Christian Churches of God

No. 196

 

 

 

 

The Ark of the Covenant

(Edition 1.1 19970329-19980605)

 

The Ark of the Covenant is the central feature of the Holy of Holies within the Tabernacle and the Temple of God. It is rich in spiritual symbolism and represents the centrality of the nature and Government of God. It is a physical representation of a spiritual entity. It had to give way to the greater structure and was removed and hidden, allegedly, by the prophet Jeremiah. Here we examine its construction, symbolism and the prophecies surrounding its location and restoration.

 

 

Christian Churches of God

PO Box 369,  WODEN  ACT 2606,  AUSTRALIA

 

Email: secretary@ccg.org

 

(Copyright © 1997, 1998  Wade Cox)

 

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The Ark of the Covenant

 


The Ark of the Covenant is a most powerful symbol. The Ark was constructed by Moses in order to house the symbols of the government of God

 

The Ark was part of the Tabernacle and, indeed, was the object of focus within the Holy of Holies. The Tabernacle was a copy of the heavenly sanctuary and was made by Moses under the express direction of God through the being that appeared to him at Sinai (Heb. 8:5). We know from Acts 7:38 that this angel in the wilderness gave Moses living oracles to give to us.

 

It follows, therefore, that the Ark of the Covenant symbolises the very inner workings of the Holy of Holies or the throne of God, and the symbols of the Ark and those surrounding it will tell us much about the government of God and the beings closest to God exercising power in judgment over the Host.

 

The Ark stood inside the Holy of Holies and was open only to the high priest and, then, once a year. The symbolism of the veil was that it was there to exclude all mankind until the sacrifice of Christ as high priest so that he could enter once and for all with his own blood to provide access to us so that the Holy Spirit, as the power of God, could dwell among men.

 

Christ was made a man so that he could sympathise with our weaknesses so that we could draw near to the throne of grace in confidence.

Hebrews 4:14-16  Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (RSV)

 

Christ was not naturally high priest. Nor did he exalt himself to that office. He was appointed as high priest by God. The failure to understand this important point was the reason Hebrews criticised the Church (Heb. 5:11-14). The failure to understand the role of Christ as high priest and his place in the Tabernacle is the reason why some are unable to progress to solid meat and are still in need of milk.

 

Hebrews 5:1-9 For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. 3 Because of this he is bound to offer sacrifice for his own sins as well as for those of the people. 4 And one does not take the honor upon himself, but he is called by God, just as Aaron was. 5 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "Thou art my Son, today I have begotten thee"; 6 as he says also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchiz'edek." 7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. 8 Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; 9 and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, (RSV)

 

The place in which Christ was to serve was the heavenly sanctuary of which the earthly sanctuary was a copy.

Hebrews 8:1-7  Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, 2 a minister in the sanctuary and the true tent which is set up not by man but by the Lord. 3 For every high priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices; hence it is necessary for this priest also to have something to offer. 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. 5 They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly sanctuary; for when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, "See that you make everything according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain." 6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry which is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. 7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion for a second. (RSV)

 

The purpose of the sanctuary can be seen from the text in Hebrews 9.

Hebrews 9:1-28 Now even the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. 3 Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, 4 having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. 6 These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; 7 but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people. 8 By this the Holy Spirit indicates that the way into the sanctuary is not yet opened as long as the outer tent is still standing 9 (which is symbolic for the present age). According to this arrangement, gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot perfect the conscience of the worshipper, 10 but deal only with food and drink and various ablutions, regulations for the body imposed until the time of reformation. 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify your conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred which redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant. 16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. 18 Hence even the first covenant was not ratified without blood. 19 For when every commandment of the law had been declared by Moses to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, "This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you." 21 And in the same way he sprinkled with the blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (RSV)

 

The text in Hebrews explains the contents of the sanctuary but does not explain the meaning of the contents of the Holy of Holies. This inner sanctuary or tabernacle was seemingly hidden by the prophet Jeremiah on the orders of God. Why was that the case and what does the symbolism represent? These questions have not been explained and there is a need that they be understood in these latter times.

 

The Old Covenant was eliminated for very good reason. But what was done away is misunderstood by modern Christianity and for that reason they stumble.

