Summary: This series of 6 messages looks at the design of the tabernacle as a template for drawing near to God. The Ark of the Covenant is all about intimacy with God. In the Holy of Holies we learn to LEAN on God, LISTEN to God and LOVE Him.
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
A few years ago a man in Dayton, Ohio, found a unique way to propose to his girlfriend. He hired an airplane to fly over the city towing a banner that read, "Judy, I love you. Will you marry me?" Judy accepted his proposal by asking, "How can you say no to love like that?" We look at God's love for us, especially as it is expressed to us through Christ and his cross and ask, "How can you say no to a love like that?" I have that same experience when I think of the cross and the price that Jesus paid for my sins. How can you say no to a love like that?
The sixth and last piece of furniture in the tabernacle was the Ark of the Covenant. It was located in the Holy of Holies – a small room separated from the Holy Place by a curtain. The ark was made of gold and had 2 Cherubim with wings spread over it.
Ex 25:10 "Have them make a chest of acacia wood--two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. 11 Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it.
The ark was located in the Holy of Holies. This was thought to be the very dwelling place of God. It was the place where the Shekinah Glory of God was manifest – the radiant holy light of the almighty God. Only the High Priest would enter there once a year and only then with an acceptable sacrifice.
Between the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies there was a thick curtain or veil. This was provided to shield sinful men from a holy God. The picture of the veil was that of a barrier between man and God, showing man that the holiness of God could not be trifled with. God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil and He cannot tolerate sin. The veil was a barrier to make sure that man did not carelessly and irreverently enter into God’s awesome presence.
In the New Testament, when Jesus died on the cross the temple curtain was torn from top to bottom – notice it started from above with God and ended below with man. The barrier that stood in the way was removed so that God’s spirit now resides in each one of who is saved in Christ. We have free access into the presence of God by the imputed holiness of Christ. Jesus, the great High Priest has offered the sacrifice once and for all.
Heb. 10:19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
1. LEANING ON GOD - sharing what is on your heart
When the priest entered into the Holy of Holies, the clothes he wore were very special. The priest had on a breastplate that had 12 stones. Each stone represented one of the 12 tribes of Israel. He bore the concerns for the nation with him into the Holy of Holies.
Exodus 28:29 "Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breast piece of decision as a continuing memorial before the LORD.
When we enter into the presence of God we bring to Him what is on our hearts. God loves us and there is nothing that can surprise or shock Him. Bring Him every care and concern you have. Don’t hold back thinking that God will somehow be offended with you or that somehow you can shock Him. I love the Psalms because in them we see the full spectrum of human emotion. There are quiet tender moments as well as shouting and frustrated moments of doubt.
I was talking with someone last week who confessed to me that recently they have been so hurt by a situation that they just felt like shouting at God. I told them to go ahead and shout. God can take it. He wants us to be real and to bring Him what is on our hearts. So often we hold back from being open with God out of fear or a misunderstood sense of ‘reverence’. The fear of the Lord is a good thing: