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All That Is Left

All That Is Left          Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ark Of The Covenant

ALL THAT IS LEFT   

By, James L. Thornton

Our thought for this study is taken from the incident where the Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought to Jerusalem to be placed in its proper place in the Temple after the Temple had been finished. The dedication of the new Temple is in progress and the priests are seen coming bearing this ancient relic.

1 Kings 8:9 There was nothing in the ark save the two tables 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.”

While Solomon wisely, and in the fear of God, ordered his government, during the first four years of his reign Israel enjoyed great prosperity, wealth and power. For the first time in their history they enjoyed peace from all their enemies.  (1 Kings 3, 4, 5)

1 Chronicles 29:25. And the Lord magnified Solomon exceedingly in the sight of all Israel, and bestowed upon him such royal majesty as had not been on any king before him in Israel. (KJV)

His crowning achievement remained to be done, the building of the temple.

King David, his father, had prepared for many years, accumulating the materials that were to be used in the building of the temple.

MUCH PREPARATION BY DAVID:

1 Chronicles 22:2. And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God.

3. And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight;

4. Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David.

5. And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the Lord must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death. (KJV)

1 Chronicles 29:2. Now I (David) have prepared with all my might for the house of my God the gold for things to be made of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and the brass for things of brass, the iron for things of iron, and wood for things of wood; onyx stones, and stones to be set, glistering stones, and of divers colours, and all manner of precious stones, and marble stones in abundance.

3. Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the Holy House,

4. Even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal: (KJV)

You may ask where did King David get all the gold, the silver, the brass, the jewels, and iron, that he heaped up to leave for Solomon to build the temple? Israel had no gold and silver mines, they had no mineral wealth in their lands to yield the rubies. Nor precious stones that they used to beautify and adorn it.

The answer, it came from the heathen countries around them. David simply took it from them in battle. It was the spoils of the many battles and wars he fought.

1 Chronicles 20:2. “And David took the crown of their king from off his head, and found it to weigh a talent of gold, and there were precious stones in it;”

So the gold that overlaid the doors once belong to the worshipers of idols.

Possible some of the idols gods were melted down to provide gold and silver for the temple. The rubies and precious stones once adorned the heads of kings and idols.

Now after Solomon’s kingdom had been established, and all systems pointed to go, he determined to build a temple for the Lord. There was rest and peace from their enemies.

Israel was not called to excel in arts and science, this being assigned to the Gentile world, while Israel was entrusted with great spiritual truth of monotheism. In the Gentile world were the architects, and builders of temples, and pyramids, and builders of roads and bridges, and ships, paving the way for missionaries and evangelists.

SOLOMON BEGINS TO BUILD THE TEMPLE:

Solomon called on the neighboring nations to send the best of their craftsmen, and artificers, to help in the building of the Temple. We see that the building of the temple was the coo-operation of Jew and Gentile.

Seven years in building with no expense spared. 70,000 bore burdens, 80,000 hewers of timber, 3,000 supervisors, these all rotated in shifts until it was finished. (1 Kings 5:13-18)

Now the results of their labor are visible. The temple stood, beautiful, gleaming in all its splendor much of it overlaid with gold. Inside was the altar of gold, the table of shewbread, candlesticks of gold, flowers and figurines carved of ivory, lamps, tongs, basins, spoons, censers, hinges, and doors of gold and precious stones. (2 Chronicles 3:4-10).

DEDICATION OF THE TEMPLE:

It is time for the dedication. Yet amid such splendor it still lacked something. We may ask what could be added to the glory thereof? When the noise of a procession is heard approaching. It is headed by priests and Levites.

The Priests are bearing an object on their shoulders.

It is old and battered, 480 years old.

Yet what a monument!

What a history it could tell!    

A battered old relic of many battles.

It is the ark of the covenant of the lord!

How shabby and battered this article of furniture must have appeared!

How hopelessly out of keeping with the gleaming ornate beauty of the Temple which was henceforth to house it.

It was erected 480 years before by the children of Israel under the direction of Moses in the wilderness of Sinai.

 

What vicissitudes had it not seen during those nigh 5 centuries!

What hardships it had been part of,

What adversity it had overcome,

What trouble,

What difficulty,

What distress,

What trial,

What tribulation had come its way.

How many hard knocks,

How many battles had it witnessed?

 

For forty years it had accompanied the children of Israel in their wanderings. It had been borne by the priests in the middle of the dried-up bed of the Jordan while the people crossed into the Promise Land.

It had been present at the fall of Jericho, carried daily round the city in the procession for seven days.

It had found a temporary home at Shiloh,

it had been taken into battle and captured by the philistines.

It had been carried back in lurching cart and had been the cause of the death of Uzzah.

It had accompanied the army during the siege of Rabbah.

And David took it when he fled Jerusalem at the time of conspiracy of Absalom.

And now, this battered relic of an eventful past was finally to be placed in the temple Solomon had built. Let us read and find out what took place.

1 Kings 8:4. And they brought up the Ark of the Lord, and the Tabernacle of the congregation, and all the Holy Vessels that were in the Tabernacle, even those did the Priests and the Levites bring up.

5. And king Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the Ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.

6. And the Priests brought in the Ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the Most Holy Place, even under the wings of the Cherubims.

7. For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.

8. And they drew out the staves, that the ends of the staves were seen out in the holy place before the oracle, and they were not seen without: and there they are unto this day. (when First Kings was written)

9. There was nothing in the Ark save the two Tables 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.

10. And it came to pass, when the Priests were come out of the Holy Place, that the cloud filled the House of the Lord,

11. So that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the Glory of the Lord had filled the House of the Lord. (KJV)

When the Ark was set in place, "The glory of the lord filled the house of the Lord."

