“So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest”. Numbers 10:33
The Israelites were delivered from their bondage in Egypt by the mighty hand of God and were led by God’s servant Moses to the Promised Land. God had promised His people that He is taking them to a land that flows with milk and honey. On the course, God renewed His covenant with His people, gave them Laws and instructions for worship. The Tabernacle became the place of worship, with the Ark of the Covenant being placed in the most Holy place. The Ark of the Covenant symbolised God’s special relationship that He shared with people of Israel. As they set out for their journey, the Ark of the Covenant always went before the people of Israel. The God of Israel is a God of promise, and He is the source and caretaker of that promise. Since they were in a covenantal relationship, the people of Israel had to commit to the promise for the promise to be fulfilled. And the Ark of the Covenant strongly signified that.
1. The Ark of the Covenant signified God’s presence among his people, as it went before the people; it is “God’s guiding presence” which went before them to the promise land. It became a strong reminder for them that in order to receive the promise of God, it’s important that Presence of God should go before them and that they should always give God the first priority to receive the promise.
2. The Ark of the Covenant had testimonies which served as reminders on their way to the promise land. It had the Tablets of commandments, the manna and the budded rod of Aaron (Hebrews 9:4). It is fascinating to know what it could have meant for them in order to receive the promise. God chose the People of Israel as “Holy Nation” (Exodus 19:6). “Holiness” was the foundation of that relationship and they had to obey God’s commands in order to be holy and they had atonements to cleanse themselves to be holy. The tablets reminded them that in order to receive God’s promise, they need to be holy by keeping His commands.
3. The Ark of the Covenant had Manna and it reminded them of God’s providence to them in the desert, marking their total dependence on God for their survival. It’s a reminder that to receive the promise, they need God’s “providential grace”.
4. The Ark of the covenant had Aaron’s rod that was budded. When the authority of God’s choice of leadership was questioned and rebelled by a section of Israelites, God had to prove them by signs that included Aaron’s rod which budded. God expected the people of Israel to “honour His choices”. It served as a reminder for them to yield to God’s choices, plans and His ways to receive God’s promise.
In the New Testament, Paul says that all the promises of God were fulfilled in the finished work of Christ, and instead of the Ark of the covenant, Jesus himself goes before us to lead us into the eternal promise God gives to His children. These reminders still hold true for us that we need to commit to the authority of Christ and be led by His spirit to hold these fundamental truths in order to receive God’s promise for our lives. 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him, the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God”.