Joshua-Wayne Barber/Part 5
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2004|
|Last week we saw our God who goes before us, but today we want to understand our God is always with us. Isn’t it great that He’s omnipresent? He lives within us and yet He goes before us. He’s always present with us.|
Our God Who is always with us (Joshua 3a)
It’s good to see you today, and it’s exciting to see what God is doing in our midst. Turn if you will to Joshua 3, and you can just sort of camp out there. We’re not going to be there much. I just want to tell you one thing about that: the ten times in Joshua 3 the word Ark is used. And that’s all I’m going to say about chapter 3 today. I want to talk to you today about the God, our God, who is always with us.
Last week we saw our God who goes before us, but today we want to understand our God is always with us. Isn’t it great that He’s omnipresent? He lives within us and yet He goes before us. He’s always present with us. He’s here this morning. This is not where He dwells, in this building, He lives in us.
It’s so exciting to know that as we possess by faith what God has given to us, that He’s already gone before us. Just as a bit of review from last week, Jericho was the first major battle that the Israelites would have to fight once they crossed over the Jordan River. The Jordan River stood between them and what God said was theirs. It was at flood stage. It was a perfect time to trust Him, but Jericho blocked the way to possessing everything that God had. It was the biggest city, the biggest battle that they would face. So Joshua, who had been there 40 years before as one of the spies, he sent two secret spies over there to swim that swollen Jordan River, and they had to go in and check out Jericho. You see, it’s been a long time since Joshua had been there. He wanted to make sure; he checked the city out to see what had changed.
Well, the encouragement came with the spies because God is not a respecter of persons. Just like He watched after them, He’s going to watch after the nation of Israel. They did not know that when they got over into the land their presence would be known, even though they went secretly into the land. But God already knew that, and God was way ahead of them and had given them a place to hide when the enemy came. And it was in the home of a former prostitute by the name of Rahab. It’s interesting, as we brought out last week, that in our possessing what is ours in Christ, we have to also deal with our Jericho. That’s the biggest battle we’re going to have. That’s our besetting sin in our life. But when the temptation comes to go back to that sin and lose out on experiencing what God has given us, to resort back to the flesh. He doesn’t give us a place to hide, He is our place to hide. He is our refuge. When we cry out to Him and say, “Oh, God! I can’t handle this. This temptation is too great,” God says, “I know you can’t. I never said you could. I live in you and I always said I would.” And He replaces us and so you see the parallel here. He gave them a place to hide, but He is our place in the New Covenant in which we hide. We’re hidden in Christ who is in God.
God also prepares a people to stand with us when those temptations come, when the enemy comes and tries to get us out of experiencing what God has given to us. He prepared Rahab to help them in their journey; the former harlot. You see, God had drawn her to Himself. She was no longer a prostitute, she was something else now. And God had drawn her to Himself and changed her life. He had prepared her to stand beside His people. She hid the two spies and she helped them to escape. God is always ahead of us, and that is so precious to me. There are some people who don’t want to receive Christ. Or perhaps if they have received Him, they don’t know what to expect next. You don’t have to know what to expect next; God knows what to expect and He’s way ahead of you. And as we say yes to Him, He leads us in the journey and then also walks with us through the temptations that come.
But God also always prepares a way of escape. When the two spies needed to get away, Rahab, who lived—and I just think this is the neatest thing—lived on the wall. What a better place to live to get rid of two spies when they wanted to get out of town. She just let them out the window and down the wall and she gave them a way of escape. She made them promise, however, to spare her and her family. When they came in to take the land, they gave her a stipulation: you stay in your house on the wall and you put out the window a scarlet thread or rope. We see that that scarlet thread is the scarlet thread of redemption that runs from Genesis all the way through to Revelation. We saw that last week as we looked at the example of when they were in Egypt, and the death angel came and they partook of the lamb and put the blood on the door and that scarlet thread was protecting them once more.
