The Tabernacle, The Ark of the Covenant, Its Construction, Part 1 - Lesson 15
We have studied the tabernacle as Godís dwelling place, its history, the tabernacle as a picture of Christ, the tabernacle as Godís salvation message to man, the tabernacle as a foreshadowing of Christ and we have had an extensive study of the materials called for in its building.
In future lessons, the Lord willing, we will study the furnishings of the tabernacle beginning from the inside of the Most Holy place to the outside gate.
We will learn of the Ark of the Covenant, the altar of incense, the table of showbread, the golden candlestick, the tabernacleís framework, its curtains, the brazen altar, the laver and the veil.
Today we will begin with the Ark of the Covenant.
And the best place to start our study is in the scriptures, namely its detailed description in Exodus 25:10-22, And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. 11And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. 12And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. 13And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. 14And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. 15The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. 16And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. (Also was put a omer manna, and Aaronís rod)17And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
We are learning that the Tabernacle of Moses was the very special place where God's people came to meet Him, seeking His presence, his forgiveness, his guidance, his help, strength and power.
And in the tabernacle the Ark of the Covenant was the most important of all the furniture that went into this dwelling place for God.
It was the first dwelling place for God since Adam fell because of sin, where man's privilege to approach God without sacrifice was broken.
The Ark of God represented the presence of God, His Glory and His mercy.
People could now know that the Ark of God, with God's holy presence, sat in the midst of the Tabernacle, which drew many to seek the Lord there.
The word ark simply means box, or coffin, or chest.
It is a container of something.
It this case it was a box of about 19 cubic feet.
There are two Hebrew words for ark used in the Bible.
The Hebrew word used in reference to the Ark of the Covenant is "aw-rone".
This word means "ark" or "chest", but it also carries with it a few other meanings.
In Genesis 50:26, this same word is used in regard to the coffin or the mummy-case of Joseph.
In another reference in 2 Kings 12:10-11 we find this word used in reference to a money chest.
In the Old Testament, God has set forth revelation of Divine truth in three distinct Arks.
Each of these Arks carries with it the thought of preservation.
The first Ark mentioned in the Scripture is the Ark of Noah described in the book of Genesis.
This Ark was made of gopher wood, sealed with pitch inside and out and speaks, without a doubt, of preservation.
For in it, particular numbers of animals as commanded by God and eight souls, Noah, his wives, his three sons, and their wives, were preserved from the water of judgment and death and given the command to repopulate the Earth.
The second Ark mentioned in the Old Testament is the Ark prepared for the baby Moses.
We read of this in Exodus 2:3, And when she (Jochebed, the mother of Moses) could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the riverís brink.
This Ark was made of reeds and daubed with pitch just as was Noah's Ark.
Here, too, we see that the Ark was a means of preservation for the baby Moses from the waters.
For the Pharaoh had commanded that all Hebrew sons were to be drowned.
Now the Ark of the Covenant was made of shittim or acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold without and within.
This Ark also carries with it the thought of preservation for it was made to carry the Tables of the Law, the Golden Pot of Manna symbolizing Godís provision and Aaron's rod that budded symbolizing Godís authority.
As the Architect of the tabernacle God was clear in his desire in building him a dwelling place and that desire contained exacting instructions as to how that dwelling place was to be built.
For even in the very order, materials, dimensions and colors, God has hidden the eternal purpose of the ages in this complex that would house His presence for nearly 1500 years.
The fact is that the Ark of the Covenant is the only piece of furniture to inhabit three different tabernacles or sanctuaries.
Not only was it housed in the original tabernacle but it was kept in the in the Tabernacle of David:
1 Chronicles 16:1, So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tent that David had pitched for it: and they offered burnt sacrifices and peace offerings before God.
And it continued its existence in the Temple of Solomon for at the dedication of the temple we are told in:
1 Kings 8:9, There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone, which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.
There are nearly 200 references made in Scripture to the Ark of God.
The detailed reference in Exodus referring to its specifications is the first mention of the Ark.
The last mention of it in the Old Testament is found in Jeremiah 3:14-16, where it says, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.
In other words, Israel will not need to remember the fact that the ark is no more among them for the Lord will be there in the midst.
Remembering that the tabernacle and its furnishings were simply shadows of
things to come.
And the final mention of the Ark in the Bible is in Revelation 11:19 where
the true ark of His Testament is seen in heaven.
Revelation 11:19, And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.
In the passage we read in Exodus 25 God begins by instructing Moses to build him an ark overlaid with gold, the structure of it to be Shittim Wood.
It is a chest designed to preserve something but it is important to realize that the Ark was more than just a mere chest.
It represented several things:
It represented the Throne of God in the earth.
It represented the presence of God in Christ, by the
Spirit in the midst of His redeemed people.
The Ark represented the GLORY OF GOD revealed in Divine order and worship.
It represented the fullness of the godhead bodily revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ.
All that the Ark was to Israel in the Old Covenant, the Lord Jesus is the Body of Christ, the church today!
Compare the Ark of God as that which was designed to preserve, and you will also see that the body of Christ is also an ark designed to preserve the Church.
Jesus said that clearly to Peter in Matthew 16:18, And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
That Church is comprised of both Jew and Gentile.
We have not replaced Israel in the Covenant, but we are partakers of Her blessings under the New Covenant because of the shed blood of the perfect sacrifice!
God's plan of redemption begins with Himself, and he begins to describe this plan by beginning his building instruction to Moses for the building of the Ark of the Covenant.
All things begin with God as we are told in the beginning of his word, "In the beginning God."
God begins in the Holiest of all or the Most Holy Place, in His own Throne Room, with the Ark of the Covenant.
It was upon this piece of furniture that the High Priest sprinkled the Blood of atonement once a year (Leviticus. 16 and Hebrews 9:7).
It was from this piece of furniture that God's audible voice was heard speaking to Moses the Lawgiver and Aaron the High Priest.
Leviticus 1:1, And the LORD called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the congregation, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the LORD, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock.
Every other article in the Tabernacle took a secondary seat to the Ark of the Covenant.
If the Ark of God's presence were to be removed from the Tabernacle all that would remain would be an empty form.
For without the Presence of the Lord, as upon that Ark and Mercy Seat, all would be meaningless and powerless as would the body of Christ without the head.
All of Israel's worship was directed to Jehovah who dwelt upon that Blood-stained Mercy Seat that was atop of the ark.
This is so well described in Hebrews 9:1-7, Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 2For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary. 3And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; 4Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaronís rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. 6Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. 7But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: