March 22nd – Follow the Ark

Joshua 3


Introduction

: Continuing with my thoughts about the Joshua Generation….

———————————————————–

The Ark of the Covenant was one of the most instrumental symbols of faith and God’s presence. The contents of which included the tables of the Mosaic law, a pot of manna, and the rod of Aaron. The Ark’s origin stemmed from 


Exodus 25:10


 when Moses was commanded by God to “make an ark of acacia wood.”

The Ark of the Covenant Dimensions and Features

In 


Exodus 25:10-22


, the specifics of the Ark were laid out. It needed to be two cubits and a half in length (


one cubit being about 19.8-20.6 in.


), a cubit and a half in breadth, and a cubit and a half in height. The Ark was overlaid inside and out with pure gold with a molding of gold around it.

For transportation, the Ark had four rings of gold with two rings on each side. A pole of acacia wood overlaid with gold was placed into the rings to carry the ark. These poles for transportation were to be permanent fixtures and never removed.

A Cover for the Ark of the Covenant: The Mercy Seat

The Ark required “


an atonement cover


,” called the Mercy Seat, to be built with pure gold and with the same dimensions in length and breadth as the Ark. There had to be one cherubim of gold on both ends of the mercy seat. It was important to have the cherubim have their wings spread and facing one another, 


symbolizing


 the angels’ attention and readiness to do God’s will.

The Mercy Seat was where God would dwell. He said, “There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites” (


Exodus 25:22


).

Unlike the statutes of gods idolized by many of the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant served as a religious symbol where the people could meet with God. He hovered over the Ark when the priests were present. If the priests were absent, the presence of the law tablets reflected God’s presence. Thus, the Ark of the Covenant was aptly named because of the commandments written on the tablets.

Contents of the Ark of the Covenant

As God gave instructions on how to build the Ark, he also instructed Moses to put in the tablets of the 


10 Commandments


 (the law). We see later in 


Numbers 17:10


, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious.’” And Moses and Aaron already had set aside a jar of manna in it, which the Lord commanded them to put “with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved” (


Exodus 16:34


).


Hebrews 9:4


 confirms theses three items were inside the Ark of the Covenant: “Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.”

Ark of the Covenant Symbolism and Meaning

The Ark and the Tablets

Unlike the statutes of gods idolized by many of the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant served as a religious symbol where the people could meet with God. He hovered over the Ark when the priests were present. If the priests were absent, the presence of the law tablets reflected God’s presence. Thus, the Ark of the Covenant was aptly named because of the commandments written on the tablets.

The Manna and Aaron’s Rod

The presence of the jar of manna symbolized God’s constant provision for His people. Aaron’s rod which dead, yet grew buds was placed inside the ark to symbolize God’s approval as Aaron for High Priest.

The Veil

Most often, the Ark of the Covenant was inside the Tabernacle, behind a curtain or veil. This veil separated veil was made of blue, purple and scarlet yarns and hung on “four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver” (


Exodus 26:32


). It hung from clasps and served as a separation between of the “Holy Place from the Most Holy Place,” where the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, symbolizing God’s presence, were (


Exodus 26:33-34


).

This veil is also significant in the New Testament. In 


Mark 15:37-38


, we see at the moment Jesus died on the cross, “The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”


Hebrews 10:19


–22 explains the significance of this event:

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.”

Before, Israelites could not enter the Most Holy Place where the Ark of the Covenant, God’s presence, was. Now, all who believe in Christ Jesus can have confidence to draw near to God.

The Ark of the Covenant Outside the Tabernacle

For the Israelites, the Ark of the Covenant meant God’s presence. Throughout the Old Testament, we see stories of how God provided safety and success using the symbol of the Ark.

In the Book of Joshua, we learn of the safety the Ark provided the Israelites as they passed over the Jordan into the Promised Land. In 


Joshua 3:6


, “Joshua said to the priests, ‘Take up the ark of the covenant and pass before the people.’”  When the priests came to the Jordan, just as was commanded the waters were “completely cut off and the people passed over opposite Jericho” when the Ark neared.

In sixth chapter of Joshua, the Ark was instrumental in the Battle of Jericho. The Ark was taken around the city six times in six days and was preceded by seven priests who sounded seven trumpets made of rams’ horns (


Joshua 6:7


). On the seventh day, the ark with the armed men and priests did the same but the “people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat” (


Joshua 6:20


).

The Philistines captured the Ark when Israel summoned possession of the Ark following a brutal defeat. They felt the mere possession of the Ark would give them the favor of God. Israel suffered another defeat and lost the Ark to the Philistines who were not intimidated by the shouts and the supposed presence of “a god” into the camp (


1 Samuel 4:11


).

Was the Ark of the Covenant ever found?

Contrary to the Indiana Jones movies, the Ark was not relocated in 1936. The last recorded mention of the Ark of the Covenant’s location in the Bible was in 


2 Chronicles 35


. King Josiah assigned the priests to their offices and “encouraged them in the service of the house of the Lord” (


2 Chronicles 35:2


). He then instructed the Levites to “put the holy ark in the house that Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built. You need not carry it on your shoulders. Now serve the Lord your God and his people Israel” (


2 Chronicles 35:3


).

It is believed the Ark was destroyed during the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of King Nebuchadnezzar.

 

We Need to Follow the Ark

(God’s Presence).

I.

We Follow for His Protection, Direction and Blessing

Joshua 3:3, ‘and they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the priests, the Levites, bearing it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it. (NKJ)

Application

: We are not to lead it, it should lead us! Don’t get in front of it and don’t stay too far away!

Be right there…the right distance, the right relationship, the right direction.

Exodus 13:21 ‘And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.’ (NKJ)

Most of us, even if we haven’t experience spending any time in a desert, know that a desert can get very hot during the day and then get really cold at night.

Application

: As God led his people, he provided a cloud, (a covering for the extreme / direct heat) by the day and then fire at night (to keep them warmer).

God always doing His part to help His people.

Application: The other though for our consideration is this:

We are never told (I don’t think) how often they moved. Was it daily, weekly, monthly, yearly? I’m not sure but I don’t know that the Bible specifically states.

Question: Why is that important? We don’t know how long this current Covid-19 season will last….but one thing I am confident about is that God will be with us through whatever may come and however long it may last.

II. Following is For His Glory

Joshua 3:9-10

Joshua 3:9

So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God

is

among you, and

that

He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: (Jos 3:10 NKJ)

II. Following Provides Miraculous Reversal

Joshua 3:16

that the waters which came down from upstream stood

still, and

rose in a heap very far away at Adam, the city that

is

beside Zaretan. So the waters that went down into the Sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, failed,

and

were cut off; and the people crossed over opposite Jericho. (Jos 3:16 NKJ)

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