From the Beginning

A STORY OF "TIME" by Trevor Topsfield

The Ark of the Covenant

The Ark of the Covenant received some notoriety in the 1980’s when Indiana Jones had to achieve some heroic deeds to claim it from the Nazis. In real life it has significance that far outweighs anything that the movie portrayed.

Perhaps the Ark became somewhat mysterious to the gentile world when the Philistines captured it on the battle-field at Ebenezer as recorded in 1 Samuel chapter 4. Its presence caused them so much trouble that after enduring seven month of plagues while the they had it, the Philistines were happy to give it back to  Israel.

It would appear at first as being a type of good luck charm to have in the same way as a rabbit’s foot, but the Philistines soon proved that theory to be incorrect.

However, to give some credence to the story portrayed by Indiana Jones, the Ark of the Covenant was housed in Solomon’s Temple. But when Jerusalem was sacked in 586 BC the original temple Solomon built was destroyed, and when they built the second Temple the Ark of the Covenant could not be found.

God had set out 5 stages of discipline for Israel if they would not listen to him or obey his commands; these are found in Leviticus 26:14-35. In 586 BC the Jews were at a very low period in their relationship with God, so God sent Nebuchadnezzar and his Chaldean army to administer the 5th stage. Jerusalem was sacked and most of the people were killed, while the younger generation were taken to Babylon as captives. With the sacking of Jerusalem the temple was destroyed and the Ark of the Covenant that was housed in it was not missed, but when another temple was built some years later the Ark of the Covenant was nowhere to be found and assumed to be lost.

Indiana Jones built his story on this assumption, but it appears as though God had put it away for safe keeping.

John the writer of Revelation was shown the Temple in heaven and he wrote some of what he saw in Revelation 11:19, and there was the Ark of the Covenant.

So it was never lost; it is just that no one else on earth has seen it since Solomon’s temple was destroyed.

The Ark has to survive as its importance will always remain; but the problem is that Israel could not keep it safe, nor were they concerned for its welfare as at that time as they were not listening to God or carrying out his commands. Because the Jews showed no interest in God or his things; God he took the Ark of the Covenant and put in the Temple located in heaven where it is appreciated.

God has made many covenants (or contracts) with mankind so we can confidently proceed in our dealings with him; it is because of them we can rely on him. This was required the case of Noah as after the flood which drowned everyone except Noah and his family. After seeing the devastation; the question arose.  Could this ever happen again?

Therefore to put the survivor’s minds at rest God made a covenant or contract with Noah that he would only do it once, and rainbows are the proof of this covenant.

To add security and peace of mind to Abram; God said to him in Genesis 12:1; “Leave your country, and I will make you into a great nation”. In Genesis 17:9 he says that as a sign for the covenant God has made with Israel, every male among them is to be circumcised. Therefore their being circumcised is a constant reminder God has a covenant with them that continues from one generation to the next.

Then there was the time when God was with Moses and told about the times he appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when Israel was considered as unbelievers and he was known as God almighty to them. But now with their departure from Egypt is being organised he is the Lord. But even in those earlier days he had made a covenant with them that he would give them the land of Canaan (Exodus 6:2).

All these covenants are OK, but verbal covenants or contracts can be easily forgotten, so today we go to a great deal of trouble to have them written down in a form that is supposed to make it plain and clear. Everything has to be written into the contract both require, and it is completed as the contract demands.

The contracts or covenants God has made to those early saints need some form of permanent documentation so confirmation they will be honour can be achieved. Therefore, God has taken all his covenants and condensed them into the smallest and simplest concentration of legal jargon. In this way even the smallest one will have to be attended to as the whole legal documentation demands.

Another complication is that the angels in heaven have seen how God can maintain the perfection of heaven, and are keenly interested in whether God will continue to do this. With the introduction of mankind who are not only inferior to them, but sinful as well; the question is asked. Can God fulfil all the covenants he has made to the people on earth and maintain a perfect kingdom? This has to be considered, for perhaps God is biting off more than he can chew. If the perfection of heaven is not maintained it will lose its eternal quality and the angels there would be seriously impacted.

So there is no anxiety among the angelic population, God summarises all his covenants or contracts he has with mankind into three categories where he is legally bound to carry out these three and therefore every other one in the process. He then takes a symbol of each category that is demanded for the continuation of heaven as it was before the introduction of people. This gives each symbol the importance of a legal document and just as binding.