(1 Kings 8:11) the "Holy" golden vessels did not bring the Glory.

The multitude of sacrifices did not bring the Glory.

All the work of men's hands did not bring the Glory.

But when the Ark of the Covenant was set in place the "Cloud" of the "Glory of the Lord" entered and filled the house so that the Priests could not minister because of the glory.

What was in the Ark that brought the Glory of the Lord?

1 Kings 8: 9. There was nothing in the ark save the two tables 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.

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that there were also two other objects in the ark.

Hebrews 9:3.  And after the second veil, the Tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all;

4. Which had the golden censer, and the Ark of the Covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; (KJV)

There was the golden pot of manna which mosses commanded Aaron put in there. This was a symbol of God's provisions, his benefits, and his blessings that he provided to the children of Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness. (Exodus 16:32-34)

There was also Aaron’s rod which was laid up amongst the rods of the heads of the tribes of Israel to determine who God would choose to be the High Priest, after the rebellion of Korah against the leadership of Moses and Aaron.

God opened the earth and it swallowed them, a fire raged, a plague came and thousands died. (Numbers 16)

Aaron's rod budded signifying he was God's choice. It also was laid up as a memorial. (Numbers 17:1-11) Aaron’s rod represents the priesthood.

But in our reading (1 Kings 8:9) the Glory came not with the pot of manna, nor with the rod of Aaron that budded, in fact the writer does not even mention them, but the glory came because of the Tables of the Law written with the finger of God.

"There was nothing in the ark, save the two tablets of stone.." we could say, "there was nothing in the temple save the two Tablets of Stone, written with the finger of God."

And they was what gave continuity and reality to the whole ceremony of the dedication of the Temple, the continuity which linked up the new (Solomon’s Temple) with the old (Tabernacle in the Wilderness), and the present with the past.

The reality was such that it would have been equally true to say, "That with all the lavish wealth and labor expended on it, with all its pomp and ceremony, there was nothing in the temple save 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."

These two Tablets of Stone, known as the Ten Commandments, represent the word of the Lord God.

The word of God is what brings the glory.

The word of God is what brings the blessings.

The word of God is what brings the power.

 The word of God endureth forever. (1 Peter 1:25)

A few hundred years after Solomon built the Temple it was destroyed and the Jews were driven into exile. What was the fate of "Two Tablets of Stone"? Much has been written about the whereabouts of one the world’s most precious artifacts.

The famous Christian scholar, Ernest Renan, in his history of the people of Israel, paints a very vivid picture in his imaginative reconstruction of the scene when Nebuzaradan, captain of the guards leads the remnants of Jerusalem into exile.

"Delicate and Nobel women trudge wearily across the burning sands, the Princes of Israel drag themselves along while rays of sun beat fiercely down upon their bear heads. Children, starved and beaten, wail and cry.

And among these unfortunates there walks a barefoot Priest following his beast of burden. His once spotless linen coat is soiled and bespatered. His face is dark and wrinkled with fatigue and suffering, his poor beast trails wearily along, bearing the load.

That load consists of parchments and scrolls, the books of the Torah (law) and the Prophets. With ever watchful eyes fixed on the precious burden, the Priest does not relax his attention for a moment. He guards it against the nameless dangers of the desert, against possible vandalism, and barbarities of a cruel triumphant enemy.

What would have become of the whole of Europe and of Civilization, if on that terrible road that barefoot Priest with his beast and his load, had been lost? What would the whole world be like to-day, we ourselves, and our life?

For on the back of that beast, there was nothing save 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 Israel."

Six hundred and fifty six years pass, the tragic history of Israel repeats itself. Jerusalem is straitly besieged by the mighty Roman army.

Inside the city scenes of indescribable agony and torment are taking place, anarchy and internal strife, hunger leading to cannibalism, the second Jewish state is in the agonizing pains of a death of suffering. An old tradition tells us that Johanan B. Zaccai has himself smuggled out from the doomed city in a coffin borne by his two faithful disciples. He is taken to the Roman Emperor, successfully pleads with him, "give me Javne and its Sages."

The temple goes up in flames, many of the young Priests and patriots seeing in it the end of everything, throw themselves in despairing self-immolation into the flames and perish. Were it not for Johanan B. Zaccai it would have been the end. As it is the position was bad, but not hopeless. There was nothing Johanan B. Zaccai saved, but 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 Egypt."

The world has been saved by the heroics of men and women who have helped preserve the word of God.

Can we imagine as Tych-i-cus slipped away from a Roman prison, the year 62-63 and heads towards Ephesus, and Colosse, and on to Crete carrying rolls of parchments, letters from Paul to the Churches. Think what would be missing if those parchments had been lost.

Somewhere near the same date a courier delivers two of the most important letters ever written to a man we know only as The-oph-i-lus. (Acts 1:1) Luke had written his Gospel of Jesus Christ, and followed it with the account of the early church, we call the Acts of the Apostles. Study what would be missing from the story of Jesus Christ, and the early history of the church if The-oph-i-lus had simple discarded these precious letters.

All these, by the mercy and grace of God, were saved and we hold them in our hands and in our hearts for it is through them that the "Glory of the Lord fills the Temple." Nothing else brings the Glory into the Church but the Word of God. It is all that is left of the Church that has gone before us.

We hope you enjoyer reading this study on the importance of the Word of God, and will read the other studies on this web site.

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 By, James L. Thornton

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