Israel: Covenants & Kingdom (54) – Chapter 7 – Kingdom and Covenants

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By Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer.. From the book “Israel: Covenants & Kingdom”

The Ark of the Covenant and the Tabernacle
Initially, the presence of God was strongly associated with the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:10-22). This chest contained the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written by the Lord Himself (Exodus 31:18 and 34:1, 27-28), a jar of manna (Hebrews 9:4; Exodus 16:33-34; 1 Kings 8:9), and Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:8-10). On top of the Ark was a mercy seat of pure gold with two cherubim, figures of angels, also of pure gold. The faces of the cherubim were turned toward the mercy seat where the high priest sprinkled the blood of sacrifices. [Photo top right: The Ark of the Covenant had an atonement cover (or ‘mercy seat’) on top of it. It was made of acacia wood, overlaid with pure gold inside and out. On top of the cover stood two cherubim (angels) at the two ends, facing each other. Their outstretched wings covered the atonement cover. Exodus 25-40 Contributed by Rev. Yves Langevin]. The LORD is enthroned among the cherubim   in heaven (Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1; Revelation 4), and the Ark of the Covenant represented this, just as the entire tabernacle tent was a representation of the heavenly model (Exodus 25:8-9).

IDF soldiers pass a Menorah in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. A menorah, is a seven branched candelabrum lit by olive oil in the Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem. The menorah is one of the oldest symbols of the Jewish people. It is said to symbolize the burning bush as seen by Moses on Mount Sinai. 25 September 2007. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

The Ark, which contained God’s holy law, and thus symbolised it on earth and made people fear His judgement, was also the throne of grace for sinful people when the blood of innocent sacrifices was sprinkled on the mercy seat. Thus the holy Law was covered with sacrificial blood. In a sense, all those animal sacrifices under the old law received retroactive validity through the completed work of Christ, the perfect sacrificial Lamb. The blood of sacrificial animals could only temporarily cover the sins of Israel (Hebrews 10:4-10), while the blood of Christ obtained eternal redemption (He- brews 9:11-15). The Law, the Ark, and the sacrifices were at the heart of Israel’s religion. The Lord was enthroned upon the cherubim on the Ark. “…And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, whose Name is called by the Name, the LORD of Hosts, who dwells between the cherubim…” (2 Samuel 6:2).

The Ark travelled with the Israelites in the wilderness. Once they had reached the Promised Land, it was kept first at Shiloh (Joshua 18:1), and then successively in Beth Shemesh (1 Samuel 6:1-21), Kiriath Jearim (1 Samuel 7:1), and the house of Obed-Edom for three months (2 Samuel 6:10-15). Finally it was brought to Jerusalem. The Ark is mentioned as having been carried into battle during the reign of David (2 Samuel 11:11; 1 Chronicles 28:2; Psalm 99:5, 132:7; Lamentations 2:1), but King Josiah decreed that it was to remain in the Temple in 2 Chronicles 35:3: “…Then he said to the Levites who taught all Israel, who were holy to the LORD: ‘Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built.     It shall no longer be a burden on your shoulders. Now serve the LORD your God and His people Israel’…”

After the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, the Ark is never heard of again and Jeremiah says that it will never be made again. Prophesying the return of Israel, the recovery of Jerusalem, and the rebuilding of the Temple, Jeremiah adds this comment: “…‘In those days, when numbers have in- creased in the land,’ declares the LORD, ‘men will no longer say, “The Ark of the Covenant of the LORD.” It will never enter their minds or be remembered; it will not be missed, nor will another one be made’…” (Jeremiah 3:16). But with or without the Ark, the Temple on Mount Zion is the dwelling place of the LORD (Isaiah 48:2, 47:13; Nehemiah 11:1 and 18), which is also Jerusalem the Holy City. Psalm 24:3 says: “…Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?…”).

 

God’s choice of Mount Zion
What do we know about the historical location of the Temple? It is certain that Solomon built this Temple in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah. 2 Chronicles 3:1 says: “…Then Solomon began to build the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the LORD had appeared to his father David. It was on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite, the place provided by David…”

The site of the Temple, Mount Zion, and Mount Moriah are one and the same place. The link between the Temple and Mount Zion is particularly clear from 1 Maccabees 14:26, which states: “They wrote this [an account of the exploits of Simon Maccabee] on bronze tablets and applied them to the pillars on Mount Zion.” Verse 48 reiterates this: “They ordered that this decree should be inscribed on bronze tablets and set up in the Temple precinct in a prominent place.” This was the same Mount Moriah where Abraham had been prepared to sacrifice Isaac to the Lord, but instead God gave him a ram to sacrifice (Compare Romans 8:32). Genesis 22:2 and 9-14 say: “…Then God said, ‘Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about…’ …When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the Angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, ‘Abraham! Abraham!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘Do not lay a hand on the boy,’ He said. ‘Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from Me your son, your only son.’ Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’…”

So this was the mountain that Abraham had called “The LORD will provide, and to this day it is said, ‘On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided’…” (Genesis 22:14). Here the Lord provided Abraham with what he needed for body, soul and spirit, just as Melchizedek, the Priest-King of Salem, had provided Abraham with what he needed for body, soul and spirit. Mount Moriah is Mount Zion, the Temple Mount in the heart of Jerusalem. Grace characterises the site of the Temple. It was not a place where people provided for God’s needs, as so many temples of other gods appeared to do. It was the place where God provided for the needs of His people (1 Kings 8:31-53).