Hebrews 10:1-31 For since the law has but a shadow of the good things to come instead of the true form of these realities, it can never, by the same sacrifices which are continually offered year after year, make perfect those who draw near. 2 Otherwise, would they not have ceased to be offered? If the worshipers had once been cleansed, they would no longer have any consciousness of sin. 3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder of sin year after year. 4 For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. 5 Consequently, when Christ came into the world, he said, "Sacrifices and offerings thou hast not desired, but a body hast thou prepared for me; 6  in burnt offerings and sin offerings thou hast taken no pleasure. 7  Then I said, `Lo, I have come to do thy will, O God,' as it is written of me in the roll of the book." 8 When he said above, "Thou hast neither desired nor taken pleasure in sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sin offerings" (these are offered according to the law), 9 then he added, "Lo, I have come to do thy will." He abolishes the first in order to establish the second. 10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 then to wait until his enemies should be made a stool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying, 16  "This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds," 17 then he adds, "I will remember their sins and their misdeeds no more." 18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. 19 Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we sin deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire which will consume the adversaries. 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (RSV)

 

The thing that became obsolete was the sacrificial system that was necessary because we had no direct relationship with God through direct access to the Holy Spirit. Thus we were able to keep the law directly without teachers, being guided of the Holy Spirit into the ways and nature of God.

 

This New Covenant was foreshadowed by the nature of the recording of the law. Moses had the law given to him on two tablets of stone. These were cut out by God. However, on their destruction by Moses he (Moses) had to cut another two tablets himself. These tablets were small enough for Moses to carry in one hand. They were also inscribed on both sides. Occasionally Moses carried them in each hand. The inscription of two tablets on both sides points parabolically to the law being of two sides – the physical and the spiritual. The first great commandment comprised of the first four commandments relating to the God-man relationship was probably on one side. The second great commandment comprising the six commandments of the physical relationships of mankind was on the other side. The two tablets pointed towards the duality of the law in the same way and also to the second covenant. Thus the structure of the tablets pointed towards the future. Man could not live by the physical law and could not fulfil the law without the Holy Spirit. Aaron’s rod that budded and the manna were also included in the Ark. They pointed towards the power of God in the priesthood and to the preservation of Israel in the wilderness. (This structure of the commandments is a good Bible study in its own right.) The written codes stood outside the Ark (see the paper Distinction In the Law (No. 96)).

 

We were able to enter this sanctuary in order to enter into a relationship with God as an order of priests. He who sanctifies and they who are sanctified are of one.

Hebrews 2:11 11 For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren, (RSV)

 

Christ sanctified the heavenly sanctuary as well as the earthly sanctuary. He was anointed with the oil of gladness above his partners or comrades by his elohim as elohim (Ps. 45:6-7; Heb. 1:8-9). God was not concerned with the heavenly Host but with the earthly Host in the descendants of Abraham and for that reason Messiah was sent to earth. The heavenly Host were loyal and as such had not lost the Holy Spirit or their relationship as sons of God. Only the fallen Host and the humanity of earth were in danger.

Hebrews 2:16-18  For surely it is not with angels that he is concerned but with the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make expiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered and been tempted, he is able to help those who are tempted. (RSV)

 

Christ was faithful to He who made him, for the builder of all things is God.

Hebrews 3:1-6  Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to him who appointed [poieo; SHD 4160 make or do] him, just as Moses also was faithful in God's house. 3 Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. 4 (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ was faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope. (RSV)

 

Here the distinction of the calling becomes evident. This entire sequence was mirrored in the artefacts of the Temple and in the method of worship and sacrifice.

 

Each object has significance and the centrality of the Holy of Holies and the symbolism of the power of God was the Ark of the Covenant.

 

Structure of the Ark

Moses was ordered to build the Ark to specifications and of set materials. The orders for construction are found in Exodus 25.

 

There were three arks. The first was the Ark of the flood (Gen. 6:14 to 9:18) and the second was the Ark of Moses in the bulrushes (Ex. 2:3,5). These were, from SHD 8392, a tebah or box. This word is probably of Egyptian origin and probably is used to mark the distinction between the physical and the spiritual realities involved.

 

The Ark of the Covenant was, from SHD 727, an ’ârôwn or ’ârôn which is derived from SHD 717 ’ârâh to gather or pluck. This means an Ark, a chest or a coffin.

