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Inside the Ark of the Covenant


In today’s posting we present information pertaining to the objects found inside the Ark of the Covenant. This information will be used latter as supporting material that proclaims Jesus to be our Ark of the New Covenant, the manifestation of the Most Holy Place and our passage way to both.


The Ark of the Covenant


The Ark of the Covenant symbolizes the Divine Presence of God and for this reason it is the most sacred of all the objects found in the Tabernacle. Fundamentally, the Ark is a box made of wood and is covered in gold. It is approximately 5 feet long, three feet wide and three feet high. The Ark has a lid covering it and it is also covered in gold. The Ark has four golden rings, one placed near each corner. Two poles made of gold covered wood can be placed into the rings on each side of the Ark. They enabled the Ark to be transported from place to place.

The Ark of the Covenant Covered by Cherbim


Three items were stored inside the Ark. They are the covenant stones, a pot of manna, and the rod of Aaron.


The Covenant Stones


First of all, the Ark contained the Covenant Stones which served as a continual reminder of the covenant between God and Israel. The Covenant Stones were engraved with the Ten Commandments[i] given by God.


Moses and the Ten Comandments

These commandments served as the foundation of God’s covenant with Israel. If the people obeyed God’s commandments then He promised to give them life and prosperity in the Promised Land, which is the land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey:


That you may fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, you and your son and your grandson, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. Therefore hear, O Israel, and be careful to observe it, that it may be well with you, and that you may multiply greatly as the LORD God of your fathers has promised you; ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’  (Deuteronomy 6:2-3)


‘And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, ‘then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled. ‘(Deuteronomy 11:13-15)


For if you carefully keep all these commandments which I command you to do; to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to hold fast to Him;  then the LORD will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess greater and mightier nations than yourselves. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the River Euphrates, even to the Western Sea, shall be your territory. No man shall be able to stand against you; the LORD your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you. (Deuteronomy 11:22-25)


The Pot of Manna


A second item found inside the Ark is the Pot of Manna. It represented the bread of God that came down from heaven and fed the nation of Israel as they wondered through the desert:


I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’  So it was that quails came up at evening and covered the camp, and in the morning the dew lay all around the camp. And when the layer of dew lifted, there, on the surface of the wilderness, was a small round substance, as fine as frost on the ground. So when the children of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “This is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.” (Exodus 16:12-16)

The Falling of the Manna, Moses Drawing Water from the Rock - from Túrócbéla, 1480 - 1490

The Falling of the Manna, Moses Drawing Water from the Rock - from Túrócbéla, 1480 - 1490

The Rod of Aaron


The third item found in the Ark was Aaron’s rod and it testified to God’s choice of Aaron as the royal priest. The following passages communicate that Aaron was challenged for the right to be the high priest by members of the community. God’s choice was communicated in a miraculous way:


And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the children of Israel, and get from them a rod from each father’s house, all their leaders according to their fathers’ houses; twelve rods. Write each man’s name on his rod. And you shall write Aaron’s name on the rod of Levi. For there shall be one rod for the head of each father’s house. Then you shall place them in the tabernacle of meeting before the Testimony, where I meet with you. And it shall be that the rod of the man whom I choose will blossom; thus I will rid Myself of the complaints of the children of Israel, which they make against you. So Moses spoke to the children of Israel, and each of their leaders gave him a rod apiece, for each leader according to their fathers’ houses, twelve rods; and the rod of Aaron was among their rods. And Moses placed the rods before the LORD in the tabernacle of witness. Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses went into the tabernacle of witness, and behold, the rod of Aaron, of the house of Levi, had sprouted and put forth buds, had produced blossoms and yielded ripe almonds.  Then Moses brought out all the rods from before the LORD to all the children of Israel; and they looked, and each man took his rod. And the LORD said to Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod back before the Testimony, to be kept as a sign against the rebels, that you may put their complaints away from Me, lest they die.” (Numbers 17:1-10)


Moses Displays the Budded Rod of Aaron

Moses Displays the Budded Rod of Aaron


Therefore, God performed a great miracle in selecting the Rod of Aaron for the priesthood. A rod, which was a carved piece of wood, came to life, blossomed and bore fruit. So significant was this event that the rod was stored in the Ark as a testimony against those who would not believe.

