The Beautiful Ark of the Covenant
Light out of the Shadows Chapter 3
“The Beautiful Ark of the Covenant”
People were shouting, trumpets were blowing, little children clapped their hands, and the King himself was dancing in the street! The entire nation was rejoicing this day. What was going on to cause such a glorious celebration? They were bringing the Ark of God back to Jerusalem on the shoulders of the priests! Many years it had been out of its place, after seven months in the hands of the enemy. But now it was coming home! Truly it was time of rejoicing.
The first mention in the Bible of this ark was in Exodus chapter 25 when God took Moses to Mount Sinai and gave him detailed instructions on how to build it, and showed him the pattern in the heavenlies. It was a shadow, an earthly physical representation of something that was already in existence in heaven. The very way it was built, the materials that were used, and the purpose for which it was used makes it very clear that this Ark was none other than an earthly type of our Lord Jesus Christ in His humanity.
“I’ll Meet with You There”
God had given one place, and only one, where He would meet with man. Union of God and man could only come at the Ark, and that in the end of the year when man went beyond the vail into the Holiest Place. Until then, the blood covered them daily, and the Ark stood behind the Vail as a testimony and a promise. Yes, only in Jesus can there be any hope of man coming into union with Almighty God. “There is one God, and one mediator.”
The two cherubims looked down at the mercy seat where the blood was placed, one at each end of the mercy seat. One looked forward to the blood, the other looked back at it. This is a picture of the Old and New Testament saints. None could be saved without the precious blood of Christ, not Adam, not Noah, not Abraham. No one. The Old Testament saints looked forward in faith to the day when Jesus would come and shed His blood. They received a good report through faith. We look back to Calvary, and thank God for His redemption!
The Ark was made of wood and gold. Not a mixture of wood and gold. You can melt silver and gold together, or iron and gold. But you cannot melt and mix wood and gold. It was first made of wood, complete and entire and perfect. Then it was overlaid with pure gold until no wood was seen. Wood speaks of humanity, gold is a symbol of deity. What a wonderful picture of Jesus! Man, complete and perfect, yet manifesting only the Father! Glory to God! Inside the Ark were contained three things, which we read about in Heb. 9:3-4.
“And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Which had the golden censer, and the Ark of the covenant overlaid around about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.”
Now these three things speak to us of that which is found in Christ. First, the golden pot with manna, which is a type of our daily bread coming from the hand of God. Jesus told the Syro-phonecian woman that healing was the children’s bread. It took forty years and the judgments of God to kill off that old generation in the wilderness, for they had daily manna, and just didn’t get sick with the diseases of the nations round about them. This is divine health, found in fulness in Christ.
Then Aaron’s rod that budded (the story of which is told in Numbers chapter 17). This speaks of the authority of God through His true ministry who move and operate only by the power of that “endless life” (Heb 7:16). This was manifested in Jesus as He overcame death and arose from the tomb in resurrection life. God commanded that this rod be placed in the Ark, “to be kept as a token against the rebels.” For no rebel shall inherit that Life.
The Law of God, the tables of the covenant, given to Moses on Sinai, were also kept in the Ark, showing that only in Jesus was the Law kept perfectly without fail, and only in Him can we be free from its judgment. Just as the first Adam failed, so the first tables of the Law were broken by Moses and the people almost as soon as it was given. But in the Last Adam was the unbroken Law kept intact, and its condemnation overcome and defeated.
“The Ark of Thy Strength”
Psalms 132:8 and 2 Chron. 6:41 both speak of the Ark as being the Ark of God’s strength, and His habitation, the place of His rest. This is true of Jesus. And this Ark in the midst of Israel represented God inhabiting His people in earthly form, in human form. This was true through the wilderness journey, as they placed the Ark in a tent, a temporary dwelling place that is subject to perish and dissolve. But Paul says: “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (2 Cor. 5:1). And tho God was content to dwell with His people in a tent, or tabernacle, being carried about on the shoulders of the priests (that is, being presented to the world through a ministry of sanctified human vessels), yet the final resting place came when a permanent Temple was built (of living stones). At this time the staves were removed from the Ark, and it was to travel no more.
