The Ark of the Covenant was the holy chest Moses built to house the word of God.
It held the two stone tablets upon which God wrote the Ten Commandments on the mountain in Sinai and gave to Moses to take down to the people. He had to write these tablets twice. The first time, Moses cast them down and shattered them out of anger when he found the Israelites in revolt as he descended the mountain. Afterward, Moses went back to the mountaintop of Sinai and secured another set from God.
When we speak about the word of God today, we think of the Bible, but Moses was not permitted by God to put the Bible into the Ark of the Covenant -- only the Ten Commandments.
This fact points out the two different natures of what we call 'the word of God'. There is inspired word where God moves men to speak in His name, and then there is direct dialogue from heaven where God speaks to us Himself in person.
The inspired portion of the Bible is called the 'Law and the Prophets'. The dialogue of heaven is called the 'Testimony'. While both were contained in the Bible, only one was sufficiently holy to be reposited in the Ark of the Covenant.
The ark, an acacia chest built according to the directions of Moses, was the holiest object in the Hebrew religion. The Ten Commandments were shown by their presence in it to be greater than all other writings of scripture. The rest of the Bible (the Torah, the prophets and all the other books of scripture) had to be stored outside the ark.
By commanding this separation, God made clear the difference between His own Testimony and the writings of the Law. He did this in preparation for the Testimony of Jesus Christ -- the unfinished Testimony of God that would come down from heaven to complete the Ten Commandments.
The Ark of the Covenant, then, defined the covenant. And in that definition, it made the Ten Commandments greater than anything else that surrounded it in the Hebrew religion. So when Moses commanded the Israelites to "hold fast to God's covenant", he was ordering them to obey the ten sacred articles of God housed in the Ark.
According to scripture, a relationship exists between the Ten Commandments and the Gospel of Jesus. In the New Testament, the Book of Hebrews says that the 'Good News' (the Gospel) was first preached during the time of Moses at Sinai. (Heb.4:6).
This revelation ties the Ten Commandments of Sinai to the commandments of Christ. In both cases it was God in person who issued the directives.
Because the Israelites had diluted the Testimony of God with so many of their own rules (the traditions of the elders) God commanded a new covenant -- one founded only on the Testimony of Christ.
It was not 'religion' that God wanted the people to have, but salvation. So in the place of the guardian's reflected light, God sent His own. In that new covenant, all the shepherds and all their laws were replaced by one true Shepherd and one true Law. (Ez.34:10-16). This exchange of covenants was one of the major issues predicted by Jeremiah in his writings. (Jer.31:31-34).
1. The Ark of the Covenant
2. The Ark Disappears
3. 'The Clock of God', Chapter 6, 'The Scattering'
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