A Brief Study of the Tabernacle

By Ellsworth A. Archer

Chapter 10

THE ARK OF THE COVENANT

Ex. 25 :17-21

     We now come to the most important part of the tabernacle, the Most Holy Place, or the Holy of Holiest the place where dwelt the presence of God.

     The Most Holy Place was 10 cubits each way, thus forming a cube. It was separated from the Holy Place by a wail or curtain of beautifully woven linen--blue, purple and scarlet, with figures of cherubim worked in it. This curtain hung from four pillars overlaid with gold which rested in silver sockets. Within the Most Holy Place was only one piece of furniture, the Ark of the Covenant.

     This was an oblong chest of acacia wood overlaid with the purest gold within and without, 2 cubits in length, 1 cubits in height, and 1  cubits wide. It stood on four small feet, which were provided with 4 golden rings, through which staves of acacia wood overlaid with gold were passed, and which when once inserted were never to be removed Within it were placed two tables, on both sides of which the Decalogue had been inscribed. Round the top ran a crown or wreath of pure gold, and upon it was the MERCY SEAT, of the same dimensions as the Ark, made not of wood overlaid with gold, but of pure gold. At either end of the MERCY SEAT, rose two golden Cherubim, with outspread wings and faces turned toward each other, and eyes bent downwards, as though desirous to look into its mysteries.

     Just above the Cherubim dwelt the Shekinah, the presence or glory of Jehovah. (Ex. 25:22.) This room was absolutely dark except for the light which came from the presence of Jehovah. But His presence illuminated the place with a light beyond the brightness of the sun.

     So it is with our lives. They are absolutely dark without the presence of Christ. Education, culture, refinement -- which are good and proper and necessary -- will not take away this darkness. It takes the indwelling presence of the Christ who "is light, and in Him no darkness at all." When He comes He dispels the gloom; darkness disappears, and the light of His presence illuminates our lives.

     God was believed to be present in a peculiar manner above the Mercy Seat, to make known His will to the high priest concerning the people, and to hear and answer prayer.

     We, too, have a Mercy-seat where we can make our wants and wishes known, and where God hears and answers prayer.

From every stormy wind that blows,

From every swelling tide of woes,

There is a calm, a sure retreat:

'Tis found beneath the mercy-seat.

 

There, there on eagles' wings we soar,

And sin and sense molest no more;

And heaven comes down our souls to greet.

While glory crowns the mercy-seat.

     Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

     If we make use of the mercy-seat we will be able to pass safely at the judgment seat. For "He bath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities," but He hath dealt with us in mercy - that is, with favor, with pity, with leniency. Mercy means an unexpected act of pity or clemency; the act of treating an offender with less severity than he deserves.

     For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. (Psa. 86:5) The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him. (Psa. 103:17a.)

     The ark was a type of Christ because it was the leader and guide of the children of Israel. It was to be their guide "to search out the resting places for them." It led them through many places. When they came to the great swollen waters of the Jordan the priests, carrying the ark, stepped into the waters, which separated, and Israel went through safely. (Josh. 3:7-17.) But though they were at last in the promised land there were other victories to be won, and almost immediately it was necessary to capture Jericho. Again the priests carried the ark, and obeying the command of Jehovah they encircled the city according to direction, when, at the promised time, the walls fell down and the city was theirs. (Josh. 6.) Other instances could be cited, but these are sufficient to show that the ark was the constant pledge of guidance and victory.

     So Christ is our leader, and He will go before and prepare the way for us, and if we trust in Him and follow Him He will lead us through the deep waters and the hard places safely with constant victory all the way. It is perfectly safe to trust such a guide.

     Within the ark there were three articles, namely: the tables of stone - or the tables of law the pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that budded.