Much more could be said about the Ark, and the picture it gives of Jesus. But what we really want to deal with is how the people of God lost this earthly Presence of God, and how it was restored. For this unveils to us some truths concerning the end time Restoration.
“The Crossing of Jordan”
Just a brief word here of Joshua bringing the Ark across Jordan at the time the people entered into Canaan and their inheritance. The order in which this was done is very significant, in the light of what we now know about this Ark and what it represents. A whole message could be written about this crossing of Jordan, but there is only one point that I want to make here. Read the story in Joshua 3:2-4.
“And it came to pass after THREE days, that the officers went throughout the host; And they commanded the people saying, When ye see the Ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests the Levites bearing it, then ye shall remove from your place, and go after it.”
“Yet there shall be a space between you and it, about TWO THOUSAND cubits by measure: come not near unto it, that ye may know the way by which ye must go: for ye have not passed this way heretofore.”
Notice they were to keep a space between them and the Ark, so that they would have something to keep their eyes on and know which way to go. Otherwise, if there was no pattern or example, some of the people might start north, some back south, and some east. And everyone would be in confusion. Confusion was stopped by keeping your eye on the Ark. And beloved, Jesus is the divine Pattern that God has given us to keep you eye on in relation to crossing Jordan and entering the Inheritance, the Promised Land. Did He go down into death (Jordan) and conquer it? Yes! TWO THOUSAND years ago! And the people were to follow Him in crossing Jordan dry-shod two thousand years later. Paul couldn’t do it. John couldn’t do it. Not that they didn’t have faith. But God had a pattern, and they had to wait for the pattern. Only by having Jesus as the divine example, can we know the Way. Notice that the Ark remained in the dry bed of the river and held the waters back until all the people passed over. “If that same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, dwell in you.” Yes, by the power of His divine Life we conquer death. And when Jesus joins the people on the other side of Jordan, the waters of Jordan return as before, and that’s it!
“The Ark of God is Taken”
Israel had no king, and they had no prophet. Eli was their priest. He had been a good priest, in his day, but now his eyes were dim and he was heavy with flesh. He was 98 years old, and his sons Phinehas and Hophni were wicked and were corrupting the people, and Eli could not restrain them. Eli had judged Israel forty years, but the time had come when God determined to raise up a new order, a prophetic ministry, and utterly destroy the old order.
God began this work by suddenly removing His Presence from the old order. The Ark of God dwelt behind the Vail in the Tabernacle, which was at this time at Shiloh. During a losing battle with the Philistines, the elders of the people sent for the Ark, hoping that God would be forced to save them from their enemies to protect His Ark. But when the Philistines saw the Ark, they fought with fearful desperation and defeated the children of Israel and captured the Ark of God.
“The Battle with Dagon”
Now that the Ark of God is in the hands of the enemy, who is going to protect it, defend it? So many preachers feel that they are the “defenders of the faith,” and that if they were not on the job, the Word of God would fail and never be brought to pass. Brother, you’re not going to defend the faith and protect His Word. it is going to protect YOU in the hour of Jacob’s trouble! The Philistines had the Ark in their possession for seven months, and it meant nothing but trouble and plagues for them.
They first took it to the city of Ashdod and put it in the house of Dagon, and set it alongside the idol of Dagon, the fish-god. Now the word “Dagon” comes from a word meaning “squirming,” that is, “moving by the vibratory action of the tail” (Strong’s concordance). Many of our young people in America today are unknowingly worshipping Dagon. If you don’t believe it, turn on a TV and watch one of the Youth dance programs. Other than this chapter we are studying, Dagon is only mentioned twice in the Bible. Once when the Philistines put out the eyes of Samson and made great sacrifices to Dagon. And then when they killed Saul and hung his head in the temple of Dagon. Both men of God who had failed the Lord.
