge.
1Kings 7:25 goes on to state it was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, three looking toward the west, three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east, and all their hinder parts were inward. Here we see all the 12 tribes of Israel coming into the truth and supporting the truth through the Bull of Ephraim, which was sometimes depicted as a unicorn. The so-called “unicorn” or bull is Messiah (Deut. 33:17; cf. Num. 23:22; see also Jer. 31:18).
Therefore, we see the same concept of the 12 as we saw in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. The Holy City is a spiritual edifice comprised of the sons of God. The New Holy City of God is based on the same structure as given to Moses at Sinai. It is in four divisions of three, making twelve in all. The twelve tribes of Israel are the basis of the divisions. All Gentiles of every nation are allocated to these twelve groups. The twelve Apostles are the judges heading the twelve tribes (Mat. 19:28). The twelve Apostles are the twelve foundations of the City. They are the twelve stones of Israel referred to in history and prophecy (Josh. 4:5). The 144,000 are allocated 12,000 to each tribe (Rev. 7:5-8). Here the notion of government is the reverse or opposite of hierarchy or top-down approach. It is one of support, where the foundation is the Apostles, and the City rests on those foundations. Just as the 12 oxen carry the weight of the brazen sea, so too do the Apostles help with or carry the weight of all the people that come in to the Church. For more information see the paper The City of God (No. 180).
We see two rows of 300 or a total of 600 balls or knops shaped as bull’s heads near the top of the brazen sea, plus the 12 oxen at the bottom upon which the sea rests. In the same way the Temple of God rests on the foundation of the twelve Apostles heading the twelve tribes of Israel. All people, including the Gentiles, come into the City of God through one of the 12 tribes. The two rows of 300 are set apart as the power of the Spirit of God through the prophets. In the same way, 300 was used for the work of God through Gideon and Samson and is a key number in the exercise of the Spirit in the development of the Church, which is the Israel of God in prophecy. For more information see Gideon's Force and the Last Days (No. 22) and Samson and the Judges (No. 73).
It is also interesting to note that there are 12 Jubilee cycles of 50 years (12 x 50 = 600) collectively between the 2 rows. It was twelve Jubilees from the Jubilee year of the building of the Temple of King Solomon, which ended in 924 BCE, and the completion of the Work of Ezra and the end of the Old Testament Covenant in 324 BCE. The following year Ezra (and Alexander the Great) died, and the Canon of Prophecy was sealed.
In verse 26, we see it was a handbreadth thick and the brim had lily flowers, just as the pillars’ capitals also had lilies. Here we see it contained 2,000 baths. Bullinger points out that 2Chronicles 4:5 indicates it could contain 3,000 baths. See note on 1Kings 7:26 in The Companion Bible.
2Chronicles 29:31ff. states what Hezekiah offered at the time of his restoration.
2Chronicles 29:31-33 Then Hezekiah answered and said, Now ye have consecrated yourselves unto the LORD, come near and bring sacrifices and thank offerings into the house of the LORD. And the congregation brought in sacrifices and thank offerings; and as many as were of a free heart burnt offerings. 32 And the number of the burnt offerings, which the congregation brought, was threescore and ten bullocks, an hundred rams, and two hundred lambs: all these were for a burnt offering to the LORD. 33 And the consecrated things were six hundred oxen and three thousand sheep.
We see the concept of the 70 bullocks, 300 sheep (100 rams and 200 lambs), 600 oxen and 3000 sheep. From the Tabernacle, Temple and physical sacrifices we learn of the spiritual (Heb. 8:5).
The laver was in between the Tabernacle and the burnt altar and was much smaller than the brazen sea, which was located in the south-east area of the court. It is important for us to remember this direction and see if anything else in the future has to do with this direction.
From God’s word we know things wax and wane or get bigger or smaller over time. We know from Exodus 32:24-28 that 3,000 lost their lives due to disobedience and their involvement with the Golden Calf after Pentecost in the first year of the Exodus. Yet, in Acts 2:41, we learn that 3,000 people were brought into the Church around Pentecost in 30 CE.
The laver was the place where the priests washed their hands and feet in the time of the Tabernacle. The brazen sea was the basin for the priests to wash in the time of Solomon (2Chr. 4:6).
In Revelation 4:6 and 15:2, we note that there is a sea of glass before God’s Throne. The brazen sea in the Temple Solomon built may be a physical representation of this spiritual picture.
The brazen sea may also picture the concept of baptism. We see both the altar of burnt offering and brazen sea being outside of the Temple. We know that through Christ’s perfect sacrifice we are able to repent, be baptized and reconciled to the Father.