 

Here the sense of containing the object in question rather than a box in the abstract is conveyed. The contents are thus the feature and symbolise power in the case of the Ark of the Covenant. It is no accident that the name of the high priest Aaron is derived from this word. Aaron was the spokesman for Moses as high priest just as Christ was the spokesman for Eloah or the Father as head of the elohim. The relationship will develop as we examine the matter.

 

God issued specific instructions, through Jesus Christ, concerning the tabernacle and its contents. It was to be provided from the people that were willing to give to the Lord as he directed that they give.

Exodus 25:1-9 The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me an offering; from every man whose heart makes him willing you shall receive the offering for me. 3 And this is the offering which you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4 blue and purple and scarlet stuff and fine twined linen, goats' hair, 5 tanned rams' skins, goatskins, acacia wood, 6 oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7 onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breastpiece. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. 9 According to all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it. (RSV)

 

The purpose of the structure was so that God could dwell in them. This was a shadow of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

 

The first item of the Tabernacle specified was the Ark of the Covenant which was the primary object of the Holy of Holies and the symbol of the power of God and His nature.

Exodus 25:10-16 "They shall make an ark of acacia wood; two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11 And you shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it, and you shall make upon it a molding of gold round about. 12 And you shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side of it. 13 You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark by them. 15 The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16 And you shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you. (RSV)

 

The Ark was to be made of acacia wood or shittim. This wood is acacia of the same family as the Australian wattle. It is native to the Arabah from the Dead Sea to Eilat. It grows to a height of about 4 to 7 metres. It is evergreen and its roots at a depth of about 1.5 metres face in the direction of the flow of water of any river bed or aquifer, taking up a larger area than that of the foliage. It is the centre of the ecology of its environment providing fodder for ibex, hyraxes and deer, as well as camels and goats. Both insects and the birds which feed on them live in its branches (see Yuval Peled in Eretzhas, cf. Shittim Wood and The Ark of the Covenant in Dec. 96/Jan. 97 Archaeological Diggings, Australia, pp. 7-8).

 

The age of acacia cannot be determined because the trees do not grow tree rings. There was no grain in the timber. There are a number of spiritual concepts here. The eternality of the Holy Spirit was thus symbolised. The wood was overlaid with gold and thus was not visible. This gold is that refined by the fire of the Lord and purchased from Him by the elect.

 

To make the Ark of the Covenant, the small trees would have to be cut and the pieces joined by dowels as no single tree would be big enough. Thus, the housing for the contents which symbolise the nature of God and His law is made from many pieces of wood perfectly worked and joined together in a fashioned whole. This concept extended to the boards of the building. Each board was ten cubits high and a cubit and a half in width (Ex. 26:16). This is the same concept as the stones of the Temple being living stones fitly framed together (1Pet. 2:5).

 

The Ark was not to be touched by human hands and, hence, it was carried by poles which passed through rings on either side.

 

The next item to be constructed was the so-called mercy seat which was placed on top of the Ark.

Exodus 25:17-22  Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. 18 And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end; of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. 20 The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be. 21 And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. 22 There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you of all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. (RSV)

 

This translation of the detail concerning the Ark as a mercy seat is totally misleading and obscures the true significance of the cherubim. It strikes at the heart of Trinitarian Christianity and, hence, it has been translated in this way so that only the learned might see through the problem.

 

The word translated mercy seat is the Hebrew word kapporeth (SHD 3727) meaning cover or lid. This is derived from the prime root kaphar (SHD 3722) which means to cover in the sense of cover with bitumen and means to expiate or condone to placate or to cancel. The concept is to appease or atone, cleanse or disannul, forgive, be merciful, pacify, pardon, purge, to pitch or to reconcile.

 

Thus, the cover is the cover of expiation or condonation or cancellation of sin. This function is that vested in Jesus Christ. It is referred to as the covering of righteousness. The concept is found in Isaiah 61:10.

Isaiah 61:10  I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (RSV)

 

No person, not even a Levite, could touch this Ark on pain of death (Num. 4:15).

 

This cover of salvation had two beings placed on it. These were the cherubim. These beings were directly concerned with the functions of judgment and mercy. They were in, this sense, most powerful beings concerned with exercising the power of God.

 

The covering or mercy seat was the footstool of God’s throne.

