Vessels of Brass
In the scriptures there is a very strong correlation between the subject
of judgment or justification and the biblical use of the metal, brass.
Associated with the
brazen altar were several vessels that were made of brass:
1. Ex. 27:3 "And
thou shalt make his pans to receive his ashes, and his shovels, and his
basins, and his fleshhooks, and his firepans: all the vessels thereof
thou shalt make of brass."
2. Ex. 38:3 "And he made all the vessels of the altar, the pots, and the
shovels, and the basins, and the fleshhooks, and the firepans: all the
vessels thereof made he of brass."
3. Ex. 38:29, 30 "And the brass of the offering was seventy talents, and
two thousand and four hundred shekels. And therewith he made the sockets
to the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the brazen altar,
and the brazen grate for it, and all the vessels of the altarů"
In a previous essay we noted the brazen altar was a shadow of the
covenant work of Jesus Christ upon the cross as he saved his people from
their sins. The members of the elect family of God were justified by the
blood of Jesus Christ. Vessels in the New Testament are sometimes used
to depict God's elect people:
1. Acts 9:15 "But
the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me,
to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of
2. (Rom. 9:21-23 "Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same
lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if
God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured
with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And
that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of
mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,"
3. 1 Th. 4:4 "That every one of you should know how to possess his
vessel in sanctification and honour;"
4. 2 Tim. 2:20-21 "But in a great house there are not only vessels of
gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour,
and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he
shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's
use, and prepared unto every good work."
Thus, the vessels associated with the brazen altar where the sacrifice
was burned are symbolic of the elect family of God who are justified by
the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ. They are vessels of mercy and of
honor and have been afore prepared unto glory. The association between
the metal, brass and the subject of justification shows that the
children of God are justified by the covenant work of Jesus Christ. 2
Cor. 5:21 ties the work of Christ and the justification of the elect
together: "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that
we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
Brazen Oxen and Brazen Sea
In the scriptures there is a strong correlation between the subject of
judgment or justification and the biblical use of the metal, brass.
In the building of
the temple, between the temple and the altar, there was a structure
known as the "sea," which was made of brass, and which sat upon "twelve
oxen," also made of brass: Jer. 52:20 "The two pillars, one sea, and
twelve brazen bulls that were under the bases, which king Solomon had
made in the house of the LORD: the brass of all these vessels was
The twelve oxen and
sea are described for us in 2 Chr. 4:2-6: "Also he made a molten 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.
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. It stood upon twelve oxen, three looking
toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking
toward the south, and three looking toward the east: and the sea was set
above upon them, and all their hinder parts were inward. And the
thickness of it was an handbreadth, and the brim of it like the work of
the brim of a cup, with flowers of lilies; and it received and held
three thousand baths. 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."
The pattern for
construction of the temple and all its structures was given to King
David who in turn gave it to his son, King Solomon to build. This
pattern was not designed just so that the temple and its appurtenant
structures would look beautiful when they were completed. God is a God
of purpose and whatever he does shows forth great wisdom and knowledge.
Since, God is the designer of the temple; we should expect that it
carries instruction to us today. The New Testament scriptures speak to
us about certain things in the Old Testament being shadows of things in
the New Testament:
1. Col. 2:17 "Which
are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ."
2. Heb 8:5 "Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as
Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle:
for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern
showed to thee in the mount."
3. Heb. 10:1 "For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and
not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which
they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto
of the oxen and sea are a shadow of things in the New Testament. The
fact there was twelve oxen point us to the twelve apostles that the Lord
chose. The foundation of the church was built upon the twelve apostles:
Eph. 2:19-20 "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but
fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are
built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ
himself being the chief corner stone;" Further, since the shadow was of
twelve oxen of "brass," we should expect that there was an association
with judgment to the twelve oxen: Mat. 19:28 "And Jesus said unto them,
Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the
regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,
ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
Israel." The "regeneration" refers to the changing of the covenant of
worship from the old law covenant to the covenant of grace. The judgment
whereby the apostles would judge the "twelve tribes" is the same
revealed truth that the Lord revealed to them. We, in the Lord's church
today, have the judgment by which our daily discipleship is to be
patterned that the Lord gave to the twelve apostles. In this manner we
have their judgment today.
As we have already
seen, the twelve oxen were foundational to the brazen sea. They were
turned to face the east, and the west, and the north, and the south.
This precious gospel was not limited to just the nation of the Jews, but
it was to go forth to God's people throughout the world known as
Moreover, the brazen
sea was a wash pot. The priests were to wash in the water of it. The New
Testament teaches the priesthood of the believers:
1. Rev. 1:5, 6 "And
from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten
of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that
loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us
kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion
for ever and ever. Amen."
2. 1 Pet. 1:5 "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual
house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ."
3. 1 Pet. 1:9 "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an
holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of
him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:"
The brazen sea was
ten cubits from brim to brim. In the scriptures, the number ten is
associated with the subject of law or commandment. Thus, whatever the
sea represented it contained the laws and commandments of God.
The brazen sea was
round in compass. The shape of "round" in the scriptures is associated
with the subject of covenants. Thus, whatever the sea represented it was
associated with the covenant of God.
The brazen sea was
five cubits in height. The number five in the scriptures is associated
with the subject of death.
The brazen sea was
compassed by a line of thirty cubits round about. The number thirty in
the scriptures is associated with the subject of redemption.
In summary, the sea
was made of brass which speaks to us of judgment. There is a judgment
whereby we are made righteous before God by the redeeming blood of
Christ which he shed through his death to make us righteous. This
atoning sacrifice of Jesus was done according to the covenant of
redemption set forth for us in Rom. 8:29, 30: "For whom he did foreknow,
he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that
he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did
predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also
justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
The sea, of course,
contains waters. The water of this sea is the gospel of Jesus Christ,
whereby we are instructed as to what Christ has done for us and by which
we are also instructed about how we should live our lives in
discipleship to God in his church (this relates to the washing of the
disciples in the water of the gospel truth).