But why was the Temple situated there? Moses had referred to “…the place the LORD will choose as a dwelling for His Name…” (Deuteronomy 16:2, 11, 15) making it clear that the location was to be chosen by God. Much time passed before the Lord made known His choice to king David, as reported by Solomon: “…Since the day I brought My people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a Temple built for My Name to be there, but I have chosen David to rule My people Israel. … My father David had it in his heart to build a Temple for the Name of the LORD, the God of Israel. But the LORD said to my father, David, ‘Because it was in your heart to build a Temple for My Name, you did well to have this in your heart. Nevertheless you are not the one to build the Temple, but your son who is your own flesh and blood – he is the one who will build the Temple for My Name. … [And now] I have provided a place there for the Ark, in which is the Covenant of the LORD, which He made with our fathers when He brought them out of Egypt’…” (1 Kings 8:16-21; 2 Samuel 7:1-17).

Solomon may have done the building, but David had made all the preparations, as he explained to Solomon: “…I have taken great pains to provide for the Temple of the LORD a hundred thousand talents of gold, a million talents of silver, quantities of bronze and iron too great to be weighed, and wood and stone. And you may add to them. … Now begin the work, and the LORD be with you…” (1 Chronicles 22:14-16).

 

David’s choice
David had identified the site where the Temple would be built. God chose by choosing David, the man after his own heart, and David made God’s choice. The Lord inspired David’s heart, and thus Da- vid’s choice became God’s choice. In Psalm 132, David had said: “…I will allow no sleep to my eyes, no slumber to my eyelids; till I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling for the Mighty One of Jacob…” (Psalm 132:4-5). Jerusalem was to be the city where the Lord chose to establish His Name (2 Chronicles 12:13). The mountain of His inheritance was the place that the Lord had chosen for His dwelling place (Exodus 15:17; 1 Kings 11:32, 11:36, 14:21). “…For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling. ‘This is My resting place for ever and ever; here I will sit enthroned, for I have desired it’…” (Psalm 132:13-14). Psalm 132 clearly shows that the Lord, David and his descendants, Jerusalem, and the mountain (Zion/Moriah) are in an unbreakable relationship.

 

The threshing floor of Araunah
David knew that this was to be the place, because this was where the Angel had brought destruction to Israel through David’s sin. “…When the Angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the LORD was grieved because of the calamity and said to the Angel who was afflicting the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The Angel of the LORD was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite… On that day Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Go up and build an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ So David went up, as the LORD had commanded through Gad. When Araunah looked and saw the king and his men coming toward him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground. Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’ ‘To buy your threshing floor,’ David answered, ‘so I can build an altar to the LORD, that the plague on the people may be stopped.’ Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take whatever pleases him and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are thresh- ing sledges and ox yokes for the wood. O king, Araunah gives all this to the king.’ Araunah also said to him, ‘May the LORD your God accept you.’ But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the LORD my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing…’ So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels of silver for them. David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the LORD answered prayer in behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped…” (2 Samuel 24:16-25).

David did not simply seize or conquer the threshing floor, but he bought it from Araunah (or Ornan) the Jebusite. He paid fifty silver shekels for the whole area, but the place for the altar he bought for six hundred golden shekels. “…So David paid Araunah six hundred shekels of gold for the site. David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering…” (1 Chronicles 21:24-26). Only gold was good enough for the LORD, for it is this metal that represents the Glory of God. To buy property means that you become the legal owner. David as the king of Israel bought this piece of property. Probably a contract was made, signed and sealed. He did not occupy or conquer the place by military might. So from then onwards, Israel was the legal owner of Mount Zion, and they never sold it. It is their piece of real estate, with only one destiny, that the Name of the GOD of Israel would dwell in that place.

As we have seen, the LORD confirmed the choice of the site by allowing fire to descend from heaven: “…David built an altar to the LORD there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. He called on the LORD and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven on the altar of burnt offering…” (1 Chronicles 21:26). Moses had said that God would choose His own place to dwell. Through His servant David, God had chosen the city of Jerusalem and Mount Zion. And after the prayer of dedication by King Solomon, the LORD confirmed this by fire from heaven. 2 Chronicles 7:1-3 says: “…When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the Glory of the LORD filled the Temple. And the priests could not enter the House of the LORD, because the Glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the Glory of the LORD on the Temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: ‘For He is good, For His mercy endures forever’…”

To be continued.. with: Chapter 7 – Kingdom and Covenants – Destruction and rebuilding

The book “Israel: Covenants & Kingdom” and other books from Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer can be ordered from the webshop of Christians for Israel International.

 


Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer
President Christians for Israel International

 

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