Psalm 132:7  We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool. (KJV)

 

1Chronicles 28:2  Then King David rose to his feet and said: "Hear me, my brethren and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and for the footstool of our God; and I made preparations for building. (RSV)

 

This footstool of the throne was regarded as the place where the Lord met the representative of the people, who was the high priest. This physical symbol was the mirror of the throne of God where the high priest met with God at His throne. In this sense, the power of God was to be delegated to the high priest when he had atoned once for all as we see in Hebrews. Thus the relationship between God and Christ is pictured here at the covering of the Ark of the Covenant.

 

The cherubim were adornments of the throne from earliest times (Gen. 3:24, cf. The New Oxford Annotated RSV, fn. to Ex. 25:17; Gen. 3:24). The cherubim were the guardians of sacred areas.

1Kings 8:6-7 Then the priests brought the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, in the inner sanctuary of the house, in the most holy place, underneath the wings of the cherubim. 7 For the cherubim spread out their wings over the place of the ark, so that the cherubim made a covering above the ark and its poles. (RSV)

 

The cherubim here had a double symbolism. The two cherubim on the covering of the Ark were again duplicated as a covering within the Temple.

 

They were represented as half human and half lion but in the reverse of the ancient Sphinx of Egypt.

Ezekiel 41:15-26  Then he measured the length of the building facing the yard which was at the west and its walls on either side, a hundred cubits. The nave of the temple and the inner room and the outer vestibule 16 were paneled and round about all three had windows with recessed frames. Over against the threshold the temple was paneled with wood round about, from the floor up to the windows (now the windows were covered), 17 to the space above the door, even to the inner room, and on the outside. And on all the walls round about in the inner room and the nave were carved likenesses 18 of cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Every cherub had two faces: 19 the face of a man toward the palm tree on the one side, and the face of a young lion toward the palm tree on the other side. They were carved on the whole temple round about; 20 from the floor to above the door cherubim and palm trees were carved on the wall. 21 The doorposts of the nave were squared; and in front of the holy place was something resembling 22 an altar of wood, three cubits high, two cubits long, and two cubits broad; its corners, its base, and its walls were of wood. He said to me, "This is the table which is before the LORD." 23 The nave and the holy place had each a double door. 24 The doors had two leaves apiece, two swinging leaves for each door. 25 And on the doors of the nave were carved cherubim and palm trees, such as were carved on the walls; and there was a canopy of wood in front of the vestibule outside. 26 And there were recessed windows and palm trees on either side, on the sidewalls of the vestibule. (RSV)

 

This vision of Ezekiel is of the millennial system and the cherubim here are of two types – the man and lion-headed systems. They represent the two cherubim that fell from grace – Satan and the second of the system the lion-headed cherub or aeon that stands at the throne of God. They are to be replaced from the Host.

 

Ezekiel’s descriptions are thought by some to reflect Solomon’s Temple but he was already in the captivity when he was given this vision in the twenty fifth year of the exile. It is noted also here that the tripartite division of the Temple is similar to the early themes of the thirteenth century Canaanite temple at Hazor and the eighth century temple at Tell Tainat (Hattina) in northern Syria. There is significance to this symbolism.

 

All of the symbolism of this Temple relates to the restoration and the coming system. It has not been fulfilled as yet.

 

The important factors of Ezekiel’s description relate to the throne of God under the cherubim and the appearance of the Glory of God. This being who is the Glory of the God of Israel is a being who is described as leaving by the east gate on his throne chariot (Ezek. 10:18-19; 11:22-23). He returns from the same direction and re-consecrates the purified Temple by his presence (cf. Ex. 40:34-38; 1Kings 8:10-11).

Ezekiel 43:1-7  Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate facing east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the east; and the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with his glory. 3 And the vision I saw was like the vision which I had seen when he came to destroy the city, and like the vision which I had seen by the river Chebar; and I fell upon my face. 4 As the glory of the LORD entered the temple by the gate facing east, 5 the Spirit lifted me up, and brought me into the inner court; and behold, the glory of the LORD filled the temple. 6 While the man was standing beside me, I heard one speaking to me out of the temple; 7 and he said to me, "Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the people of Israel for ever. And the house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name, neither they, nor their kings, by their harlotry, and by the dead bodies of their kings, (RSV)

 

The Glory of the God of Israel is identified in the New Testament in Titus. This being is Jesus Christ. He left by the east gate and returns in the same way that he left.

