“There I will meet with you. I will speak with you from above the ark-cover, from between the two Cherubim which are on the ark for the testimony, about all the orders I am giving you for the people of Israel.”-Exodus 25:22
The Ark of the Covenant tells us a lot about just how separate unredeemed man is from God’s holiness.
I mean the gap between sinful man and a Holy God is huge!
Once the Ark was created and put into commission it was NEVER EVER to be touched by human hands!
Consider that there was only one man, the High Priest, who was able to enter the Holy of Holies and he was only able to enter it only one day of the year, Yom Kippur.
And even when he did enter the Holy of Holies, he kept a nice, safe distance from the ark (about 6 or 7 feet), when he sprayed the sacrificial blood on this most holy object.
To ensure that the Ark would never be touched even when it was being carried, rings were attached to all four corners of it.
Poles for carrying the ark went through those rings and were never removed.
There is actually a terrifying incident related to us in Scripture about a time when the Ark was about to accidentally fall over over while it was being carried.
One of the Ark bearers put out his hand to keep the Ark from slipping and was killed instantly.
God’s Holiness is NOT to be trifled with.
In a sense, that gruesome final scene from the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark where a bunch of Nazi henchmen get their faces melted off for attempting to steal the lost Ark is right on.
You are NOT to mess around with the Holiness of God.
Now notice something interesting about verse 22.
It says that the Lord’s Spirit came to rest ABOVE or OVER the Ark but not ON it.
See, the thing is, as holy and sacred as the Ark is, and even though it was created strictly according to the Lord’s instructions, because it is still a MANMADE object, the Lord’s holiness CANNOT come into contact with it.
In the construction of the Tabernacle and later the Temple, incredibly great pains were taken to ensure that God’s Spirit was kept separate from men.
Even on that one day of the year when the High Priest did go inside the Holy of Holies, there were fears that he might not return alive.
This was not some peaceful routine ritual the High Priest went through.
He was downright terrified and so were the people.
Historically, we know that eventually a long rope was tied around the High Priest’s ankle so that the people could pull him out if the Lord decided to kill him for some breach of protocol while he was still inside of the Holy of the Holies.
Since the High Priest was the ONLY one allowed inside the Holy of Holies, there would have been no other way for the people to retrieve the body.
And get this.
Even the replacement High Priest wouldn’t have been able to go inside to pull the body out because High Priests are not allowed to touch a dead body.
Another important thing you should understand is that although the Tabernacle is called the Lord’s dwelling place, this is figurative or symbolic.
Don’t for a moment think that God’s “dwelling place” is confined to some mere cloth and animal skin house and that He had to be carried around whenever He wanted to go somewhere.
The Lord is Spirit.
He is perfectly capable of being everywhere or nowhere at any given point in time as well as fulfilling every conceivable condition in between.
So why was the Tabernacle built in the first place?
There is no hard and fast answer to that question but I would offer up the following three reasons.
First, I would say that the Tabernacle served as learning tool so that Israel could properly understand certain aspects of God’s character.
Second, the Tabernacle served as a sort of meeting place or conference room where the Lord could meet with Moses and once a year with the High Priest at certain appointed times.
Third, it served as a reassuring presence for the people.
We humans are visual creatures and as a result are easily influenced by what we can see.
We see this psychological principle in action when the Israelites would carry the Ark with them into battle to bolster their confidence.
Okay, there are two great takeaways from today’s post.
I just said that symbolically speaking, the Ark was the means and place by which the Lord dwelled among men.
However, it has another more important symbolic AND PROPHETIC meaning to it.
It points to Yeshua, God’s one and only Son, physical and in the flesh who would also dwell among men.
Finally, I don’t know about you but I really have a renewed appreciation for the Holy Spirit that dwells in Yeshua’s disciples today.
We don’t have to wait until certain appointed times to meet with the Lord as Moses had to.
Nor do we have to go to a specific building like a church or synagogue to meet with Him either.
You can meet with Him right HERE AND NOW.
I think many of us take this for granted.
We should be in awe and have a bit of a healthy fear that the Holy Spirit of God, that very same Spirit that came to rest above the Mercy Seat of the Tabernacle, dwells inside of us.
Indeed, believers today are the temple of God.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“For God is Spirit,
so those who worship him
must worship in spirit and in truth.”
“But the Messiah, as Son,
was faithful over God’s house.
And we are that house of His,
provided we hold firmly to the courage
and confidence inspired by what we hope for.”
“Do you not know that your bodies
are temples of the Holy Spirit,
who is in you,
whom you have received from God?
You are not your own”
-1 Corinthians 6:19