Summary: The contents of the Ark of the Covenant are still relevant to us today.
There have been many things written about the Ark of the Covenant. Hollywood has even made movies about it. In Raiders of the Lost Ark it was portrayed as a beautiful golden box with supernatural power that burned up anyone who looked inside of it.
No doubt, the Ark was filled with supernatural power. In one instance, as the ark was being carried, a man who wasn’t a priest saw the Ark was going to fall. In an attempt to keep it from falling he placed his hand on it. He was immediately struck dead because God had given instructions that only priests were to touch it.
But what was the purpose of the Ark of the Covenant? We will look at one purpose of the ark today and see how something that was built by the children of Israel so long ago can still relate to us in the year 2000.
Inside the temple there were two rooms where the priests performed their duties. There was the outer sanctuary where the every day duties were carried out. Inside of this room there were certain items that the priests used: a lampstand, a table, and consecrated bread.
This first room was called the Holy Place and the priests would enter into this room on a regular basis.
Beyond the Holy Place, behind the second curtain was another room called the Most Holy Place, the Holiest of All, or the Holy of Holies. There were also certain items placed inside of this room: the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered Ark of the Covenant. Today we are going to take a closer look at the Ark of the Covenant.
A. The Ark of the Covenant
Exodus 25:16 – And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
The Lord had directed certain items to be placed inside of the ark as a testimony, or reminder to the children of Israel of all that he had done for them.
Hebrews 9: 3,4 – Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant (NIV).
1. The golden jar of manna
The children of Israel began to complain to Moses and Aaron that they had nothing to eat. Exodus 16:2 says that the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against them. God heard the murmuring of the people and provided quail and bread, or manna. Exodus 16:35 says that they ate the manna for 40 years. It was as a reminder of this event that the golden jar of manna was placed inside of the ark.
Exodus 16: 33,34 – And Moses said unto Aaron, take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generations. As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony to be kept.
2. Aaron’s staff that budded
Numbers 17:41 says that once again all the congregation of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron. This time they were murmuring because of what had happened to a man named Korah who had led a rebellion against Moses. Moses took a stand against Korah and all of his supporters. In a show of his greatness, the Lord opened up the ground and Korah, his conspirators, their families, and even their tents were swallowed up into the earth. Also, fire consumed 250 more of his followers that were offering incense.
Even though Korah was wrong, the children of Israel still complained because so many of the people had been killed.
Numbers 17:41 – But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, ye have killed the people of the Lord.
Because of this the Lord wanted to consume all of them, but Moses and Aaron fell on their faces and pleaded with the Lord. The Lord heard their prayers and Aaron was instructed to run into the congregation with a censer of incense from the altar as an atonement. Aaron made an atonement for the congregation, but not before 14,700 Israelites had been smitten by a plague.
God instructed Moses to gather a rod, or staff, from every tribe of Israel with Aaron’s name being written on the staff from the tribe of Levi. All twelve of these staffs were placed in front of the Ark of the Covenant. The next day the staff of Aaron had budded, blossomed, and produced almonds. From that point on Aaron, his sons, and the tribe of Levi were set aside to be the priests and to minister in the tabernacle.