 

In this way, we await our blessed hope – the appearing of Jesus Christ, the Glory of our great God and Saviour.

Titus 2:11-13  For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, 12 training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, 13 awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (RSV)

 

Trinitarians read this text as Jesus Christ is our great God and Saviour whereas the Old Testament shows that the Glory of the God of Israel is a being in his own right who leaves the Temple and then returns to the Temple to establish this end time system. This being can be none other than Jesus Christ.

 

Ezekiel is given the vision of the cherubim beside the river of Cheber (Ezek. 1:1-28). This being appeared with the cherubim at Chebar and this being was the same appearance of the likeness of the Glory of the Lord (Ezek. 1:28). This is the meaning of the text in Titus.

 

These cherubim moved with the Spirit wherever it moved and their wings covered the structure touching as they did in the Temple (Ezek. 1:11-12). These beings are the creatures mentioned in Revelation as being around the throne of God.

 

The likeness of the Glory of the Lord was not God but His messenger as the likeness of His Glory. This being spoke to Ezekiel. He tasked him as we see from Chapters 2 and 3. This being was the glory of Jehovah and bore His name: for God’s name was in him (Ex. 23:21).

 

This being spoke from the likeness of the throne of God (Ezek. 1:26).

 

The cherubim surrounded this throne and their wings covered the likeness of the throne which was as a sapphire (Ezek. 10:1 ff).

Ezekiel 10:1-20 Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubim there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne. 2 And he spake unto the man clothed with linen, and said, Go in between the wheels, even under the cherub, and fill thine hand with coals of fire from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city. And he went in my sight. 3 Now the cherubim stood on the right side of the house, when the man went in; and the cloud filled the inner court. 4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and stood over the threshold of the house; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD'S glory. 5 And the sound of the cherubim’s wings was heard even to the outer court, as the voice of the Almighty God when he speaketh. 6 And it came to pass, that when he had commanded the man clothed with linen, saying, Take fire from between the wheels, from between the cherubim; then he went in, and stood beside the wheels. 7 And one cherub stretched forth his hand from between the cherubim unto the fire that was between the cherubim, and took thereof, and put it into the hands of him that was clothed with linen: who took it, and went out. 8 And there appeared in the cherubim the form of a man's hand under their wings. 9 And when I looked, behold the four wheels by the cherubim, one wheel by one cherub, and another wheel by another cherub: and the appearance of the wheels was as the colour of a beryl stone. 10 And as for their appearances, they four had one likeness, as if a wheel had been in the midst of a wheel. 11 When they went, they went upon their four sides; they turned not as they went, but to the place whither the head looked they followed it; they turned not as they went. 12 And their whole body, and their backs, and their hands, and their wings, and the wheels, were full of eyes round about, even the wheels that they four had. 13 As for the wheels, it was cried unto them in my hearing, O wheel. 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of a cherub, and the second face was the face of a man, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle. 15 And the cherubim were lifted up. This is the living creature that I saw by the river of Chebar. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went by them: and when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the same wheels also turned not from beside them. 17 When they stood, these stood; and when they were lifted up, these lifted up themselves also: for the spirit of the living creature was in them. 18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings, and mounted up from the earth in my sight: when they went out, the wheels also were beside them, and every one stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD'S house; and the glory of the God of Israel was over them above. 20 This is the living creature that I saw under the God of Israel by the river of Chebar; and I knew that they were the cherubim. (KJV)

 

The explanation of the cherubim was first given in the paper The Meaning of Ezekiel’s Vision (No. 108). We continue on in this text and relate the matter to the Glory of the God of Israel and the plan of salvation. In this text in Ezekiel 10, we see that the Glory of Yahovah left the cherubim and stood over the house and the house was filled with the cloud and the court was full of the brightness of Yahovah’s glory.

 

This being that was the Glory of Yahovah of Hosts was given the name Yahovah. He was the angel in the pillar of fire and cloud that followed Israel in the wilderness. The God Most High had given Israel to this being called Yahovah.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9  When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. 9  For the LORD's portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage. (RSV)

The Lord here is Yahovah. Yahovah’s portion is Jacob.

