There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the sons of Israel, when they came out of Egypt, (5:10).
There are some major differences between the sacred places built as dwelling places for the Presence of God, the tabernacle built by Moses in the wilderness and the temple of Solomon built in the City of David. However, both place rightful emphasis on the Holy Place, where the priests were to minister on behalf of the people and the Holy of Holies, the place where the Presence of God would dwell; the place where only the high priest could enter to make atonement for the sins of the people.
In the tabernacle, God established the Holy of Holies to be the place where He would come and meet with Moses, to speak to him from above the mercy seat upon the ark of the testimony.
“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. 22 There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel,” (Exodus 25:21-22).
An image emerges of God relating to His people on the foundation of His Word.
After the ark is carefully brought into the finished temple, and as praises and sacrifices are offered, too numerous to count, His Presence comes and fills the temple.
…then the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God, (5:13-14).
And in this supernatural episode, the glory of the Lord so fills the house that it crowds everyone else out. Supernatural events will do that; no way anyone else can receive the attention. And rightly so. But the glory of the Lord, this incredible, magnificent and terrifying occurrence, that we all would have loved to experience (even if scared out of our wits), was temporary. Otherwise the priests would never have been able to serve.
In the wilderness tabernacle, three sacred items were placed inside the ark: the two tablets of testimony, representing His Covenant (Exodus 25:16); Aaron’s rod, demonstrating His Power (Numbers 17:10); and the jar of Manna, representing His Provision (Exodus 16:33).
But now, in the completed temple, built by the son of David, only the two tablets of Moses are inside the ark. The two tablets of stone representing His Covenant with His children, as if to confirm that every bit of His Power and Provision would be provided through His Covenant, promised in His own Son, the Messiah, the Son of David.
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham, (Matthew 1:1).
And while this manifestation of the miraculous would not be a constant, His Covenant containing His Promises and His Word was to reside in the ark permanently.
And it would be a reminder, not to merely look for the miraculous moments, but to trust that every need would be met by Him Who Is faithful to His Promises and His Word, and to put their hope in His Unparalleled Covenant.
And God would send His Son, Unparalleled in His Power and Provision to save and keep those who would but place their faith in Him.
I love seeing Jesus in every page of the Old Testament. And whenever we read about His Old Covenant, it points us directly to His New Covenant through His Son. It’s been God’s plan since the beginning.
“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel,” (Genesis 3:15).
Everything that is Unparalleled about His Covenant is revealed and confirmed in Jesus Christ, our Savior, through His blood sacrifice, shed for us that we might become the recipients of His Unparalleled Covenant through His Son.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood,” (Luke 22:20).
Today, as we peruse just a few of the many Scriptures in regard to His Covenant with His people, may His Word increase our understanding and appreciation of the profound treasure of His Unparalleled Covenant.
Consider His Unparalleled Covenant
Unparalleled: “having no parallel or equal; exceptional.”
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled PlanI will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you, (Genesis 17:7).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him,” (John 3:16).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled Compassion“Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant,” (Exodus 6:5).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd, (Matthew 9:36).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled FaithfulnessKnow therefore that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments; (Deuteronomy 7:9).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True… (Revelation 19:11).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled PowerBut you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day, (Deuteronomy 8:18).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek, (Romans 1:16).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled AbundanceSo I will turn toward you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will confirm My covenant with you. (Leviticus 26:9).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly,” (John 10:10).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled MediationBut I will remember for them the covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.’” (Leviticus 26:45).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled PreservationO Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who preserves the covenant and lovingkindness for those who love Him and keep His commandments, (Nehemiah 1:5).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: “and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one,” (John 10:28-30).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled Love“For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake,
But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you,
And My covenant of peace will not be shaken,”
Says the Lord who has compassion on you, (Isaiah 54:10).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Romans 8:37-39).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled Holiness“My covenant I will not violate,
Nor will I alter the utterance of My lips.
35 “Once I have sworn by My holiness;
I will not lie to David.
36 “His descendants shall endure forever
And his throne as the sun before Me.
37 “It shall be established forever like the moon,
And the witness in the sky is faithful.” (Psalm 89:34-37).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin, (Hebrews 4:15).
- His Covenant of His Unparalleled MercyNevertheless He looked upon their distress
When He heard their cry;
45 And He remembered His covenant for their sake,
And relented according to the greatness of His lovingkindness.
46 He also made them objects of compassion
In the presence of all their captors, (Psalm 106:44-46).
- Revealed and Confirmed in Jesus: It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. 16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life, (1 Timothy 1:16).
How do we respond to His Unparalleled Covenant?
The only contents within the ark were the tablets of Moses, a conspicuous reminder that it is only God’s faithfulness to His Covenant that grants access to His Holy Presence. His work, His keeping, irrespective of persons or ability, only to be believed and received by faith. May we place all our hope and reliance upon His Unparalleled Covenant; it is His work and His keeping that establishes our relationship with our Holy Father.
And let us not simply seek after the experience of miraculous moments, for in truth every moment is truly miraculous in Christ; each and every day we are the beneficiaries of His Power and Provision.
“Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:20).
Because of His Unparalleled Covenant we have absolute and unshakeable security for our eternity in His Presence, forever.
Today, may we be reminded to not be preoccupied in searching for outward signs (although He definitely provides those). But when miraculous wonders become our focused goal, it is far too easy to lose sight of Him. As you’ve heard it said, we can get caught up seeking the blessing and not the Blesser, the gifts and not the Giver…
Let us pray He will grow us to seek Him above all else, believing that every need will be met by our Covenant keeping God, Whose free gift of salvation has granted us eternal life. Now that is truly Unparalleled!
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? (Romans 8:32).
Today, and every day, let us find our joy through Jesus, for what else can compare? No matter our outward circumstances, may we live our lives with unceasing thanks and praise for His Unparalleled Covenant.
Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name, (Hebrews 13:15).