Posts Tagged ‘Ark of the Covenant’

So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Isaiah 6:5

A Good Thing

goodThe moment we read a title like ‘Courtyard Christianity’ we tend to think the worst, “Oh great, another dissertation on the reasons why I am a bad Christian,” but that is not the case here. Let me tell you right-up front, if you are a courtyard-Christian, it is a good thing.


It is not the best thing.

Let me explain.

When I think courtyard, I think ‘Tabernacle’; that one hundred and fifty-foot, by seventy five-foot chunk of land set aside as God’s meeting place. A space that you and I might say would be too small for two million desert-roaming Jews, but God might have said, “Don’t worry, it’s big enough; not everyone will be interested.”

Bottom line (and as far as this pertains to the Christian life), if you are in the courtyard of the tabernacle, you are saved. Celebrate! But know this: you can go deeper. Going deeper doesn’t save you; remember: if you’re in the courtyard, figuratively speaking, you are saved.

Sanctuary Christians

There are two types of sanctuary Christians; both are saved, but one is better off than the other. (Please note that I am not saying one is better, but rather that one is in a more favorable position, spiritually speaking). The sanctuary of the tabernacle was the forty-five foot by fifteen foot tent that had two compartments within. The first room of the sanctuary housed the lampstand, the table of show-bread, and the golden censer. If you have left the courtyard and entered this first room of the sanctuary you are in a better place, for you have entered the realm of Christian service.

How So?

The utensils of the sanctuary are symbolic of (they picture) Christian service. A person who trims the wicks of a lampstand is concerned with the light going forth. The one who daily changes the show-bread is interested in feeding the flock. And finally, the one who tends the incense is steeped in intercessory prayer, offering petitions, pleas, and praises as a sweet-smelling fragrance to the Father.

But deeper still are the…

Mercy Seat Christians

maryEntering into the Holy of Holies is to sit at the feet of Jesus. The difference between this best place and the place of service is revealed in the story of Martha and Mary. We know from that account, Mary chose the best seat in the house; the mercy seat. This inner sanctum is the greatest place to be for it is here we are closest to Jesus. And what makes the space so uniquely special is it is a place of refinement and restoration. The veil has been torn, so we should take advantage of the opportunity!

Consider the Ark

The Ark of the Covenant held three things: manna, Aaron’s rod, and the Law; three things that are symbolic of man’s fallen condition. Covering the box (and more importantly these three items) was the mercy seat, symbolic of Christ’s mercy and the covering of our sins. It is in His Holy presence He can do what He desires to do. At this point, we are free to roam and function within the tabernacle!


Simply put, in the tabernacle, all are saved, but perhaps not all are fulfilled. There is always more to be had if the believer is willing; there is always a deeper experience.

For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart–These, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17

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Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim. 1 Kings 8:6

It had been almost 500 years since the Exodus and Solomon had finished constructing the desire of his father David’s heart, the Temple of the Lord. Its moving day and all the components of the Temple were brought in and put in position and the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies. Question—‘What’s inside the Ark of the Covenant?’ Follow-up question—‘Are you absolutely sure?’

Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets 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. 1 Kings 8:9

Okay, Who Stole Aaron’s Rod and the Manna?

While God in His Word does not explain what happened to the staff and manna, we can rest assured that there are reasons why they were missing. Before we delve into the explanation, we would recall why these items were placed in the Ark in the first place. Aaron’s ‘budding’ rod was a miraculous confirmation; a sign to Israel that Moses and Aaron were His intended leaders. The manna on the other hand was a wondrous sign of God’s provision. The Law was a sign of a different category; a tangible road-sign informing every reader of where he is (in sin) and where he needs to go (to the cross of Jesus Christ).

So the question of most importance is not, “Who removed these two items,” or, “where are they,” or “what happened to them,” but rather, “why does only one remain?” The answer is evident; this singular article (two tablets) effectively demonstrates two facts…

…The word of the Lord endures forever. 1 Peter 1:25a

The second fact might not be as obvious. It will serve us well to remember that there is no other people group in world history that witnessed more miraculous signs and wonders than post-Egypt Israel. What impact did all those signs and wonders have upon them? Not much. Out of entire generation of people (a couple million or more), only two, Joshua and Caleb, came to believe. There is an enormous lesson in that.

Are We Done With Miracles?

Heaven forbid! Jesus told His church that there is an order in which these things will occur…

And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” Mark 16:17-18

And He told us why there needs to be an order…

A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.” Matthew 16:4

And there’s the second reason. Generally speaking, we are sign-seekers; we want evidence, we want confirmation, we want corroboration before we commit and handover the reigns to Someone we cannot readily see or touch. There’s a drawback that comes with that kind of attitude and Jesus told us pointedly what it is:

For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Matthew 24:24

The rod and the manna were removed for our protection! So like me, you might ask why were those signs and wonders placed into the Ark to begin with. I submit to reveal to us that a) they exist, and b) we don’t need them to come to faith, and c) they will follow us as we follow Jesus. We should consider what was said regarding John the Baptist [who] Jesus called the greatest prophet whoever lived…

Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” And many believed in Him there. John 10:41-42

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And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep. 2 Samuel 6:13

I’m going backwards. I was supposed to begin chapter eight of Second Samuel today, but for the last forty eight hours or so, my mind has been flipping back to this passage from chapter six. I have gotten the sense that I should unpack the verse some more.

