BECOMING THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
The Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred object of the Israelites. It was located in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle. With the exception of Moses, no one was permitted to see the Ark except the High Priest.
The High Priest was directed to go past the Veil and sprinkle blood upon the Atonement Cover and then in front of the Atonement Cover. The Atonement cover was a lid that covered the Ark. This ceremony took place once each year on the Day of Atonement.
He is to take some of the bull’s blood and with his finger sprinkle it on the front of the atonement cover; then he shall sprinkle some of it with his finger seven times before the atonement cover. (Leviticus 16:14)
When Israel was moving from one place to another, the Ark was wrapped in the Veil and carried on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites.
The furnishings of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, from the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering to the solid-gold Atonement Cover, are typical of the events of the Divine redemption. The Ark of the Covenant, so called because it contained the Ten Commandments, speaks of Christ and those who are part of Him.
But how do we become part of the Ark, part of Christ, a member of the Body of Christ?
The key is obedience. When we pass the Lampstand (Pentecost), we are at the Altar of Incense, the last step before passing through the Veil.
It is at the Altar of Incense that we cry out, “Not my will but Yours be done.”
This is where Pentecostal people are today—trying to decide whether they want their own will or God’s to be done.
When we finally decide to enter the rest of God, where we are thinking, speaking, and acting in concert with the Lord Jesus, and not striving in our own religious desires, we pass through the Veil and become the Ark of the Covenant.
Within the Ark of the Covenant are Aaron’s Staff that budded; the memorial Jar of Manna; and the granite tablets on which the Ten Commandments were inscribed.
These three spiritual attainments must be true of us if we are to be part of the Ark along with the Lord Jesus.
First, Aaron’s Staff. This means we recognize that the members of the Royal Priesthood are chosen by God, and that the Life of Christ comes out of their death. They have learned to live by the Life of Jesus, not their own life. It is a new creation.
Today in America, where the Christian religions and its churches as regarded as some sort of business that anyone can join, we may have lost sight of the fact that the members of the Church are called, just as Aaron was called. It was not possible for an Israelite to join himself to the Levites or the priests. This would be unthinkable.
It absolutely is true that whoever will call on the Lord Jesus shall be saved. But becoming a member of the Royal Priesthood is by calling. The Kingdom of God is not a democracy. We cannot choose our role in the Kingdom. We always can pray for ministries and gifts, and are urged to do so. But ranks and roles in the Kingdom are assigned by the Father.
Jesus said to them, “You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)
Aaron’s Staff was a fire-hardened walking stick, I imagine. When it was laid up in front of the Ark it produced almonds, if you can imagine.
The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. (Numbers 17:8)
The idea that life comes out of the death of the members of the Royal Priesthood is not always emphasized; but it is an extremely important concept for those who wish to be used of the Lord to accomplish significant work in the Kingdom of God.
We notice how the writings of the Apostle Paul have survived the centuries. His epistles came out of Paul’s suffering.
Second, the memorial Jar of Manna signifies that we have learned to live on every Word coming from the Father that is directed toward us as an individual There always is grace for that day; a Word from the Father for that day. We don’t get Wednesday’s grace on Tuesday.
Those who would be part of the Ark of the Covenant, part of Jesus Christ, must learn to live on every Word that comes from the Father. We Americans know what it means to work hard to earn our food and lodging. We are not always that zealous to seek God each day to the point that we know what He is telling us for that day.
But, as Jesus said when He was tempted to use His Divine power to turn stone into bread, “Man shall not live on bread alone but on every Word that comes from God.” So if we are working night and day to earn a living, we need to ask God for some time each day to wait and listen to what God is saying for us at that time.
In our country we admire the hard worker. And that is well. But we must remember also that we are not animals. We are children of God. As such we have a spiritual nature that animals do not have. Animals can live successfully on food. We cannot. If we give all of our attention to eating and drinking, our spiritual nature will wither and die. We may gain wealth in the world but we lose our soul—that part of us that has the characteristics of God.
If God finds that we are destroying ourselves by neglecting to pray, read the Bible, and fellowship with other Christians, He may take steps to call us back to Himself. Sometimes these steps are painful. We are wise when we do not force God to remind us that we are not an animal who can subsist on food alone.
Third, the eternal moral law of God must be written in our mind and heart. We must be the flesh becoming the Word, just as Jesus was the Word made flesh.
The tables of stone, the Covenant from which the Ark is named, are the most important of the objects contained in the Ark. They are still present when Aaron’s Staff and the memorial Jar of Manna are long gone.
There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt. (I Kings 8:9)
The perseverance of the Ten Commandments informs us that after all is said and done, the end product that God is looking for is righteous behavior.