Well, the Ark did not fail. It sat in the house of Dagon one day and one night, and in the morning they discovered their god Dagon had fallen down before the Ark on his face. They sat him back on his pedestal, and the Ark sat there the second day and night. On the morning of the THIRD day, they came in to discover Dagon fallen down again, and this time his power was stripped. His hands and head were broken off, leaving only a stump. What a picture of the three days Jesus spent in the domain of Satan, not being defeated, but conquering death and hell and stripping the devil of all his power! And on the THIRD day the Ark came forth from the house of Dagon victorious in glory, leaving a defeated foe behind.
“Carried by Milk Cows”
After seven months of torment, the Philistines decided that they were being plagued because of the Ark. So they called in their priests and diviners to see what to do. They were advised to put it on a cart, hitch a couple of milk cows to it, tie their calves up at home, and see what happened. Now it was against nature for the cows to leave their calves. If they headed back toward Bethshemesh, it would certainly be a miracle and proof that God was in it.
Now the men of Bethshemesh, who were Israelites, rejoiced to see the Ark on its way back to its rightful place. This was not yet far enough, but they seemed to think so. They broke the cart in pieces, made a big fire with it, and offered the cows as a burnt offering unto the Lord. They were very happy with the present Revival of that day, but they trespassed God’s divine order and looked into the Ark. For which God judged them severely. So the divine order of God, and His Presence, passed on to another people, the people of Kirjathjearim.
“Eleazar the Priest of the Ark”
The Ark was brought to the house of Abinadab, and one of his sons was sanctified to keep it and take care of it. The name of Eleazar, the son, means “whom God aids,” and Abinadab means “of nobility.” So here was one of a royal line, a royal priesthood, who had the help of God as he kept the Presence of God in his house. They were not yet in divine order, as the Ark was not yet brought back to the place where it belonged, but they did the best they could in their day. It stayed in this place for twenty years.
“David Builds a Cart”
After David, the anointed of God, ascended to the Throne, God gave him great victory over his enemies. Until all the nations round about feared David, and his fame was spread abroad. Yes, there was a great deliverance Revival, many mighty miracles, many healings, demons cast out, the dead raised, and thousands saved. Even the ungodly world could see things happen right on television that were hard to explain away. And the fame of this thing spread abroad. But divine order had not yet come to the Church, nor had the Head of the Church been given His rightful place. With all his success, David had not yet brought the Ark of God back to Jerusalem. But there’s a real desire in his heart to do this.
“So David gathered all Israel together. to bring the Ark of God from Kirjathjearim.” David has a great “fellowship” of the brethren gathered together, and they decide this thing must be organized. So they build a new cart. A NEW cart. Yes, they had lots of machinery, but it was a brand new thing. It wasn’t a bit like the old dead thing they had come out of. But wait, when you got right down and took a close look at this cart. it had four wheels, a bed, a wagon tongue for the oxen. in fact, it really looked a whole lot just like the one the Philistines had used. Now God had allowed the Philistines to use that method to get the Ark this far, but He hadn’t let them bring it to perfection by that route, and neither would Israel. In fact, what God had allowed in the Philistines’ ignorance, He judged severely when Israel tried to duplicate them. Because Israel had the anointing, they had the priests available to carry it in the proper manner, and they had the Word of God on how it should be done. “To whom much is given, much shall be required.” Which makes it a terrible thing for people with the heavenly anointing to fail to move on in God’s divine order.
“The Man of Strength Falls”
Bible names are very important, for God ordained their names for special reasons. He not only sent angels to name Jesus and John the Baptist, but He changed the names of Abram and Jacob to fit their character and future. Some Bibles have a section telling the meaning of Bible names, as does Strong’s Concordance. Ahio’s name means “brotherly,” and Uzzah means “strength.” I mention them, because they were the men chosen to drive the cart and the oxen. They were sons of Abinadab, brother to Eleazar who had kept the Ark for twenty years. I don’t know where Eleazar is, whose name means “whom God aids.” For God wasn’t helping this mess.
