Exodus 25:21-22 Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.
God was here providing a physical location that Moses and those after him could identify with hearing from God. Several things about this are significant. In the first place, God never said He would be in the ark, but rather over it, between the cherubim. That was to keep the ark itself from becoming an idol. Also, the contents of the ark were to be the tablets that God Himself would provide. Man couldn’t sanctify the ark, it was God’s doing. And then there’s the matter of the lid to the ark, with its cherubim. The NIV avoids this term, but the Japanese matches the Hebrew by calling it the “atonement cover.” That is very significant, because until the cross of Christ, sins were just covered over rather than eliminated. This again was God’s provision for dealing with sin, because man couldn’t do it on his own. All sorts of wild stories have arisen about the ark, and I have even seen a video of a modern recreation of the ark, postulating that some sort of electrical field was generated between the outstretched wings of the cherubim. That’s just man trying to fit God into the confines of human thinking. The ark, and even the written tablets of the Law, were concessions to human weakness, because without some sort of physical locus the Israelites would have had very little to keep them from simply adopting the religions around them. (They did enough of that anyway, but it would have been even worse otherwise.) God does indeed meet us where we are, providing whatever is needed, but we have to accept His provision and use it as He intends.
This seems like a somewhat esoteric reading, and as a pastor I’m concerned as to how less mature believers will understand and receive it. However, I’ve got to trust the Holy Spirit, in this as in everything else. After all, He directed me to include this passage in the readings! I need to keep pressing in for more knowledge, more understanding, and encourage all the believers to do likewise, while never leaving the foundations of the Gospel. “Deep truth” is never going to replace the Gospel!
Father, thank You for what You spoke through me yesterday, and for Steven Kaylor’s faithfulness in clarifying the Gospel. We have more to do to be fully Gospel-centered as a church, but thank You for moving us in the right direction. I pray that we would not draw back, but rather rejoice to become more and more of what You desire us to be, for the salvation of many and for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!