The writing of Christ in our mind and heart is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As we grow in righteousness we become able to distinguish between good and evil, and we have a consuming desire to embrace what is righteous, and to utterly denounce and renounce that which is unrighteous.
Now we are on God’s side in the ancient, titanic struggle between good and evil.
Now we are crowned with the Lid of Reconciliation, the Glory of the God of Israel. This is the end product and the highest achievement of the Divine redemption.
There was tremendous rejoicing when the Ark was leaving the house of Abinidab. This continued until the new cart carrying the Ark came to the threshing floor, the place of judgment. Uzzah was struck dead. Everything was fine until God looked to see if the Ark was covered properly and carried on the shoulders of the Kohathite Levites. Neither was true.
The result was the death of Uzzah—a tremendous breach in a time of celebration. But that is the way God is, and it behooves us all to be careful and prayerful about everything we do.
God doesn’t let us know immediately when something is wrong. He waits and gives us a chance to bring our actions before Him for His approval, But how often we rush forward in our own zeal without giving God a chance to advise us. The result seldom is desirable!
The Ark of the Covenant represents, as I have said, Jesus Christ and those who are part of Him.
The solid-gold Atonement Cover, which served as a lid on the Ark, speaks of the Glory of God that rests on Christ and on the members of His Body—on the entire Royal Priesthood. They live by Christ as He lives by the Father. The body and blood of Christ are His resurrection Life in them.
This is the new Jerusalem, the Tabernacle of God, Emmanuel, the Presence of God available to the saved people from the nations who live on the new earth.
The Atonement Cover might be termed the Lid of Reconciliation, just as the Day of Atonement might be termed the Day of Reconciliation. Our task as members of the Body of Christ, of the Royal Priesthood, is to reconcile man to God.
We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. (II Corinthians 5:20)
There were two cherubim beaten out from the gold of the Atonement Cover, one on each end. These represented the guardian cherubim overshadowing the Atonement Cover in Heaven.
The Ark was a chest made from acacia wood. The acacia wood was covered with God inside and outside. However, the wood remained.
So it is true that Christ is both Son of God and Son of man. We, who are being made His brothers, also are son of God and son of man. We always will be human beings, but in a transcendent form. We are a new creation, in which the old things of Adam have passed away.
Our humanity is on the inside. The outside is merely a house and it shall be redeemed by the Spirit of God. The inside is transformed as Christ supplants the adamic nature with His own nature. Then He and the Father make us Their eternal resting place.
I stress that we always are son of man as well as son of God because the Divine fiat concerning man, found in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, never shall be done away, according to my understanding at the present time. Man was created to be the son of God in God’s image; male and female; to multiply; and to exercise dominion over the works of God’s hands.
When the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead He was the first Man to appear on the earth, the beginning of the creation in which all things are made new. Not all new things, but all things made new.
One of the mistakes made by zealous Christian people is to attempt to become too divine, too ethereal. This is not spiritually healthy. It is abnormal to attempt to be an angel.
The other mistake is to live in the flesh in the hope of being carried to Paradise as we are.
It is the assigned role of the Royal Priesthood to bring Paradise to the earth and then to maintain it. In order for God’s governing priests to perform their role successfully they must be perfectly human and perfectly Divine. After all, their inheritance whom they shall rule for eternity consists of human beings, not angels.
There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
Aaron’s Staff is in the Ark, telling us that eternal ministry is given to the called, chosen, and faithful saints who compose the Royal Priesthood. Aaron’s Staff informs us that if we are willing to forget our religious ambitions and just rest in the Most Holy Place in the Presence of God, we will bear eternal fruit. Eternal life always comes from our death.
The memorial Jar of Manna indicates that we have learned to live by every Word that comes to us from God each day. We no longer are animals grubbing on the face of the earth in order to survive.
However, the goal of all God’s dealings with us is that we may be a rod of iron righteousness who can serve God in His Kingdom. We will rule with Christ over the nations of the earth, enforcing God’s eternal moral law—the moral law that is the Nature of God.
From the time of the rebellion of Satan and His angels, God has set in motion a plan to remove all sin and rebellion from His creation. The history of the world has been for the purpose of finally bringing forth sons who can maintain Paradise once God restores Paradise to the earth.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Firstborn of the Father, provided the authority for our release from Satan by His death on the cross of Calvary. Now we have come to the time in history when the Father is ready to place Christ’s enemies under His feet.
Each of us who been called to be a member of the family of God is invited to press forward in Christ until he or she is filled with His resurrection Life and is living by that Life.
When we are living by His Life, we are considered to be His brothers and heirs of all the works of God’s hands.
The Prophet declared that Christ shall divide the spoil with the strong. Let us therefore resolve to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might that we might inherit with our older Brother all that the Father has promised.
He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. (Revelation 21:7)
(“Becoming the Ark of the Covenant”, 3097-1)