We would recall that the first official act of King David was to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem and that the feat was a total catastrophe. As a result Uzzah died and the Ark was sent away. Obed-Edom housed the Ark for ninety days and old Obed and his family were blessed by God. Quoting from my blog of two days ago…

In the three month period Obed-Edom had the Ark, David did his homework. The prescribed manner to move the Ark was six paces at a time. Every six steps the procession would stop, an altar would be erected, and animals would be sacrificed. The ritual would continue until the Ark reached its resting place, regardless if was ten feet or ten miles.

That got me thinking. If stopping to offer sacrifice and praise to God every six steps was appropriate then, is it not proper for us today? I’m not being legalistic, I’m being realistic. Is the God we worship today somehow not as worthy to be praised and exalted as He was in these days? Of course He is worthy; nothing at all has changed, except the fact that we don’t have an Ark to move around.

So What Am I Saying?

I am saying that this practice has an application for us today ~and~ it is not unreasonable for us to stop every six steps and offer our sacrifices of praise. What would that look like? First, jot down on a piece of paper what you typically do on a normal day numbering them. For example, my day looks something like this:

1) Wake up
2) Get dressed
3) Do ‘bathroom’ stuff
4) Breakfast
5) See the family off to work and school
6) Check emails
7) Ministry stuff
8) Bible study
9) House chores
10) Guitar practice
11) House chores
12) Lunch

That’s only half my day and I purposely left out a lot of incidentals between entries, but looking at the list would it not be considered reasonable to pause at every sixth item to give thanks in prayer and check in with the Lord? I believe it is reasonable and in so doing we will bless God and He will in turn bless us. Going back to the previous blog entry for a moment…

To me it (pausing every sixth step) speaks to my continual need to be reminded of Christ’s presence in my life. The fact is I can finish praying or reading His word, get up and take six steps and forget all about Him. This passage reminds me of that deficiency in faith walk. It also reminds me in simplicity to draw near to God and He will draw near to me (James 4:8), to acquaint myself with Him, to be at peace and good will come to me (Job 22:21), to deny myself and take up my cross daily (Luke 9:23), and finally, as often as I eat the bread and drink of the cup, to proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The world is into efficiency and frankly, stopping in the middle of the day to do anything other then what we have scheduled seems unproductive. However, our God is a God of quality, not quantity. He has so much more in store for us then we could ever begin to imagine. Remove Jesus Christ from the equation and every aspect of whatever we’re involved with suffers.

I would suggest that you give this six-step program a try, for its model has divine roots. While it’s not commanded of God, we can read the biblical account and make the application understanding the spiritual implications. I suspect that for many of you [that] as you go about making your daily lists you’ll discover you’re already doing it (and didn’t realize it) or you discover (like did) that there are significant gaps in your day when you are out of contact with the Creator of the universe.

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And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.” And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook. 1 Samuel 4:3 + 5


To most of us, Israel’s mistake here is obvious; they formulate a plan of their own outside of the will of God employing the services of two false teachers (Hophni and Phinehas) and steal the Ark of the Covenant. It may have seemed right in their eyes, but the reality was that is was an evil plot. This plan was doomed to fail before it got off the ground.

“When it comes among us it may save us…”

God saves; its are powerless. To erroneously suppose that any eternal good can come out of plan or scheme devised outside of God’s will is ludicrous. That notion feeds into the lie that somehow salvation can accomplished by man’s efforts and the workings of our flesh. Any teaching that incorporates this type of work ethic is not of God and the one professing it should be avoided.

Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain. Psalm 127:1

Shouting and Jumping

Within today’s Bible passage there is another warning for the church. Notice as Israel rallied around their plan that they shouted loudly and jumped up and down so vigorously the ground shook. Most certainly there was a hint of godliness in what they were doing; after all they had two priests and they had the Ark of the Covenant in their midst. Perhaps because God did not fry them all on the spot, they incorrectly assumed they were operating in God’s will and with His blessing.

The fact of the matter is that all their hoopla was misguided—they were emotionally hyped about a program and a presentation, and nothing more. They might have been shouting ‘Amen!’ and ‘Hallelujah’, but God was having none of it. Oddly enough, the enemy overhearing the emotion-packed celebration thought these guys were onto something—these non-believers were buying into the hype too! Therein lies another danger.

Is There Any Meat on the Bone

There was no divine substance to what Israel was doing; therefore they were soundly defeated by their unbelieving adversary, giving them the impression that our One and true God is impotent and faithless towards His people. What an awful lie too broadcast to a lost world our Father wants to rescue. I am not saying it is wrong to shout and jump for joy before the Lord; what I am saying is that ‘God says’ it’s wrong to give any kind of honor or glory to something He is not a part of, for to do so is to misrepresent Him and lead people away from salvation.

Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1

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