Summary: The Ark was the center of the worship at the Tabernacle. What made it so important, and what does it teach us about what Jesus did for us?
OPEN: A black Methodist preacher, was sent to a formerly all white church in Cincinnati, Ohio. His daughter, Leontine Kelly remembered it was the most magnificent church she had ever seen.
• It was a Gothic structure with beautiful polished wood.
• It had a beautiful crystal chandelier.
• Presidents had worshipped there and a President had even been married in the sanctuary.
• And the parsonage was so large that every one of the children could have their own room.
She said that under the parsonage was a huge cellar. She didn’t go down there except once or twice with her father because it was just a dingy, dark place with a couple of dim light bulbs hanging from long wires, and there were cobwebs and shadows.
Once, her brothers were in the cellar and called her to come down. They had found a hole beside the furnace leading to a tunnel and they wanted her to go in with them and explore it. Instead, she went up the stair to her father asking him to go down and “get those guys.”
Her father went downstairs, and she noticed that he was quite excited. Instead of scolding the boys, he said, “Let’s go over to the church and check.” They went over to the church building and found that beside the furnace there were some old boards. As they removed them, they discovered another hole with other tunnels. They explored those tunnels and that night around the dinner table at the parsonage in Cincinnati, 5 blocks from the Ohio River she heard her father tell the story of the Underground Railroad.
It was a network for helping slaves to escape to freedom. The slaves were hunted and would have been brutally punished if caught. It was against the law to help them. The Underground Railroad helped slaves get to their freedom in Canada.
She heard her father say, “Children, I want you to remember this day as long as you live, for today we have found a station in the Underground Railroad.”
Her father went on to say, “The greatness of this church is not in its gothic architecture, its beautiful furniture, its crystal Chandelier, or even its social status. The greatness of this church is below us. We are on hallowed ground…”
They were on hallowed ground because the tunnels beneath them represented the gift of freedom.
APPLY: Over the past few weeks we have been examining the Hallowed Ground of the Tabernacle of God. And we’ve repeatedly quoted Heb 8:5 where we’ll told that the Old Testament priests served “…at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’”
We began the sermon series at the outer court and we examined the fence and area around the Tabernacle. Then we worked our way to the altar of sacrifice (sacrifices for sin), then on to the brazen laver - where the priests washed their hands and feet before making the sacrifices and again before they entered into the Tabernacle.
Then we went through the door into the first room, called the Holy Place. There we looked upon the table of shewbread, the golden lampstand, and the altar of incense that stood before the veil that divided that room from the Holy of Holies.
And now, at last, we’ve come to the inner sanctum.
The Holy of Holies.
The room where the Ark of the Covenant was kept.
This was the most hallowed ground of the people of Israel - the place where God dwelt. And this was a room where only the High Priest could enter… and he only once a year on the Day of Atonement.
Once a year, the High Priest would make a special sacrifice for the sins of the people. He began by selecting two male goats, a male ram and a young bull for sacrifice.
Ordinarily he would wear his distinctive High Priestly garments. But today he put those aside, bathed himself and then put a special white linen garment, with a white linen sash and linen turban.
After putting on these garments, he made a sacrifice of the young bull as a sin offering for himself and his family. Then he would take the blood of that bull, and a censer full of burning coals from the altar of sacrifice, and two handfuls of finely ground fragrant incense and entered tabernacle. There he put the incense on the fire of the altar of incense, so that the smoke of the incense would conceal the Ark… so that he will not die. Leviticus 16:12-13
From there he went through the veil and entered into the Holy of Holies sprinkling the blood of the bull on the front of the atonement cover of the ark… then he sprinkled some of the blood with his finger 7 times before the atonement cover. Leviticus 6:14