Firstly the righteousness of heaven has to stay, as the eternal quality of heaven demands. Any imperfection would compound and multiply until heaven would eventually be destroyed. Therefore all the contracts God has made with man has to make sure the perfection of heaven is not contaminated. For the angel’s peace of mind they need assurance this will always be case, as it is their eternity too so they also need a covenant it will never change.

To demonstrate this, the stone tablets God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments written on them will be used to demonstrate the same righteousness of God will be the standard set for man as it has always been in the past. Therefore the introduction of man has not weakened the “righteousness of God”.

Another is Aaron’s staff. After Israel had left Egypt there was a revolt against Moses and Aaron. So that the proper authority was restored God told Moses to have all the leader’s staffs placed in the tabernacle overnight, and the staff that had grown buds by the morning was the designated leader. Aaron’s had the buds in the morning to indicate he was the leader God required. The proper authority has to remain the same in heaven also; the angels are well aware only God has the attributes required to give him the wisdom to maintain the perfection of heaven. They have just seen how “O Morning Son of Dawn” said in his heart; “I will make myself like the Most High” as mentioned in Isaiah 14:13+14. What an upheaval that brought about; O Morning Star finished up being condemned to hell which was created for him and those who followed him.

Would any covenant God has made with man cause a change in the authority of heaven? Only God is the proper sovereign ruler, and the loyal angels know this and they certainly don’t want it to change.

But will God be able to support all these people that were becoming part of his eternal universe?

God had proven he could as all the Exodus generation was cared for the 40 years they wandered through the desert after they left Egypt and on their way to the Promised Land. Just as the grace of God had looked after the angels in heaven without them having to lift a finger for anything they needed, so God supplied everything for the Exodus generation on a daily basis. So God was supplying all the needs of those walking through the desert and at the same time as he was doing it for the angels in heaven.

With the introduction of man it was demonstrated God could provide for both and neither lacked for anything where they were.

To add weight to the fact that it was freely given; it was for a people who had only just left the slavery of Egypt. While freedom was great their faith in God was minimal as they had not yet learned how to function in this new life of faith in God.

Even though as new believers they only applied a little faith in God, he was always faithful to them. Therefore; for the loyal angels in heaven when the advent of humans becomes a reality, the angels relationship with God will never change nor will his provision.

  1. So the covenants God makes to mankind does not alter his righteousness.
  2. Neither will the line of authority change.
  3. God will care for his extra guess while the angels in heaven will still be treated with the inexhaustible provisions they have always enjoyed.
  1. So if the stone tablets are used as token that will show God’s righteousness will remain perfect.
  2. Aaron’s staff is a token that God’s authority will remain the same as it should.
  3. The manna distributed throughout the Exodus generation demonstrates God will provide all that is needed regardless of the recipients, as he has always done.

These three items guarantee all God’s covenants put together add up to the fact that the human population will make no difference to the eternal quality of heaven. So that mankind as well as the angels can understand their eternal security the stone tablets, Aaron’s rod that budded, and a pot of manna are kept as a covenant and a reminder.

The Ark of the Covenant is like a box and measures about 2 1/2 by 1 1/2 by 1 1/2 cubits, (a cubit roughly equals a foot) so it was made so that these three items would fit. But this was to be no ordinary box, it is made of acacia wood and illustrates the inferiority of man to whom these covenants are made, while the superiority of God is made obvious by the total covering of the wood with gold. Nowhere can anyone see that man had any say in the setting up of any covenant God has made.

To guarantee no one can ever alter it, no one is allowed to touch it; however Uzziah made a fatal error and fell upon it. His death is recorded in 2 Samuel 6:6 when God struck him down and he died alongside of the Ark.

To avoid this happening there were four rings one in each corner of the Ark to allow two poles to be threaded through them so only the poles were handled when the Ark was moved.

So that the angels have a recognised interest in the Ark, there are two “Cherubs” made of gold on top of it and at either end. They are faced towards each other with their wings stretched forward as if to cover it for protection. They demonstrate their wish that no one ever change anything. Heaven has been perfect in every way, and the angels do not want it different.

While in 587 BC Israel did not care about any covenants of God had made, and the Ark of the Covenant meant little to them. This was clearly understood by the fact that the 5th stage of discipline was be administered by the Chaldeans. While Israel’s faith was not sufficient to safe guard Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem and with it the Ark of the Covenant, God knew just how important it was for the angels who were more than willing to care for it in heaven. Therefore God took it from Jerusalem to a place where it is very highly regarded.

The Ark of the Covenant might be considered as “lost” to some, but we know where it is.

Trevor Topsfield.

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