Women of the mirrors, faces and fates unknown. Looks, likes and loves lost to history. Except for one thing: their mirrors.
In the book of Exodus is one little verse, hidden amongst a million details about the Tabernacle. The Israelites were in the wilderness, recent escapees from Egypt. As God gave Moses instructions for building the Tabernacle, the talented craftsman Bezalel orchestrated the construction of this worship place.
The supplies needed were gold, acacia wood, beautiful linen and more. Scripture says that, “All whose hearts were stirred and whose spirits were moved came and brought their sacred offerings to the Lord. They brought all the materials needed for the Tabernacle…both men and women came, all whose hearts were willing…” (Ex. 35:21-22).
Amongst these willing hearts were a group of women who ministered at the Tabernacle’s entrance. Not one name is recorded for posterity; not a single detail about their lives in left for history, except this:
“Bezalel made the bronze washbasin and its bronze stand from the bronze mirrors donated by the women who served at the entrance of the Tabernacle.” (Ex. 38:8).
It is an easy verse to read right past; indeed, Kelly and I have read past this verse at least a 100 times between the two of us. But, recently, this verse stood out in bold relief.
The women who served at the Tabernacle donated their bronze mirrors, to be melted down and formed into the priests’ washbasin.
Big deal, right?
Yes, big deal. Not just in our culture, but innate to women of all times, is the desire to be beautiful. Today it’s easy enough for us to see our reflection so we can fix what we don’t like and admire what we do. But in ancient times, before glass mirrors were available, the only way a woman could see her image was to look into something shiny. Polished bronze was the highly valuable metal of choice to reflect one’s image.
Where did ex-slaves acquire such lavish possessions? Possible they were given them by their former Egyptian mistresses (Ex. 12:35-36). Maybe these mirrors were family heirlooms or the result of working and saving for years.
Regardless of whence they came, we know where they went: to the building of God’s place of worship.
The women of the mirrors were willing to give up what was, doubtless, one of their most valuable possessions for the Lord. They were willing to neglect their own reflection so that the Glory of God could be reflected.
As I think about the ancient women of the mirrors, my mind fast-forwards to the countless women of the mirrors in our own times. Faces and names flow through my mind: deacons and pastors, preschool teachers and youth leaders. Women who make meals and women who count the offering money. Singers and musicians, greeters and cleaners. Women who show up before services start and stay long after services are over. Women who spend long hours strategizing how to implement inspiring women’s ministries.
These women, ministering with all their hearts at the entrances of today’s Tabernacles, are more interested in God’s reflection than their own. They give up their “mirrors” so that God can be seen most.
I spent time with some of these women today, and their beauty took my breath away. No beauty pageant queen could ever hold a candle to women who fully, whole-heartedly, uniquely reflect the glory of the King.
Their names and faces, fates and fortunes may someday be lost to history; their sacrifices may never be known or appreciated by this world. But let me be counted amongst them – these heavenly beauties.
I will hold up my little mirror beside them, reflecting God’s glory with them, sisters in Christ, bonded together in giving everything we’ve got in service to our Lord.
It is a sisterhood we share with those ancient women of the mirrors.
And that is true, unfading, wrinkle-resistant, eternity-impacting beauty that no looking glass can ever, evermeasure.