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Jesus is Our Covenant Provision

The subject of Jesus being our perfected Pot of Manna suggests that Jesus is our covenant provision. However, to completely understand the significance of this we must also understand the circumstances that led up to the Pot of Manna being stored in the Ark of the Covenant in the first place. The following questions must be answered; what made the Pot of Manna so precious that it was stored inside the Ark of the Covenant? Why was it stored there along with the covenant stones upon which God’s laws were recorded, and why was it stored there next to the Rod of Aaron which designated God’s choice for the royal priesthood? To address these questions we present a deeper investigation into the Pot of Manna and in the process, uncover Jesus as our new covenant provision.

We introduced the Pot of Manna in a previous posting and reported that it was symbolic of God’s provision for His people’s needs as they wondered through the wilderness. What we have not covered is why they had to wonder in the wilderness for thirty eight years in the first place. The reason is because they had refused to enter into the Promised Land[i] as God had commanded them. As a result, God was angry with them and swore that the people who refused to fight for His promise would not see it[ii]. Their wondering through the wilderness gave the next generation[iii] the time necessary to enable them to mature so that they could eventually enter into the Promised Land. In addition, the forty years of wondering was the time necessary for all who refused to enter to die. In this way the sin of the nation was purged[iv] and a new nation was raised up that would learn to trust in God totally.

As there is not any protection from the harsh conditions in the desert, the new generation had to learn depend completely on God for everything. This included the basic items of food, water, clothing shelter and protection from the elements. It is in this journey through the wilderness that the Pot of Manna gains significance as God’s provision to the people who would enter into the Promised Land.

As always, supporting information can be found in the Bible. An account of Israel’s final preparation for entering the Promised Land can be found in the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy. Key points and supporting material have been abstracted and reported in the following paragraphs to give a deeper insight into what transpired and answer the question we have about the Pot of Manna.

The Journey to the Promised Land

The book of Deuteronomy reflects the last 60 days of Moses life. The background to the book is that the nation has spent the past 38 years wondering through the wilderness[v] after having refused to enter into the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy we learn about how Moses prepared the people to enter into God’s Promised Land the second time around. So, this was an extremely pivotal time for the nation of Israel.

By the time of the story of Deuteronomy, Moses was 120 years old. In addition, God tells Moses that He will not allow him to enter[vi] into the Promised Land either. As a result his actions are the final undertakings of his life on this earth. The nation will enter into God’s promise and Moses will be left behind.

The stark reality was that all of those who had previously refused to enter into the Promised Land had already died in the desert[vii] and only their offspring remained. The exceptions were limited to Moses, Caleb and Joshua[viii]. Caleb and Joshua were the only two men who had favored entering[ix] the land the first time around, and as a result were chosen to lead the new nation on its second attempt.

One observation that should be noted is that the nation entering into the Promised Land was a new nation. The people of this nation never knew the bonds of their slavery in the land of Egypt. They also never saw the power of their God bring their deliverance from the evil of Egypt either. The new nation was born in the desert and as such, they grew up knowing only total dependence on God. They grew up knowing the cloud of God that protected them from the burning sun in the daytime, and the fire that illuminated their journey at night[x]. They wore the same clothes and shoes for thirty eight years as they never wore out[xi]. They drank water that sprang up from the rocks that Moses struck with his staff[xii] and they ate the Manna that was found on the ground each morning, which was the bread of life that came down from heaven:

And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Then Moses said, “This is the thing which the LORD has commanded: ‘Fill an omer with it, to be kept for your generations, that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’“ And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a pot and put an omer of manna in it, and lay it up before the LORD, to be kept for your generations.” As the LORD commanded Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony, to be kept. And the children of Israel ate manna forty years, until they came to an inhabited land; they ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. (Exodus 16:31 – 35)

So this is how the Pot of Manna came to be stored in the Ark of the Covenant. God commanded it be saved there so that future generations would remember how He provided for them in the wilderness.

