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Ark Of The Covenant

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Meaning

Exodus 25:10 ESV
“They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height.
In , Moses receives the command to build an ark of acacia wood. Within this ark were to be placed the tables of the law which God was about to give to Moses. Upon the top of the ark, probably not as a lid but above the lid, was a golden plate upon which two cherubim, with raised wings and facing each other, covered the ark. From the place between the two cherubim God promises to speak to Moses, as often as He shall give him commands in reference to the Israelites. 
The ark was designed to be a symbol of the presence of God in the midst of His people is the common teaching of the Old Testament. This place on the lid was also referred to as the “Mercy Seat”. Once a year a priest would enter the holy tent and sprinkle blood from a sacrificed animal to atone for the sins of Israel. This old covenant on the Day of Atonement is no longer needed as Jesus Christ became a new covenant in which His sacrifice on the cross was a complete atonement for sins.  
According to the statements in the Priestly Code, the ark of the covenant was a chest made out of acacia wood, 2 1/2 cubits (about equal to 4 ft.) long, 1 1/2 cubits wide and 1 1/2 high. It was covered with gold within and without, and was ornamented with a moulding of gold running all around it. At its four feet rings were added, through which the gold- covered carrying-staves were put.
Other contents to believed to have been in the ark of the covenant were: a pot of Manna from when Israel was in the wilderness to remind them of God’s love, provision and care; and the rod of Aaron to symbolize God’s given leadership and priesthood.
According to the tradition contained in the Pentateuch the sacred ark was built at Mount Sinai and was taken by the Israelites along with them to Canaan. When Israel had been conquered by the Philistines, the ark was taken from Shiloh in order that Yahweh should aid His people. When Philistines yet conquered and captured the ark, the many misfortunes that overtook them made them think that the possession of the ark was destructive to them and they sent it back. The ark then settled in a holy tent for priests until King Solomon placed the ark of the covenant in the Holy of Holies of this temple, where it was placed under the wings of two mighty cherubim images. The ark is believed to have been destroyed with the destruction of Jerusalem by King Nebuchadnezzar.

The role of the ark

The Ark was used in the desert and in Israel proper for a number of spiritual and pragmatic purposes. Practically, God used the Ark as an indicator of when he wanted the nation to travel, and when to stop. In the traveling formation in the desert, the Ark was carried 2000 cubits ahead of the nation (Num. R. 2:9)
When the Israelites went to war in the desert and during the conquering of Canaan, the Ark accompanied them.
Spiritually, the Ark was the manifestation of God's physical presence on earth (the shekhina). When God spoke with Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the desert, he did so from between the two Cherubs (). Once the Ark was moved into the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple, it was accessible only once a year, and then, only by one person.
The relationship between the Ark and the shekhina is reinforced by the recurring motif of clouds. God's presence is frequently seen in the guise of a cloud in the Bible (), and the Ark is constantly accompanied by clouds: When God spoke from between the Cherubs, there was a glowing cloud visible there (); when the Jews traveled, they were led by the Ark and a pillar of clouds (); at night, the pillar of clouds was replaced by a pillar of fire, another common descriptor of God's appearance (); and when the High Priest entered presence of the Ark on Yom Kippur, he did so only under the cover of a cloud of incense, perhaps intended to mask the sight of the shekhina in all its glory ().
The holiness of the Ark also made it dangerous to those who came in contact with it. When Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, brought a foreign flame to offer a sacrifice in the Tabernacle, they were devoured by a fire that emanated "from the Lord" (). During the saga of the capture of the Ark by the Philistines, numerous people, including some who merely looked at the Ark, were killed by its power. Similarly, the Priests who served in the Tabernacle and Temple were told that viewing the Ark at an improper time would result in immediate death ().

Application Today

With the coming of Jesus Christ the yearly sprinkling of the mercy seat with the blood of bulls and goats was no longer necessary. Christ, with the sprinkling of his own blood, secured an eternal redemption (Heb 9:11–14). Consequently, those who trust in him are encouraged to come with boldness before the God of grace enthroned above the mercy seat (Heb 4:14–16). Whereas before, the veil hung as a barrier between men and the ark, Christ through his death tore the veil in two and passed through it (Mt 27:51; Heb 10:20), opening the way for all worshipers to see the ark of God’s covenant (Rv 11:19).

Nor was the ark necessary any longer to symbolize the presence of God with his people, because in the incarnation of Jesus Christ and the coming of the Spirit to indwell every believer the presence of God with his people was realized in a final way (Ez 36:27, 28; Jn 1:14; 14:16, 17). Those who live after the work of Christ already experience the reality of which the ark was only a shadow: “the dwelling of God is with men” (Rv 21:3). Jeremiah prophesied that in the future the ark would no longer be remembered because in that time all of Jerusalem “shall be called the throne of the Lord” (Jer 3:16, 17). Thus, in the New Jerusalem there will be no ark or temple, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple (Rv 21:22).

What a God we have. What a God has us. He chose to stoop very low and to humble Himself very far for the sake of His wandering people in the wilderness. Even more, He chose to stoop and to humble Himself for us in His Son, Jesus Christ, and then to stoop as low as death: “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” ().
The fact that the ark was the place of the Lord’s presence among His people brought great assurance to the people of God. This high, lofty, majestic, and resplendent King dwelt among His grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people (; , , , ; ). Does that sound familiar? We, too, are grumbling, complaining, bickering, and sinful people. Thankfully, God is not far off in another land, but He is near to us who are sinners. The promise to the new-covenant believer is that the Lord is near to us by the power of the Holy Spirit, who dwells in us (), even as Jesus promised His helpful presence (). The assurance His nearness brings was described by the prophet Isaiah much later in this history of salvation. Just as God accompanied Israel when they wandered in a wilderness, so, too, He was with them in the days of their restoration from exile. Thus, the prophet said, “In all their affliction he was afflicted” ().
Today we may not have the ark here but we have his presence with us.
When we spend time in his word, when we come to church, when we pray we feel his presence in a greater way.
Sister Elizabeth was testifying of experiencing him greater in the prayer meeting.
Are your present circumstances making you feel depressed and alone ?
Do you feel like you are about to drown?
Never forget that no matter what you are going through that God is with you!
With you through whatever storm you may be facing right now.
If you are sick, he is with you.
If you are in an interview, he is with you.
When you are conscious of His presence every day, you will experience a peace that gives you rest, joy inexpressible in your spirit and a power that nothing in this world can offer. In fact, you will begin to be peaceful and powerful like Jesus. You will speak and behave like Him. This is because you cannot be in God’s presence without His beauty, love, peace, power and glory rubbing off on you.
Thought for today
You practice God’s presence when you see Him with you in whatever you do and wherever you are.
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