Grace and Truth

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Jesus and the Ark of the Covenant – Part 2

Read Jesus and the Ark of the Covenant – Part 1 here

The Altar & The Throne

Isaiah saw God’s Throne of holiness.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”

And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.” Isaiah 6:1-3

In the presence of the awesome holiness of God, Isaiah’s sinfulness was utterly exposed.  He stood naked before a Holy God.

“ So I said:  “Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.”  Isaiah 6:5

In the presence of God, our true state is exposed, just as Hebrews 4:13 says:

“And no creature is hidden from His sight but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.”

Where we once considered ourselves as pretty ok or good enough, in the light of the glory of God, we see ourselves as we really are: sinful, sinners and deserving of hell.  I had this experience myself when I met the Lord.  For six months afterwards I felt the weight of my sin and sinfulness.  No matter how often I repented I couldn’t get rid of it.

In this place Death is certain, there is no way we can stand before a holy God.  Yet it is here that the Altar comes into operation.

“Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs

source. kenraggio.com

from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said:

“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”  Isaiah 6:6, 7

The Throne of God in His holiness does not operate apart from the Altar.  It is by the Altar that we can make our approach to God, and it is by the Altar that His Throne reaches out to us in grace.

“The throne, in all its wonderful power, moves by way of the altar”.  T Austin Sparks

Grace works only through the shed blood of the cross (ie. altar)

 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” Hebrews 9:11-14

It is on the basis of the shed blood of Christ that we can now come in to God’s presence, and there is no other way.  After carrying my guilt for six months the Holy Spirit showed me that it is through the shed blood of Christ that my sins are forgiven and my guilt removed.  Once I received that revelation I knew I was forgiven and ‘the burden of my heart rolled away’.

Because of the shed blood of our Saviour, the throne of judgement becomes the throne of grace to all who believe on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“ Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” Hebrews 4:16

 

The Contents of the Ark & How They Reveal Christ

There were three items contained in the Ark:  the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded and the unbroken tables of the Law.

These items reveal not only Christ’s work, but also His very Personhood.

The Golden Pot of Manna:  reveals Christ as Prophet

The Manna in the wilderness was sent from heaven to feed God’s people.  Christ Himself is the true Bread of heaven, sent to feed the world.

Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:32, 33

He not only is the Bread of Life, but He also gives bread ie. The Word of God, to others as Prophet.

 

Aaron’s Rod that Budded: reveals Christ as Priest

As Aaron went in before God on behalf of the people, so too Christ our Great High Priest, goes before the Father on our behalf.

“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Hebrews 4:14

Just as Aaron presented the blood of the atonement before God and sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle of Moses, so too has Christ, as our Priest, presented His blood before the Father in heaven and sprinkled it on the mercy seat there before God.  (see John 20:17 & Revelation 11:19)

Aaron’s rod budded and blossomed as proof that God had chosen him as High Priest in Israel (see Numbers 17).  The life which sprang from his dead rod is a picture of the resurrected Christ Himself.  Christ’s resurrection proves He is God’s chosen priest on behalf of sinful humanity.

 

The Tables of Law: reveal Christ as King

These were the two unbroken tables of Law.  The first two were broken by Moses when he found the people in the sin of idolatry.  These are a picture of humanity’s constant breaking of God’s law.

However the second set of tables were not broken, representing the one Man who never broke God’s law – Christ.  These tables of law were constantly in the midst of Israel as the standard God required. This is a picture of Christ as the holy standard.  He is the law-giver and the law-keeper.  He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Yet these tables of Law were under the blood.  The blood-stained mercy seat was above the Law and it was through the blood that God beheld the Law.

 

As we consider the timeless truths contained in the Tabernacle of Moses, let us be reminded that the way is open now in to the Holy of Holies for every believer in Christ.  No longer do we have to stay outside in the outer court, we are welcome to enter into the place of fellowship and commune with God around His table.  But let’s not stop even there, let us go on into that most intimate place with the Lord, the place of worship in the Holy of Holies.

“ Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, …” Hebrews 4:16

Because of the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, we are able to approach a high and holy God, the God of Israel and know that He is delighted with us when we come to worship Him.  Let us look unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, let us seek Him and spend time with Him, because the way through the Veil has been made at the expense of the Son of God’s life.  This is no trifling matter, but one of great importance and privilege.  Let us not squander so great a privilege but go in to the presence of the King and meet with Him there at the Mercy Seat.

Blessings in Christ,

Belinda


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Jesus and The Ark of the Covenant

Through the Veil, once a year on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would enter the Most Holy Place, or the Holy of Holies.

Hands shaking slightly, trying not to spill the precious blood he carried with him in a vessel, the High Priest slowly pulled back the Veil. Immediately the brightness of the light from behind the Veil pierced through the opening.  He was standing in the Holy Place, the place that was lit by the seven lamps of the Golden Lampstand: the place where the gold panels on the walls caught the light of the Lampstand and the whole room shimmered around him. Yet the light that emanated from behind the Veil caused even the shimmering gold light around him to seem dark in comparison.

The radiance was almost palpable and it made him shake in fear.  The awesome presence behind the Veil was almost too much to bear.

 

How can we even put into words what the awesome Shekinah presence of God would have been like for the High Priest as he approached the Throne of God?

“Then the cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle.” Exodus 40:34

 

The Holy of Holies

The Holy of Holies was the place of the awesome presence of God.  It was the place where He dwelt amongst His people, above the mercy seat, in between the Cherubim.

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim…” Isaiah 37:16

It was a place of infinite holiness, the Throne of God’s majesty.   It was the place where none could enter, except the High Priest, once a year on the Day of Atonement, and not without blood.

From the sunshine of the Outer Court with its Brazen Altar and Brazen Laver: the place of judgment for sin, to the Holy Place which shimmered in the light of the Candlestick with its gold furniture: the place of fellowship with God.  Now to the Holy of Holies: the place that had no natural light and no lamp but was the brightest by far, and lit only by the glory of God Himself.  This was the place of worship.

“…He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light…” 1 Timothy 6:15, 16

Here we stand finally before the most majestic piece of furniture in the Tabernacle of Moses: the Ark of the Covenant.

 

The Ark of the Covenant, or the Ark of the Testimony

The Ark was the most majestic item of furniture in the Tabernacle.  This item not only speaks of Christ’s work in atonement, but of who He really is, ie His Personhood.

The Ark was a box made of Acacia wood, overlaid with gold. It measured 2.5 cubits in length, by 1.5 cubits in width and 1.5 cubits in height.

“And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height.  And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around…. And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you.” Exodus 25:10-16

The Ark was the same height as the grate on the Brazen Altar.  More on this later in the article.

This was the first piece of furniture, the very first item that God told Moses to make.

“In the beginning God…” Genesis 1:1

God begins with Himself, the place of His presence, because without Him all else is meaningless religion and ritual.

Once again Acacia wood of the Ark, overlaid with gold, reflects the dual nature of Christ, the God-Man: the incorruptible acacia wood, His sinless humanity; and the pure gold, His deity.

 

The Mercy Seat

On top of the Ark was the Mercy Seat.  It was sculpted of pure gold, with two Cherubim facing each other, wings outstretched.  The Mercy Seat covered the tablets of the Law which were contained within the Ark and was from where God met with Moses and spoke to him.

“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” Exodus 25:17-22

 

The Mercy Seat & The Holiness of God

The Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies was the same height as the Brazen Altar’s grate in the Outer Court– 1 ½ cubits.

It is of divine importance that the altar where the blood was shed was the same height as where the blood was taken and sprinkled before God.

This is because the Ark of the Covenant was the earthly seat of God’s glory, His majesty and Almightiness. But more than that even, it was also the Throne of His holiness.  God is not only a potentate upon His throne ruling in absolute majesty because of His loftier position to all of creation, but He is the One who also has made a way of redemption from sin.  He is our Creator and He is our Holy Redeemer.