Now, knowing what happened to the wall, some of you read ahead of us and already know the story, and you’re thinking, “You know, that’s not a good place to stay. The walls are going to come tumbling down.” Well, if they’re going to come tumbling down, then why would they tell her to stay in the house? An archaeologist whom I love and respect very much, and to me is a brilliant student of God’s Word, told me that they have discovered—and I think this is so neat—they have discovered a part of the wall that didn’t fall, and on the other side of that wall was a house. I just wonder where the scarlet thread is. They haven’t dug enough yet! It’s there somewhere. No wonder! It’s just awesome.
And you’ll get over to chapter 6 and you’re going to find out that they put her outside the camp and the walls fell, and then they said she dwelled in the midst of the camp for the rest of her days. I wonder what changed. I guarantee when they saw that house sitting there they said, “Come on in!” God put His stamp of approval on her.
Well, in our walk with Christ, our yielding to Him is still that scarlet thread of redemption, isn’t it? Our way of escape is to run to Him and be covered by His blood and cleansed. And even when we make a mistake and even when we sin, His blood cleanses us. And it’s just such a beautiful picture of what we have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, today we’re going to see that He just doesn’t go before us, He goes with us. It is His presence with us that assures our heart as we possess that which He has given us by faith. Now when you mention the word “Ark,” you’re talking about the presence of God with His people. We’re speaking of the Ark of the Covenant. And like I said earlier, the word ark is used ten times in chapter 3, and it just hit me, a lot of people may not understand the Ark and what it represented to you and me in the New Covenant. What Israel didn’t understand, and it’s our prayer today that they would, is that the Ark of the Covenant was a perfect picture, a shadow, of the Christ that lives and dwells permanently in us. They were carrying with them a symbol of the presence of God with them. And it’s going to be so exciting when we get into chapter 3 and how far they had to back away from that Ark to be sure that everybody could see that Ark at all times. And how, when they got to the swollen river of the Jordan, the priests had that Ark with them and they put their feet in the water. And what happened to that water when they did, in the presence of God, that’s always with us.
If you want to know this morning what it is that Christ offers to you, that He wants you to experience, I promise you, the picture is right here in the Ark. Everything about the Ark is a replica and a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. So I want us to look at the Ark this morning. Four things I want you to see and I want you to know that Christ lives in you. He is our Ark; in a sense He’s with us within us! We’re kind of like that Ark, but He’s within us and we want to understand what it is He wants to do for us as we learn to walk by faith in the life He’s given to us.
- The Ark portrays the person of Christ who is always with us
Four things, first of all is this about the Ark of the Covenant: the Ark portrays the person of Christ who is always with us. It portrays beautifully the person of Christ who is always with us. It’s in the Ark that we see the God-Man. Now if you can flip fast enough, we’re going to be looking at a lot of Scripture or you can just listen. I’m going to read them for you, but in Exodus 25:10-11, it says this: “They shall construct an Ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide and one and a half cubits high. You shall overlay it with pure gold inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding around it.”
Now this acacia wood, sometimes called shittim wood, came from a large, thorny tree that had rough, gnarled bark. It was very hard. It was orange-brown wood and it was very hard grain, kind of like in a petrified forest, you know, when you see the wood it has almost become impenetrable. In fact, the Septuagint translates the word there as “incorruptible.” Now, this wood, made of a specific wood, pictures the humanity of Christ. He became the son of man. But this hard wood was to be covered outwardly and it was to be inlaid inwardly with pure gold. It says in Exodus 25:11, “And you shall overlay it with pure gold within and without.”
Now the picture is complete. Here we see the beautiful picture of the humanity of Christ, but yet the divinity of Christ. You see, Christ, our Lord Jesus, was both man and God, and this is the uniqueness about Him. He was the God-Man. He was God in the flesh. First John 4:2 says, “By this you know the Spirit of God; every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God.”
The Ark was also surrounded by a crown of solid gold. And that’s just another picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. Man crowned Him with thorns, but God has crowned Him with glory and honor and set Him at His right side. Hebrews 2:9 says, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely Jesus, because of the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor so that by the grace of God, He might taste death for everyone.”
