The Tabernacle – The Ark

Exo. 25:10-16 Exo. 37:1-9

A. Construction

1. a covered chest 45″ l, 27″ w, 27″ h

2. acacia wood (incorruptible wood, eulon asepton) core

3. pure gold overlay (gilding)

4. feet on the corners with gold rings attached

5. acacia wood poles also gold overlaid for carrying

B. Contents see 1 Kings 8:9 Heb. 9:4

1. testimony Exodus 25:16

reminder of God’s covenant – “ark of the covenant” 41 times; “ark of the Lord” 35 times; “ark of the testimony” 13 times; “ark of the God of Israel” 5 times; 94 total

The place of worship was called the “tabernacle of the testimony” or “tent of witness” Exodus 38:21 because it was the place of revelation and because it contained the tablets that witnessed of God’s covenant with his people

No one could question the terms of the covenant; they were preserved within the ark to witness against the people, that although they agreed to the terms, they failed to uphold their part – obedience

2. manna Exodus 16:33

reminder of God’s provision during their wanderings in the wilderness

It never failed, was always sufficient, could not be hoarded but must be gathered daily except on the sabbath. “Give us this day our daily bread”?

stored in a golden pot as indicated in Hebrews and the LXX of Exodus 16:33

3. Aaron’s rod Numbers 17:1-10

reminder of God’s sovereign choice (authority)

each tribal leader brought a rod

God showed his authority over them by:

making the choice of who would serve him

punishing those who rebelled

These three items were not placed in the ark at the same time. Probably the tablets (version 2) were placed in the ark as soon as it was completed and ready to be set up in the holy of holies. The same is likely true of the pot of manna set aside during the first provision of manna. It is not until we come to the New Testament record in Hebrews, though, that we discover that it was stored in the ark. It was later, after the people rebelled yet again and were forbidden to enter the Promised Land that Korah stirred up a rebellion against Moses and Aaron and we see the scene with Aaron’s rod that budded. It is apparent from the record in 1 Kings that only the tablets remained in the ark once it arrived at the temple.

C. Significance

1. of its construction

two materials – two natures

gold & wood – heaven and earth, deity and humanity

2. of its contents

a. testimony – Matthew 5:17 Romans 5:19 Hebrews 7:11-22 Hebrews 10:1-10

Jesus’ fulfilment – He was the one (Prophet) who came:

to fulfill the law of God

to do the will of God

to make us righteous by:

his perfect obedience to the law

receiving the curse of the law in our place

b. manna – John 6:32 , 48-50

Jesus’ fulfilment – God’s gracious provision to us: bread of heaven, bread of life in the person of the God-man, our high priest

c. Aaron’s rod – Hebrews 5:4-6 , 7-10

Jesus’ fulfilment – our ruler (King) who could not be bound by death and who deals with his people graciously Numbers 17:10

3. of its typical character

who Christ is in contrast with what he has done

his person vs. his work

Many other aspects of tabernacle furnishings and rituals point to the work of Christ; the ark declares Christ himself as the only one who fulfills all it represents.

The great importance of the ark is clear from several considerations. When Jehovah gave instructions to Moses concerning the Tabernacle, He began with the ark. It was first in order because first in importance. …Without the ark the whole service of the Tabernacle had been meaningless and valueless, for it was upon it, as His throne, that God dwelt. The ark was the object to which the brazen altar pointed, the sacrifice of which gave right of access to the worshipper, who came to the ark representatively in the person of the high priest. It was the first of the holy vessels to be made. It was the place where the tables of the law were preserved. Its pre-eminence above all the other vessels was shown in the days of Solomon, for the ark alone was transferred from the tabernacle to the Temple.

“The ark was a symbol that God was present among His people, that His covenant blessing was resting upon them. It was the most sacred and glorious Instrument of the sanctuary; yea, the whole sanctuary was built for no other end, but to be as it were a house, an habitation for the ark (see Exodus 26:33 ).” (A. Saphir). A. W. Pink, Gleanings in Exodus

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