The Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat
Ex. 25:10-22, Rom. 5:8-9
The Ark of the Covenant resided in the Holy of Holies, the innermost room of the Tabernacle. Access was only permitted one day a year to the high priest, on the day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). He had to come into the Holy of Holies with oil, fire and the blood ( goat), on behalf of his own sins and the sins of the people. Moses was able to enter this room when God beckoned him, for direction and instruction.
The Ark was the most revered article in the tabernacle structure...the meeting place between God and man. God came down to sit on a Mercy Seat of solid gold, under the wings of golden cherubim. Man came here barefooted..it was Holy Ground and still is. All other articles reveal WHAT He does, but the ark shows WHO He is.
The Ark itself was a small box made of acacia wood covered within and without with pure gold. It was had two long staves (one on each side), used for carrying by the sons of the High Priest when traveling from camp to camp, that were also made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. The Mercy Seat of gold, forming the lid of the Ark, was crowned (pure inside and out and crowned with gold); God's throne in His dwelling place in the Tabernacle. Most people associate the Ark of the Covenant with judgment and wrath and rightly so. For those who believe in Jesus Christ's death for their sins, there is now mercy not wrath. "God demonstrates His own love for us, in that while we are yet sinners, Christ died for us. Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him" When Israel lightly treated their deliverance (Ex. 32:28) there were three thousand slain by the sword in the hands of the Levite priesthood. What a contrast that when Jesus gave the Sword of the Spirit (Acts 2:41) to his holy priesthood...three thousand were saved. The letter kills and the Spirit makes alive. The righteousness of the Law slays our carnal flesh and the Spirit gives life.
God's presence did not dwell inside the box, but remained over the Ark, in between the two Cherubim. Here we see the righteousness of the law (ten commandments in stone), the calling of God (Aaron's Rod - priesthood) and the sustenance of God (manna pot holding the daily Bread). Gods dwelling place and He was the only source of light in this Most Holy Place. This was where God met with Moses (Exodus 25:21-22 Leviticus 16:14-15). The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle on the day it was reared up and anointed (Exodus 40:9,18,34-35), exactly fourteen days short of one year since the Exodus from Egypt (Exodus 40:2; 12:6,31). The two Cherubim on the Mercy Seat represented God's glory (Hebrews 9:5). We are not told in great detail exactly what the Ark of the Covenant looked like. We do know that the wings of the Cherubim were stretched out, to cover the Mercy Seat; the wings of the two Cherubim possibly touched one another to form a complete covering. Two stone tablets of the Law , Aaron's rod that budded the golden pot of 'hidden' manna were inside the Ark. The Ark is the only article of furniture that made the transition to the Temple constructed in the reign of king Solomon.
The Stone Tablets of the Law, The Ten Commandments were written on these two pieces of stone, by the finger of God on Mount Sinai (Exodus 31:18; 32:16,19; 34:1). The tablets of stone are also called the tables of testimony (Exodus 31:18), because they show us what God is like: jealous, caring, faithful and true. He is holy and righteous. The Ten Commandments on the two stone tablets are the basis for God's covenant with Israel (Exodus 19:5-7). They stipulate what the righteous requirements of the law are.
Because the children of Israel did not continue in their side of the covenant, God promised to make a new covenant, "not like the covenant I made with their fathers, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them" says the Lord (Jeremiah 31:32). "This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My law into their minds and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor saying 'Know the Lord', for they all shall know Me, from the least to the greatest among them, says the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:33-34). This is the New Covenant which Jesus cut with the Father by His blood (Luke 22:20).
The Tablets of Stone, God's Written Word
Psalm 40:8 is a prophecy of the Messiah: "Behold, I come; in the scroll of the Book it is written of me: 'I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart'. In fulfillment: "When the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under law, so that He might those who were under the law" (Galatians 4:4). Jesus Christ has kept the law of God, loving the Lord His God with all His heart, and His neighbor as Himself. This is obvious from reading the gospels. Delighting to do God's will (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38), Jesus had the law of God (the Ten 'Words' of God) in His heart, just as the Ark of the Covenant kept the stone tablets of the Testimony. The Word of God had become flesh and tabernacle among us, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Through Jesus' death on the cross, as a perfect sacrifice, we are forgiven our offenses under the law and redeemed from slavery to it.