At each corner of the Ark there was a gold ring; two on each side. And these gold rings were used for the staves to go through to carry the Ark. There was no beginning and no end to that ring, which teaches us that the Lord Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. And those staves that they would use that were fixed to the Ark through those four rings, those staves remind us of His Word, when He says in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” He is ever present with you and me. And this is a beautiful thing: the Ark could be taken from them, and it was symbolic of the presence of God. But you and I have Him within us. We have been made priests unto God in Christ Jesus. He is our High Priest. And we don’t have to have staves to carry Him and there is no fear of losing Him: He lives within us and is always with us.
I had a young man in Chattanooga and I him to this day, but he did some crazy things. And you know how young men are. My son’s one, and I used to be one. You wear these dumb clothes. I mean, you can tell a young man in a crowd of 2,000 people. It’s just the way they look. And he had this dumb looking hat on, you know, and walked into church one day and this precious little lady walked up to him and she said, “Young man, get that hat off your head! You’re in God’s house!” And he looked at her for a minute and he said, “I beg your pardon. This hat is not IN God’s house; this hat is ON God’s house!” And kept right on walking! Now he wasn’t very tactful, but he had a truth, didn’t he?
You know, we call this the house of God, only in the sense that we have set it apart to worship Him. We are the house of God. That’s what 1 Corinthians tells us, “Know you not that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit of God.” We don’t need staves to carry Him around. He’s within us, and everywhere we go we carry Him around. He lives in our lives.
So the Ark points to our ascended Lord as Son of God and Son of man: crowned with glory, ever living and ever present to all who call upon Him. The Ark represented to the Israelites the presence of God, but to us in the New Covenant, built on better promises, it is a picture of Christ who lives in our lives and seeks to want to live His life through us. Our little grandson tells his Mama every night. He says, “Mama, if you need me, you come get me!” I just love that: he’s got such a sweet heart. In little Jonathan’s mind he’s telling her, “I’m just upstairs, Mama, and you’re just downstairs, but if you need me, you come on up and get me.” And I’m thinking that’s not the way it is with Christ, is it? We don’t have to go anywhere to get Him; we already have Him. And all you have to do is cry out to Him. He is there. He lives in us.
- The Ark proclaims our provision in Christ that is always with us
So the Ark beautifully portrays the Person of Christ who is always with us in the presence of His Spirit. Once we become a believer, we carry Him wherever we go. But then secondly, the Ark proclaims our provision in Christ that is always with us. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us that within the Ark of the Covenant was the golden jar holding the manna. Hebrews 9:4, “Having a golden altar of incense and the Ark of the Covenant covered on all sides with gold in which were a golden jar holding the manna.”
Now in Exodus 16:33-34, it says in verse 33, “Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omerful of manna in it and place it before the Lord to be kept throughout your generations. As the Lord commanded Moses,” verse 34 says, “so Aaron placed it before the testimony to be kept.” Now this manna, which in Hebrew means “what is it,” in the Chaldean means “a portion,” and in the English means “bread,” this manna was God’s miraculous and bountiful provision for Israel. It was what He gave to them to sustain them. In Exodus 16:11-31, and Numbers 11:1-9, as carefully studied, you will note that in every detail, this pictures the Lord Jesus Christ as the Bread of Life. In fact, the Lord Jesus likened Himself to manna to His own person in John 6:35. Jesus said to them, “I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
And as we begin to look at what this manna does, and what He wants to do in our life, from the description given us in Exodus 16:14, we learn that it was small. It was small. In fact, some translations translate “small,” but the New American Standard says “when the layer of dew evaporated, behold on the surface of the wilderness, there was a fine [or small] flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.” Now the smallness of this manna, and yet its sustaining power would point to the humility of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ our bread, our manna, made Himself of no reputation. In the eyes of men He made Himself small. Philippians 2:7, in the King James Version says, “But made Himself of no reputation and took upon Him the form of a servant and was made in the likeness of men.” Something that the world considers to be so trite is so profound.
The Scripture tells us that the manna was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground. In Exodus 16:14, “When the layer of dew evaporated, behold on the surface of the wilderness, there was a fine, flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.” That word “frost” is sometimes translated hoar frost and it referred to an extreme frost. Oh, how awesome it is to get up in that fall, in the morning, and I just love it, and when that frost has been laid on the ground. You just want to breathe this fresh: it is fresh! You see, this aspect of the manna would speak of the freshness of Christ. You go to Him every day and every moment and you’re going to discover something so fresh about Him. There’s nothing stale in the Lord Jesus if we experience His life. In John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing.” “The words,” Jesus says, “that I have spoken to you are Spirit and are life.” They are like the frost in the morning, they’re fresh and they’re so refreshing in your life.
In Exodus 16:31 it says, “The house of Israel named it manna.” And it gives is another dimension. It says, “And it was like coriander seed.” Coriander seed was used as a spice and this would speak of the fragrance of Christ. Believers were spoken of when they lived yielded to Christ in the New Testament as exuding the fragrance of Christ. There’s just a sweet-smelling aroma, spiritually, when people are walking with God. The Song of Solomon 1:3 says, “Your oils have a pleasing fragrance. Your name is like purified oil.” In Numbers 11:8 it says something else about this manna that represents the Lord Jesus, the Bread of Life. It says that its taste “was as the taste of cakes baked with oil.” That oil being that ingredient that gave it that sustenance and its flavor.
In Numbers 11:8, “The people would go about and gather it and grind it between two millstones or beat it in the mortar and boil it in the pot and make cakes with it, and its taste was as the taste of cakes baked with oil.” You know that the oil is a picture of the authority of Christ, the Anointed One. John 3:34 says, “Now He whom God has sent speaks the Words of God for He gives the Spirit without measure.”
I’ve had many people pray for me from time to time, “Oh, God! Anoint him, put the anointing upon him.” But to me that’s the wrong prayer. Jesus is the anointed one. Jesus is the Anointing. And when it’s no longer me, but it’s Him, that anointing is present in my life and in yours. And it’s the authority which that anointing gives who is His presence within us that is incredible.
In Exodus 16:31 it says, “Its taste,” speaking of the manna again, “is like the wafers with honey.” And this speaks of the sweetness of Christ. I love that verse in Romans 2 that says it’s the goodness and the kindness of Christ that leads a man to repentance. Song of Solomon 2:3 prophetically says, “I sat down under his shadow and with great delight and his fruit was sweet to my taste.” In Numbers 11:7 it says, “Now the manna was like coriander seed and its appearance like that of bdellium.” Bdellium was thought to be by many the beryl crystal, which is a precious stone, and this would speak of the preciousness of Christ. Peter says in the King James Version, 1 Peter 2:7, “Unto you therefore,” speaking to the believers, “which believe, He is precious.” I wonder how many times during the week do you stop and tears begin to fill up in your eyes as you think of the preciousness of Christ? The sweetness of Christ, the awesome fragrance of being in His presence; the refreshment of just being in His presence and allowing Him to be in you what you know that you cannot be.
This manna was a sufficient provision. It fed the people for 40 years and kept them going for that period of time. The bread of heaven was plenty for everyone. This manna was a satisfying provision. Some Jewish authorities tell us that it tasted to every man as he pleased. In other words, it suited every palate, whether it was young, whether it was old, weak or strong, a truly remarkable fact when you realize that we’re talking about 1.5-2.5 million people. And every single person was not only sustained, but was satisfied. This manna was a sustaining provision. The nutrition in this bread from heaven evidently contained all the vitamins that were needed for it maintained the strength of this pilgrim nation for those forty years of the wilderness wandering.