Mark 16:15-16 And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. (KJV)
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (RSV)
1John 1:7-9 But if we live in the light, as God does, we share in life with each other. And the blood of his Son Jesus washes all our sins away. 8 If we say that we have not sinned, we are fooling ourselves, and the truth isn't in our hearts. 9 But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away. (CEV)
As adults, once we are baptized we must annually or yearly participate in the Lord’s Supper, which includes the foot-washing services. For more information about this see The Lords Supper (No. 103); Significance of the Footwashing (No. 99) and God’s Holy Days (CB22).
Let us look at how the concept of water is expanded and used in the ten lavers.
2Chronicles 4:6 describes the ten smaller lavers and their use.
He made also ten lavers, and put five on the right hand, and five on the left, to wash in them: such things as they offered for the burnt offering they washed in them; but the sea was for the priests to wash in. (KJV)
There were ten smaller “portable” lavers. They were four cubits long, four cubits wide and three cubits high. They were made of bronze or copper. Each laver contained 40 baths or collectively 400 baths, or 200 baths on each side of the Temple. The ten lavers were all identical. On each laver there were graven cherubim, lions, oxen, and palm trees. For more detail on the 10 lavers see 1Kings 7:27-39.
1Kings 7:27-31 And he made ten bases of brass; four cubits was the length of one base, and four cubits the breadth thereof, and three cubits the height of it. 28 And the work of the bases was on this manner: they had borders, and the borders were between the ledges: 29 And on the borders that were between the ledges were lions, oxen, and cherubims: and upon the ledges there was a base above: and beneath the lions and oxen were certain additions made of thin work. 30 And every base had four brasen wheels, and plates of brass: and the four corners thereof had undersetters: under the laver were undersetters molten, at the side of every addition. 31 And the mouth of it within the chapiter and above was a cubit: but the mouth thereof was round after the work of the base, a cubit and an half: and also upon the mouth of it were gravings with their borders, foursquare, not round.
The word borders, from 1Kings 7:28, is explained in the footnote to verse 28 in The Companion Bible, as panels. In verse 31, we learn they were square with a basin placed inside of the square border (v. 38).
There were five lavers located on the north side of the Temple and five lavers located on the south side of the Temple (1Kgs. 7:39). Here again we see the symmetry in the Temple Solomon built, with matching items on the right/south and left/north side of the Temple.
Even the metal itself is amazing since copper and bronze (which contains copper) have antibacterial qualities. This means they prevent germs from growing on them, thereby preventing diseases or people getting sick from touching them or eating food consumed from them.
Copper is germicidal, via the oligodynamic effect. For example, brass doorknobs disinfect themselves of many bacteria within eight hours. This effect is useful in many applications.
Bacteria will not grow on a copper surface because it is biostatic. Copper doorknobs are used by hospitals to reduce the transfer of disease, and Legionnaires' disease is suppressed by copper tubing in air-conditioning systems
(From Wikipedia article ‘copper’.)
Part of Easton’s note on ‘brass’ explains that the metal used for the lavers was most likely copper, although bronze (an alloy of copper and tin) was well known at the time.
Brass: which is an alloy of copper and zinc, was not known till the thirteenth century. What is designated by this word in scripture is properly copper (Deut. 8:9). It was used for fetters (Jdg. 16:21; 2Kgs. 25:7), for pieces of armour (1Sam. 17:5,6), for musical instruments (1Chr. 15:19; 1Cor. 13:1), and for money (Mat. 10:9).
We see the concept of ‘water’ running through the entire Bible. Let us now look at scriptures that link or tie Messiah to life-giving water.
Scriptures that refer to Messiah as life-giving water
We will now look at Christ’s comments to the Samaritan woman.
John 4:14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life. (NASV)
Ephesians 5:26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word. NASV
Act. 22:16; and now why do you delay? Arise, and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name. (NASV)
Hebrews 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (NASV)
John 7:38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water’. (NASV)
Just as we briefly touched on the concept of baptism earlier, from the above scriptures we see water brings eternal life (Jn. 4:14). God cleanses or washes us by washing us with His word (Eph. 5:26). We need to be baptized to have sins washed away (Acts 22:16); and lastly, again being washed from sin (Heb. 10:22).