God undertakes to write His laws into our hearts and inscribe them on our minds, by sending forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts (Galatians 4:6 Hebrews 8:10-12). Thereafter, an inner working of life takes place, "Christ who is our life" (Colossians 3:4), "Christ being formed in you" (Galatians 4:19), that will result in the same testimony of God as the Ten Commandments. The children of Israel broke the old covenant, as we do,when we try to keep it by self-effort in our flesh. In the New Covenant, God undertakes to write His laws into our minds by His Spirit (Romans 8:4 Ezekiel 36:25-28), providing we walk by the Spirit. John is brief and to the point in his writing, using one or two words to describe the reality of who Jesus is...the Bread of Life (John 6:35). the 'Word' (John 1:1) the 'Word of Life' (1 John 1:1) and the 'Word of God' in Revelation 19:6. In each case, he is referring to the substance the shadow of the Ark cast..
Aaron's Rod that Budded
To understand why the Rod that budded, blossomed and brought forth fruit is explained in Numbers chapter 16. A short while after the Aaron had been chosen of God, one of the Levites (Korah) and some others challenged to the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Moses instructed everyone to appear before the Lord the next day. They were to fill bronze incense burners and place them before the Lord. Only God's chosen priesthood was allowed to do this. God was furious and judged Korah and his friends. After the ground opened and swallowed them, (and we get buried in the earthen nature when we do not allow God to choose the priesthood order). Their censors became a covering for the Brass Altar in the courtyard as a reminder of God's wrath from heaven against the ones who had spoken against Him and those He had chosen (Numbers 16:29). But the rebellion did not stop there. The whole congregation then started to murmur against Moses and Aaron because they had 'killed the Lord's people'. Again God reacted furiously and plague broke out, quenched only when Aaron obeyed Moses and placed his incense burner before the Lord in the Tabernacle. The plague was devastating to the people and God had proved negatively that Moses and Aaron were indeed his choice. However, God wanted to prove positively that Aaron was his choice for the priesthood (Numbers 17:5). A rod from the head of each of the twelve tribes was marked with the name of the tribe and placed before the Lord, at Ark of the Testimony (Numbers 17:4). When Moses returned the next day, Aaron's rod had budded, blossomed and brought forth almonds. God instructed Moses to place Aaron's rod back before the Testimony, "to be kept as a sign against the rebels" to prevent further murmurings and death (Numbers 17:10). This same lesson is repeated again in Samuel when the people chose a king to rule instead of God and He gave them Saul and anointed him until he rebelled against God' command. A man who tended sheep, David of Judah was God's preferred anointed king.
The Golden Pot of 'Hidden' Manna
Manna was the food that came down from God to feed the children of Israel daily in the wilderness for the forty years of their journey to Canaan. It was given to the children of Israel to test them to see if they would obey God or not. It was a daily sustenance. Manna only came in the early morning with the dew (actually enclosed in dew). By the time the sun was up, it would have evaporated (Exodus 16:21). It had to be gathered every day, any left that they gathered would breed worms and stink(Exodus 16:20), and they had to gather a double portion on the sixth day, because none would fall on the Sabbath (Exodus 16:22-27). It was called 'Manna', because that is Hebrew for 'what is it'. It looked like white coriander seed and tasted like wafer biscuits made with honey (Exodus 16:31). The Lord commanded Moses to fill an omer vessel with Manna and keep it for a memorial to future generations of how God fed them in the wilderness (Exodus 16:32-33). This is the Golden Pot of Hidden Manna in the Tabernacle. This is the Word (Jesus Christ) our daily bread. In the Revelation of Jesus Christ, a promise made to the believers who overcome is Hidden Manna. We must overcome the enemy by the Blood of the Lamb, Word of testimony and not loving our life unto death.
How do we approach Him? Carelessly familiar ( 2 Sam/ 6:6-7), as Uzziah when he reached to steady the Ark and died. Only the priesthood were allowed to do that, and had to carry it on their shoulders. Curiously (1 Sam 6:19-29), as when 50,070 Israelites did and died for opening the Ark, it was not time for the contents to be revealed. Adoring worship as the angels do in heaven..falling in their faces before Him. Not just hearing about Him. seeing Him as He is. We, like the queen of Sheba after seeing the king and his riches, will proclaim "I heard, but now I see, and the half was not told to me.
Praise God for the Mercy Seat (Psalms 80:1). Oh, Shepherd of Israel that dwells between the cherubim..., Shine forth. The court yard was lit by sunlight and the Holy Place was lit by Lamp light...., Here in the Holy of Holies it is LAMB LIGHT.
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