Marvin L. Weir
The Ark of the Covenant among the Israelites represented God’s presence among His people. Without obedience, however, the physical possession of the ark provided no advantage to the Israelites. Christians today can learn from various incidents involving the Ark of the Covenant.
The Presence of the Ark is the Hope of Those Who Humbly Obey God
“And Joshua rent his clothes, and fell to the earth upon his face before the ark of Jehovah until the evening, he and the elders of Israel; and they put dust upon their heads” (Joshua 7:6). Israel had been defeated and scattered in battle by the small city of Ai. It was a secret, hidden sin that had led to their downfall (Joshua 7:19-20). Now humbled and helpless before his enemy, Joshua bows himself before God.
Secret sin, tolerated sin, and sin swept under the proverbial carpet is the cause of failure in the Lord’s church. Just as possession of the ark did not guarantee success for the Israelites, the possession of a church building today does not guarantee success for those who faithfully assemble each week. The Lord has never promised to bless the efforts of people who do not have the courage and faith to do what He has commanded be done!
The Presence of the Ark is the Glory of Israel
“And she said, The glory is departed from Israel; for the ark of God is taken” (1 Sam. 4:22). Without the ark, Israel is as a flock without a shepherd! What is more powerless than one whom God has departed? When Israel decided to trust in human Kings and men’s wisdom instead of trusting in God, she was doomed to fail.
The same is true of the Lord’s church. The presence of Christ is the glory of His church. Christ will not, however, share His glory with the devil or the devil’s helpers. The Lord speaks clearly in regard to this matter in saying, “I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. How can ye believe, who receive glory one of another, and the glory that (cometh) from the only God ye seek not” (John 5:43-44)? People who seek their own glory cannot glorify God!
The Presence of the Ark is the Downfall of Heathenism
“And when they arose early on the morrow morning, behold, Dagon was fallen upon his face to the ground before the ark of Jehovah; and the head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands lay cut off upon the threshold; only the stump of Dagon was left to him” (1 Sam. 5:4). Israel learned that no idol or manmade god could stand in the presence of Jehovah God. All the powers of this world must one day bow and be broken before the Lord (Phil. 2:9-11).
Innovations, men’s creeds, and will-worship one day will fall in defeat to God’s Word. Dagon’s in the heart such as pride, worldliness, lust, and covetousness will be as the sinking sand in the Day of Judgment.
The Presence of the Ark Will Perplex Its Enemies
“They sent therefore and gathered all the lords of the Philistines unto them, and said, What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel” (1 Sam. 5:8)? The Philistines had a decision to make. They could not have God in their presence and continue to live in opposition to His will. Pilate asked, “What then shall I do unto Jesus who is called Christ? They all say, Let him be crucified” (Matt. 27:22). Every accountable soul must determine what he will do with Christ and His Word. Many Christians today find it perplexing when told they cannot live and worship as they desire and be recipients of the Lord’s blessings.
The Presence of the Ark Rebukes the Presumptuous
“And he smote of the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, he smote of the people seventy men, and fifty thousand men…” (1 Sam. 6:19). Eternal doom is the destiny of all who presumptuously ignore or refuse to comply with God’s commands! Uzzah touched the ark to steady it and God struck him dead (2 Sam. 6:6-8). None of God’s commands are trivial, and one can never be successful in doing what God has not authorized.
The Presence of the Ark Is a Source of Joy to the Faithful
“So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of Jehovah with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet” (2 Sam. 6:15). The presence of God and Christ will always bring joy to those who love them. The light of God’s Word is a delight to those who believe and trust in it, but that light causes consternation and resentment to those who refuse its demands!
The Absence of the Ark is the Defeat of God’s People
Moses, spokesman for God, told his people, “Wherefore now do ye transgress the commandment of Jehovah, seeing it shall not prosper? Go not up, for Jehovah is not among you; that ye be not smitten down before your enemies” (Num. 14:41-42). The result of failing to heed God’s Word is noted: “But they presumed to go up to the top of the mountain: nevertheless the ark of the covenant of Jehovah, and Moses, departed not out of the camp” (Num. 14:44). Israel could not transgress God’s laws and expect Him to be with them in battle against their enemies.
Will we as Christians learn from those things written aforetime (Rom. 15:4)? If we do not worship “in spirit and truth” (John 4:24), it is vain worship (Matt. 15:9). If we choose to live in sin (Col. 3:7), we will be separated from God (Isa. 59:1-2).
The wages of sin guarantees the absence of God’s presence and brings eternal death (Rom. 6:23).