Our Spiritual Journey Inside the Tabernacle – Part 10: Inside The Ark of the Covenant
To this point in our journey, we’ve progressed from a casual recipient of God’s gift of faith, just barely inside the fence surrounding the tabernacle, to a partner in his business functioning as His very presence on earth, just as the Ark of the Covenant did in the Most Holy Place of the tabernacle.
If we are now functioning as the Ark did, what can we learn from the Ark about what God considers representative of His presence on earth? What’s inside the Ark provides us great insight in answering this question.
Hebrews 9:4 tells us there were three things inside the Ark:
- The tablets of the 10 commandments – a summary of God’s instructions for abundant life (Exodus 24)
- A jar of manna – God’s food provision to His people during their 40 years in the desert (Exodus 16)
- Aaron’s staff – the rod God used to show that Aaron was His chosen leader for the Israelites (Numbers 17)
I wondered, why these three? What’s the significance of these things? How are they even remotely connected? Then I realized, these are pretty significant demonstrations of who God is and what He wants to be to us: 1) His instructions to us, 2) His provision for us, 3) His leadership over us. Apparently these are required for His presence to be in us.
Coincidentally (or maybe not) these are also three things that are usually the toughest to trust God with. Most of the time, I’d really rather do things my own way, determine how much provision I need and how I’m going to get it, and decide which leaders I’m going to follow. But believing in and relying on God for His instructions, His source of provision and the leadership He appoints over me are really what being a believer is all about. They’re indications that I’m a follower of God, submitted to His will.
Because these are not my natural tendencies, I have to choose every day to “opt-in” to His instruction, provision and leadership, resisting the temptation to do things my own way, depend on other things to provide my security, and change leaders when I want.
These days, this is how God’s presence is manifest on earth — through people who submit to Him in these three areas.
This is a new level of intimacy with the Father beyond anything we’ve experienced so far in the tabernacle. At the altar of incense just outside the curtain we saw that we can partner with God’s will through intercession. But in the Most Holy Place the relationship changes.
Let’s revisit our original illustration of the father and son. In the Holy Place, the son was brought into his father’s business with the Holy Spirit revealing the father’s heart (through the Menorah) and helping him to intercede according to God’s will (at the Altar of Incense). But now that relationship has matured. Entering the Most Holy Place and standing in front of the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat, the son understands his true place with the Father.
The Ark shows us that complete submission is required to go to the next level in our relationship with our holy God and truly be His presence on earth. We must submit everything to Him and follow Him completely – beyond our own logic, beyond what we can see and beyond what we are capable of in our own power. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
This is what the Israelites were required to do when they used the Ark to cross the Jordan River and sack Jericho. Victories like that don’t happen when we follow our own plan or when we only go as far as our perspective allows us to see. God has plans we’d never believe, we’d never imagine, we’d never even think to pray for. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
So when we submit to Him beyond our own logic and understanding and what we can see, this is how we become true instruments of His will and His kingdom. When we do this, His presence is as powerful in us as it was at the Jordan River and at Jericho. (John 14:12)
As we progress through the tabernacle in every area of our lives, submitting more and more to Him, it’s this complete submission, obedience and full intimacy that our Father, YHWH desires for us. Ask yourself this question, “How deep do I want to go in my relationship with my heavenly Father? How far into the tabernacle am I willing to progress?” God gives us an open invitation and continually calls us closer and closer to His side. It’s up to us to respond.
As we fill ourselves with His presence and life, and are completely led by His Spirit, now our desires and perspective are aligned with His, and we are a true partner with Him in His business … the business of bringing His will “on earth as it is in heaven.”