The Covenant Chest, built in the time of Moses, is 1,15 m long, 70 cm wide and 70 cm high. It was made of acacia, covered on the outside and inside with gold. The cover - the mercy seat - was pure. Two cherubim stood face to face with their wings outstretched and their heads tilted towards the chest. On each side were two rings to slide the bars for the Levites to wear (Ex 25v10-22). Inside were the two tables of the law; later, the Israelites placed there a vessel with manna and Aaron's staff which had blossomed (Heb 9v4). It is the ark of the covenant of God with his people.
From Sinai, this pantry in front of the Hebrew people. When the cloud stopped on, the tabernacle rose and put the chest in the most holy place. Later, King Solomon put it in the temple, built on the same principle as the tent (1 Rs 8v1-9). Then on a lost track at VIth century BC JC with Nebuchadnezzar when he is destroyed Jerusalem.
The latter was only a piece of furniture; but it was rather important! We will focus on what it symbolizes and then on the conditions to know the blessings linked to its presence.
1) The symbols of this Alliance chest:
If God ordered to make this ark - or this chest - it was not to make a little gem, nor as a mascot or as an object of superstition.
What was the but?
- From the start, it was explicit: it was there that God was answering Moses (Ex 25v22). This chest signified the inaccessible presence of the Lord. And it was even very precise: it was between the two cherubim who bowed down to him.
For Israel, furniture should not be confused with the presence of God: there is absolutely no need to make images or stones that represent God; God cannot see himself, he understands himself (No 7v89).
God knowing the weakness of his people who had been fashioned into a golden calf to "see" God; there is always the need to represent his divinity.
But God is the spirit, and the is worshiping the object (and not him) and falling into error.
We don't see him any more: he speaks through his Word; this is where we hear his voice.
- Another symbolic symbol of the alliance: through him, God was present and walked in front of his people, led him (No 11v35). He was the leader, the guide. And that, on all occasions: during festivals, or when the people are crossed by the Jordan, or when they are around Jericho. It was God who gave Moses the direction to follow. God was the one who led his people.
The manna kept in the chest recalling the intervention of God which had been granted in the desert according to the need of each one; day after day, God had led and provided.
The assurance of God's presence transforms everything!
Often afterwards, God encourages by the assurance of his presence, despite the failures and the fragility of his people: "Do not be afraid, for I am with you" (Isa 43).
David can count on the victory of God in trials: "I fear no evil, for you are with me" (Ps 23); God leads, even in the valley of the shadow of death. Even in the desert.
- The third meaning is given in its name: it is the Alliance. He recalled living the peace treaty that God had made with his people.
Despite his wanderings, his sins, each Israelite that to watch and save the goodness of god: he forgives and accepts the sinner; the meaning of the lid of this chest: it was called the propitiatory, that is, God was propitious.
They put in the safe the two tables of the law which says affirming: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the land where you were a slave" (Ex 20) ; the Covenant is the first person that God has sealed.
This is also found through the symbol of the cup at the Lord's Supper: “This cup is the New Covenant in my blood,” Jesus says. The cut is the visual reminder of a reality that is experienced; it is the meaning, represented through the cup, that matters and not the object.
The reminder of the work of Christ speaks of this certainty: we are accepted, not because we deserve but by grace. God accepts us as we are; and his Covenant is forever. It does not rest on our shoulders. At the cross, this Covenant was sealed.
But owning this chest was not enough in itself; what is linked is the way of living in the presence of God. God gives certain conditions that are necessary to receive his blessings.
2) What are these conditions associated with the presence of God?
- Those who were led by God, through the coffer of the Covenant, were those who part of his people. For men, it was not the fact of being born into a Hebrew family that gave them the privilege ofbelong to the people of God : you had to be circumcised.
When the Philistines took this Alliance Chest, they made sure of victory. But “the Lord intervened against the inhabitants of the city and sowed terror there. They suffered from tumors ”(1 Sa 5): to have the Lord's chest with oneself. You have to be of the family of God.
The Philistines believed in the effectiveness of the presence of this chest as a fetish. But they were not ready to accept the condition to be part of God's people.
To be part of the family of Godone must have lived an inner intervention: the circumcision of the heart (Col. 1v10-12).
