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Archive for May 5th, 2020

Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark | Long Center

…and no, it was not found by Indiana Jones, but by your humble scribe!  For me , finding the lost Ark of the Covenant was quite exciting.  I know you want to know where it is.  I was studying the Ark of the Covenant in the Bible because I came across two Scriptural references to the Ark that piqued my curiosity as you will read later in this article.  As I was looking at the reference, I was surprised to read that the last reference to the Ark is in the last book of the Bible, Revelation and then the find!

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. Revelation 11: 19

The Ark of the Covenant is in “God’s temple in heaven”!  It’s been there in earth time a long time.  Of course, this begs the question, in good Small Catechism style: What does this mean? Did the Lord transport the actual Ark of the Covenant, designed by Him and built by Israel according to His design, into heaven?  It would seem so…but wait:  there is no Biblical reference to the physical assumption of the Ark into heaven and to assume the Ark’s assumption would be, yes, a huge assumption.  We know from the Bible that Moses and Elijah were assumed into heaven…but even more significantly, Jesus, the crucified and risen Lord who bore the sin of the world, ascended into heaven.

Secondly, it surely seems that much of the Book of Revelation is of a symbolic nature. “So, you’re saying Revelation is ‘just a symbol’, you don’t believe it’s real?!” We live too much under the dismissive comment when it comes to symbols, “Oh, it was just a symbol” or such and such was “Merely symbolic”.  Symbols  are real as they represent realities, as an earthly example, the American flag. Our flag is quite real.  Let’s say that a U.S. air crafter carrier comes into port, I would not think it wise to go to that pier with a flag in hand and say to the sailors, “The flag is just a symbol”, and then set it on fire!  In the Bible “seven” is a heavily fraught symbolic number representing the realities of our Lord as in the six-day creation with the culmination of the 7th Day, Sabbath    For instance, “Seven” groupings are the literary structure of Revelation.  The number “seven” is not representing the days of creation per se, but what the number symbolizes: culmination, completion and fulfillment.  Could the “ark of His covenant” not be the actual ark but represent/symbolize possibly another Ark, yet a very real Ark? The ark seen in the heavenly temple may represent something else, but not the ark from Israel’s desert wanderings.

Caution:  this article is speculative, yet based upon the Scripture.  If you think that I am way wrong in any of this, please let me know. I may take this article down.  If it helps you in your faith, also let me know and the reason!

Last week as I ‘discovered’ the Ark of the Covenant I read two other very curious Scriptural references to the it.In Exodus 25 we read the Lord’s instructions of the design of The Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark carried the 10 Commandments, written in stone. The Ark of the Covenant had 4 golden rings one on each corner for the two poles to go through them in order to carry the Ark. Then there is this curious detail:

The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it” (Exodus 25: 15).

Why were the poles to remain and not taken out? They were designed to be taken out! My guess is that in the desert pilgrimage to the Promised Land, the Ark was always ready to be moved.  It was quite practical, always at the ready.  Surely, when the Ark of the Covenant would be one day brought into the Temple, then they would be taken out. Right?

After Solomon’s Temple was completed, the Ark of the Covenant was placed in the Holy of Holies, We are told in 1 Kings 8: 8,

And the poles were so long that the ends of the poles were seen from the Holy Place before the inner sanctuary; but they could not be seen from outside”.

But now, in the Temple itself, could they not have been taken out as the Ark was in its right place?  The poles were of course still there in the rings per the Lord’s command in Exodus 25.  To make matters more puzzling:  It the poles did not fit in the Holy of Holies as they stuck out, then was this an accident in planning? Hardly, after all this was the Temple of the LORD.  It was on purpose.  Why? Again,  here is my guess:  Only cleansed male Jews could enter the Holy Place and they could see the poles. Why?  As if the Ark were ready to be moved again? Where would the Ark go as the Temple had been built? Generally speaking, we see temples and churches are rather permanent structures, but they are not permanent, that is, forever.  Maybe that was the point:  The Ark could be removed from the Temple.   The  Temple would be destroyed by the Babylonians because of God’s judgment on His peoples’ idolatry and immorality. The Temple would be rebuilt  and destroyed again. Were the obvious poles an obvious reminder to faithful Israel alone, not those on the outside, that the Lord moved with His people and could so again? This is my educated guess.

How were the poles for carrying the ark of the covenant positioned ...

