The Tabernacle - 4
The Ark - Part 2
by Brad Scott
Shemot (Exodus) 25:11And you shall overlay it with pure gold, within and without shall you overlay it, and shall make upon it a rim of gold round about.
The ark will be constructed of two principle materials, wood and gold. We have already discussed the "human" picture of the shittim wood, and how the Ruach haQodesh reveals to us His, I mean, its kingship nature. YHVH commands first that it be "overlaid" with gold. The use of this word is somewhat confusing to many Jewish and Gentile commentators. The word here is tzaphah and is translated to cover, overlay, and of all things, to watch or watchman, when in the kal verb stem. As I have stated in past lessons, it is always revealing to search how a word or concept is first used. In Bere’shiyt (Genesis) 31:49 we read, "...YHVH watch between me and you, when we are absent one from another." The watchmen of Yechezeq’el (Ezekiel) chapter 3 are placed there to warn the wicked, and to guard, protect, and be a cover between God and man. How this overlaying process was accomplished is where the confusion is. There is some evidence that the Egyptians had a process by which gold could actually be injected into wood to make the gold and wood one. If this ark is a picture of the Messiah, then it does not surprise me that the exact relationship between the gold (deity) and the wood (humanity) is somewhat puzzling, but as we see more of the tabernacle, the pieces will come together. Gold has always been a picture of royalty or kingship. It is one of the items in Bere’shiyt chapter 2 called tov or good. Gold or zahav means shining, or brightness, and Yeshua‘ is declared to be the brightness of HaShem's glory in Ivrim (Hebrews) 1:3. Gold is the mineral of the kings. So we see that this chest is not a combination of various materials but simply two. One is common and one is precious.
Shemot 25:12-15And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it.
Now we have the casting of the four gold rings, two on each side, for which to place the two staves to carry the ark. This design provides perfect balance and guidance for moving the ark. It takes two to provide balance. God, from the beginning, is always going to make two into one, for God's blessings flow only through oneness. Man "alone" (the Hebrew word bad (the a is pronounced as in father)) was not God's design (Bere’shiyt 2:18). The word bad or alone is expressed in other places as yacheed or singleness as opposed to echad which expresses unity of oneness. So, in the King James English, it is BAD for man to be alone. (Get it? A little silly humor there.) Wholeness is never accomplished through singleness or separation, but only when two things become one is there unity and harmony. When God separates Chava (Eve) from Adam, He wastes no time in making them one again, and now God's blessing can flow. YHVH places two staves to hold up the one ark. It is not by coincidence that the word for staves is the exact same word for "alone", the word bad. It is my mystical opinion that the four gold rings speak of the universal gift of this container of God's word. The number four notoriously speaks of the earth and its four corners. (Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:31 for example.) In modern Christian teaching it is commonly taught that "the law" was for Israel only, but I believe that the nature of this ark speaks otherwise.
Now we come to that which surrounds and eternally hovers over the testimony of God, the kapporeth or mercy seat.
Shemot 25:21-22And you shall put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony...
This mercy seat, which is one word in Hebrew, is to be placed above upon the ark. The Hebrew here says, kapperet 'al-ha'aron milema'elah. This literally states that the covering is to be placed on the ark from above. That which overshadows the ark can only come from above. The mercy seat is translated from the word kapporet which is from the root kopher which means to atone, cover, or ransom. This word is translated as propitiation in Romans 3:25. As it is with all words in the New Testament, their meaning is established in the Tanakh. The idea of atoning or ransoming in a "spiritual" context must be understood in its physical setting, otherwise a spiritual reality has no comparative context. This covering was literally placed on top of the testimony from above as the first article you see when approaching the ark. The laws of YHVH will be surrounded by His atoning blood, and only after this ransoming work of grace is placed on the ark, is the heart of the Most Holy Place complete. The mercy seat is to be the place where the blood is to be sprinkled by the high priest. The mercy seat AND the ark together form one vessel. Our approach to God must be superceded by this covering, but this covering AND the testimony form the whole. One cannot and will not function wholly without the other. One cannot access the Torah of YHVH without His covering. The Scriptures are replete with examples of those who chose to approach God some other way. The evolution of the Pharisees saw man attempting to establish righteousness through the keeping of commands. This circumventing of the blood is clearly comprehended by modern Christian teaching and constantly held up to ridicule. However, this same teaching is equally ignorant of the oneness of the ark and the covering, by stopping at the mercy seat and failing to be a true light (light is Torah and Torah is light) to the world by casting out the helpmate of grace, Torah. So, God's blessing does not and indeed cannot flow through bad or that which stands alone without the other. We will see this consistently in the tabernacle and you will begin to see this relationship clearly in the New Testament, as well.
One place this relationship is seen is in Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:8-10For by grace [kapporet] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God - not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship created in the Messiah Yeshua‘ unto good works [aron] which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
The mercy seat preceeds the ark here. His goodness and beauty or chen brings us into the ark of God unto good works. Good works are impossible without grace, and grace is alone and empty without the ark to guide and direct the man of God. The ark is the helpmate of the mercy seat, for it is not good that this covering should be alone.
Shemot 25:19And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubim on the two ends thereof.
There are to be cherubim at each end of the covering to be of beaten work of pure gold. The verse states that these cherubim are to be 'al-hakapporet or from the mercy seat. They are to be part of the covering. It is interesting to note that two cherubim were placed at the east of the garden of Eden along with a flaming sword to guard the way of the tree of life (Bere’shiyt 3:24). It has been my contention all along that Torah IS the tree of life and that in God's time took upon flesh and tabernacled among us, and that the New Testament clearly teaches that believing gentiles are made one with this tree. These cherubim were to keep man from access to Torah, in the absence of God's redeeming mercy. For without God's precious grace, Adam or man could live or exist forever in sin without God. Only one man could enter this place. Only that which is perfect could have access. Only one man is worthy. This man, according to God's plan would begin with a seed.
The ark of God, according to Scripture, was in two distinct locations. In Bemidebar (Numbers) chapter ten it was to be placed in the very center of the camp. It was to be where the 12 tribes would focus and encamp around. But at the same time it was also to go before them on their journey. So, on one hand, the Word of God is to be at the very heart of God's people and on the other hand it was to lead them wherever they went. (Bemidebar 10:33.) As we shall see, the ark, containing the eternal words of God, was to be at the very heart of the tabernacle. This is why the Sh'ma is so central to the Scriptures.
God must first begin with the heart. When the ark of YHVH comes to abide in you it comes wholly: the ark and the mercy seat, not just the mercy seat. Yeshua‘ is the tabernacle of God, not just the kapporet of God. When YHVH gives you a new heart, a tabernacle made without hands, He instructs us to keep what He has given us.
Devariym (Deuteronomy) 6:4-6Hear O Israel: YHVH our 'Elohiym is one YHVH: And thou shalt love YHVH thy ’Elohiym with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart; And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
Yochanan (John) 14:15-16If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever
Next week the table of Shewbread.
Shalom Alecheim! ◊