Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: “You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it, for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it. When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die. So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them—to him and his descendants throughout their generations.” (Exodus 30:17-21)
God is not afraid of germs. God told Moses to make a basin of bronze and to put it between the tent where God met with Moses and the altar where the priests would perform sacrifices so that the priests could wash their hands and feet. The ceremonial washing required of the priests before they went in to perform the sacrifices had nothing to do with personal hygiene. Instead, the purpose of the washing was entirely symbolic: they were washing off the dirt from their hands and feet as they performed the sacrifices with their hands and walked in the holy places, signifying that they were properly prepared to serve God. It was akin to when God told Moses at their first meeting by the burning bush to take off his sandals because he was on holy ground. Centuries later, when Jesus’ washed his disciples’ feet, and Peter objected, Jesus told him that unless he washed him, he had no part with him. If the priests did not wash their hands and feet before going to the altar, they would die. The washing was an external sign of what should have been true inwardly: a clean heart, a clean conscience. Even today we are told to examine ourselves before taking the Lord’s Supper, to make certain that there is not something standing in the way of our fellowship with God or with our fellow believers in Christ.