“Resolution One: I will live for God. Resolution Two: If no one else does, I still will.” - Jonathan Edwards -

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Ark

THE ARK

Now that we have entered the holy of holies, we see that this room contains a single piece of furniture: the Ark of the Covenant. The ark is filled with three items (Hebrews 9:4), all of which point to our Messiah, and reflect man's rebellion against God.

Interestingly enough, the rebellion is covered by a Mercy Seat -- This Mercy Seat is called a kapporeth. This word has as its root the word kaphar, which means covering, atoning (i.e. Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement).

The first thing we examine is the pot of manna. During Israel's sojourn in the wilderness, the Lord provided manna to sustain the nation (Exodus 16). How does this represent rebellion -- well, if you read the entire event of the manna then you will find that the people finally tired of God's provision of manna (Numbers 11) and demanded Moses produce meat; which God did until it came out of their noses!

However, God had mercy, and made provision with the quail and manna for the entire forty year sojourn in the wilderness. We can take from this an example of how God provides for His people; sad to say, we are often quite like the Israelites in our complaints of His provision. We often grumble because things are not going exactly the way we think they should, completely forgetting the wonderful provision found in Christ alone.

We, like the Israelites in the wilderness, are not from here, we are aliens and foreigners, and as we wander through this wilderness that is called the world, we need to feed on something that will sustain us spiritually during our journey. This we find in the Messiah! It is interesting that the Lord fed Israel on manna until the day they entered the Promised Land (Joshua 5:12), much like our lives; we will be sustained by the Bread of Life until we enter into the Promised Land, and then we will be with Him forever! John 6:30–35 -- So they said to him, "Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, 'He gave them bread from heaven to eat.'"Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

It is important that we NEVER forget that the Bread of Life, that which we partake of, is the sustenance that we need. The Lord is what we need in our lives, the physical food and physical needs will be meaningless without the Bread of Life to sustain us. Just as the Israelites would have never made it through the wilderness without the manna that the Lord provided, we too would never make it through the wilderness of the world without the DAILY portion of the Bread of Life that we need. Sometimes I begin to feel faint in this world, it begins to wear me down, and so often I find it is because I have not feasted on the Word of Life on a daily basis. We should be as dependent on the Lord as the people of Israel were on manna. The Lord had them put that pot of manna in the Ark to remind them forever of His provision. We too are reminded of His provision when we think of the Bread from heaven!

The next thing we find in the ark is the Tablets of the Law. This signifies our rebellion against God's Holy and Perfect Law. What did the Messiah say about the Law? In Matthew 5:17 He states that He did not come to destroy the Law or the prophets, but to fulfill. He also states in Luke 24 that everything written in the Law and the Prophets were to be fulfilled. We see Messiah as the fulfillment of the Law, NOT the abrogation of the Law! In Him we find the Law in its perfected form. In John 1 we find that Messiah is the Word, and therefore, He is the EMBODIMENT of the law. The law is also kept in the ark to remind the people not only of the requirements of God, but our inability to keep these laws. The law is covered by the Mercy Seat, which is sprinkled with blood! And without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Therefore, we have in the law the reminder of our inability and God’s ability!

And finally we find the budded rod of Aaron. This represents our rebellion against God-given leadership. Now, you may wonder how this can represent the Messiah? Well, first we find in this a very clear picture of resurrection. The rod that Aaron carried was a dead branch, used as a walking stick and as a weapon and many other things. Yet, in Numbers 16, 17 we read that the people challenged God and His selection of Aaron and Moses. So, God had the leaders of the twelve tribes bring rods to the Tabernacle, and when they were checked the next day, Aaron’s rod had not only budded, but had produced RIPE almonds. What a vivid picture of the Messiah. He was slain on a tree, dead, and buried, but in three days He arose! Life from death! That is the good news of the gospel! John 5:24, 25 -- "Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live."

The Messiah was killed and buried; yet the grave could not hold Him! Like Aaron’s rod, He arose from the dead, and not only that, but like the rod that produced RIPE almonds, our Messiah also produces fruit.

James 1:16–18 -- Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

We see in the budded rod the truth of the Messiah’s resurrection, and with the production of fruit we also see the truth of the Church, the fruit of the Messiah.

THE MERCY SEAT

Finally we come to the Mercy Seat. That which covered all of the things we have previously mentioned. It is obvious that the Messiah is represented here. The Mercy Seat, which was covered with the blood of the sacrifice, covered the Law, and the manna and the budded rod. The blood of the lamb, is able to make atonement for all things. The seat is made of pure gold, representing the absolute divinity of the Messiah! There was nothing mixed with the gold to make it less pure, just as our Savior is through and through pure and undefiled.

Much like the angels who appeared at the tomb after the resurrection of Christ, the two cherubim covered the Mercy Seat with their wings. Can you imagine the incredible scene of the blood-covered seat covered by the wings of the cherubim! We see throughout the Bible that the angels are constantly ministering to the Lord, and here in the Mercy Seat we find them covering the seat with their wings, watching over the blood of the sacrifice! What an incredible scene!

It is at this seat, the seat of mercy that we find the blood of the Lamb covering our sins, just as the blood of the bullock and goat covered the sins of Israel long ago in the wilderness. Hebrews 4:14–16 -- Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

We can come to the throne of grace through the blood of Messiah!

Romans 3:21–26 -- But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it -- the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

We all have fallen short, yet our sins, like the sins of Israel, are covered by a Mercy Seat, covered in blood! We too have rebelled against God's leadership, provision and law -- we too need a High Priest who can properly make atonement for us before a Just and Holy God. And in Messiah we find the answer for all these things!

Israel, once a year, had the High Priest come in and make atonement for them, covering the Mercy Seat in the blood of an innocent. How much more should we, as believers in Messiah, be full of joy, knowing that our Great High Priest made the perfect sacrifice of Himself, once forever, never to be repeated (Hebrews 7)!

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