The giving of the Holy Spirit on baptism is the water of the wells of salvation promised by God through His prophets (Isa. 12:3). This water of the Holy Spirit was God's promise to Jacob recorded in Isaiah 44:3. The Lord God is the fountain of living water (Jer. 2:13; 17:13; also Zech. 14:8). This is the river of the water of life (Rev. 22:1). Christ, speaking of the Spirit (Jn. 7:39), said from him living waters flow (Jn. 4:10-14; 7:38, cf. Isa. 21:3; 55:1; 58:11). Israel is spiritually cleaned by water (from Ezek. 36:25), which is the water of life or the Holy Spirit. The elect take of this water without price (Rev. 22:17). See the paper Repentance and Baptism (No. 52) for more details.
When Messiah returns to Earth we know there will be the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and his bride, the Church. From Revelation 15 we again see the sea of glass pictured.
Revelation 15:2-3 and I saw as it were a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had come off victorious from the beast and from his image and from the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God and they sang the Song of Moses the bond servant of God and the song of the Lamb saying, …(NASV)
From the point of Messiah’s return, the Earth will be cleansed and the Law of God will be restored throughout the entire planet. For more information see The Harvests of God, the New Moon Sacrifices and the 144,000 (No. 120).
We will see the Temple is to be constructed again in the Millennium.
The Millennial Temple
From Ezekiel, we get an idea of what the Millennial Temple will be like. We see an aspect of the Temple described in Ezekiel 47:1-12.
The Stream Flowing from the Temple
Ezekiel 47:1-12 Then he brought me back to the door of the temple; and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east); and the water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. 2 Then he brought me out by way of the north gate, and led me round on the outside to the outer gate, that faces toward the east; and the water was coming out on the south side. 3 Going on eastward with a line in his hand, the man measured a thousand cubits, and then led me through the water; and it was ankle-deep. 4 Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was knee-deep. Again he measured a thousand, and led me through the water; and it was up to the loins. 5 Again he measured a thousand, and it was a river that I could not pass through, for the water had risen; it was deep enough to swim in, a river that could not be passed through. 6 And he said to me, "Son of man, have you seen this?" Then he led me back along the bank of the river. 7 As I went back, I saw upon the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. 8 And he said to me, "This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah; and when it enters the stagnant waters of the sea, the water will become fresh. 9 And wherever the river goes every living creature which swarms will live, and there will be very many fish; for this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. 10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea; from En-ge'di to En-eg'laim it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11 But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12 And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing." (RSV)
In the Millennial Temple there does not seem to be a brazen sea described. Yet the living waters flow from the Temple in the same direction as the brazen sea was located in the Temple Solomon built. Are we seeing a progression of the living waters starting with God the Father and demonstrated in a physical form in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness being in the laver? The Laver was small in comparison to what is shown in the brazen sea and 10 lavers of the Temple Solomon built. This was a way to prefigure the living waters that cleanse us from sin. These living waters will keep us alive and at a future point will flow freely on the planet.
Let us now look at what is described in the City of God regarding the water of life.
The City of God
From Revelation 22, we read about the river of life.
Revelation 22:1-21 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. 6 The angel said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent his angel to show his servants the things that must soon take place."
Jesus Is Coming
7 "Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." 8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who had been showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets and of all who keep the words of this book. Worship God!" 10 Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, because the time is near. 11 Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy." 12 "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. 14 "Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. 16 "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star." 17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" And let him who hears say, "Come!" Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life. 18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19 And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. 20 He who testifies to these things says, "Yes, I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. 21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen. (NASV)
Since God moved His Throne to Earth we see the river of life coming from the Throne of God. Verse 3 tells us the curse of Genesis 3:14 and 4:11 is gone since sin no longer exists on the planet.
God the Father through the Lamb – Jesus the Christ or Joshua the Messiah – again freely offers us the water of life. Since sin no longer exists the need to have a brazen sea for the priests to wash in does not exist, as we will all be of the royal priesthood (Isa. 61:6; 1Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6). Sacrifices will not be offered in the Temple since sin does not exist and the need for the symbolism of the sacrificial system is now fulfilled in Christ’s perfect acceptable sacrifice. Christ’s sacrifice restores us to God the Father (1Thes. 5:9). God will be all in all (1Cor. 15:28; Eph. 4:6).
As we can see, God gives us a physical representation of the spiritual (Heb. 8:5). From the physical we have seen there is significant spiritual symbolism in the Tabernacle in the Wilderness that is expanded in the Temple that Solomon built; this went on to the Millennial Temple and is completed in the City of God.
We need to remember we are the spiritual Temple (naos) of God (1Cor. 3:16-17) and each one of us is individually responsible to wash our robes and so we are able to take of the living waters. Let us all continue to work diligently while we can get the Gospel message out to this dying planet and aid in the work of God to get His message out to as many as possible.