They made the bronze basin and its bronze stand from the mirrors of the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.
It is an interesting bit of information – short but important and valuable. The character of these women who served at the tabernacle was very important – as was true for all of those who served the Lord then and who serve Him now.
Remember these women came from an oppressed class in Egypt, and had faced poverty and hardship all of their lives. As they were leaving Egypt God had, as He said he would, made the Egyptian people act kindly toward them (Exodus 3:21.22) and the Israelites received finer things than they had ever owned in their lifetime. One of those would have been mirrors – made of highly polished bronze. What a treasure to a former slave – especially to a young lady! But God had them surrender these things for the construction of the tabernacle if they would serve there.
God never forbade women to look attractive, nor did He ever condemn one who was beautiful or who tried to look her or his best. He did, however, warn against obsession with our appearance and pride and vanity (see 1 Peter 3:3-4). Outward beauty is not treasured by God and can distract us from Him. What is important to God is the inner beauty, the “unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit.” These young girls, recently freed slaves, were to serve in the tabernacle, and God knew the dangers they would face – to gaze upon their own beauty too much and too often, rather than look at the glory of God. He commanded them to surrender these mirrors and from them to make basins used in the purifying rituals of the temple.
The lesson is simple: self-centeredness, self-conceit, vanity, and pride render us ineffective in our service to God. Though the story is about young girls – anyone of us, either gender and at any age – can become vain and self-enamored. If it is not our appearance, then it might be our intelligence, or our way with words, or our athletic ability, or anything else about us that can draw us into a self-focused vanity. Vanity and pride are traps to steer us away from God and into a life of self-obsession.
An ancient Greek legend illustrates this danger well. The story is of a young man, Narcissus by name, who was strikingly handsome, but was lured by an enemy to a quiet pool of water where he could see his reflection. Not realizing that it was just a reflection, he fell in love with it, and stared endlessly at his image, unable and unwilling to leave the beauty of his appearance, and there, the legend said, he died, gazing constantly at his own outward beauty.
The psalmist wrote more profoundly of the beauty of the Lord.
One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock… My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Lord, create within us a deeper desire to know You, to search after You. Show us the emptiness of vanity and pride. Let us draw near to You in faith and see the true and eternal beauty in You. Amen.