“And they shall make an ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits shall be its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. And you shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and shall make on it a molding of gold all around. You shall cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in its four corners; two rings shall be on one side, and two rings on the other side. And you shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, that the ark may be carried by them. The poles shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you,” Exodus 25:10-15 NKJV.
Then Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood; two and a half cubits was its length, a cubit and a half its width, and a cubit and a half its height. He overlaid it with pure gold inside and outside, and made a molding of gold all around it. And he cast for it four rings of gold to be set in its four corners: two rings on one side, and two rings on the other side of it. He made poles of acacia wood, and overlaid them with gold. And he put the poles into the rings at the sides of the ark, to bear the ark, Exodus 37:1-5 NKJV.
The Ark of the Testimony, or Covenant, as it’s called elsewhere in Scripture, was the piece of furniture in the Tabernacle which perhaps more than the others was the symbol of Israel’s relationship to God. It was a gold-plated chest in which had been placed the tablets which Moses had received at Mount Sinai, a pot of manna as a reminder of how God had supported and provided for Israel during her wilderness trek, and Aaron’s rod that budded, the evidence that his was the priesthood by Divine appointment and not something he had taken for himself, Hebrews 9:4. Many years later, all that was left in it were the tablets, 1 Kings 8:9, 21.
The Covenant, or the Mosaic Law, is what we know was the Ten Commandments, though there was much more involved than just 17 verses in Exodus 20. It was that which made Israel “a special treasure to Me above all people;…”, Exodus 19:5. In Deuteronomy, rehearsing the actions of God toward Israel to a new generation, Moses said, “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us…?” Deuteronomy 4:7. Much later, God said to Israel, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth…,” Amos 3:2.
Israel’s special relationship to God gave her a special responsibility. We mentioned Israel being “a special treasure” in the sight of God. There was more to it than that. In that same statement, and after reminding her of how He had delivered her from slavery in Egypt and had taken her through the wilderness, God said, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation,” Exodus 19:5, 6.
Israel really had no idea what was involved, but confidently said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do,” Exodus 19:8; 24:3. I’m sure they meant it. But there were nearly seven weeks involved in everything that transpired at that time, and Moses wasn’t down from the mount the last time before Israel had already broken her word in a wild orgy, Exodus 32:1-25.
That wasn’t the only covenant God made or will make with the nation of Israel. Contrary to those who say that God is done with Israel – and except for His grace, and His word, He would be! – He has promised one more covenant.
In Jeremiah 31:31-34, God said,
“Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah – not according to the covenant I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”
Then He goes on to say that if the sun and the moon depart and the heavens above can be measured,
“I will also cast of all the seed of Israel
For all that they have done, says the LORD.
The verses in Jeremiah are quoted in Hebrews 8, where the writer is warning his audience against going back to the “old” way of doing things, thereby turning their backs on the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. It’s sometimes thought that the New Covenant is for New Testament believers, but we only come under its provisions through the Lord Jesus, Hebrews 9:11-15, 24-28.
We’ve never been under the Old Covenant, though many try to put us there.
The Ark of the Covenant was a visual reminder to Israel of her blessings because of the grace, mercy and truth of God.
We have another visual symbol of God’s grace to us: the bread and fruit of the vine in the Lord’s Supper, or communion. Our Lord said of the fruit of the vine, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many,” Mark 14:24, also Matthew 26:28 and Luke 22:20.
Oh, do you know the forgiveness of sins through the Lord Jesus Christ, or are you hoping that things will just “work out”? Oh, that you might see that there is only one way of salvation, one way into heaven, one way for the forgiveness of sins.
“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved,” Acts 16:31.