The description Yahweh gave to Moses of how to build the Tabernacle and Ark of the Covenant covers Exodus 25-30. I won’t go into all the details, they are in the scriptures, however it is important to note that is was divided into three parts, an outer court, Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, which I believe correspond to our triune nature. If you go from the inside out the Holy of Holies represents our spirit, designed to hold His presence. The Holy Place corresponds to our soul and the outer court, the most visible part, corresponds to our bodies. All were ultimately created for His purpose.
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)
The inner court contained three objects, the lampstand which represents our mind (light and illumination), the table of showbread which represents our will, supposed to be broken (the ground grain) and submitted to His will, and the altar of incense, which represents our emotions and desires. The altar of incense was positioned right outside the Holy of Holies so the fragrant incense entered into the Holy of Holies, into His presence. Our desires are to be directed toward Him.
However, just at our lives truly only have eternal value and purpose when He dwells within us, even so the Tabernacle of Moses, and later Solomon’s temple, found their true value in the One who dwelt within it!
One of the great tragic scenes in scripture is in Ezekiel. In Ezekiel the priest and prophet Ezekiel is taken into a prophetic experience where he sees the Glory of Yahweh depart from the Temple in Jerusalem. Ezekiel is in Babylon at the time as part of the captivity so he is shown this in the spirit realm.
Imagine being Ezekiel, passionately committed to Yahweh, your nation, and His temple and seeing Him depart and no one noticing and going on with their lives as if He were still there! The Hebrew word for His glory is kabod and connotes a brightness and heaviness. The word Ichabod means, there is no glory, that is, the glory is gone. The key verses in Ezekiel chapter 10 are below, and below that the source of the expression of Ichabod.
4 Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub, and paused over the threshold of the temple; and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was full of the brightness of the LORD’S glory. Ezekiel 10:4 (NKJV) 18 Then the glory of the LORD departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the LORD’S house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them. Ezekiel 10:18-19 (NKJV)
21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” 1 Samuel 4:21-22 (NKJV)
In this description, before and after this event Yahweh showed Ezekiel the wickedness of the leaders in Israel. The great tragedy is that after He lifted off from between the Cherubim on the Ark of The Covenant He paused and waited to see if anyone would notice and repent. When no one did He continued and left the temple.
So, how does this relate back to us? See the picture below.
Yahweh’s glory dwelt over the mercy seat (the lid of the Ark) between the outstretched wings of the Cherubim. While the Ark of the Covenant was beautiful, it only had real value when Yahweh’s glory dwelt between the Cherubim. Without His glory it was just an elaborate and expensive storage chest! Paul described us as being His temple.
16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV)
The key part in the temple, the Holy of Holies is what Paul referred to in the verse above. Solomon informed us that our spirit was His lamp.
27 The spirit of a man is the lamp of the LORD, Searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27 (NKJV)
We need the light of His presence dwelling within and then we need to learn how to cooperate with His grace to spiritually mature. I believe we grow through intentional encounters with Him and through spending time in His word and presence. While the Ark was beautiful it was rarely seen. In the same way, Paul not only said we have this treasure, His glory, in earthen vessels, he also pointed us to something else.
6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 (NKJV)
We are called to an ongoing internal encounter with His glory within our spirits that is generally not observed by others, just as the ministry of the high priest before the Ark was not observed. Our mind, will and emotions are called to cooperate in this endeavour. Encountering Him deep within is carrying the Ark and I will delve deeper into the how of this in future posts.