They have their machinery all in operation now. A great big cart, plenty big enough now to get the job done, with more and bigger churches being built, and lots of Bible Colleges and Seminaries planned, to turn out better educated preachers. And plenty of oxen, their names all signed up (make them a deacon, an elder, or give them a job so they will be sure and stay in the church). But these oxen (beasts of burden) were being “driven.” When you drive oxen, you generally use a big “bull whip.” And you can believe the Uzzah had a big whip, and don’t you dare get out of line or take a wrong step, or the presbyter will sure use it on you!
Ahio (“brotherly”) goes out ahead of the cart. Everything looks fine, it all looks like a big “brotherly” fellowship. But take another look a little further down the line, and you will see Uzzah (“strength”) as he cracks the whip and keeps the oxen in line. Believe me, it may just start out to be a brotherly fellowship, but give it a little time to get a little further down the road, and you’ll begin to hear the crack of the whip, and you’ll find out the strength of this system and its’ machinery. “Now look, you oxen have to get us back into divine order and bring about a perfect church. You just supply the grit, grace, and greenbacks, and then see how fast we Uzzahs will get this Revival moving.” Ever hear anything like that? Well glory.
“The Oxen Stumble”
David was happy, and all Israel was singing with all their might. It sounded like real revival. Anyone who had dared to step up and try to stop that procession would have gotten a spear through him quicker than you can say: “Organization.” But what they didn’t know and soon found out, was that this system was not going to bring them to their desired destination. They have the right idea about getting the Ark back, and they are going in the right direction, but using the wrong means. They are doing it in the strength of man’s ways, and not according to the Word.
And the oxen stumbled. Well, you should know that they couldn’t go far under that system, for God had another plan. He has a ministry that will bring in divine order, and it will be a plural ministry, not just one man standing on the cart cracking his whip. He has a Body specially anointed for this, the Word is full of it, but men have just not gotten around to finding out what the Word says about it. Yes, the living manifestation of Christ is coming to the Church, but it is coming in on the shoulders of His Body, not sitting astride the beast system of man-made machinery and organized confusion, being pulled by poor “oxen” who don’t have the slightest idea where they are going. God is sick of that sort of thing, and to tell you the truth so am I.
“The Strength of Man is Smitten”
When the oxen stumbled, Uzzah decided that if this Revival or move of God was going any further, he would have to use his “strength” to keep it on an even keel. Maybe someone had prophesied that he was The Chief Apostle. So he reached out his hand to hold the Ark. But God had had enough of this foolishness, and they had come to the threshingfloor of Nachon (which means “prepared”). And God was prepared now to thresh this thing out. You’ve gone as far as you’re going under this present man-made system. Either get in divine order, or plan on staying in the realm you’re in. If you obtain the living Presence of the Christ to any greater degree than you now have, you’ll have to come into a new order which God has ordained already in the Book.
Well, David was quite provoked because God wouldn’t honor his zealous efforts and all his organized machinery. So he called the name of that place “Perez-uzzah,” for he felt that God had made a “breach” on all his strength. And he decided that they had made some pretty good progress, and that this was far enough anyhow. After all, in this twentieth century we’ve built more Bible schools, more churches, sent more missionaries, built a larger bank account, kicked out more heretic preachers, printed more literature, and broadcast more sermons than almost any other “cart” on the road! So I guess we can stop here awhile and count our Crowns. Well glory.
“After the Due Order”
Praise God. After a few months, we find David spending some time with the Word of Gid, and as he gets over in the book of Numbers, he finds what God said about moving the Ark. So he throws his old order constitution and by-laws out the window, gets the REAL Book out, and begins to read it to the elders. Read now in 1 Chron. 15.
