Thursday, March 15, 2012

120315 - Exodus 37-38 - Something's Missing

Thursday SOAP: Think about the questions left unanswered in the Old Testament: How would God's cursed creation be restored to His original intentions? How could guilty man be saved by a righteous God? How would Satan be defeated? In today's account of the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, the very objects themselves would seem to beg questions, if we didn't already have the answers provided for us by "reading the back of the book.

S: Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half was its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. And he overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside, and made a molding of gold around it. And he cast for it four rings of gold for its four feet, two rings on its one side and two rings on its other side. And he made poles of acacia wood and overlaid them with gold and put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark to carry the ark. And he made a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half was its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth. And he made two cherubim of gold. He made them of hammered work on the two ends of the mercy seat, one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat he made the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim. (Exodus 37:1-9)

O: The Ark was placed into the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. It contained:

  • The second copy of the Ten Commandments, written, like the first, by God Himself. (Exodus 25:16, Deuteronomy 10:1-5, Hebrews 9:4)
  • Aaron's rod which resurrected and produced fruit. (Numbers 17:2-10, Hebrews 9:4)
  • An omer pot full of manna. (Exodus 16:32-34, Hebrews 9:4)

Three undeniably miraculous events were commemorated in the Ark by the token objects. What do they represent?

A: God shows Himself as Lawgiver. God shows Himself as Leader. God shows Himself as Provider. How do you commemorate meaningful encounters with God when your second commandment is to make no images? Do it in a highly symbolic way.

The initially 'empty' Ark was gradually given content. This is like progressive revelation.

  • Then there are the contents: we have the tablets of the Law, not a statue of a Lawgiver. Who wrote these tablets?
  • We have the staff of a chosen leader, not a painting of a commissioning - Who chose him?
  • We have miraculous provision, not an engraved scene of bread falling down from heaven - Who provided it?
  • We have a throne of mercy, not an enthroned figure - Who occupies it?

How different God's approach is from the pagans around Israel. I used the word "empty," in describing the Ark, but God said false gods were literally empty "vanities:"

They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. (Deuteronomy 32:21).

It has been said that the Old Testament is, in the New Testament, revealed, while the New Testament is, in the Old Testament, concealed. When I think about all the provocative questions left unanswered by Old Testament worship, I'm amazed and God's amazing plan - and man's unwillingness to see it.

P: Lord, open the eyes of national Israel to her Messiah in these dark days. Today, they are among the most unreached people groups of the world. Show that you remember these things and have not cast away Your people whom You foreknew.


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