The Ark of the Covenant

                    Although all of the items that our Heavenly Father ordered Moshe    

                           (Moses) to make for the service of his Tabernacle  were sacred and  

                           purposeful in their own right, undoubtedly  the most unique of all these 

                           items was The Ark of the Covenant, also referred to as The Ark of 

                           Elohim (1 Sam 3:3); Ark of the Testimony (Ex 25:22) and the Ark of 

                           Yah’s strength (2 Chron 6:41). The blueprint for the making of the Ark of 

                           the Covenant begins with Moshe and the Tabernacle of Yahweh in the  

                           book of Exodus. Interestingly enough however we should recognize that   

                           before Yahweh had Moshe build the Ark of his Testimony, he had Noah build an ark that would literally carry the life of the world within it’s walls. Essentially the ark of Noah was a precursor to the Ark that Yahweh would later build. Both were built in order that people would receive life and/or death. Noah’s ark gave life to the eight people and all of the animals that were protected within it’s inner walls during the time of the Great Flood.  Death was given to all of those people that did not enter the ark during that time; those people chose instead to walk in the ways of the world and their decision caused them their life. We find several similarities between Noah’s ark and the Ark that Moshe would later build. Noah’s ark carried the humans and animals that would eventually replenish the earth. This ark was used as a tool that assisted in the covenant that Yahweh had made with the earth; the rainbow was given to us as a sign that He would not destroy the earth this way again.   

12 And Elohim said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”  Gen 9:12-13

A vast difference between Noah’s ark and the Ark that Moshe built was without a doubt the fact that that in the Ark of the Covenant the very spirit of Yahweh would dwell with men, to guide them,  to protect them and to defend them. The Ark of the Covenant by itself was not Holy, it was made Holy by the very word and presence of Yahweh. Let us now review the story of the Ark of the Covenant and let us then put things in perspective as to how the Ark still applies to us today!

Our story begins in Exodus 25 where Yahweh gives Moshe the blueprint for the making of the Tabernacle that would eventually hold within its inner sanctuary the Set-Apart things that Yahweh would use to dwell with men.

  And Yahweh spake unto Moshe, saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. 3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, 4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, 5 And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, 6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, 7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. 8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. 9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. Ex 25:1-9

 

We find that Yahweh requested all of these materials because he would use them in the making of all of His set-apart tools and furniture that the people of Israel, primarily the Levitical priests would use in their worship of Yahweh. These items of course included the Table of Shew Bread (Ex. 25:23-28); the Golden Utensils (Ex 25:29); the Menorah with its tools (Ex. 25:31-39) and of course the Ark of the Covenant (Ex 25:10-22).

 

 

We read that the Ark of the Covenant would be used as a storage box that contained inside it, the Ten Words, commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments or the Testimony (Ex 25:16); the staff  which budded (Num 17:10) and a sample of the Manna (Ex 16:33) which the Israelites ate in the wilderness. In addition to the fact that the Ark was used as a storage box for Set-Apart things; we find that Yahweh also used it as a means to be able to live with his people so that He could guide, teach and protect them. Through the Mercy Seat he was able to counsel them, teach them truth and protect them when they went to war. If and when the Israelites were in trouble it was through his presence in the Mercy Seat that he would lead them to Victory! The cost of glory however did not come without penalty. Yahweh instituted some very strict rules about the handling of the Ark. For one thing only the Kohathite Clan which were of the Levitical tribe could carry it or handle it (Num. 3:30-31 & 1Chro. 15:2). In addition directly touching it put one under penalty of death .

 

It should be understood than that although Yahweh did dwell with the Israelites and perform many miracles through the Ark, He was adamant that the Israelites would obey all of His commandments. In 1 Samuel we find a very important principle of how the Commandments of Yahweh are actually very much in line with his mercy. For from his Mercy Seat (hence the name),  he gave  life to those that obeyed, but death to those that disobeyed. The principle here of course is that true mercy only goes so far and it involves righteous judgment.  Mercy described and/or demonstrated by Yahweh is not based on a worldly, philosophical thought that you can do away with any of the commandments or that we don’t have to do anything that Scriptures commands us mentality. On the contrary, the mercy that he has given us is based on our obedience of His Word. This of course involves keeping his commandments, ordinances, decrees and statutes. It is vastly important, from the Mercy seat, Yahweh demonstrated his mercy towards the Israelites but He also gave many judgments towards those that disobeyed. Similarly His mercy today carries love, charity and kindness for those that obey him but misery, sadness and destruction for those that don’t. As already mentioned, we get this very important principle in the story given to us in the book of 1Samuel when the Israelites had lost the Ark to the Philistines:

 

5:1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of Elohim, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. 2 Then they carried the ark into Dagon's temple and set it beside Dagon. 3 When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of Yahweh! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. 4 But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of Yahweh! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on     the threshold; only his body remained. 1 Sam 5:1-5

 

The story goes on to teach us that eventually the Philistines decided that the burden of having the Ark within their midst was too much to bear and so they sent the Ark back to the Israelites along with two sacrificial animals and some gold items. Eventually the Ark made it’s way back to the Israelites and the people rejoiced. However to their dismay they disobeyed Yahweh and opened the Ark to see if the items were still inside.

