Thursday, April 19, 2007

The Ark of the Covenant


If you were looking for something that you had lost and God wrote you a letter and said, “Don’t look for it anymore, you will never find it”, would you keep on looking for it?
I think you would agree to do so would be somewhat foolish!!

And yet there is an active search going on today for something God has said will not be found.
The object of the search? The Ark of the Covenant.
Just Google the words ‘search for the Ark of the Covenant’ and you will see hundreds of sites dedicated to the zealous ongoing search for it.

Jeremiah 3, talks about the time to come when all nations will flow into God’s city Jerusalem and His people shall call Him ‘Father’. This prophecy is referring to the New Covenant or the church age.
In verse 16, God says that when this is taking place, “they will say no more, ‘the ark of the covenant of the Lord’. It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it nor shall it be made anymore.”
To me that is pretty conclusive – the Ark of the Covenant has disappeared, and it will stay disappeared!

What was the Ark of the Covenant?

The Ark of the Covenant was a beautifully crafted piece of furniture in the tabernacle that God designed and commanded Moses to build.
The chest was made of acacia wood and completely overlaid with gold. Its lid, made of pure gold, called the mercy seat, was securely held in place by a gold crown or border. At each end of the mercy seat were two cherubim also fashioned of gold with their wings stretched out over the mercy seat and their faces toward the mercy seat and facing each other.

In the ark were placed the stone tablets on which were written the commandments of the Law, Aaron’s rod that budded and the golden pot of Manna.
The Ark was hidden behind the veil in the Holy of Holies, which only the High Priest could enter once a year.

When it was moved with the tabernacle, it was first covered with the veil, then badgers’ skins and over the badgers’ skins was draped a blue cloth. It could not be touched – God commanded it be carried by poles that were slipped through rings on the sides. The reason it could not be touched is because we cannot 'touch' the salvation work that Jesus did! It is a gift of God that we can add nothing to.

To the people of Israel the Ark of the Covenant was the evidence of God’s presence with them. It was God dwelling in their midst. As long as the Ark of the Covenant was with them, they knew they were safe under the watchful care of their God.
In Psalm 80:11 it says “You, who dwell between the cherubim, shine forth!”
It must have been an breath-taking sight when the burning sun shone through the veil onto the gold of the Ark of the Covenant, reflecting back onto the curtain, allowing the awe-struck people to see the ‘shadow’ of the Presence of God.

What did the Ark of the Covenant mean?

The Ark of the Covenant was the shadow of the Christ that was to come – Jesus. The gold that covered the acacia wood speaks only of Christ – the God-man. The wood (His flesh) covered over with His divine nature (gold).
Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law of God (Heb.10:7) but the Law could only condemn, therefore the Ark of the Covenant (Jesus) hid the law, and held up the mercy seat!

Jesus came to free us from the Law – mercy covers the condemnation of the Law. Mercy triumphs over judgement.
The crown that keeps the mercy seat in place is the perfect righteousness of Christ that secured for us God’s merciful forgiveness toward us who were condemned by the Law. (Gal.3:13)
Jesus was the Manna – the true Bread of Life (John 6:32,33), and Aaron’s rod ( a dead Branch) that budded symbolized the death and resurrection of Jesus.

The mercy seat (which in Hebrew means ‘covering’), was pure gold symbolizing Jesus divinity –Jesus revealed to us a God who showed mercy, “the propitiation (mercy seat) for our sins, but not for ours alone but also for the whole world!” (I John 2:2)
Romans 3:24,25, “Whom God has set forth to be a ‘mercy seat’ by His blood.”

On the Day of Atonement (Lev.16) the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled on the mercy seat to declare that God had accepted the death of the substitute lamb and was satisfied.
The two cherubim, with wings outstretched ready to execute judgment did not act – they gazed on the blood and saw that God’s justice had been satisfied. “Mercy and truth have met together. .Righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”(Psalm 85:10)

The two cherubim guarded the mercy seat where God dwelt between them. (Ex. 25:22) In Luke 4:10 when Satan is tempting Jesus he says, “for it is written, He shall give His angels charge over you…to keep you!”

When traveling - first the veil of the temple (Christ’s flesh) was put over the ark, then the covering of badgers’ skins which were strong and protective – no evil could touch him. Then finally the blue cloth covered the badger’s skins signifying that Jesus came down from heaven, to visibly dwell among men. The priests and the people never saw the ark nor the mercy seat – just as the people who saw Jesus when He physically walked this earth could only see the ‘man’ Christ Jesus. His human body hid His divinity.

On the Day of Atonement the high priest was commanded by God to fill a censor with incense and burn it in the Holy of Holies so that the cloud would cover the mercy seat.
In Ephesians 5:2 it talks about Christ who “loved us and gave Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”

So we see that the Ark of the Covenant was a shadow God showed the Israelites to point to Jesus, the God-Man who was to come as the perfect lamb of God – to bring God’s Presence , His Holy Spirit, to dwell within the ‘temple’ of our bodies.

This is why the Ark of the Covenant will never be found.
Since the ‘good thing’ has come, the shadow is no longer needed. When Jesus cried, “It is finished!” the veil in the temple rent in two- the veil that had effectively hidden the Ark of the Covenant from view and symbolically was a visual reminder of the separation between God and man. When the veil was torn, from top to bottom, the Holy of Holies was revealed – man could now freely enter God’s Presence.
The veil has never been replaced.
So also the Ark of the Covenant is gone…it shall not come to mind, - nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made any more.
The Ark has served the purpose of God, God’s Presence no longer dwells there – God by His Holy Spirit indwells His people, - and we have Jesus - who is our Redeemer, our Manna, our Mercy seat , our resurrected King .

"Oh, give thanks to the Lord for He is good!! For His mercy endures forever,
Oh, give thanks to the God of gods, For His mercy endures forever!
Oh, give thank to the Lord of Lords, for His mercy endures forever!!
To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever!!

Psalm 136……..”For His mercy endures forever!!!” FOREVER!!!


1 comment:

Lovella said...

Such blessings.

Reality is a little different than the movie version.
So interesting that the world sees God's Word as improbable and the movie and possible.