I want to spend some time looking at the Ark of the Covenant and how it relates to our spiritual lives. I will begin with the concept it expresses then explain where and why it was created and look at the history of the Ark in Israel, including its loss and restoration and what connection it had to the Tabernacle of Moses once it was restored to Israel. I will include what it prophetically points to for us as New Testament believers.
The first mention of the ark is in Exodus 25:10 in the context of Yahweh’s instruction to Moses to make a sanctuary that He might dwell among His people Israel.
8 And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8 (NKJV) 10 “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. Exodus 25:10 (NKJV)
Yahweh’s focus was to dwell among His people. To this point He had only visited them and manifested His presence. The word dwell is significant because it refers to His abiding presence among His people.
- שָׁכַן shākhan
to settle, to abide, to stay
Complete Biblical Library Hebrew-English Dictionary.
Many people are familiar with the concept of the Shekinah Glory of God. What most may be unaware of is that the word is not found in the Old or New Testaments. It came from the Hebrew above, shakhan. During the 400 year period between the two testaments the Rabbi’s coined the term Shekinah from this word to refer to Yahweh’s dwelling presence among His people. No, ‘dwelling presence’ is not words out of order, it is very important to understand His ‘dwelling presence’ rather than His presence for a time dwelling. Some examples of where this concept is expressed in the New Testament are Ephesians and John.
22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:22 (NKJV)
17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, Ephesians 3:17 (NKJV)
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (NKJV)
2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2 (NKJV)
2 “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2 (NASB)
What John and Paul were telling us, from their first century Hebrew mindset, was that the Shekinah glory came and dwelt among us in Jesus and He still desires to do that through His church today. The Ephesian verses refer to an act and location and are the equivalent of the Hebrew word shakhan. The words in John are two different Greek words that carry the same meaning. The word ‘mansions’ in John 14:2 is a very poor translation. As demonstrated above the NASB translates it as ‘dwelling places,’ as does the new MEV bible, and in fact in the original release of the NKJV it was translated as dwelling places.
Suffice to say this is an important scriptural concept. I know I have thus far only introduced it but I will go back to the OT to look at how Yahweh’s dwelling, His Shekinah Glory is connected to Moses face to face encounters with Yahweh, and the importance of His command to build the tabernacle, the heart of which was the Ark of the Covenant.