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The offerings for the tabernacle: the matter and form of the ark and the mercy-seat: the table of shew-bread; and the candlestick: all which were to be made after the pattern shewn to Moses in the Mount.
Before Christ 1491.
Exodus 25:1. And the Lord spake unto Moses— The Almighty, as King of the Jews, having delivered his laws, and ratified his covenant with them, now calls for an offering, in token of homage from his subjects, for the great purpose of erecting a sanctuary or palace, Exo 25:8 wherein he might dwell among them as their King and God: and as in their present itinerary state no fixed place of abode could properly be raised, a tabernacle, fit for removing and conveying from place to place, is appointed to be formed; and we read of nothing more common or ancient in antiquity than this kind of portable or ambulatory temple. This of the Hebrews, being temporary itself, was so contrived as to be a perfect model of a future abiding and more magnificent house; while each of them, both the tabernacle and the temple, were designed to be figurative representations of that body, in which the Divinity was to dwell or tabernacle among men, Joh 1:14 and which, in allusion hereto, CHRIST himself calls the temple, John 2:19. See also Hebrews 8:9 : "From whence it appears," as the authors of the Universal History well observe, "that they go entirely counter to the express tenor of this Epistle, who pretend that the Hebrews had all their ceremonies, tabernacle, ark of the covenant, altar, &c. from the Egyptians; because they find that the Egyptians afterwards used the same kind of religious utensils." The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews mentions all these, and many more, as instituted on purpose by God himself, to typify those better things which he reserved for the times of the Gospel. It is even plain from the tenor of the Old and New Testament, that the passover, the lifting-up of the serpent by Moses, the Israelites wandering in the wilderness, and their entering into the land of Canaan, and many more of the like nature, were all typical and figurative; and as such they are applied by the writers of the latter. Great caution, no doubt, is to be used in the application of the types. It must be allowed, however, that the general scope and tenor of the law and its services, pointing to and figuring out the Gospel dispensation, undoubtedly tends greatly to manifest the wisdom of God, and gives an additional proof to the truth of that dispensation (see Bishop Gibson's Pastoral Letters); and though it is very probable, that many things in the Divine ceremonial might be imposed in contrariety to the customs of idolaters, yet it is scarcely credible, that God would have associated in his worship any ceremonies used by idolaters; and it is far more probable, that idolaters should have derived their rites and customs from the true worshippers, and from those practices which were in use among them long before the erecting of the tabernacle, than that the true worshippers should at any time have appropriated to the service of God their corrupt practices. It is true, the Hebrews were too apt to deviate into the vice of idolatry, and to copy the ill examples of the Gentiles; a striking proof of which we shall shortly have in the 32nd chapter of this book: but this, be it remembered, is very different from copying rites and ceremonies, and transferring them by the direction of God himself into his worship from that of idols.
Exodus 25:2. An offering— The original signifies, properly, as in the margin of our Bibles, a heave-offering; so called from its being heaved, or lifted up before the Lord, ch. Exodus 29:27. But the word is frequently used in a more general sense; for any thing which is offered or given to God. Ezekiel 45:1. This freedom and readiness in giving is frequently spoken of as pleasing to God; but especially, 2 Corinthians 9:7. Indeed no services can be truly acceptable to God, which do not flow from a willing and cheerful mind.
Exodus 25:5. Rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins— A badger being an unclean animal according to the law, Bochart, after several of the best interpreters, insists that the passage should be rendered, rams' skins dyed of a red, and of a violet or purple colour. "All the ancient versions agree," says Parkhurst, "that the word rendered badger, means not an "animal, but a colour." See his Lexicon on the word תחשׁ. Shittim-wood, rendered by the LXX incorruptible wood, is generally supposed to mean cedar. St. Jerome, however, says, that the shittim-wood resembles the white thorn; that it is of admirable beauty, solidity, strength and smoothness. It is thought that he means the black acacia. See more in Calmet's Dictionary on Shittim; who observes further, that this tree is very thorny, and has even its bark covered with very sharp thorns; and hence, perhaps, it had the Hebrew name שׁטה shittah, from making animals decline or turn aside, lest they should be wounded by it. Dr. Shaw is of opinion, that the acacia (being by much the largest and most common tree of the deserts of Arabia, as it might likewise have been of the plains of Shittim over against Jericho) supplied this wood for the tabernacle: "this tree abounds," says he, "with flowers of a globular figure, and of an excellent smell, which may further induce us to take it for the same with the shittah-tree, which, in Isa 41:19 is joined with the myrtle and other sweet-smelling plants." Trav. p. 444. Scarlet, in the fourth verse, is the worm of scarlet, from the worm which feeds on the shrub whence the scarlet dye is made. Goats-hair in the original is only goats; but the hair of goats, which was in high price in the eastern countries, is generally supposed to be meant. The use of these several particulars will appear as we proceed.
