And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.Exodus 25:22
A terrible thing happened when the children of Israel were in the Wilderness.
- They turned from God,
- Made a golden calf to worship, and
- Ran wild.
What would become of their relationship with God?
After the incident with the golden calf, God told Moses to make a special box, the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 10:1–3). The ark contained the tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written, a pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded (Hebrews 9:4). The ark had a covering lid, known as the mercy seat, which was made of pure gold. It was where God would meet with man (Exodus 25:21–22). Cherubim extended from the ends of the mercy seat (Exodus 25:17–20).
The ark represents the Lord Jesus Christ. In Romans 3:25, he is characterized using the same word that is used to identify the mercy seat in Hebrews 9:5. He fulfilled the Law of Moses, represented by the Ten Commandments (Matthew 5:17). He is the manna sent down from God (John 6:41). Like Aaron’s rod that budded, he was restored to life after he died, and that restoration was God’s way of showing whom He had chosen to be high priest (Numbers 17).
After Jesus’s resurrection, when John saw an angel at the head and another at the feet of where Jesus had lain, it might have reminded him of the mercy seat and the cherubim (John 20:12).
A Symbol of Hope
The ark of the covenant is a symbol of hope. The Book of Revelation uses the incorruptible manna contained in the ark to represent the reward that has been promised to us in Christ:
“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”Revelation 2:17
Just like the children of Israel in the wilderness,
- We turn from God and we sin,
- We can be idolatrous (Colossians 3:5), and
- We can run wild.
But God provided for them, and he has provided for us. He has given us Christ, and we have hope, knowing we can meet God in a place of mercy.