So what we’re seeing here is a picture in that Ark, in that chest, covered with gold, inside a golden pot of manna. And that manna is telling us of the beautiful characteristics of our Lord Jesus Christ. When you begin to possess His life, you’ll discover that it is very sufficient, it is satisfying and it is sustaining. The Ark portrays the Person of Christ, but it also proclaims our provision that’s in Christ. We’re living in a day when it’s everything but Jesus—give me anything, but don’t give me Jesus. But yet in Jesus is everything everybody needs, and if they’d just come to Him and taste of Him and receive that which He gives to them they would discover.
- The Ark portrays the productivity of Christ
The Ark pictures, thirdly, the productivity of Christ. He reproduces Himself in us. Not only was there the golden jar of manna inside that chest that was covered with gold, but there was also something else. He says, “In which was a golden jar holding the manna, and,” he adds, “Aaron’s rod which budded.” Now this rod was an emblem, or this stick, was an emblem of the priesthood, the chosen priesthood: God’s chosen priesthood. The circumstances in which it budded are found and recorded in Numbers 16 and 17. There was a man there by the name of Korah. Korah didn’t understand the function of God. Just like many people don’t understand it when you have elders, they all look at each other and say the priesthood of believers. We’re all equal. He couldn’t understand why it was that they had to listen to Moses and listen to Aaron. And so he rebelled against the priesthood of Aaron and the leadership of Moses.
So God had to judge those rebels and then He had to vindicate His authority and His ministry of His chosen servants. So a rod, a stick, which was a tribal staff; it came from a tree somewhere, but it was a tribal staff, suitably named, was taken from each of the 12 tribes. Each one of them had a stick that could have produced, but had been cut off and used as a symbol. They laid it before Jehovah inside the Holy of Holies. Now among these was Aaron’s rod, representing not only him but the whole tribe of Levi. Now here then were 12 sticks, each stick representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. They were dead and they were barren. They could produce no fruit and they were laid before God overnight.
What God was going to do was to vindicate one of those sticks, which meant He was going to give authority back to His priesthood that had been rebelled against by Korah. After laying overnight, Moses went into the tent the next morning, in Numbers 17:8 it says, “Now on the next day Moses went into the tent of the testimony and behold the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi,” now listen to this, “had sprouted and put forth buds and produced blossoms and it bore ripe almonds.” Now what rich teaching is enshrined here in this stick, this rod, that budded, blossomed and brought forth almonds.
There are three levels here of what God does; it pictures our Lord Jesus Christ. In the rod we have a picture of the Savior’s incarnation. When He became a man, not came into a man, but when He became a man, He was as a root out of dry ground, Isaiah tells us in Isaiah 53:2. Later on we read that He was “cut off” out of the land of the living, speaking of His crucifixion in Isaiah 53:8. And so we see that in the first part of that. But the buds speak of His resurrection. The rod that budded, having died for our sins, the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures and that’s specifically stated in 1 Corinthians 15:4. In the truest sense, Christ is the only one, Old Testament and New Testament, that ever truly rose from the dead.
Now you say, “Wait a minute Wayne. I can tell you many people.” Now, wait a minute. Both in the Old and New Testament, yes, men and women were brought back to life to live again, but then they had to also do something else again. What was it? They had to die again. F. B. Meyer pointedly remarks that in every case of somebody being brought back to life, there was one cradle and two coffins, in every one. So in that understanding of that, Jesus is the only one ever to resurrect truly from the dead. In Romans 6:10, “For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all. But the life that He lives, He lives unto God.” And the preceding verse, verse 9 says, “Knowing that Christ having been raised from the dead is never to die again. Death no longer is master over Him.” So in the budding there we see the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But in the blossom, in the blossom, it not only budded and blossomed and then bore fruit. It the blossom we see Christ’s exaltation, for the flower is always the glory of the tree. After His resurrection we read that He was received up into glory, 1 Timothy 3:16. Now the almonds typify the next step, His reproduction of His life into others. You see, it wasn’t just that He budded and blossomed, but it was that He bore fruit. It was a stick from an almond tree and so He bore the fruit. The almonds typify this. The manifestation of life is beauty and the purpose of all beauty, all throughout fair creation, is the reproduction of life for the maintenance of succeeding generations.
