For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



We come now to the only article of furniture in the most holy place, the ark and its covering lid, the golden mercy seat.

It was constructed of acacia wood overlaid with pure gold, while the mercy seat, with the cherubim beaten out of either end of it, was all pure gold.  The details are recorded in Ex 25:10-22.

The acacia wood here, as in the other articles of tabernacle furniture, represents the Lord’s humanity, while His deity is portrayed by the gold, their combination proclaiming His dual nature: He was perfect Man, but no less also perfect God.

The dimensions were two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits broad, and one and a half cubits high; and as has been noted in previous studies, these half numbers appear to emphasize the fact that no type is capable of setting forth all the perfections of Christ.  Solomon is generally recognized as being a type of Christ in His millennial glory, and the confession of the queen of Sheba in regard to Solomon’s glory, “The half hath not been told me,” is the declaration of the truth that no type can fully express the glory of Christ.  As has also been noted, however, half numbers in Scripture appear to convey their meaning by being doubled to make them whole numbers.  These dimensions of the ark therefore, doubled, become five by three by three; and since three is the number of manifestation or resurrection, and five, of responsibility, they declare that He Who is represented by the ark, has been raised from death because of the willing obedience that led Him to a perfect fulfillment of responsibility in relation to the Father’s will by the laying down of His life at Calvary.

“... and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about,” Ex 25:11.  This reminds us that because He was willing to submit to the ignominy and pain of being crowned with thorns, He is now “crowned with glory and honor,” at God’s right hand, Heb 2:9.

The four golden rings (symbol of what is eternal), one in each corner, verse 12, used to carry the ark, may represent the four Gospels, which are the means by which Christ is “carried” to the world by means of the eternal Word.  Since four is the number of earth and testing, their being four, would remind us that the Word, in which Christ is presented as the Savior of the world, is that by which every man will eventually be tested or judged, “He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day,” Jn 12:48.

The two staves, inserted through the rings as the means of carrying the ark, may represent the Old and New Testaments, for as the ark was confined between them, so was Christ “confined” by the written Word.  All that is to be known of Him is written there.  It is only the limitation of our finite minds that prevents us from seeing Him clearly, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known,” 1 Cor 13:12.

“And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony (the tables of the law) which I shall give thee,” verse 16; but Heb 9:4 adds that in addition there were also placed in the ark the golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.

Since the ark is a type of Christ, these things within it represent things that were in Him, and certainly the symbols aren’t hard to decipher.  Ps 40:8 translates the symbol of the tables of the law, for it must be remembered that “the law” is used frequently to designate the Word of God, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.”  Christ’s every thought, word and deed were governed by the Scriptures.

Since the manna is a type of Christ as the spiritual food that nourishes the believer’s new life, this representative portion preserved in the golden pot reminds us that that same Christ Who walked the earth, despised and rejected, as the Living Word, is crowned now with glory and honor in heaven.

In Aaron’s burgeoning rod (it miraculously bore buds, blossoms, and almonds all at the same time, in spite of having been cut off from the tree), Nu 17:8, we have a vivid picture of Him, Who having been “cut off” at Calvary, is “the resurrection and the life,” Jn 11:25, giving to all who trust Him, life more abundant.

Where unbelief sees careless recording, faith sees the display of Divine wisdom.  The Exodus account mentions only the presence of the tables of the law in the ark; and only when we come to the New Testament do we learn that there were also the golden pot of manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.  The seeming careless omission of these latter two from the Exodus account serves only to point up the significance of the mercy seat that covered the ark.  That law which man had broken was covered by both the golden mercy seat, and also the blood that was sprinkled upon it.  But the Levitical ritual was only a shadow of better things yet to come: a better covenant, a better sacrifice, a better house, a better priesthood.  Those sacrifices could not put sin away permanently, or give peace to the conscience.  There was no spiritual “manna,” no resurrection, until Christ’s sacrifice put sin away for ever, and gave peace of conscience to the believer.  In that mercy seat of pure gold we have a type of Christ as God the Son, but in the blood with which it was sprinkled we are reminded that that same Son of God became Son of Man that He might takes man’s guilty place, and die to put away sin for ever.

For centuries those two cherubim (representative of those placed at the east of Eden when Adam was expelled from the garden), stood guarding the presence of God from the intrusion of sinful man; and each day of atonement they beheld the high priest sprinkle the blood of the sin offering; but it wasn’t until the Lord Jesus Christ had presented Himself as the one perfect Sacrifice that needed no repetition, that we read of their watch or guardianship coming to an end.  On the resurrection morning we read that, “Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping ... and seeth two angels in white sitting (symbolic of rest), the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain,” Jn 20:11-12.  The long period of guardianship was ended. The perfect Sacrifice had been offered.  The way had been provided whereby man could return to God, for He Whose body had lain between those two cherubim, was “The way, the truth and the life.”



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough