Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture








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 Israel:"
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."

12 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 without weight."

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 perfect."

These descriptions 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 Gentiles.

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).