THE ARK ABODE
1 Samuel 6:19 And he smote the men of Bethshemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD, even he smote of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men: and the people lamented, because the LORD had smitten many of the people with a great slaughter. 20 And the men of Bethshemesh said, Who is able to stand before this holy LORD God? and to whom shall he go up from us? 21 And they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjathjearim, saying, The Philistines have brought again the ark of the LORD; come ye down, and fetch it up to you. 7:1 And the men of Kirjathjearim came, and fetched up the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab in the hill, and sanctified Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD. 2 And it came to pass, while the ark abode in Kirjathjearim, that the time was long; for it was twenty years: and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
The ark of God was a piece of furniture in the tabernacle that also represented Christ, as did the tabernacle and all that it included. It was wood overlaid with gold. Christ was man, overlaid with Deity! The wood regards him as being the Root of David. The gold, speaking of not only Deity, but also of the trial of faith, (1 Peter 1:7), reveals him in His cross work as the author of faith! (Heb. 12:2).
The ark was also the place of God’s communion with Israel. Ex. 25:22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. Num. 7:89 And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him. of the congregation to speak with him, then he heard the voice of one speaking unto him from off the mercy seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubims: and he spake unto him.
It is through the Lord Christ that we commune with God! John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 1Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
There were gold rings on each side of the ark, through which two staves, or poles, were to be inserted. This was to insure that the ark, while being transported was never touched! We understand that approach to God under the provision of bulls and goats blood was not readily afforded to Israel! It was only when Solomon finished the permanent temple, and the ark was put into “his place” (1Kings 8:6), that the staves were removed, as the ark would no longer be in transit!
The shedding of the blood of the Lamb of God not only brought satisfaction to the Father (Isaiah 53:11), but it also rendered God approachable to all believers in Christ. Listen at these following verses as the great Apostle Paul, who was raised up under the former Jewish covenant, now reveals that the benefit of Christ’s blood also causes Him to be “touched” by our infirmities and brings the mercy seat to our aid! Heb. 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. We have an High Priest (the Lord Jesus Christ – Heb. 8:1), who has come near unto sinners. And we have access to the seat of mercy (the lid of the ark) in times of our need. His blood sprinkled on that mercy seat covers the law contained within the ark. He has kept the law for us, and keeps it in us. It is covered in his atoning blood and has therefore lost it’s condemning effect!
Rom. 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh:
The Men of Bethshemesh
Bethshemesh was designated as a city of Levites when Joshua divided the land upon Israel’s coming into Canaan. (Joshua 21:1-3,16). And it was directly to this city that the Philistines’ cows, pulling the cart with the ark of God upon it, came to. But it seems that the men of this city were not concerned that their ark was missing. They were not looking for it. They were actually occupied with reaping their wheat harvest down in the valley (1Sam 6:13), when the ark arrived.
It seems sad that these who were set aside for the service to God’s holy things were only concerned with what they should eat! Their city’s name means, “House of the Sun.” And it appears that they were only concerned with the natural realm, and not at all with the spiritual!
Whereas “the men of Kirjathjearim” were not priests, nor Levites, but they proved to be highly interested in the spiritual matters of their God! Their city’s name means, “City of the Forrest.” And their sincerity concerning the Lord’s holy things afforded “that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isa. 61:3). They had no religious legal status. There’s was never a designated Levitical city! – But they had a heart for the Lord and his holy things!
1Cor. 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
O! How the American “clergy” needs to be awakened to return to the first love, lest the Lord of the church removes her candlestick! He has removed even the “natural branches” of the religious tree before, and grafted in the wild branches. (Rom. 11). And he continues to remain as holy as ever! He can do it again!
But that which is even more astounding than the men of Bethshemesh not seeking the ark, is the fact that they did not handle it with reverence when it fell into their possession! In verses 19 through 21 of our 1 Samuel 6 passage, listed above, we find their blunders.
They set the ark on a rock in an open field. Then they opened it up and peered inside with devastating results! Then they pass it on to a city without any authorization to handle it, without even warning them of their own disaster! These religious leaders were certainly “dumb dogs!” (Read Isaiah 56:10-11). And they denied the Sovereign power of God by saying that it was “The Philistines who had brought again the ark of God!” For if there ever was a demonstration of the Lord’s power it was in those cows leaving their calves behind, and without human hands to guide, brought that ark straight to Bethshemesh!
But the men of Kirjathjearim brought it into a house. It was the house of Abinadab, a “willing father!” And this willing father had a son who was sanctified to tend exclusively to the ark of God! His name was Eleazar, which means, “God is my helper!” He is a picture of the Son of God who said, And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. (John 17:19.) Like our Lord Jesus, Eleazar was set apart (sanctified) for the exclusive used of helping the true Israel in their communion with God!
It was during the lengthy stay of the ark in this place that all Israel begin to “lament after the LORD.” Samuel’s ministry takes on an effectual power, idols are abandoned, and his ministry begins to be preformed throughout Israel to aid them in remaining faithful to God! (1 Sa. 7:4, 16).
Is there an Eleazar reading this? The communion with God has now been afforded you. Others seem not to have respect for it any more. Will you sanctify yourself to the handling of the Lord’s holy things, in hopes that all Israel may purify themselves from idolatry? May God have mercy!
Pastor Gene Breed