Exodus 25:7. Onyx-stones—ephod—breast-plate— See ch. Exodus 28:6, &c.
Exodus 25:9. According to all— This verse might be rendered, more intelligibly perhaps, And ye shall make all things, according to the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, which I shall shew you; see Exo 25:40 and Hebrews 8:5. This verse, as well as that at the close of the chapter, seems to supply us with an abundant confutation of their opinion, who hold, that these sacred utensils, and, indeed, the whole Jewish ritual, were modelled after the pattern of Egyptian or other heathen usages. See particularly Saurin's 54th Dissertation.
REFLECTIONS.—Moses begins to receive from God directions for the tabernacle which should be erected, as the palace for the King of Glory.
1. The people must furnish him with the materials, and that by a free-will offering. Whatever we have, it is the Lord's; and whenever his service and glory require it, most readily should we open our heart and hand. A true christian needs no argument to extort his liberality in God's cause: not only to his power, but above his power he is willing.
2. The exact pattern must be followed, which God would shew him. In God's service we must beware of will-worship, and be guided by his revealed word.
3. We have the design of this tabernacle, i.e. for God's dwelling, there to manifest his presence in the midst of them, and travel with them as their King and their Leader through the wilderness. This tabernacle was typical of the incarnation of the Lord Jesus: he was the true tabernacle, he dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory. In him was the fulness of the Godhead bodily; and he still makes the hearts of his people the throne of his sanctuary, reigning in them and over them, and subduing before them all their enemies.
4. All their oblations are to be offered there; and these they must inquire after him, as at the place where his honour dwelleth. Note; All our prayers and services are only then acceptable with God, when they are presented in and through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Exodus 25:10-2.25.17. They shall make an ark of shittim-wood— The furniture of the most sacred part of the tabernacle, the Holy of holies, the immediate residence of the Divinity, is first appointed. Of this, the ark or chest was the principal; which, made of shittim-wood, Exo 25:5 was about four feet five inches in length, and two feet six inches in height and breadth, overlaid with pure gold within and without; with a crown or circular rim of gold round about it, Exo 25:11 and was to have two golden rings on each end, [see 1Ki 8:8. 2 Chronicles 5:9.] in which were to be put staves of shittim-wood overlaid with gold, for the convenience of carrying the ark; and which, the Hebrews say, were about ten cubits long. Into the ark, the testimony, i.e. the tables of the covenant, instruments attesting the covenant between God and the people, were to be put, (see ch. Exodus 31:18. Deuteronomy 10:2.) as well as the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. Numbers 17:10. Hebrews 9:4. A cover was to be made for this ark of pure gold, which is called the mercy-seat, Exodus 25:17. כפרת caporet, from כפר coper, to cover. The LXX generally render it by ιλαστηριον, the propitiatory; by which name St. Paul also calls it, Heb 9:5 and applies this name to Christ, Rom 3:25 whom God hath set forth ιλαστηριον, as a propitiatory or mercy-seat; and thereby he assures us that Christ was the true mercy-seat, the reality of what the כפרת caporet represented to the ancient believers. Upon the two ends of the mercy-seat, and of the same matter with it, Exodus 25:19 two cherubims were to be placed; between which, from above the mercy-seat, the LORD was pleased to discover himself, and to deliver his sacred commands, Exodus 25:22. We meet with imitations of this divinely instituted emblem among several heathen nations.
