Tuesday, November 20, 2012


By illustrators of the 1890 Holman Bible [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


            “And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height.” Exodus 25:10 (NKJV)

            Thus far we have looked at the various names of the tabernacle of meeting, the free will offerings, and we also studied about the silver paid for the atonement. There is so much more to be studied and absorbed just in those topics, yet we need to continue forward as there are more wonderful things to be discovered.

            Our God is such an awesome and holy God that He set in place how His tabernacle was to be constructed and in the order it was to be made. One of the wonderful things about Him that stood out to me during this study is how He readies our heart for His dwelling place. Have you ever stopped and realized how tenderly God woos us and waits for us to open our hearts to His sweet love? His first concern is our heart condition. Here is where He beings the work because it is our heart, our spirit that becomes His dwelling place.

            The same thing takes place with His tabernacle in the wilderness. He gives Moses instruction on how to build the tabernacle starting with the inside. Remember, this tabernacle was to be made according to the pattern that is in heaven. It is also the pattern, if you will, that is evident in our own relationship with the Living God. God began with the inside because that is how He deals with us. He is the one who cleanses our heart and prepares us for His indwelling.

            So let us begin with the inner part of the tabernacle as well, the Holy of Holies, at the Ark of the Covenant.

            There are many names for the Ark of the Covenant or the Ark of the Testimony just to name another one. Here are some of the other names:

1.      The Ark of acacia wood (Exodus 25:10)
2.      The Ark of the Testimony (Exodus 25:22)
3.      The Ark of the Covenant of the Lord (Numbers 10:33)
4.      The Ark of the Covenant (Joshua 3:6)
5.      The Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth (Joshua 3:13)
6.      The Ark of the Lord (Joshua 4:11)
7.      The Ark of the Covenant of God (Judges 20:27)
8.      The Ark of God (1 Samuel 3:3)
9.      The Ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts (1 Samuel 4:3)
10.  The Ark of the God of Israel (1 Samuel 5:7)
11.  The Ark of the Lord God (1 Kings 2:26)
12.  The Ark of our God (1 Chronicles 13:3)
13.  The Holy Ark (2 Chronicles 35:3)
14.  The Ark of Your strength (Psalm 132:8)

Now I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time trying to figure out what a cubit is so I did a little research and for my benefit a cubit equals approximately 18.20 inches. So from this point we are going to use that measuring in place of cubits, just to make it easier for our western minds.

That means the Ark was 3 ¾ feet long by 2 ¼ feet wide and 2 ¼ feet high. Pay attention to these dimensions because we are going to see that these numbers are going to be repeated in other things; sometimes doubled, but still the same numbers.

We are going to pause here and take a look at some more verses in Exodus about the Ark of the Testimony.

Beginning with Exodus 25:10 –

“And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height.
“And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around.
“You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side.
“And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold.
“You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them.
“The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
“And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.
“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width.
“And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.
“Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat.
“And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.
“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you.
“And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” (Exodus 25:10-22 NKJV)

Please take the time to read these other passages: Exodus 37:1-9 and Hebrews 9:4.

I hope you paid attention to the detail God laid out in regards to the Ark of Testimony. It is that very detail we are going to delve into. This is so exciting! The Lord left nothing to chance. He not only told Moses how it was to be constructed but repeated Himself so Moses couldn’t get it wrong. I don’t know about you, but I need to hear from the Lord many times to get things right and yet, I still can make a mess out of things. Thank you Lord for Your mercy and grace. Amen.

In this particular passage (Exodus 25:10-22) we learn the Ark was to be covered inside and out with pure gold. Pure gold: in thinking about what it takes to make pure gold visions of smelting pots and lots of fire come to mind. The gold that was used to cover the Ark and poles had been refined to its purest content. There was not one bit of impurity left. It was absolutely pure. In Revelation 21 we read about the New Jerusalem that will be made of pure gold, so pure is will be like clear glass.

For anything to be made pure it has to be refined by fire, the dross or impurities have to be skimmed off, and into the fire it goes again. This is process is repeated over and over until it is completely pure. This application is also applied to our hearts, our lives, our worship, our prayer life and it only ends in this life when we are no longer here but with the Lord forever. Thus the reason Paul tells us in Philippians 2:12,13 – “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and do for His great pleasure.” (NKJV) Praise God, He will even give us new bodies that are not corrupted but will be incorruptible. (1 Corinthians 15:35-58)

Now, back to our study of the Ark of the Testimony.

The Ark was made out of acacia wood. Now remember, acacia wood was and is impervious to wood-eating insects and didn’t decay as other woods do. So this was a perfect choice of wood. Then it was to be thoroughly covered inside and out with pure gold. There are some awesome things to see here.

The first thing we see is this is a perfect symbol of the Lord Jesus in His deity and humanity. His deity is represented by the pure gold and His humanity is represented by the wood. So what we have is not just a wooden chest but also a gold chest. It’s not just a gold chest but a wooden chest. Notice there is no mingling of the two products. There is no blending. It is equally God (gold) and equally man (wood). Therefore the Ark is a type of Christ “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). We have here a picture of the Triune Godhead with the Ark. The gold on the outside represents God the Father. Gold on the inside is the Holy Spirit, and the Ark of Testimony made from the acacia wood and overlaid with gold – God the Son. How incredibly awesome is that? Oh Lord, open our eyes so we may see how You continue to reveal Yourself.