The fact of being in a so-called Christian country, the fact of being born into a Christian family, the fact of doing certain Christian acts only deludes us. It is dangerous to hide behind these religious appearances: there is eternal life with or without God.
- To know a full life, it is necessary seek the presence of God ; like Israel with David who said: "We are not warned to go and seek the king under the reign of Saul" (1 Ch 13v3).
Maybe the facts are understandable but the fact of seek god, taking the time to be present, that is what is necessary. Dedicating time to Him through reading His Word, prayer, life in the church, all of this speaks to our desire to live in His presence.
After seeking the Lord's chest, David composed a prayer in which he specifically said: "May the hearts of those who are attached to the Lord be filled with joy!" Aspire to live constantly in his presence ”(1 Ch 16v10-11).
History of being, not overwhelmed, but overflowing.
- A serious mistake for Israel is that this piece of furniture was a fetish, an object of superstition. He became more attached to the chest for what it signified: the presence of the Lord. To be victorious over the Philistines, thought the people of Israel, it was necessary to go and get this chest; but twice, however, it is the defeat that followed ...
Can be easily adapted to certain objects, to certain gestures or acts of superstitious value; carrying a cross or even reading the Bible or going to worship may be seen as sufficient (“Phew… I didn't have an accident today: I read my Bible this morning”, or - but we body never -: "I am blessed by God: normal, I am all the same quite well…".
The magic of faith is not faith.
- The need for Living in accordance with the will of God : Israel had just recovered this chest of the Lord which was with the Philistines; but at the end of a long period (20 years!), he understood that God had chosen another: "The whole of the people of Israel aspired to return to the Lord" (1 Sa 7v2); Samuel then said to them, "If you want to return to the Lord with all your heart, destroy the foreign gods from you and cling to the Lord with all your heart." Then he will deliver you from the Philistines ”(1 Sa 7v2-3).
What in our life may not serve God?
An expression that is found here: "With all your heart"; God expects us to be whole to him, not passive spectators.
A life of victory is linked to this engagement towards God.
Another story from the chest speaks of what God asks: it is the story of the transport of the Lord by David (2 Sa 6). He wants to restore to the honor this chest "on which the name of the Lord has been called" (v2). It's good. And he wants to do this with great fanfare! But unconsciously, he does it according to the Philistine method: on a chariot pulled by two cows.
David and especially Uzza who will die of it will bear the consequences; the reason? David did not seek the will of God.
What God wants for the transport of this chest is for the Levites to carry it with bars on their shoulders (1 Ch 15v2, 13-15). And they purified themselves for it.
The basis of walking with God is this desire to live as the request and not according to our sauce or that of the society in which we live. The tablets of the law were given so that the people of God might know his will; they were put in this safe. The treasure in the chest was there! What a privilege given to human beings to have the revelation of the law of God! Even today, if our society is in practice only these 10 commandments, so many problems are removed ...
God is holy, he cannot cohabit with sin. The bound Levites purify themselves to carry this chest; to approach God it is necessary to recognize one's sin, to benefit from one's forgiveness and to desire (not to fall back into what does not honor God.
Israel experienced victory over neighboring peoples after it understood and… lived (1 Sa 7v7-14; 2 Sa 8v1-14).
Yes, God's grace is real and he does not punish us as we deserve; but each time for Israel, the victory is mentioned after he returned to God, through the chest (which symbolized his presence) that he went to look for, andengagement to live according to the will of God.
The message is the same for us: we live in the presence of God, in communion with him, and desiring to live according to his will, according to his word, in all areas of our life.
And this is possible because Jesus is the one who fulfilled the meanings prepared through the coffer of the Covenant: he is Emmanuel, God with us, always present; he revealed the will of God and accomplished it perfectly; He is the Shepherd who leads us and it is he who made progress to God, by reconciling us to God, by dying in our place.
These are the conditions linked to the presence of God who commands an overflowing life, a life of victory. He is good for us, but we do not have to live but to live these conditions: his belonging, to seek him, to place his total confidence in him, to desire with all our heart to live as he asks, in purity.
This Article The ark of the covenant: the symbol of the presence of God first appeared on Evangelical Protestant Church Methodist Agen.