 

Another aspect of this text in Ezekiel is that the cherub is again defined as having one of the four faces which, when compared with Ezekiel 1, shows that the face of the cherub is that of the bull. This symbolism has much to do with the Bull-slaying typology of the Mithras and Mystery systems.

 

The Glory of the Lord came to the house and then departed and stood over the cherubim. The cherubim then mounted up and stood over the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house – every one of them. This is the entrance reserved for the prince. From this ascent the Glory of the Lord became the prince of the covenant and fulfilled Psalm 45:6-7 (cf. Heb. 1:8-9). This being was Messiah. His throne was a throne of God.

Hebrews 1:8-9 But of the Son he says, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, the righteous sceptre is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9  Thou hast loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy comrades." (RSV)

 

From his ascent he was anointed beyond his comrades. He became a son of God in power from his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4).

 

The typology of this activity is represented by the Atonement sacrifice. The bull was sacrificed for the sin offering of Atonement (Num. 29:1). This was offered both for the high priest and the priesthood (Lev. 16:6,11). Thus Messiah was sacrificed to redeem both himself and the Host. The offering was similar to the sin offering for the priesthood (Lev. 4:3-12). The distinction of the two lay in the blood ritual. As part of the daily sacrifices or services, the priest dipped his finger in the blood and sprinkled it seven times before the Lord in front of the veil of the sanctuary (Lev. 4:6) and also on the horns of the altar of incense in the tent of meeting (Lev. 4:7). On Atonement, the high priest entered the sanctuary with incense (Lev. 16:12-13) and brought the blood of the bull into the Holy of Holies where he sprinkled it seven times before the covering which is translated mercy seat (Lev. 16:14).

 

The high priest brought a censer full of burning coals from the outer altar and two handfuls of sweet incense beaten small (Lev. 16:12). The smoke of the incense covered the so-called mercy seat which is over the testimony (Lev. 16:12). This testimony was the Ten Commandments or the tablets of the law.

 

The cloud of incense was symbolic of the shield of the cloud of the Messenger of the Presence when it appeared to Israel. Its function was thus to symbolically protect the high priest from his exposure to the presence or “glory” of God.

 

The blood was sprinkled seven times over the covering and then again seven times in front of it (Lev. 16:14). This was the sanctification of the priesthood and the reconciliation of the nation for the sins during the year.

 

The covering or mercy seat is actually comprised of two beings over the covering. It is quite misleading to assume that the guardian cherubs or covering cherubs were either side of a mercy seat. They were not. They were two beings that formed part of the covering and were the beings that were responsible for the covering of the testimony. It is for this reason that we have the term translated as “mercy seat”.

 

The entire function of the mercy seat is of judgment. These beings are part of that system and they are identified in the prophecy in Zechariah.

Zechariah 3:1-10  Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?" 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with rich apparel." 5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments; and the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6 And the angel of the LORD enjoined Joshua, 7 "Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men of good omen: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, upon the stone which I have set before Joshua, upon a single stone with seven facets, I will engrave its inscription, says the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the guilt of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, says the LORD of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree." (RSV)

 

This Angel of the Lord or Angel of Yahovah was given the power of judgment. He spoke here of himself in prophecy. He was to become the branch and also the high priest; to him had been given judgment. Satan had been reduced here to accuser.

 

Originally, Satan was an anointed guardian or covering cherub.

Ezekiel 28:14  Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (KJV)

 

We see that there were two beings in this place. The entire structure of the government of God was based on this original structure.

 

It was to be changed and the system that was mirrored by the Ark of the Covenant had to be removed. The Ark itself had to be removed because it was symbolic of a system of government that would be altered. The Ark itself symbolised the law of God being central to the Temple within the naos or Holy of Holies. This Holy of Holies was also called the Oracle of God or Dabar Yahovah. This term word or utterance of God was rendered in the plural as Oracles of God in the Greek, both in the LXX and the New Testament. This was Logoi Theou. The elect became the naos or Holy of Holies (1Cor. 3:17) and, hence, they also became the Logoi of God. As Christ was the Logos so too are we to become the Logoi (see the paper The Oracles of God (No. 184)).

 

The Ark of the Covenant then reflects a process which is a physical representation of the spiritual process of the elect taking the law of God into their hearts and becoming the living representation of the laws of God.

