(An Excerpt from The Carpenter and the Cradle, a Bible Study by Connie Cook)
(From Exodus 30:17-21: The Laver or Basin; and 1 Peter 2:1-12: God is building Himself a holy house.)
“God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we’ve done wrong” (1 John 1:9).
The Bible teaches us that if we are members of God’s house, we have a destiny. We have a purpose. This purpose is extremely large and variable and is tailored to fit as many unique measurements and unique proportions as there are unique individuals in the world. It will look different from one person to the next. But it does have this commonality: “Like Father, like son (or daughter).” If God is our Father, we will end up looking like Him in ways.
Not in His positionally separated way. I mean, we will never become God (or gods and goddesses. Not in God’s unique, absolutely-no-other-being-even-light-years-close-in-comparison kind of way. The distinction between Creator and the created must never be blurred). But we are meant to look like Him in many different ways. These will be unique ways for each of us. God is utterly unique, but He’s also so big that any mirror reflecting His image will reveal innumerable facets of His character like a prism refracting His light. He is unique, and so will be any creation of His that resembles Him in any way. He didn’t make carbon copies of anything. Especially humans.
So know, first, that our common destiny won’t turn us into cookie-cutter clones. (And within the household of God, we have to be okay with our God-given differences. Sometimes we don’t appreciate them the way we could.)
The process of finding our purpose and destiny and coming to look more and more like the Father is called “sanctification.” If you’ll remember, it’s a word that means, “setting apart” or “separation.” When applied to the members of God’s household (as it does when used to refer to God’s holiness), it refers not only to our God-given uniqueness and to us filling our particular place within God’s plans and purposes but also to our separation from all that’s wrong in the world. That is one destiny all of God’s house have in common! One day (and here’s a heads-up: It won’t be while living in our diseased bodies on this diseased planet), we will all identically bear this exact resemblance to the Father: We will all be perfect. No hint or trace of all that’s wrong with the world (and with us) will be left clinging to us.
None of us will get there in this life. After this life, the process will be completed in an instant. (See 1 John 3:2.) But the process starts now. It begins the moment I decide God must be the One in control of me. Or once I begin to know who is really God and who God really is. He then begins His work in my life. He begins separating me from all that’s wrong. With the world and with me. It’s that work that His basin in His tent speaks to. Note: It’s His basin; it’s His cleansing work.
Aaron and his sons (the priests) were to clean their hands and feet every time they approached God’s tent or they would die. From Exodus 30:21, this is a “permanent law.” In some way, then, this law is still for God’s priesthood. (See 1 Peter 2:1-12 for more information on God’s new priesthood now that the physical tent is no more.) Some truth that applies today is represented by “Aaron and his sons” and their potentially fatal omission of the washing of their hands and feet.
This is the meaning I see in the washing and its necessity: The Bible (particularly the New Testament where we get to see more of the inner realities behind the physical realities of God’s house) is clear on this: God will perform His necessary cleansing work in the lives of all His children. If He never does His sanctifying work in any one certain person, it is a sure sign that the certain person is not really a member of God’s house. (See Hebrews 12:8.) In other words, as also discussed this week, such a person is in fact…dead. The kind of dead that the relational separation from God, our life-source, makes us. Such a person has never really made the decision to become part of God’s house.
But know this: God does His cleansing work in different ways and at different rates in different lives. In fact, His sanctifying work is as unique as each unique individual. It’s one reason we’re told that it’s not up to the rest of God’s house to figure out exactly who is and who isn’t also part of the family. Of course, when a person states flat-out that he or she is not a member of God’s family, we can believe them. They are not (yet) part of the family. But if another person lays claim to being part of God’s family, yet we don’t see God’s sanctifying work happening in his or her life quite as rapidly as we think it should happen, well, it’s not up to any other individual to know what’s going on on the inside of any other individual. Only God is privy to that information.
So this house rule is not for one person to judge another but for each one to know the truth for him or herself, and the rule is, God will do His cleansing work in the lives of all His children. One way or another.