Basins

Paul McCauley, Belfast, N. Ireland [SEE PROFILE BELOW]

Part 3 of 4 of the series The Utensils Of The Altar

The basins, about which we are told nothing other than the material they were constructed of, were used to catch the blood of the sacrifices; none was to fall to the ground. As we consider this the words of 1 Peter 1. 18, 19 come to mind, ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’. The apostle speaks of silver and gold – two of earth’s most precious commodities, yet in comparison to the blood of Christ they are just ‘corruptible things’.

That word ‘precious’ has different meanings. Something can be ‘precious’ because it is of great value and is very costly, but it can also have the idea of being highly treasured and held dear. Both these aspects are true of the blood of Christ.

How infinitely valuable is His blood! So valuable is the blood of Christ that if all the sinners who ever lived repented, God could righteously forgive them all! He would need nothing more. In fact there is value enough in the blood of Christ that would make forgiveness possible for infinite worlds of sinners. The worth of His blood has no limit, satisfying the claims of God, propitiating Him fully, and making salvation possible for all! Any thought of a limited provision is deeply dishonouring to the Son of God. He could give no more at the cross than that that He gave. To say any less is to cripple the gospel, which offers the righteousness of God ‘unto ALL and UPON ALL them that believe’, Rom. 3. 22. The psalmist could say, ‘What profit is there in my blood, when I shall go down to the pit?’ Ps. 30. 9. The answer is 'None!' But what infinite profit there is in the blood of the Lamb of God!

On that great day in Israel’s calendar, that Day of Atonement, two goats were taken. One was for the Lord, and one was for the people. The one for the Lord was taken and slain, and the blood sprinkled on and before the mercy seat. By doing that, what happened in picture, was that God was satisfied. On the basis of that sacrifice, all sins, (no matter how many or how few, no matter how big or small,) could be forgiven if confessed on the head of the live goat. The picture is clear; the blood of Christ, shed sacrificially at Calvary has made forgiveness possible for all, but only those who identify themselves with Christ by faith come into the good of it. However, for Israel, that Day of Atonement needed annual repetition. The blood shed the previous year would not avail. The blood of that goat had no power, and another sacrifice was needed. Praise God the blood of Christ will never lose its power. Christ did not merely make atonement (covering) for sin, but He ‘put away sin by the sacrifice of himself’, Heb. 9. 26. His blood has eternally satisfied God, and another sacrifice will never be needed. May we never cheapen the worth of His precious blood, which for all eternity will be our theme of praise, Rev. 5. 9.

His blood is also precious in the sense of being held dear. How dear, how precious the Saviour’s blood is to the Father. This can be seen in picture in the offerings. Depending on the type of offering, sometimes it was shared – a portion for the priest, a portion for the offerer, and a portion for God. But no matter what offering it was, the blood was always and only for God. It speaks of a life given in sacrifice, Lev. 17. 11, a life completely poured out. As God looked at Calvary He saw that life poured out in complete devotion to Him. Only God can fully appreciate that devotion; only God knows exactly what it cost the Lord to shed His blood. How that sacrifice rises to God as a sweet savour. If God values even the tears His people shed, Ps. 56. 8, how much more He must value the blood of His dear Son shed at the cross! It is the proof of His love and devotion to His Father. Only once in the Bible do we read of the love of the Son for the Father. But we do not need to read of it to know it. He showed it fully by going all the way to Calvary in obedience to the Fathers' will. We hear Him say 'That the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father hath given me commandment even so I do. Arise, let us go hence’, John 14. 31.

In a measure, His blood is also precious to us. ‘Without shedding of blood is no remission’, Heb. 9. 22. Apart from Christ paying that ultimate price, our sins could never have been taken away. Thank God for One who was able and willing to pay the price in full. How precious then His blood should be to us! Apart from it we would have perished. Every blessing we have is because of His blood.

It speaks better things than the blood of Abel, Heb. 12. 24. Abel’s blood spoke of vengeance and retribution, Gen. 4. 10. The Saviour’s blood speaks of peace, Col. 1. 20, redemption, Eph. 1. 7, justification, Rom. 5. 9, cleansing, 1 John 1. 7, and access to God, Heb. 10. 19. He did indeed love His own which were in the world, and He loved them unto the end, John 13. 1, that is unto the shedding of His blood, the giving of His life in sacrifice. In John chapter 11, we see the Saviour with Mary and Martha, and tears of sympathy run down His cheeks. Those who looked on said, ‘Behold how he loved him’, John 11. 36. What a proof of His love, that He would shed tears! But the greatest proof of His love is as He hangs on the tree alone and sheds His blood. As we gaze at that holy sight we can say, ‘Behold how He loved ME!’ What a wonder it is to sit at the Lord’s Supper, and contemplate His words, ‘My blood . . . shed for you’, Luke 22. 20. To think that we caused His pain and yet He gave Himself with us upon His heart. We gladly bow our hearts and ascribe glory, ‘Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood’ Rev. 1. 5. It is the proof that He loves us with an infinite, eternal and unshakeable love – that He loves us with all His love. What devotion then should mark us as we travel homeward, and consider Him who gave all for us, and loved us, even unto blood.

The basins, clearly, were a significant part of the sacrificial altar and its ceremonies. Their importance in holding the blood of the slain sacrifice is a holy picture of the value of the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Paul McCauley is in fellowship in the assembly at Cregagh St. Gospel Hall, Belfast, N. Ireland, and has a special interest in the tabernacle and its teaching. He is married and employed as a civil engineer.