One of the questions that we posed when we started this section was; why was the Pot of Manna stored in the Ark of the Covenant along with the Covenant Stones and the Rod of Aaron. The answer is that the Pot of Manna is a part of God’s covenant. The people of Israel promised to honor God’s law and in return He would dwell with them in a land flowing in milk and honey, which is the Promised Land. God’s dwelling place was the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle which the people carried with them in their journey. Since the Tabernacle was made by men it required the services of priests for its care and upkeep. These priests also ensured that there were adequate sacrifices for the forgiveness of the sins of the people, enabling them to move closer to God along their journey. Hence the Rod of Aaron is stored inside the Ark.

The Pot of Manna is symbolic of God’s provision along the journey that leads to His promise. It is symbolic of His provision of food that fell from heaven every morning and became the sustenance of survival. It is also symbolic of the water that flowed from the rocks in the midst of the desert and the clouds that protected the people from the burning sun in the day as well as the fire that illuminated their pathway at night. It is symbolic of all of God’s provisions to a people who are dedicated to realizing the promises of God’s covenant. To those who are steadfast on the journey and are willing to see the former worldly man pass away and be replaced with a spiritual man who knows only total dependence upon God.

Jesus is the Ark of the new covenant as He has sacrificed His body and blood on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. This sacrifice is foundational to the new covenant as it enables us to move closer to God through Jesus. His sacrifice ensures that each one of us can move through the wilderness found in our own life and engage in a journey to the Promised Land in heaven. A journey where our hearts of stone are changed to hearts of flesh filled with compassion. A journey in which our dependence on the world is replaced by total reliance on Him. A journey where we come to know God and see Him face to face in the Promised Land, a land where our every need is satisfied.  Then we will know the promise of His perfect provision.

[i] Numbers 14:3 – 4  Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?”  So they said to one another, “Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.”

[ii] Numbers 14:22 – 23  because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it.

[iii] Numbers 14:31 – 33  But your little ones, whom you said would be victims, I will bring in, and they shall know the land which you have despised. But as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness.

[iv] Numbers 14:35  ‘I the LORD have spoken this; I will surely do so to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.’

[v] Deuteronomy 2:14  And the time we took to come from Kadesh Barnea until we crossed over the Valley of the Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war was consumed from the midst of the camp, just as the LORD had sworn to them.

[vi] Deuteronomy 1:37  The LORD was also angry with me for your sakes, saying, ‘Even you shall not go in there;

[vii] Deuteronomy 2:14  And the time we took to come from Kadesh Barnea until we crossed over the Valley of the Zered was thirty-eight years, until all the generation of the men of war was consumed from the midst of the camp, just as the LORD had sworn to them. For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from the midst of the camp until they were consumed. So it was, when all the men of war had finally perished from among the people, that the LORD spoke to me, saying:  ‘This day you are to cross over at Ar, the boundary of Moab.

[viii] Deuteronomy 1:29 – 39  Then I said to you, ‘Do not be terrified, or afraid of them. The LORD your God, who goes before you, He will fight for you, according to all He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,  and in the wilderness where you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, in all the way that you went until you came to this place.’  Yet, for all that, you did not believe the LORD your God,  who went in the way before you to search out a place for you to pitch your tents, to show you the way you should go, in the fire by night and in the cloud by day. And the LORD heard the sound of your words, and was angry, and took an oath, saying, Surely not one of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land of which I swore to give to your fathers, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him and his children I am giving the land on which he walked, because he wholly followed the LORD.’  The LORD was also angry with me for your sakes, saying, ‘Even you shall not go in there; Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, he shall go in there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. Moreover your little ones and your children, who you say will be victims, who today have no knowledge of good and evil, they shall go in there; to them I will give it, and they shall possess it.

[ix] Numbers 14:36 – 38  Now the men whom Moses sent to spy out the land, who returned and made all the congregation complain against him by bringing a bad report of the land, those very men who brought the evil report about the land, died by the plague before the LORD. But Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh remained alive, of the men who went to spy out the land.

[x] Exodus 13:21 – 22  And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

[xi] Deuteronomy 8:2 -4  And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD. Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.

[xii] Numbers  20:11  Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.