Before Solomon had the Temple built, his Father, King David brought the Ark into Jerusalem, David’s new royal city.  David offered to build the Lord a Temple.  Hear the way the Lord responded:

Would you build me a house to dwell in? I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent for my dwelling,  2 Samuel 7

The Lord had been moving about in the tent for a long time. Much later, in the time of prophets, the Lord spoke through Hosea that this time of the exodus was as betrothal of steadfast love for Israel as He moved with them. The Lord did not want a temple because the Lord had bigger plans. The Lord promised David more than a temple, He promised Him a Son, a house that would stand forever as no physical Temple ever could:

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son.

This is the Davidic Covenant which is a crucial promise of the Messiah, the Christ. The throne is established forever and in the fullness of time, the King came to His own, born in the City of David, Bethlehem.  Once again, the Lord would move with His people, not with two poles, but on two legs, in a way that is so new and ever so renewing.

Another significant Biblical references to the Ark of the Covenant, which mentions its name directly, is read in Romans 3: 22-25 and we focus on the word in caps:

For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a PROPITIATION by his blood, to be received by faith.

“Propitiation” in the New Testament Greek is a very special word:

“Hilasterion, in the LXX (the Septuagint translation, the earliest Greek translation of the Old Testament, 3rd century, done by 70 scholars, hence the Roman number LXX, or 70),  the Ark of the Covenant’s cover, where the high priest sprinkled the blood of the sacrifices, see Ex. 25: 17 (God forgave sin when the high priest sprinkled or ‘covered’ the mercy seat with the blood of the appointed sacrifices (Lv 16:14-18; Heb 9: 6-12)  The Ten Commandments were placed under the mercy seat (1 Ki.8:9; Heb 9:4) so that the blood of the sacrifice would cover them.) As the propitiation covered the ark of the covenant, Christ’s righteousness coveres the sinner.  He is the sacrifice for sin. By faith. Faith does not earn anything;  It receives God’s gift.” (Footnotes from The Lutheran Study Bible, Concordia Publishing House)

Christ Jesus, by His blood shed on the Cross, has covered us, who have broken God’s 10 Commandments, but not again and again with the blood of animals as in the Temple, but once and for all in God’s own Son. From Dr. Paul Kretzmann’s commentary on the Bible:

And the manner in which He paid this wonderful price is fully described. God has set Him forth as a mercy seat through faith in His blood; that was the purpose, the intention! of God as put into practice in the sacrifice of Calvary, John 3, 14. Jesus is the true Mercy-seat, of whom the cover of the ark in the Most Holy Place was but a feeble type. Just as the high priest of the Old Testament, on the great Day of Atonement, sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice against the lid of the ark, thereby making reconciliation for the sins of the entire people. Lev. 16, 30, thus Jesus is the perfect Mercy seat in His own blood. High Priest, Sacrifice, and Mercy-seat in one person, Jesus has fulfilled all types of Old Testament sacrifices by the shedding of His holy blood as a ransom for the sins of the world.

Sermon by Title: The Ark of the Covenant and Mercy Seat 2

Not only is the Ark’s mercy seat akin to Jesus Christ but further, as we read in St John 1: 14:

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

There is another very unique Greek word in this verse for “dwelt among us”. ἐσκήνωσεν, eskanosen, the root word being “skin”, as in animal skins used for tent material, as the Tabernacle in Exodus!  Literally, the Word tabernacled in the flesh amongst us, and  as the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle and inside, the Ark of the Covenant, but now His glory is in His Son Jesus Christ, who is the Temple not made with human hands (see St. John 2: 13-22; 4: 21-26), now and forever and unto the ages of ages. When John saw the Ark of the Covenant, he was seeing the true Ark, both hilasterion and Tabernacle. The earthly Ark and Tabernacle were shadows of the reality to come. There are no shadows in the Presence of the one true God (see Hebrews 10) for the Light of the world has come amongst us.

So did St. John find the Ark of the Covenant? No!  He saw the symbol pointing to the true and eternal Ark, as the true Ark of the Covenant found John in His steadfast love for sinners! The true and enduring Ark of the Covenant, covered for all time now with the Blood of Christ for our redemption, was walking and talking with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the Church and to John on the Island of Patmos and with His Church to the ends of the earth, the crucified and ascended Lord (See Acts 1: 8; St. Matthew 28: 20). The Lord was moving about in the tent of flesh for His dwelling, in the true abiding Holy Spirit.  We don’t need an archelogy degree, a cool hat and whip to find the Ark! He has found us and moves about with His people, the Church, and one day, we will see Him with all His glory. Come Lord Jesus, come. Come to Him, full of grace and truth, day by day for the washing away of your sins and renewing in faith.

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