 

It is thus evident that the physical symbol had to be removed in order to make way for a greater spiritual symbol which was to find its first expression in Christ but was to extend to the entire elect as sons of God. Thus, the Ark had to be removed. If it was taken by the Babylonians, it would have been returned with the other temple artefacts when the Temple was rebuilt. As it was the holiest artefact of the entire Temple and upon which the symbolism of the power of God rested, the only person to be entrusted with its safe and certain removal was a prophet of God. This responsibility was given to Jeremiah.

 

The prophet Jeremiah explained what was to happen to the Ark.

Jeremiah 3:16  And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. (KJV)

 

The Ark had to make way for a greater system and, as such, it had to be removed and hidden so that it would not be brought to mind. The power of God rested within each of the elect.

 

The fate of the Ark has always been open to much speculation. People search for it and it is often seen as being on Mt Sinai or in southern Judea. Some are even looking for it in Qumran. The Bible is silent on its hiding place. The only record we seem to have is that found in 2 Maccabees 2:4-5.

2Maccabees 2:4-5 It is also in the writing that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. And Jeremiah came and found a cave, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense, and he sealed up the entrance.

 

This text shows that the ancient writings not preserved in the Bible held that the Ark was hidden by Jeremiah on Mt Horeb which was the mountain from which Moses viewed the inheritance of God. He brought the tent which is probably the smaller enclosure of the Holy of Holies rather than the tabernacle. The text continues in verses 6-8.

2Maccabees 2:6-8 Some of those who followed him came up to mark the way, but could not find it. When Jeremiah learned of it he rebuked them and then declared: “The place shall be unknown until God gathers [H]is people together again and shows his mercy. And then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will appear, as they were shown in the case of Moses, and as Solomon asked that the place should be especially consecrated.” (The RSV Common Bible)

 

The conflict here is in the prospect of the restoration of the Ark. Jeremiah says that the Ark shall be brought to mind no more. But here it is held to be restored to the people with the appearance of the Glory of the Lord. This appearance of the Glory of the Lord is Messiah and at the second advent he will establish the millennial government of God.

 

This view in Maccabees is reflected in other prophecies. One of the Catholic prophecies of the Middle Ages holds that the prophet of the last days, termed the Antichrist by the Catholics, will find the Ark at Sinai and restore it. This no doubt stems from misunderstanding the mountain on which Moses ascended.

 

The Ark of the Covenant is a powerful symbol of the Temple and the laws of God. It is associated with the rule and authority of God.

 

Jeremiah was instructed to hide it so that it would not be restored. Its symbolism is now of the elect in the spirit. The Ark is now the hearts of the people of the covenant. It was always to have been representative of that future activity where the Holy Spirit emanated from the nature of God and was representative of His power and grace.

 

The Old Covenant looked forward to the New Covenant where the Holy Spirit was extended to the people of God on a progressive basis. The entire purpose was to show that, without the Holy Spirit being internalised, we could not keep God’s laws in their intent and we would pervert them to our own advantage. Judaism did this by their traditions and Christ castigated them for this fact.

 

Christ was the first of a line of brethren that would bring the Kingdom of God within men and lead them to a new spiritual existence.

 

The Ark will be brought to mind no more because it was the centre of a system that has already passed away. It was replaced by a new system that is centred on the power of God and makes men extensions of His being by virtue of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

 

The way into the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy of Holies was made open for us from the death of Christ at Passover. On his death the temple veil was torn in two and the way into the Holy of Holies made open (Mat. 27:51; Mk. 15:38; Lk. 23:45; Heb. 6:19; 9:3; 10:20).

Hebrews 6:18-20  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: 19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; 20 Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. (KJV)

 

This repository of the Holy Spirit and the law of God which is His nature are given to us to become as the Logoi of God as Christ was Logos before us.

 

Over this Ark stood the cherubim of Glory.

Hebrews 9:1-5  Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. 2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. 3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; 4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; 5 And over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. (KJV)

 

These cherubim of Glory were the appearance of the Glory of the Lord.

 

Hebrews 10:19-31 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (KJV)

We gather together in the love and hope that lies within us and we do not despise the fellowship of one another as God’s people. We are the Holy of Holies and our hearts are the spiritual Ark of the Covenant as the repository of the law of God.

 

Further reading:

Love and the Structure of the Law (No. 200)

The Government of God (No. 174)

Sanctification of the Temple of God (No. 241)

 

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