And so that last step shows His seed that He’s going to produce, that which He’s going to bring forth because of what He’s done. So we see the fruit of the almonds, our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven reproducing His life in every sinner who repents and believes. Isaiah tells us that having made His soul an offering for sin, one day He would see His offspring. He would see that which was reproduced because of what He had done. Isaiah 53:10: “But the Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief. If He would render Himself as a guilt offering He would see His offspring,” He would see His offspring, “He will prolong His days and the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.”
So the risen Christ has a seed and one day He will present that precious fruit. As Hebrews tells us in chapter 2, verse 13, “Behold I and the children whom God has given Me.” Aren’t you glad to be a part of that reproduction, part of that almond, part of the reproduction of the Lord Jesus, His life that’s been reproduced in us? The psalmist also tells us in chapter 22 and verse 30, “Posterity will serve Him.” Or, His seed will serve Him, posterity. “It will be told of the Lord to the coming generation.”
So in the Ark we have a symbol of the presence of God, but to us it’s a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, of the life that we can possess. We see the person of Christ, we see the provision of Christ, and we see the productivity of Christ as He reproduces Himself in the lives of others. Last Sunday a young man came out and he was just so beaming in his face and the person with him said, “Wayne, I’d for you to meet your new brother in Jesus Christ.” He had just received Jesus after the service last week. Isn’t that exciting? And we’re all a part of that. And because He lives in us, He continues to produce His seed in the lives of others and one day will present them back to the Father.
- The Ark proclaims the propitiation of Christ
And then finally, the Ark proclaims the propitiation of Christ that is always with us. That’s a big word, propitiation. We throw it around sometimes as if everybody understands it. It’s found in Hebrews 2:17, “Therefore He had to be made like His brethren in all things so that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God; to make propitiation for the sins of the people.” Now that word “propitiation” means to bring forgiveness to those who don’t deserve it by the means of a costly and an atoning sacrifice. He satisfied the justice of God; He satisfied the love of God. When He died, he satisfied the love of God; when He shed His blood, He satisfied the justice of God: He paid our sin debt. Jesus’ death satisfied God. His dying for our sin and His shedding of His blood, frees us from the penalty of sin when we receive Him by faith, and then daily frees us from the power of sin, and one day will free us from the very presence of sin as He takes us to be with Himself and we have a brand new body.
In the Ark was also the Tables of the Covenant. Now, to see this propitiation, you’ve got to understand how man is condemned and yet how man now can be saved. Hebrews 9:4 “Having an altar of incense in the Ark of the Covenant in which was a golden jar holding the manna,” we looked at that, “and Aaron’s rod which budded,” we looked at that, “and the Tables of the Covenant.” The Tables of the Covenant. The instruction to Moses was in Exodus 25:16, “You shall put into the Ark the testimony which I shall give you.” Now the Testimony was a moral law: the Ten Commandments that everybody wants to talk about, but nobody can live. They’re explained in detail in Exodus 20:1-17; the law again that no man or woman can keep and therefore condemned all. And this law, this law, was deposited in the Ark.
Now you think about that for a second. Those who say that you can lose your salvation once you receive Christ in your heart would jump on that and say, “You see that? That law is still there and it’s still there condemning even the ones who carry it with them wherever they go.” But no, you don’t know the rest of the story. I love Paul Harvey. Paul Harvey says, “Now, for the rest of the story.” I just love him. I just think that’s the greatest line.
