Glory of God pt 4

We have discussed what the Hebrew word glory means, and we have looked at one symbolism of glory in fire. I want to continue to look at the symbolisms before diving into a deeper concept of what glory is all about. It is in the symbols that we can find the revelation and depth.

Today lets look at the Ark of the Covenant.

The first place the Ark of the Covenant is mentioned is in Exodus 25 where the description is given:
Have them make an ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(O)”> it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(P)”> on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(R)”> into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law,<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(T)”> which I will give you. “Make an atonement cover<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(U)”> of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(V)”> out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(W)”> are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(X)”> the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Y)”> and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law <span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(Z)”>that I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AA)”> that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet<span class="crossreference" style="font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(AB)”> with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”

When we read such a text as this, it almost seems to cause our minds to go numb. The measurements given are translated as cubits, and we have no idea what a cubit looks like. Some of us know that the cubit is from our elbow to the end of our fingers. It is about 18 inches. The measurements of the cubits that strikes me as odd isn’t that it tells us the dimensions, it is that they seem to be partial measurements.

Remember that Hebrew doesn’t look at it for the image; it looks for the function. Why would there be “cubit and a half” mentioned? There is not a single full measurement of 3 cubits by 5 cubits… It is almost as though there is some sort of extra part to it. We find this concept in Hebrews as well. The author of Hebrews tells us that these things given to Israel were mirrors of the heavenly. What if the first half is measured here on Earth, and the second half is found in Heaven?

The ark thus is a symbol of something heavenly that has been given on Earth. We must not see it as a box that contained the law and the rod of Aaron and the manna inside. It is more that that. But what exactly is this a symbol of?

The box is made out of wood and overlaid with gold. It is translated as “pure” gold. Gold is often (always) a symbol of deity. The acacia tree is a huge thorn bush. They have massive thorns (like a black locust). The Hebrew word in Exodus 3 when Moses is at the burning bush is “thorn.” Moses saw a thorn bush that was on fire, but was not consumed. When bees make honey from the acacia blossom, it is the only honey in the world that does not crystalize.

I think that the acacia tree might be some sort of symbol of God’s Spirit. There are thorns, which symbolize the outward distaste that people will have. From a worldly perspective, we reject the word of God. It’s “outward appearance” causes many to oppose it. It isn’t until the Spirit comes that we find our delight in it. Honey is a symbol for the word of God. When the honey (word) is coupled with the acacia fruit (Spirit) it doesn’t crystalize (go bad).

The gold outlaying it is called “pure gold.” Gold naturally comes in a pure form. The Hebrew word here for overlay is tzaphar. This means “to observe.” If you pound out gold into super thin sheets (like an ounce of gold to cover the whole ark), it would be reflective. Maybe what is being said here is that the gold reflects like a mirror, therefore it “observes.”

This ark is a symbol of God with us. Maybe this is why throughout the Old Testament, there are phrases and wording that give the Ark characteristics of God. When the Ark was captured by the Philistines, the name of Eli’s grandson was Ichabod – which is interpreted, “The Glory of God has departed from Israel.” The statue of Dagon would fall upon its face before the Ark, and eventually was shattered – as though the elements could not bear to be used shamefully before the presence of God. 70 people at Beth-Shemesh were killed because they looked into the Ark. The Ark was brought to Jerusalem upon a cart. God required it to be brought on the shoulders of priests. Uzziah reached out to steady the Ark and died. When the Ark was put into Solomon’s Temple, the priests had to exit because the Glory of God filled the place in such a way that they could not even minister and continue to service.

Time and time again, we see the Ark being given characteristics that only come from God. The Ark is a symbol of God with us. We know that the prophecy of Emmanuel in Isaiah 9 is speaking of Jesus. Lets continue forward in our text of Exodus 25.

The mercy seat is to be placed on top. The tablets of the Law are within the Ark. This shows that mercy triumphs over judgment. The mercy seat is made entirely of gold. On the top, cherubs are beaten out. They face one another, but their heads are also tilted downward to the mercy seat. I think this is a symbol of humanity. We have all of our opposites: black and white, male and female, slave and free, Jew and Gentile… We must all look to that mercy seat because we do not have salvation without it.

In 2 Corinthians 3:18, Paul tells us that we behold in each other’s faces the very glory of God. It is in this beholding that we are moved from image to image and glory to glory. The Ark is a symbol of community of the saints. It is God with us. When two or three are gathered in His name, there He is in our midst. His glory and His presence resides here: in everyday common ordinary life lived out together in the hardships and struggles of community. It is from that place that God told Moses, “I will meet with you and give you instruction concerning Israel.”

But we aren’t done.

As awesome this is, I said earlier that the dimensions of the Ark are incomplete. We see in Revelation 11:19 that “God’s temple<span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(A)”> in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant.<span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(B)”> And there came flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder,<span class="crossreference" style="background-color: white; font-weight: bold; vertical-align: top;" value="(C)”> an earthquake and a severe hailstorm.”

This is the last thing that happens. Revelation then loops back to the beginning of the story. This opening of Heaven is Jesus’ return.

The Ark of God is here on Earth, but it is incomplete until Christ returns. Until God is literally and bodily in our midst, and we have the completion of the Feast of Tabernacles, we will always have a partial measure. That isn’t to say we should reject what we have until the day of His appearing. It is quite the opposite. Anyone who has this hope purifies himself as Christ is pure. It only makes us cling to it all the more. The glory of God is in our midst, and it is within the faces of the other believers that we have everyday contact with.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s