“Something has been done in relation to sin, which establishes that throne in holiness, and gives that throne a right, the right to judge sin.  It is not just the judgement of men as creatures under the hand of an Almighty God.  It is the judgement of a sinful state under a holy state” T Austin Sparks

God is ruling from His Throne in Holiness and Righteousness.  The basis of His judgment is within the contents of the Ark:  The Law.

To come into His presence is to meet the divine judgment of the Ten Commandments written on the two tablets of stone.  Since we have “all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”, this means certain death, for the “wages of sin is death”.  None can stand before the utter holiness of God.

Yet God in His mercy has provided a way.  Over the top of the tablets of Law is the golden Mercy Seat.

 

The Mercy Seat is a Picture of Christ Himself

The two Cherubim facing inward toward the mercy seat is a picture of the Godhead (or Trinity).  All of one piece of gold, God the Father and God the Holy Spirit facing towards the Mercy Seat, which is a picture of God the Son, Christ Jesus.

The word used in Hebrews 3:24 for “propitiation”

(“…Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood through faith…” )

is “hilasterion” and is translated as “mercy seat” in Hebrews 9:5 :  “and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat…”

So the same word is translated both as “propitiation” and as “mercy seat”.

“He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world… In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 2:2; 4:10 NASB)

Jesus Christ is the Mercy Seat, “the place of propitiation, or satisfaction, for our sins.” (Theodore H Epp)

Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would take the blood of the slain animal behind the Veil on the Day of Atonement.  He would sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat in the presence of God.

“He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times.  Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins…” Leviticus 16:14-16

Because the Cherubim faced inwards towards the Mercy Seat, they were constantly looking upon the blood.  The holiness of God and the demands of the Law meant that to enter the presence of a holy God meant certain death for the wages of sin is death.

But the blood proved that someone had died for the broken law.  The death had to be an innocent substitute, someone who had not broken God’s law.  The death of the animal foreshadowing, of course, Christ’s substitutionary death for sinful humanity. This blood was what expiated the sin of Israel, because they could not meet the requirements of the Holy Law within the Ark and ultimately it was in Christ that justice received full payment. .  It was the blood-stained mercy seat that expiated God’s wrath against sin and meant that the High Priest could enter His presence, with the blood of the one who had died for sin.

 

To Remove the Mercy Seat Meant Certain Death

Therefore to remove the mercy seat meant certain death.  In 1 Samuel 6 the people of Beth Shemesh looked into the Ark after the Philistines returned it.  Removing the blood-stained mercy seat meant literally that mercy was removed and thus they were exposed to the Law and God’s judgment against sin.  The result was that God struck 50,070 men dead, because the “wages of sin is death.”

This foreshadows Christ as our Mercy Seat.  He met the demands of the Law of God and His blood was shed in our place.  To attempt to approach God apart from the work of His Son means certain death as our own righteousness is as filthy rags compared to His holy standard.  There is only one way into the Holy Place, the place of God’s Throne and that is to first come to the Brazen Altar, ie the cross.

 

Next post… The Ark of the Covenant continued: The Throne & the Altar and the Significance of the items contained within the Ark.


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The Door is Beginning to Close

The Age of Grace is nearing its end.The-door-is-closing-courtesy-brad-montgomery-at-Flickr-CC-e1325010017923

It’s time to get on board the Ark.

 

There is a storm approaching

A big one.

When God shuts that door

No man can open it again,

Quick get in now/There’s not much time left.

 

The ones already in the Ark:

Preachers of righteousness,

Just like Noah,

Warn the others

Of the coming storm

 

They can see it

It’s on the horizon now

“Come, come!

Flee from the wrath that is to come!”

 

But this time it is not a rain cloud

NO, it’s a fire-storm

A fire so hot that the elements

Will melt with fervent heat

 

The Day of the Lord is at hand

Forget your possessions

Your reputation

Your position

There’s no time anymore

 

Leave it all behind

It’s all gonna be burned by fire

Anyway

Flee to the Ark

 

Redeem the time,

For there’s not much left

 

 

Noah’s Ark is an Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ. Read how so here.