Let me tell you the rest of the story. Oh, yes, they were in the Ark. The two tables were in the Ark, but there was something above them and it sealed the Ark. And it covered over, where you couldn’t see the condemnation of the tables of law. You know what that was? That was the Mercy Seat: the Mercy Seat. The Mercy Seat pictures our Lord Jesus Christ who became for us the propitiation of our sin, the one, the only one who could, and the only one who did live the whole law. In fact, you hear His voice prophetically in Psalm 40:7, “Then I said, ‘Behold I come. In the scroll of the book it is written of Me.’” In verse 8, “I delight to do your will, oh God. Your law is within my heart.”
When Christ appeared in the flesh He could say in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the law in any way, or the prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” He came to fulfill the law. How? As a man. The law, the tables of stone that condemned every person born of Adam, but He came as the God-man born of the virgin Mary and as a result of that lived perfectly. He dotted every i, crossed every t, therefore He could qualify to go to the cross and take our sin debt upon Himself. The perfect Sacrifice. The apostle Paul reminds us that Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes, in Romans 10:4.
Hovering over the Mercy Seat, you’ve got to get this picture: the top of that chest covered with gold, crowned with gold, is the Mercy Seat. But at each end of the Ark, and hovering over it were two marvelous, enormous angels. As a matter of fact, they were so big it almost overshadowed the Ark. And these were the cherubim. They were formed out of the gold. They weren’t formed and then added to it, welded to it, they were formed out of the gold. It’s a beautiful thing if you’ve ever seen a picture of it. Their wings were spread upward, and they faced one another in the sense of there was one at one end and one at the other end, and their wings came up and they’re hovering over the Mercy Seat.
Their faces, however, were turned toward the Mercy Seat. You see, angels don’t understand redemption; they’ve never had to be redeemed. They have to look upon what God does in our life with absolute interest. I’m sure they’re hovering this morning because whenever He is worshipped, they’re always present. Hello, fellows! They’re always here. They’re always here. And they look with intent; they look with intent upon those who say they are the redeemed of the Lord Jesus Christ. The cherubim seem to be throughout all of Scripture, shouting forth the glorious power of God. It was here, between the two cherubim that the voice of God spoke to Moses, in Numbers 7:89. Over and over God is mentioned. I found it so many times I didn’t write the references down. That God is mentioned as the Lord of Hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim. It was here on the Mercy Seat on the Day of Atonement, that the high priest would put the blood of atonement upon the Mercy Seat.
Let me give you a picture of this. I tell you, this is sobering. He would tie a rope around his leg, because if he got inside there and he died of a heart attack, nobody could rush into the presence of God and get him. Sin in their life would have immediately taken them away. The veil that was ripped, by the way, from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross, the veil was so thick and so heavy and well-constructed that two oxen pulling against it could not pull it apart. And he would go behind that veil with that rope tied on his ankle in case something happened to him. And when he went in, the only way he could get in was because he had a vase and in that was the blood of the sacrifice. And when he went in, he wasn’t just making atonement for the sins of the people; he was making atonement for himself, because he was nowhere close to being the priest that our Lord Jesus was. Jesus did not go to the cross for His sin; He went to the cross of our sin.
But every year he would come in. He would dip into that and he would sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat which hovered over the law that condemned every man. And when the blood touched the Mercy Seat, that’s where men could find mercy with God and their sins which were underneath that were covered for one more year. You see, the Lord Jesus Christ is our propitiation. He’s our Mercy Seat. It was His blood that doesn’t cover our sins for one year, it remits them forever. Without the shedding of blood, Hebrews says, there would be no remission of sin. And so we see the picture in the Ark of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even today, or yesterday, when we sin and we run to Him because He’s ever present, we don’t run anywhere, He’s right there. We turn to Him, that’s a better way of saying it. We turn to Him and when we turn to Him we admit our sin and immediately that which could have condemned us cannot condemn us because His blood has cleansed us and will cleanse us again and keep us clean until one day we’re with Him. He is our Mercy Seat. Where the blood of the sacrifice covered the sins of Israel, the blood of our Lord Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice, covers and remits our sins forever. Jesus Christ is our Mercy Seat.