Exodus 25:18. Thou shalt make two cherubims of gold— These cherubims were to be made of gold, of the matter of the mercy-seat, Exodus 25:19. (margin of our Bibles) which seems to specify only that they were to be made of gold, i.e. the matter of the mercy-seat; and not, as some have supposed, of the same piece gold with the mercy-seat. With respect to these cherubical figures, thus much is certain, that they were two, that they were winged, that they had faces; that these faces, opposite to each other, looked upon the mercy-seat, and that, between their wings, Jehovah used to appear; whence the expression of his sitting up, or dwelling between the cherubim. 1 Samuel 4:4.Psalms 80:1; Psalms 80:1; Psalms 99:1. See also Numbers 7:89. And, from no particular description being given of them by God to direct Moses in the forming of them, either here or ch. Exo 26:1 it seems to follow, that their form was well known to him; as indeed it could not be otherwise, if what is advanced in the preceding note be true respecting their antiquity. But for the rest, many and various are the opinions of commentators. Some hints we gave of this in the note on Gen 3:24 nor can we hesitate to believe, that the cherubims there mentioned were of the same import with these placed on the mercy-seat. It is also most probable, from Ezekiel 1:10, &c. and Exodus 10:14, &c. that the faces of the cherubims were of four sorts; an opinion which Rev 4:7 seems to confirm. Though both from Ezekiel, Revelation, and the present passage, where cherub in the singular is used, one would be led to believe, that each cherub had only one face, of whatever sort it might be; for cherubims, in the plural, plainly signify the two figures on the mercy-seat, and not a compound figure with four faces. Whether these faces were emblematical of the Divine Persons in the Godhead, as Mr. Hutchinson and his followers strongly assert, or whether they were representative of those Divine messengers and ministers, the angels of God, who are spoken of, not only as stooping down through an ardent desire to look into the mysteries of redemption, 1Pe 1:12 but as ministering for them who shall be heirs of salvation, Heb 1:14 we confess ourselves unable to determine. Great objections appear on the side of each opinion, which properly to discuss would fill a volume. That there is great merit and ingenuity in Mr. Hutchinson's interpretation, must be allowed; had it been proposed with more candour and diffidence, it would certainly have obtained more praise: but Dr. Sharpe, in his Discourse on Cherubim, appears to have raised such objections as none of the followers of Mr. Hutchinson have yet been able to invalidate. To his work, therefore, we refer in vindication of our own sentiments; and there the reader will find, that cherubim have been generally understood by the Christian church to denote angels. We shall speak farther on this subject when we come to the prophet Ezekiel. It may be necessary just to remark, that, as it seems not probable that these figures were designed to represent the Deity, since he promised to be present himself between them, and consequently there could be no need of such a representation; so neither, if they were designed to represent angels, was there any contradiction to the second commandment herein: for there it is ordered, thou shalt not make unto thee; thou shalt not frame unto thyself, or from thine own imagination, any likeness, &c. to bow down to, or serve it: where the forming of idols, from their own fancies, for the purpose of worship, is evidently prohibited; which could have no respect to these figures of the cherubim, which were formed by God's own order, and never were, or were intended to be, worshipped. The Seraphim described by Isa 6:2-3 are manifestly angels, and are decyphered in a manner very similar to the cherubim: and since so many texts of Scripture speak of the legal dispensation as given by the ministration of angels, a typical representation of them might be well expected according to the genius of the Mosaic ritual; especially as they ministered also so much to the great Redeemer, the true Propitiator, when he came into the world.
Exodus 25:23-2.25.30. Thou shalt also make a table of shittim-wood— The next piece of furniture was the table for the shewbread, Exo 25:30 which, like the ark, was to be made of shittim-wood, overlaid with pure gold, with a border and a golden crown, or a circular rim of gold, with rings and staves, as for the ark; and, to furnish this table, dishes, spoons, covers, and bowls of pure gold, were to be made, Exodus 25:29. Dr. Cudworth, in his Treatise on the Sacrament, ch. 6 speaks thus of this table and its furniture: "When God had brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, resolving to manifest himself in a peculiar manner present among them, he thought good to dwell amongst them in a visible and external manner; and therefore, while they were in the wilderness, and sojourned in tents, he would have a tent or tabernacle built to sojourn with them also. This mystery of the tabernacle was fully understood by the learned Nachmanides, who, in few words, but pregnant, expresses himself to this purpose: 'the mystery of the tabernacle was this, that it was to be a place for the Shechinah or habitation of the Divinity to be fixed in;' and this, no doubt, as a special type of God's future dwelling in Christ's human Nature, which was the TRUE SHECHINAH. But when the Jews were come into their land, and had there built them houses, God intended to have a fixed dwelling-house also; and therefore his moveable tabernacle was to be turned into a standing temple. Now, the tabernacle or temple, being thus as an house for God to dwell in visibly, to make up the notion of dwelling or habitation complete, there must be those things that are suitable to a house belonging to it. Hence, in the holy place, there must be a table and a candlestick, because this was the ordinary furniture of a room, as the fore-commended Nachmanides observes. The table must have its dishes, and spoons, and bowls, and covers belonging to it, though they were never used; and always be furnished with bread upon it. The candlestick must have its lamps continually burning. Hence also there must be a continual fire kept in this house of God upon the altar, as the focus of it; to which notion, I conceive, the prophet Isaiah doth allude, ch. Exo 31:9 whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem. And besides all this, to carry the notion still farther, there must be some constant meat and provision brought into this house; which was done in the sacrifices that were partly consumed by fire upon God's own altar, and partly eaten by the priests, who were God's family, and therefore to be maintained by him. That which was consumed upon God's altar was accounted God's mess, as appears from Mal 1:12 where the altar is called God's table, and the sacrifice upon it God's meat:—Ye say, the table of the LORD is polluted, and the fruit thereof, even his meat is contemptible. And often, in the law, the sacrifice is called God's לחם lechem, i.e. his bread or food. Wherefore it is farther observable, that, besides the flesh of the beast offered up in sacrifice, there was a mincah, i.e. a meat or rather bread-offering made of flour and oil; and a libation or drink-offering, which was always joined with the daily sacrifice, as the bread and drink which were to go along with God's meat. It was also strictly commanded that there should be salt in every sacrifice and oblation, because all meat is unsavoury without salt as Nachmanides hath here also well observed; 'because it was not honourable that God's meat should be unsavoury without salt.' Lastly, all these things were to be consumed on the altar, only by the holy fire which came down from heaven, because they were God's portion, and therefore to be eaten or consumed by himself in an extraordinary manner."
