Exodus 37: 1-9
The final piece in our tabernacle study is the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant consisted of two pieces; the lid (or Mercy Seat) and the box container. This box was made out of… wait for it… acacia wood covered by gold! I’m sure you see the pattern of this by now. It was approximately 45” (114cm) wide by 27” (69cm) deep and 27” (69cm) tall. Pause for a moment and picture those measurements – that’s about
the size of a coffee table. Did you ever picture it that small? I know I didn’t! It’s such a well-known part of our Bible stories that once again I pictured as being much larger. I actually did a little looking on the web and the old 80’s movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark actually seems to get these measurements pretty accurately in their depiction hen the Nazi’s open the ark. Funny thing is that I even remembered it bigger in that movie too!
The mercy seat was essentially the lid for the box. Like the Golden Lampstand, it was also made of one piece of hammered gold. It had two guardian cherubim on it facing each other with their wings spread toward each other over the center of the cover and focused in this same place. In between the cherubim is where God’s Shekinah glory would be seen in two seemingly opposite traits: brilliance and smoke. It was upon this Mercy Seat that the high priest would offer the atoning blood sacrifice that he brought into the Holy of Holies with him.
This place was the most sacred place to the Jews because it was thought of as the place where heaven would literally meet earth; the ark was thought to literally be the physical footstool of God’s throne in heaven. Psalm 132:7-8 says: “Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool— arise, O Lord, and come to your resting place
, you and the ark of your might.” And in Psalm 99:5 we read: “Exalt the LORD our God and worship at his footstool; he is holy.” Isn’t it fascinating to think of an object as a bridge between this physical earthly life we know and the spiritual heavenly realm of God? It is no wonder the high priest had to prepare himself for service to God. He was thought to be literally serving at God’s feet.
Digging Deeper: Read through Leviticus 16:1-34 to see the process the high priest had to go through before entering into the Holy of Holies.
The Ark In Light of Christ
As fascinating as it is to think of God’s throne literally stretching from heaven to earth, we must remember that we also see the life of Jesus as the Person where heaven and earth meet! God’s manifest presence was not in the Holy of Holies because He was outside the temple walking, talking, teaching, healing and a host of other things with His people! I think what is most humbling to remember is that it was nothing that mankind did and everything about what God did. God made the stretch from heaven to earth because of His love for us.
Take a moment also to consider the three things that were originally placed in the Ark: the manna, Aaron’s budding staff, and the tables of the law or ten commandments. Consider what each of these things meant:
Manna was God’s provision for the Israelites in the wilderness. It was literally bread from heaven to sustain them in the desert. (John 6:31, Exodus 16:32-36). Manna was provided by God every day for forty years while they traveled to the promised land. So how does Jesus represent this? John 6:25-59 are Jesus’ words explaining that He is the bread of life. He is our manna from heaven! He is God’s provision to us as we journey through life to our promised land in heaven!
Aaron’s budding staff represents God’s chosen. Numbers 17 tells the story of the budding of his staff and God’s chosen high priest – Aaron. God made it clear that it is He who chooses whom He will have lead His people. And Jesus? Isaiah spoke of the Chosen One who was to come (Chapter 53) and all of the Gospels record testimony that God made it clear that Jesus is the chosen one, the very Son of God.
The tables of the law or the ten commandments represent God’s instruction – His word to us. These were tablets of stone that were inscribed by the very hand of God. John 1 tells us that Jesus is the Word. “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). The law is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ!
These three things together were evidence and legal testimony to God’s saving and preserving His people. How much more can we find, than in the life of Jesus, that God saved all people on earth? The Ark represents God saving His chosen people out of Egypt and into His promised land where Jesus is the person in whom all people can be saved from this world and into eternal life!
Isn’t this God that we worship truly amazing?!
Before the Throne of God
Artist: Selah; Lyrics: Public Domain
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea:
A great High Priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while in heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin.
Because the sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God the just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One,
Risen Son of God!
Behold Him there, the Risen Lamb
My perfect, spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I am,
The King of glory and of grace!
One with Himself I cannot die
My soul is purchased by His blood
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Savior and my God
With Christ, my Savior and my God
And one of my all time favorites… crank this next one up!
By Jennie Riddle
Worthy is the, Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy, is He
Sing a new song, to him who sits on
Heaven’s mercy seat
Holy, Holy, Holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore You
Clothed in rainbows, of living color
Flashes of lightning, rolls of thunder
Blessing and honor, strength and glory and power be
to You the only wise King
Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
At the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power
Breath, and living water
Such a marvelous mystery