“…the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, in which was a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron’s staff that budded, and the tablets of the covenant.”
The ark of the covenant, not unlike the footstools presented to other gods in the times of the Hebrews, served as the centerpiece of worship in the temple. The ark was the symbol of God’s favor. It led the ancient Israelites into battle, drove back the waters of the Jordan so they walked on dry land, and the glory of God rested above it, leading the people by day in a pillar of cloud, by night in a pillar of fire.
The ark of the covenant–the covenant of the loving God. God who called Abraham into a special relationship. God who took on the performance of the covenant. God who promised his own blood before he would abandon his word. God who sent his presence with this ark that held three things.
God who promised his own blood before he would abandon his word.
How God provided for his people to eat in the wilderness. Just when they were missing slavery, daydreaming of days gone by, when they wore shackles but had food. Yes, right as they began to complain that his freedom would kill them for lack of protein, God sent manna, mysterious bread from heaven. It just rested on the ground each morning. Always enough. Never too much. Morning by morning, without fail, for more than 40 years.
Aaron’s staff that budded.
Again the people grew restless and rebellious and found themselves plagued, dying by the wrath. Loving God delivered them time and again from pagan enemies. They were so quick to hate him for it. So when one of them led a rebellion against the leadership God had anointed, they all began to die. Moses and Aaron interceded, the people were spared, and the staff of Aaron blossomed overnight to solidify his leadership. Twelve staffs collected, only one with blooms, and Aaron’s is the chosen tribe of the priesthood. Mediation between God and man would happen on God’s terms, by God’s man, and in God’s way.
The tablets of the covenant.
The ten commandments. The Law to show us who God is and how we ought to live. The Law so heavy we mostly only find how much we need God’s mercy. These stones he marked with the requirements of holiness come into the temple as the standard for which all blood must be shed.
All these were the contents of the ark of the covenant in the Old Testament temple. But this new temple? This body? This Church belonging to Jesus?
“‘It was not Moses who gave you 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.’ They said to him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.'”
And he did. Jesus became the bread from heaven, not only to satisfy us morning by morning, but to fill our hearts, once and for all, with his presence, his love, his provision.
His body was broken that we might eat and be filled.
“The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”
We have more than a budding staff within. We have the great High Priest who lives forever. The One chosen by God to mediate for sinners. Mediation on God’s terms, by the God Man, God’s way. The Way.
We have the great High Priest who lives forever.
“For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
We no longer carry within us heavy tablets of stone, staggering under the weight of the Law. No. Jesus has fulfilled it all. He lived the life we could never have lived, and he died the death we ought to have died. And the faith that he gives for us to believe is potent to melt our hearts of stone. He writes a new law on our new hearts–the law of love. To love God and to love people because we have been so richly loved.
He writes a new law on our new hearts–the law of love.
Beloved, your Father has filled you with this goodness. He has recreated his temple within you, and it’s all for life, for his glory, for your good.
Pause to consider…
- Are you hungry for Jesus? Feast on his Word today, Beloved. He will not leave you empty.
- Do you feel far from God? Jesus is your High Priest. He alone stands ready to place your hand into the hand of the Father. Come boldly, Beloved.
- Do your sin and failure feel crushing? Apart from Jesus, they are. Give thanks for the perfection of Jesus that he has freely given to you. Live under the light law of Love. Let love fill you up and overflow to the world around you.