So in the Ark we clearly see the person of Christ, we see the provision of Christ in the manna, we see the productivity of Christ in the budding rod of Aaron, and we see the propitiation of Christ not only in the Tables of Law, but in the Mercy Seat that covers it with the cherubim that are overseeing and looking in with interest at what happens there at that place. And here is our life that we have in Christ.
A very precious gentleman shared with me this morning coming in, he said, “You know, it’s not just talking about what we have, is it? It’s experiencing it for ourselves. That’s the journey, isn’t it, Wayne?” I said, “That’s exactly right.” Are you walking in the cleansing power of the blood of Christ today? Are you walking in the satisfying, sustaining, beautiful manna of the Bread of Life? Are you feeding from Him? Is He filling up every hunger in your life and quenching every thirst for righteousness? He is our life. He has come that we might experience Him.
This is Who we’re all about here. This is going to be our message until Jesus comes back. Jesus and Jesus alone. Nothing more and nothing less, just Jesus. I’ve read this twice since I’ve been your pastor and I’m going to read it a third time today, and maybe in light of what we’re speaking on, perhaps today it will speak to your heart in a different way.
“Speaking of Christ, He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end. He’s the keeper of creation and the Creator of all. He’s the architect of the universe and the manager of all times. He always was, He always is, and He always will be: unmoved, unchanged, undefeated, and never undone. He was bruised and brought healing; He was pierced and eased pain; He was persecuted and brought freedom; He was dead and brought life; He was risen and brings power; He reigns and brings peace. The world can’t understand Him, the armies can’t defeat Him, the schools can’t explain Him, and the leaders can’t ignore Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him, the Pharisees couldn’t confuse Him, and the people couldn’t hold Him. Nero couldn’t crush Him, Hitler couldn’t silence Him, the new age can’t replace Him, and the talk show hosts can’t explain Him away.
He is light, love, longevity, and Lord. He is goodness, kindness, gentleness, and God. He is holy, righteous, mighty, powerful and pure. His ways are right, His words are eternal. His will is unchanging and His mind is on me. He is my redeemer, He is my Savior, He is my guide and He is my peace. He is my joy, He is my comfort, He is my Lord and He rules my life. I serve Him because His bond is love, His burden is light. His goal for me is abundant life. I follow Him because He’s the wisdom of the wise, the power of the powerful, the ancient of days, the ruler of rulers, the leader of leaders, the overseer of the over-comers, and the sovereign Lord of all that was, and is, and is to come.
And if that seems impressive to you, try this on for size: His goal is a relationship with me. He’ll never leave me, never forsake me, never mislead me, never forget me, never overlook me and never cancel my appointment in His appointment book. When I fall, He lifts me up; when I fail, He forgives; when I’m weak He is strong when I’m lost He is the way. When I’m afraid, He is my courage. When I stumble He steadies me. When I’m hurt, He heals me. When I’m broken, He mends me. When I’m blind, He leads me. When I’m hungry, He feeds me. When I face trials, He is with me. When I face persecution, He shields me. When I face problems, He comforts me. When I face loss, He provides for me. When I face death, He carries me home. He is everything for everybody, everywhere, every time, every way. He is God and He is faithful. I am His and He is mine. My Father in heaven can whip the father of this world. So if you’re wondering why I feel so secure, understand this: He said it, that settles it. God is in control, I’m on His side, and that means all is well with my soul. Every day is a blessing for God is.”
Now that’s our message right there. I want you to know folks, that’s what we are going to be about until Jesus comes back. We’re not interested in gimmicks, you use a gimmick to get somebody, and you’ve got to use a gimmick to keep somebody. We’re interested in the true sustenance of the Lord Jesus Christ; the substance of the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s all we’re going to preach, that’s all we’re going to talk about until He comes back, because in Him is what everybody needs and most people don’t understand that. But we’re going to be about that.
Now, I’ve said all of that to help you understand the Ark, to help you understand the life that God has given you that you can possess in Christ Jesus, totally sustaining, totally satisfying, all the things we’ve talked about.