A reminder for today
Movies depict the Ark of the Covenant as the most fascinating ancient artifact a treasure hunter might hope to uncover. That may be right. The gold-plated Ark, decorated with carvings of heavenly creatures called cherubim, was a chest upon which God’s glory rested in Old Testament days. It was how God chose to have a unique presence among his people, the Israelites. To find it would indeed be a priceless discovery.
But I think what the Bible tells us about the Ark is even more valuable than the Ark itself: We who put our faith in Jesus today have God’s presence with us in an even better way—through his Holy Spirit in us. The old Ark can teach us about the joys and demands of living close to God. After all, it was the Ark of the Covenant—of the agreement between God and his people. We too made a pledge when we believed: that Jesus would be our Lord (see Romans 10:9). We need to know what covenantal life with God is supposed to be like.
The Ark contained three things. Each teaches us about an important part of life with God.
The Ten Commandments. The commandments, which were written on stone tablets, were a summary of God’s law. Obeying that law was at the heart of the covenant. The people promised, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded. We will obey” (Exodus 24:7). Then they were splattered with blood to confirm their oath.
We who love Jesus must take a similar approach. We need to acknowledge that he makes the rules, and we must work hard to obey him. Jesus said, “Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me” (John 14:21). So obeying God’s commands is central to life with him.
A jar of manna. Manna was the bread-like food from heaven that God sent six days a week to feed his people in the desert. His purpose was to teach them to humbly trust him day after day not only for basic needs but for everything they might achieve: “He did all this so that you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy’” (Deuteronomy 8:17).
We too must look to God for absolutely everything we need and hope for. We must rely constantly on him, not our own strength. We must learn to say, “I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Philippians 4:13). Depending daily on God is also central to life with him.
Aaron’s staff. The staff went into the Ark after some of the people rebelled against Moses and his brother, Aaron, whom God had appointed as leaders. To show his support, God caused Aaron’s walking stick to sprout leaves, blossoms, and ripe almonds. The staff became a warning against complaints and bitterness, and a reminder that God requires a submissive attitude.
We too must be submissive. This is more than just obeying clear commands of God when we “have to.” It means eagerly tuning our lives to the drumbeat of the Bible and the needs and guidance of our fellow believers, especially appointed leaders. Submission means wanting God to have his way and being willing for others to get their way—and wanting this more than we our own desires: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). A submissive attitude is central to life with God.
It’s important that I remember these three characteristics of life with God, because I naturally resist each of them. I don’t like to obey. I prefer to depend on myself. I want my own way.
Because of this—because of the things inside the Ark and how I often fail to do what they teach me—I also need to remember what was on the outside of the Ark. You see, the Ark was kept closed. Its contents were hidden from view. Except when it was traveling, even the Ark itself was seen only once a year by a priest who dipped his finger in blood, which he sprinkled on the Ark’s cover. The blood came from an animal sacrifice that represented payment “for the sins the people had committed” (Hebrews 9:7).
No one who caught a glimpse of the Ark ever saw the Ten Commandments. Or the manna. Or Aaron’s staff. Instead, splattered on the gold and around the cherubim, they saw the blood.
The only way you and I can bear the requirements of our covenant with God is by the blood offered for us. Jesus shed his blood to take the punishment for our sins. If animal blood on the Ark could cleanse sinners, “just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God” (Hebrews 9:14).
I doubt that the Ark or the artifacts inside it will ever be found. I can’t imagine that God would let that happen, given how they were mere shadows of better things to come. But I still dare to learn from the Ark. I dare to look hard at God’s commands, practice daily dependence on him, and work at submitting—because no matter how I might fail, I know I am not condemned. I can embrace all the demands of life with God because I see the blood.
(Lessons from the Lost Ark by Jack Klumpenhower)
Have and awesome day dear friend of Jesus