The Glory of God on the Shoulders of Men

Ever since I saw Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark when I was a little girl, I’ve been fascinated by the Ark of the Covenant. I mean, it’s kind of a mysterious thing to start with, but then you get Nazis’ faces melting off, and the intrigue goes to a new level!

I happened across the specs for this very ark in my Bible reading recently, and some things came to mind that I’d never really thought of before.

How can almighty God entrust His image, His name, His presence to a being so fallible and fickle as man? Why does He choose this? Way back in Exodus 25 (the second book of the Bible), I read His instructions to the Israelites. They were to build an ark of the covenant, in which sacred reminders of their history with Jehovah would be kept, and the lid would be the “seat of atonement.” Atop the ark, God Himself would preside to meet with Moses, Aaron and the high priests. 


God was very specific in His instructions for the design of the ark:

Plans for the Ark of the Covenant

10 “Have the people make an Ark of acacia wood—a sacred chest 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. 11 Overlay it inside and outside with pure gold, and run a molding of gold all around it. 12 Cast four gold rings and attach them to its four feet, two rings on each side. 13 Make poles from acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14 Insert the poles into the rings at the sides of the Ark to carry it. 15 These carrying poles must stay inside the rings; never remove them.
Exodus 25:10–15(NLT)

When the ark wasn’t in the heart of the tabernacle (the Israelites’ mobile temple), God’s presence was to rest on the shoulders of men.
Even when the ark was not being transported, the poles were to be left in place. God’s presence would be ready to move out into the world the moment men were ready to shoulder it.

The weight of His covenant could not be carried by one man, or even two. God has not called us to walk this walk alone… he designed His presence to be carried by a group, a body, a people… a church.

And isn’t it like God to make the visible part of the ark the “seat of atonement,” also known as the “mercy seat”? What we are to carry to the world is mercy. This mercy seat was even carried before their armies to war. The Lord commanded that Mercy march out bold and unprotected before the warriors and warhorses. No doubt a humbling reminder of Whose people the Israelites were.

Whose am I? Who marches out first in my life?
Am I trying to carry God’s presence all by myself? How am I walking with other believers?
Am I carrying mercy into the world, or do I grab out the ten commandments and whack people around with those instead?

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