“Then David said, None ought to carry the Ark of God but the Levites: for by them hath the Lord chosen to carry the Ark of God, and to minister unto Him forever.”
“And David called for ZADOK, and ABIATHAR the priests, and for the Levites, for URIEL, ASAIAH, and JOEL, SHEMAIAH, and ELIEL, and AMMINADAB.”
“And said unto them, Ye are the chief of the fathers of the Levites: sanctify yourselves, both ye and your brethren, that ye may bring up the Ark of the Lord God of Israel unto the place that I have prepared for it.”
“For because ye did it not at the first, the Lord our God made a breach upon us, for that we sought Him not after the due order.”
“And the children of the Levites bare the Ark of God upon their shoulders with the staves thereon, as Moses commanded according to the word of the Lord.”
Now here is an amazing thing. when I checked the meaning of the names of these Levites who were called upon to carry the Ark, I found their names meant: “Light of God,” “Jehovah has made,” “Jehovah is Might,” “Jehovah has heard,” “To Whom God is Strength,” and “Of the Prince.” Glory to God, what a gathering! No one moving in his own strength, or in a one man ministry, but all moving together and depending on God for strength and light, knowing that God has heard, that it is He that has made this thing, that this thing is of the Prince, and that He is our strength! Beloved, I tell you God has a glorious company of Sons that the world knows nothing of! And when God gives the order and brings these sons together in the Spirit to carry that Ark and manifest the very life and presence of Christ, you will see the greatest Move of the Spirit that has ever hit this old world! Hallelujah!
“A Plural Ministry”
Notice that the Levites named, along with the priests Zadok and Abiathar, made up a group of eight. EIGHT is the number of resurrection and a new beginning. And they all needed one another. Each was a chief in his own right, each had a tremendous ministry and much experience. But God had brought them to the place where they had to confess that they needed their brother. For no one man can carry this Ark alone. The staves in it were proof enough that God’s intention from the beginning was for this thing to be carried by a plural ministry. This crucifies the flesh, for no one man, such as Uzzah, gets the glory for this Manifestation of the Sons of God, as the mighty power of Christ shines through the human vessels that He has chosen, and brings the glory of God back into the Church, Jerusalem.
Another thing. Notice that they had their hands full of staves. They weren’t busy pulling swords and jabbing at each other. The work at hand was so important they had no time for minor differences of opinion on how the various synagogues under their jurisdiction were to be run. Oh, beloved, when will the preachers stop “driving the oxen,” and get busy flowing together in a plural operation of the thing God is after? Which one of these eight men was the “Chief carrier”? Which one had hold of the most important part of the stave, and who was the “Chairman or moderator of the meeting”? Who cares? They had heard the word of the King, direct from the Book. Forget who is going to be “Pastor,” “Apostle” or “Chief Elder,” and grab hold of your section of the staves. I can’t move far without you, my brother if you have been chosen for this great ministry. And you may as well get used to having me around, for when the Ark gets to Jerusalem, by His grace I’ll be there.
“A Cloud Fills the House”
Yes, the plural ministry, moving in divine order, brought the Ark to Jerusalem. And Solomon built a Temple for it to rest in permanently. Chapter 5 of 2 Chronicles tells the story of how they finally finished the Temple and brought the Ark into it. It says that they then pulled the staves out of the Ark, for it was to be moved no more. The glory of His Presence was permanently placed in His Body, His Temple, for they had finally been “caught up” to the fulness of His glorious Presence, “and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
And as the Ark comes into its’ rightful place in the Temple made without the sound of a hammer, we see something happening. (2 Chron. 5:14).
“Then the House was filled with a Cloud, even the House of the Lord; So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the House of God!”
Lift up your voice and shout aloud, saints, for the Ark is coming down the road! He is coming in the CLOUDS OF GLORY, on the shoulders (government) of a plural ministry! All the world will be blessed and set free, but blessed are ye that are faithful to the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus!
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