Reading: Exodus 25:10-22
God gives instructions for the design of the ark, the most holy object in the tabernacle. It is also called “the ark of the covenant of the LORD.” We recall that the covenant contains a promise and an obligation, summarised in Genesis 17:1 “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless.” God promises to be with Israel and take good care of them. Israel in turn must live “blameless” that is, in thankful obedience to God’s commandments. The design and contents of the ark reinforce this as follows:
Promise: The top of the ark is called the seat of mercy. On each end of the ark is an angel; their faces are turned towards the mercy-seat, because they are attentive to the will of God.
Their outstretched wings indicate their readiness to do whatever God commands. From above the mercy seat God promises to speak to Moses about “everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel” (Exodus 25:22). The gold symbolizes God’s glory. Together these elements symbolize the covenant and God’s presence, which is of great comfort to Israel. David, and other Prophets, in order to encourage themselves to confidence in prayer, speak of God as “dwelling between the cherubim” (Psalm 80:1, 99:1; Isaiah 37:16), that is, God’s closeness.
Two symbols of God’s care are to be placed inside the ark: the golden pot of manna, as a testimony to future generations (Ex 16:32-34); also Aaron’s rod showing God’s care for Israel through the High Priest.
Obligation: Within the ark shall also be placed the Ten Commandments, called the Testimony. Thus the ark was often called the ark of the Testimony. The inclusion of the law reminds Israel of its covenantal obligation to obey the law.
Key text: Exodus 25:22 “And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat”.
Question: God was close to Israel. In what way is He close to us today?