 

19 But Elohim struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of Yahweh. The people mourned because of the heavy blow Yahweh had dealt them, 20 and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, "Who can stand in the presence of Yahweh, this holy Elohim? To whom will the ark go up from here?" 1 Sam 6:19-20

By taking the Mercy Seat (the cover) apart from the rest of the box, (the Commandments), the people had placed themselves apart from the mercy of Yahweh and they had placed themselves under judgment. And thus they were killed because they separated the mercy from the commandments. There are many people today that think that because nothing happens to them when they disobey and/or change the commandments that they are under mercy. It is evident however that mercy and the commandments go hand in hand. It is because we obey the commandments that he covers us with his mercy. So for those that separate mercy from the commandments they will receive the judgment on the Day of Yahweh!

6 Wail, for the day of Yahweh is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty….every man's  heart will melt. 8 Terror will seize them, pain and anguish will grip them; they will writhe like a woman in labor. They will look aghast at each other, their faces aflame. 9 See, the day of  Yahweh is coming --a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger--to make the land desolate and destroy the sinners within it. Isaiah 13:6-9

 

During the time that Moshe and later Joshua and some of the other patriarchs were alive, they experienced many wonderful miracles through the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant was given to them so that Yahweh could directly counsel them, teach them, guide them and protect them through his very presence. We know and understand that Moshe was a type of Messiah as he was a predecessor to Yahshua the Messiah. We can understand than that just as the Israelites were given the Ark of the Covenant to guide them in the direction of the Covenant that they agreed to make with Yahweh (Ex 24:4-8, Ex 34:10), so similarly those of us that enter into the renewed covenant with Messiah through Baptism must also have a guide, protector, counselor and teacher.  Thus under the covenant that Israel had made with Yahweh he gave them the Ark of the Covenant, through the Covenant that we have made through Yahshua we are now given the Ruach Ha Qodesh, The Set-Apart Spirit of Yahweh. Notice what Yahshua told his disciples about whom the Father would send:

15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever- 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:15-17

 

25 "All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:25-27

 

7 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. 8 When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; 10 in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; 11 and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. John 16:7-11

12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from Elohim, that we may understand what Elohim has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.  14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of Elohim, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. 15 The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man's judgment: 1 Cor 2:12-16

Just as Moshe was a predecessor to Yahshua, the Ark of the Covenant was a predecessor to Yahweh’s spirit. Similarly to the Ark of the Covenant having the Commandments in its inner sanctum, so the Spirit also guides us through those same commandments. Similarly to the Ark being placed in the heart of the Tabernacle, our bodies now represent the Tabernacle. So since the Commandments are being covered by the Spirit of Yahweh, and His Spirit now dwells in us, therefore through his Spirit he puts his commandments in our inner sanctum, our heart!  

 

11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Yahshua from the dead is living in you, he who raised Messiah from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Rom 8:11

 

16 "This is the covenant I will make with them  after that time, says Yahweh. I will put my laws in their hearts,

and I will write them on their minds."  Heb 10:16

 

Of course just as there was Judgment for the Israelites from the Mercy Seat for disobedience, there will also be judgment for those of us that have entered the covenant through baptism and who disregard the Set-Apart spirit of Yahweh by walking away from the Commandments. There is mercy under the Spirit for those that walk in his Torah, Law, but judgment for those that have entered the covenant and have quenched the Spirit through disobedience:

 

4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of Elohim and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are sacrificed the Son of Elohim all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Heb 6:4-6

 

30 "He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters. 31 And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. 32 Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. Matt 12:30-32

 

29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of Elohim, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Messiah Elohim  forgave you. Eph 4:29-32

 

Brethren do not be deceived, the spirit of the Ark of the Covenant is alive and well through the Spirit of Yahweh our teacher, counselor and ultimate judge. The covenant of Abraham has been renewed through Yahshua. Therefore walk in righteousness, keep the commandments and Live!  

 

H. Castillo