God required both gold and wood to maintain the symbolism pointing us to Christ as the God-man. In the bible there is no other symbol as simple as the ark that describes the union of God and man in one body. (Colossians 1:19; 2:19; John 14:1, 9; Colossians 1:15) Jesus is both God and man. What He did was either perfectly human or perfectly divine.

On the outside of the Ark we saw there was to be a molding of gold all around it, this was a crown of gold. There was also four gold rings to be attached to the four corners so there would be two on each side; and the two poles of acacia wood covered in gold were to be placed in the rings and left there always. Witness Lee said:

“…the ark and the table required four men to carry them. This points to the coordination of the Body of Christ… Second Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13 record how David brought the ark to Jerusalem, not borne by men but upon a mule cart. That displeased the Lord, and His anger was kindled (2 Samuel 6:7). From this, David learned a lesson. The next time the ark was moved, David realized that the divine way to carry the ark was not by a cart, but upon the shoulders of the Levites (1Cronicles 15:2, 13-15) for the testimony of the Body.” [1]

Hebrews 9:4 tells us what was inside of the Ark: the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant. Looking at these three things we see how they all pointed to Jesus Christ.

The golden pot of manna speaks of Christ, the Bread of Life (John 6:48); Christ as the Life-giver (John 6:32, 35) and Christ as a prophet (John 1:1).

Aaron’s rod that budded speaks of Christ in resurrection (Numbers 17:8, 10); Christ as Priest, because the priesthood was established with Aaron’s budding rod (Numbers 17:8, 10); and Christ as Prophet who spoke for God before man (John 14:6).

Jesus speaks for God. He is Logos, the Word of God (John 1:1). He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8; 22:13), God’s final message to man.

The tablets of the covenant speak of the life Jesus lived on earth fulfilling the Law in all points and fulfilling the prophecies spoken of Him throughout the Old Testament. They speak of the kingship of Christ. He was born a King, lived a King and died a King, rose from the dead a King and He is returning a King.

Thus the Ark envisions Christ as having God’s law in His heart, Christ in resurrection and Christ as life sustainer. It also speaks of Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. (Revelation 11:19; John 1:14, John 1:1-2).

We have covered the Ark of the Testimony in some detail but we have yet to really turn our attention to the Mercy Seat. It is here where things get real exciting.

“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. (Exodus 25:27 NKJV)

The first thing we see here is that is was a separate piece from the Ark, yet we shall see that it was a vital piece for man. The second thing we see is that it was the exact same width and length as the Ark; and like the Ark, it too was made of pure gold. The mercy seat was a lid or covering for the Ark.

Take moment with me and look at verses 21 and 22 of Exodus 25.

“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel. (NKJV)

The Ark of the Covenant is a divine throne. It is God’s earthly throne. The mercy seat transforms that throne from a throne of judgment (law – the commandments He gave to Moses) into a throne of grace by the atoning blood that is sprinkled on it. (Leviticus 16:14) God’s mercy rests on God’s death (Jesus Christ dying for us). If there had been no plan for His death there would have been no possibility for mercy. Christ’s blood which is more precious than silver or gold – presented in heaven makes God’s throne the Mercy Seat. Therefore the mercy seat equals propitiation (Romans 3:25).

The meaning of propitiation is the appeasement of divine wrath by a sacrificial offering. At the heart of the gospel is the fact that if Christ did not bear the wrath of God that we deserved, then that wrath is still stored up for us. (Romans 2:8; 3:5; 5:9; 9:22; Ephesians 5:6; Revelation 6:16-17)

The cherubim were made of hammered gold and fused to the mercy seat to make a single piece of metal. They faced each other – looking down on the mercy seat, looking down on the blood of Christ Jesus, with their wings stretched over the mercy. (1Kings 8:7; I Chronicles 28:18)

They represented guardianship of the holiness of God’s throne, above which was enthroned the Shekinah glory presence of the Lord. They protected the throne of God. (Hebrews 9:5; Psalm 80:1; Genesis 3:24; Psalm 99:1; Isaiah 6:1-3; Isaiah 37:16)

Because of the shed blood of Christ Jesus, He being our propitiation, we may boldly approach the throne of grace. (Hebrews 4:16)

We are not under the law, which is covered by the mercy seat (Romans 6:14), we are under grace, which is displayed by the cherubim’s outstretched wings. Here we are invited to come under the shadow of them. (Psalm 36:7; 17:8; 57:1; 91:4) And lest we forget, remember the two angels at Jesus’ tomb, “And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.” (John 20:12) NKJV (Emphasis is mine.) Mary Magdalene, the first to see Jesus after He had risen from the grave, first saw the mercy seat.

It is at the mercy seat where we meet with God. The mercy seat covered by the blood of our Christ, overshadowed by with outstretched wings of the cherubim.

Though this tabernacle and all it contains is but a shadow of what is in heaven, we can be assured that the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat are there, for Jesus Christ is the Ark of the Covenant and our Mercy Seat.

“whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed.
“To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:25-26 NKJV)

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10 NKJV)

[1] Lee, Witness, Spiritual Applications of the Tabernacle, Published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA 92804 USA, ©1987 Witness Lee (Pages 70-71)

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