Holding the shimmering, iridescent mirror in her hand, she paused for just a moment. Alone and searching her heart, she looked at her own priced possession. A bronze mirror reflected the image of a woman once held in captivity, dirty, and chained.
Closing her eyes, memories flooded her mind recalling the freedom of dancing as Miriam played the tambourine giving glory to God. Praising the Lord, rejoicing in her new found release and freedom, a smile spread generously across her face as she gripped the mirror tighter. Yes, it would be the perfect gift for the Lord. A thankful, sacrificial gift she would see daily as the mirror would reflect her offering to the Lord through the bronze basin. Gathering her wits, the Israelite woman ran to catch the other women making their way to the Tent of Meeting.
Just as Mary of Bethany anointed Christ six days before His burial, the Women at the Tent of Meeting bring their own sacrificial offering, a sweet fragrance to the Lord. Exodus 38:8 reads, “He made the laver and its base of bronze from the mirrors of the women who ministered at the door of the Tent of Meeting.”
In the Believer’s Bible Commentary, William Macdonald writes, “The laver speaks of the present ministry of Christ, cleansing His people by the washing of water with the Word (Ephesians 5:26). The priests were required to wash their hands and feet before performing any service. So our action and our walk must be clean before we can serve the Lord effectively. The laver was made from the bronze mirrors of the serving women. Glorification of self gave way to service for God.” (Macdonald, 1995)
In his book, Exodus, author Philip Graham Ryken explains beautifully this one small Scripture verse in perfect detail, “One of the remarkable things about the bronze basin was the way it was made. There is a story behind this verse – a story we can only guess at because the Bible leaves most of it untold. But apparently there were women who had a special place of service at the tabernacle. We don’t know what they did.
Maybe they served as greeters or doorkeepers. Perhaps they were singers or musicians of some kind. Maybe they had a ministry of prayer and fasting. Or perhaps they helped in some practical way as people prepared to offer their sacrifices. All we know is that some women were organized to serve God at the tabernacle. There was a place for women to use their gifts for God’s glory, as there is in the church today – in countless ways.
We also know that these women owned mirrors, which almost certainly came from Egypt. John Currid comments: Egypt was well-known in antiquity for making cosmetic objects, in particular, mirrors. Egyptian mirrors consisted of either cast or hammered metal discs, almost always in an elliptical shape. Made mostly of either copper or bronze, they were polished to radiant sheen. Then they were inserted into a handle of of faience, wood, stone, ivory or metal. The handles were carved with different types of representations, such as gods (Currid, A Study Commentary on Exodus, 2:349, 350)
To understand what happened next, imagine living your whole life in the degradation of slavery. Imagine never having anything to call your own, never possessing anything of beauty, never owning anything nice. Then imagine how much the Israelite women must have envied their Egyptian mistresses, with all their finery and cosmetics. Imagine what is was like to help make another woman beautiful day after day, without having so much as a mirror to see your own face.
Now imagine how the women of Israel felt the night they left Egypt when the Egyptians put all kinds of treasure into their hands, including those beautiful mirrors. Imagine the buzz of excitement as the women showed one another what their mistresses had given them. Finally they could see how they looked! And finally, perhaps, they could become as beautiful as they had always longed to be.
Then came the day when Moses invited the Israelites to bring their gifts for the tabernacle: gold, silver, and bronze. The people went home to see what they had to offer. And somewhere in Israel there was a woman who looked around her tent and realized that her mirror was made of bronze. In an instant, her mind was made up, she would offer it to the Lord! Afterward, she may have had some second thoughts, but in her heart she knew that was what God wanted her to give. She talked it over with one or two of her closest friends. Soon there was a community of women who together decided to give up their mirrors for God. For some it must have been a painful sacrifice. No doubt many women were tempted to keep their mirrors, and some of them probably did. After all, there was nothing wrong with wanting to look beautiful.
As Israel’s craftsman began to work on the tabernacle, they realized that the mirrors were perfect for making the bronze basin. Word of this spread throughout the camp. Everyone who knew what the women had given, how their offering was being praised to God, as Moses did when he wrote down the story. What these women did brought glory to God.” (Ryken, 2005)
How ever the Women at the Tent of Meeting ministered, they could always see the reflection of the bronze basin glistening in the sun. This is how we are to come to Christ such as with the Lord’s Supper. We are to reflect as women in the church, mothers, wives, sisters, servants, grandmothers, daughters, workers, and doers of the Word. As we wash ourselves with the Blood of the Lamb, partaking of the bread and wine, doing it all in remembrance of Him, we are to reflect Christ in all we do.
Christ’s asks us to search our hearts and minds, to look in a mirror not just the outer, but also the inner, secret parts of our lives. As the book of Hebrews excellently states, “How much more surely shall the blood of Christ, who by virtue of His eternal Spirit has offered Himself as an unblemished sacrifice to God, purify our consciences from dead works and lifeless observances to serve the living God.” (Hebrews 9:14)
As we look in our own mirror, reflecting not just our outer, but inner man, Christ’s spirit dwells within us to change our hearts and our minds through His sacrifice. As the women at the Tent of Meeting gave all they had, their prized possessions, what are we doing for Christ? Can we reflect a Christ-like character, washing not only our hands and feet, but our hearts for service?