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The Ark and its Titles (5)

T Ratcliffe, Wimborne

The ARK OF THY STRENGTH (2 Chr 6.1; Ps 78.61; 132.8)

In Psalm 78.61 the Psalmist is referring to the time when the Ark of Jehovah’s Strength was in the tent in Shiloh, and when, because of corruption in the priesthood, the Lord allowed His Strength (the Ark) and its glory (its beauty) to be taken by the Philistines who set it in the idolatrous house of Dagon. The unique, inherent strength of the Ark brought about the destruction of Dagon, for, as the Word says, "Who can stand before his indignation? and who can abide in the fierceness of his anger? his fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by him" (Nahum 1.6). For seven months the Philistines held the Ark of Jehovah’s Strength, and they experienced the might and power of Jehovah in the way He afflicted them for their abuse and mockery of the Ark. Nevertheless, it was a sad commentary on the state of Israel at the time for there is no record that they attempted to recover the Ark, not realising that without it they were vulnerable before their enemies. Through the sovereign intervention of God the Philistines were led to return the Ark. May we be quick to learn the lesson from the Lord Himself that "without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15.5).

The Apostle Paul, being ever conscious of his own inherent weaknesses, had the firm conviction that he could in no way continue in the service of the Lord in his own strength. On accepting the "thorn in the flesh" he could say that the Lord’s "strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me...for when I am weak, then am I strong" (2 Cor 12.7-10). It is only when we recognise and acknowledge our own weaknesses that the Lord can and will take us up and use us in His service. For as long as we rely upon our own inherent strength (which is weakness before God) we shall never be acceptable to the Master.

How precious are the closing words of Solomon in his dedication of the Temple, words repeated in Psalm 132.8-9: "Now therefore arise, O Lord God, into thy resting place, thou, and the ark of thy strength: let thy priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let thy saints rejoice in goodness" (2 Chr 6.41). The Temple typically looked on to the millennial age when Almighty God will rest complacent, having ensured by His sovereign intervention that the glory of the Kingdom and the universe will be centred in His Beloved Son, the Ark of His Strength. All the redeemed in heaven will rejoice together to fill its courts with an eternal anthem of praise (Rev 5.12).

Finally, when Solomon placed the Ark in the Most Holy Place, it contained just the two tablets of stone on which the finger of God had written the Law (2 Chr 5.10), thus confirming that God’s will, having been glorified and fully accomplished in His Son, has been brought to rest and secured inviolable for all eternity.

The last mention of the Ark in the Scriptures is in Revelation 11.19. That the vision of the Ark of God’s new covenant with Israel will be seen in heaven at this time will be evidence enough that God has not forgotten His people in spite of the severity of His wrath in His judgments upon them and the world at large. A faithful remnant will be saved to enter into their rest in the Promised Land as Micah 4.4-5 so beautifully puts it: "They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it…and we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever". Amen.



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