The Testimony of God

God is not like us, rather we are to be remade in the image of Jesus Christ. This is what Jesus, who is our High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) does for us at Calvary. We should never get over Calvary. Paul writes in Colossians 2:20~Since you died with Christ…(NIV) Dropping down four verses to Colossians 3:1~Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (NIV) The Tabernacle is a picture of God’s throne room in heaven. As believers, our defining reality is Calvary’s cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. That’s why Paul says in Romans 10:9~ because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. (ESV) We die with Christ and are raised with Christ, to walk in the newness of life.

God says make we a chest, a holy throne where I may dwell, that holds my special possessions to remind you of what I have done for you. Thus, preserved inside the Ark are three important articles. What are they? Hebrews 9:4~In that room was a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant…Inside the Ark a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. (NIV) Now the Tablets are the 10 Commands that establish God’s covenant with His people (Exodus 20), and remind them of Israel’s sin and need for the blood covering sprinkled on the mercy seat.

The gold jar held the daily bread of God provision during their wilderness wanderings. (Exodus 16:33) Though the manna could not survive the night, it remained in God’s presence. That is a truly valuable lesson for us as believers, that in the presence of God everything is different, and that with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26) The third item was Aaron’s staff that budded, revealing that God chose Aaron’s family, from the tribe of Levi, to be the priestly tribe. (Numbers 17:1-10).

For the top of the Ark, God tells Ole Mo to make a mercy seat of pure gold. Exodus 25:18~And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat. (ESV)The cherubim are to face each other, with their wingspread out over the mercy seat and their faces looking down on it Exodus 25:22~There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel. (ESV) Numbers 7:89~When Moses entered the tent of meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the covenant law. In this way, the LORD spoke to him. (NIV) 

If our desire is to obtain God’s mercy, then the Ark reveals that we must approach His throne under the blood of Jesus. The beauty of this wonderful picture is that God desires us to come near and listen to Him and learn from Him, His ways. That we would walk out our faith under the new covenant of Jesus Christ. When is the last time you sat down and discussed what God has for your life, your family? I want to encourage you today, after you have asked for forgiveness and prayed for the needs of your family and community, listen. Ask God to speak and wait, as you listen to Him. Then simply respond.

The Sign of God’s Presence

The Ark really is something that holds so much mystic. What it actually looked like, how God fit on that small chest, and especially what His voice sounded like while He was in dialogue with Ole Mo. So many good questions, and so few answers. What we do know is that God tells Ole Mo to use the three Biblical measurements of a handsbreadth, a span, and cubit as you make the Ark of acacia wood. Exodus 25:10~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. (ESV) 

The Ark is a rectangular chest measuring 45 in long, 27 in wide, and 27 in high. Like every other piece of furniture in God’s Tabernacle it is to be overlaid with pure gold, inside and out, and with a crown detail, of gold all around it. (25:11) Because the Ark is to be portable, going everywhere the people of God go, it has the same installation of travel rings and poles. Exodus 25:12 ~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. (ESV) Now, regarding the golden poles. God gives Ole Mo a command not mentioned concerning any other piece of furniture in the Tabernacle. Exodus 25:15~The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. (ESV)

Why, why did God change this detail? That goes back to His holiness. The penalty for touching the ark, which was God’s holy throne, was immediate death. Numbers 4:15~After Aaron and his sons finished covering the holy furnishings…only then are the Kohathites to come and do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die…(NIV) When King David wanted to move the Ark to Jerusalem he had it put on a cart pulled by oxen, and when one of the oxen stumbled, Uzzah died immediately. 2 Samuel 6:1-7~When…Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned…because of his irreverent act…God struck him down…beside the ark…(ESV)

I tell you, the Lord is very particular in how He desires for us to do the things He has asked. This oftentimes begs the question of am I doing things right in my faith life. I can assure you of this, that the Lord uses the Holy Spirit to guide and correct us. Often we may respond poorly when we feel conviction or a nudge inside our heart because we want to do things our own way. To put our own personal touches on things. I get that and so does God. He understands because He was the one who formed and fashioned our lives. To that ends He gets us. However, He also has shared His instructions, and to truly feel the joy of His presence we must live according to His ways, and not ours. Remember that everything in our lives begins and ends with God. Today, sit in His presence and ask Him how you can grow to become more like Jesus Christ. I bet you’ll be surprised by what He says.

Where Glory Dwells

As believers in Jesus, one of the greatest things we are granted is the ability to approach God’s throne. Understand that this is not just a chair someone else sits in. This is the throne of the Almighty. The Apostles Creed opens with the first line reading: I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. Do we really believe that? If so, what are the implications? Turning to the prophet Jeremiah, who has been thrown in prison, persecuted by the Jewish church leaders, listen as Jeremiah cries out to God. Jeremiah 32:17~O Sovereign LORD! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! (NLT) Is God’s hand strong in your life? Is His arm powerful, as He works in, around, and through your life?

The One who sits on the throne in heaven is the same one who sits on this throne among His people. God loves to dwell among His people. You are not a bother to God. He loves you and gave His only begotten Son for you. (John 3:16-17) Arriving at the New Testament, where Jesus Christ has become the propitiation, the atonement for our sin, we find the apostles articulating the same truth in Acts 4 when they like Jeremiah pray in the midst of persecution. Acts 4:24~When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. Sovereign Lord, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. (NIV) Have you prayed one of those prayers this year? Acts 4:29-30~ Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal, perform signs, and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. (NIV) 

Moreover, they didn’t pray Lord remove us, they prayed for ability, for boldness, that Jesus Christ would work wonders. Yes, the truths enunciated by the Apostles’ Creed are truths for all times and places, whether in a prisoner’s cell in Jerusalem in 590 BC, like Jeremiah, or in a prayer gathering of persecuted believers in 34 AD, or in a world struggling with an unprecedented health crisis in 2020 AD. God says to His people I am right here with you. That was the message of the Tabernacle. That is the message of Jesus. Matthew 28:20~and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (NIV) 

God wants you to know that He will take you through whatever you face. Listen to King David in Psalm 59:10~In his unfailing love (חֶסֶד checed), my God will stand with me. He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies. (NLT) (חֶסֶד checed) Mercy and steadfast loving kindness. You can count on God. The scriptures reference the ark more than 150 times, using several names. It is called the Ark of the Covenant as it is in Numbers 10:33, 14:44. More than forty times it is called the Ark of the Testimony as it is in Exodus 25:22, 26:33, and 34. More than a dozen times we find it being called the Holy Ark as it is in 2 Chronicles 35:3. Joshua calls it the Ark of the LORD in Joshua 4:5 and then scores more times, it is just referred to as the Ark, Joshua 3:15. 

We even find one unholy reference from a guy named Harrison, who likes going by the dog’s name, Indiana, and he who calls it Raiders of the Lost Ark. Sometimes, if we are not careful we can misplace our relationship with God. Our quiet time gets lost and we find ourselves stumbling in the darkness of our world. When that happens, what we need to do is return to God and come clean. He already knows where we are and even what we have been up to. Returning is more about us humbling ourselves and admitting that our humanity is strong and that we need a Savior’s help. Today, return to that area of your life, that seems to have lost touch with God. Let Him refresh and renew you, as He cleanses and makes you whole.