Skip to content

Allow Me to Explain (35 of 439) – Ark Contents

September 20, 2011

The back-story is here. The collection is here. You can subscribe over there. >>>

35. What was in the Ark of the Covenant? 1 Kings 8:9, 2 Chron 5:10 vs. Heb 9:4

My family moved so much when I was little that my mother used to instinctively write the date on the cardboard boxes, beneath the description of its contents. True story.

1 Kings 8:9
Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they came out of the land of Egypt.

2 Chronicles 5:10
Nothing was in the ark except the two tablets which Moses put there at Horeb, when the Lord made a covenant with the children of Israel, when they had come out of Egypt.

Hebrews 9:4
which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant;

First, the accessories. The pot of manna mentioned in Hebrews enters the story in Exodus 16. Moses is instructed to save some of the manna that the people ate in the desert, as a testimony to future generations. Aaron’s “rod that budded” joined the party in Numbers 17. It was a sign against rebels, to shut them up, “lest they die.”

Second, context. 1 Kings 8 and 2 Chronicles 5 are both describing the Ark of the Covenant as King Solomon brought it into the recently completed temple he had built for it. Hebrews 9, though written later, discusses a time earlier, when the Ark of the Covenant was housed in a tabernacle (big tent) while Israel travelled through the desert with Moses.

And travel it did:

  • Decades in the desert
  • Gilgal (Joshua 4:19)
  • Removed to Shiloh (1 Sam 1:3)
  • Taken into battle
  • … and captured by the Philistines (1 Sam 4)
  • Sent away to Kirjath-Jearim (1 Sam 7)
  • Nob, while Saul was king
  • Obededom’s house, for a while
  • … and then to the City of David (2 Sam 6)

The Ark moved a lot, and not always under the careful eye of the tribe that was responsible for it. Scripture never mentions the pot of manna or Aaron’s rod after the initial command to set each aside. All of the above considered, common sense goes, “You lost them.”

Kings and Chronicles describe a specific event that took place centuries after Moses. Israel – and, thus, the Ark – have travelled and settled. Israel has wavered between following God and not following God so many times that it’s hard to not get frustrated reading through Judges. They’ve been led into captivity and freed, only to be led back into captivity again and again. In the midst of all of it, they lost a small golden pot full of foodstuffs that no one recognizes, and a stick with flowers on it. They’d long since stopped revering these items, it’s not ridiculous to conclude they’re lost.

Moses didn’t lose them, though, so the writer of Hebrews includes them in his description of the Old Testament tabernacle. The writer, here, reveals in great detail how Moses’ tabernacle was only a foreshadow of what was to come in Christ. The manna and the flowering rod are symbolic of Jesus as the true Bread of Life and the eternally chosen High Priest who, though once dead, is alive, now, forever.

But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation.12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. (Hebrews 9:11-12)

Eternal redemption that He obtained, at great personal cost, for you. If you want it.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s