Exodus 25:29. And thou shalt make the dishes thereof— The dishes were patens, or a sort of charger wherein to put the shew bread; Numbers 7:13. The spoons, as appears from Num 7:14 were vases for containing incense; and therefore some think that, with the LXX, the word would have been rendered more properly censers, as, most likely, they were to hold the frankincense which was put upon the shew-bread; Leviticus 24:7. The covers thereof are sufficiently shewn, Exo 37:16 to mean, according to the translation of the LXX, cups for libation, (see also Numbers 4:7.) and the bowls were large bowls or goblets, which contained the sacred liquor whereof the libation was to be made, and which was to be taken from the larger bowls by the smaller cups or vessels just mentioned. The four words might thus be rendered, the patens, and the censers thereof; and the cups, and the bowls thereof, wherewith they may make libation. Josephus mentions, that when Pompey went into the holy place, he saw there, among other vessels, σπονδεια, or cups for libation; and, as libations were made to God by pouring out wine before him in the holy place, (see Numbers 28:7.) so it is reasonable to believe that these bowls contained sacred wine, constantly kept upon the table, as it appears from the next verse that bread was constantly preserved there. Calmet informs us, from the Jewish traditions, that there was always a vessel full of excellent wine placed on the table with the shew-bread, and that, when the bread was changed, the wine was poured out as a libation before the Lord; and, probably, this table, with its furniture of bread and wine, might have been figurative of HIM who set forth in his own Person the meat and drink of eternal life for the food of true believers, and who always appears in the presence of his Father, to make intercession for us. Hebrews 9:24.
See commentary on Exo 25:23
Exodus 25:30. And thou shalt set upon the table shew-bread— In the Hebrew, bread of the faces; so called, because it was to be placed before the sanctuary or the immediate presence of Jehovah. We refer to Leviticus 24:5; Lev 24:23 for a fuller account of this bread shewn or exhibited constantly before God, and therefore rendered by us shew-bread. The Gentiles imitated this custom also, with whom it was usual to have sacred tables in their temples, and to set upon them meat and drink in honour of their gods: many of whom were supposed themselves to devour the food set upon the table; a proof of which we have in the apocryphal history of Bel and the Dragon: but, in general, this meat and drink was appropriated to the use of the priests. Leviticus 24:9. Le Clerc observes, that this rite was designed to be a standing memorial to the Jews, of their being peculiarly indebted to God for furnishing them with such rich provision in the wilderness and in the land of Canaan. But, further than this, it is most likely to have had a much higher and nobler aspect to things future, as we have before observed.
REFLECTIONS.—Few words relate the glorious work of the creation of all things; here every particular is nicely described and insisted upon. Note; The church of God is more precious in his account than all the other works of his hands.
1. The ark of the testimony is described; so called, as containing God's testimony of his will and their duty. The furniture of the most holy place is first appointed; and this is the most distinguished part. A chest over-laid within and without with gold, capable of containing the two tables of stone, on which the law was to be written, was to be prepared; a cornice of gold was to surround it at the top, and four golden rings were to be placed at the corners for its more convenient carriage. Learn, (1.) Our hearts should be this ark of gold, purified by divine grace, and full of love, which is the fulfilling of the law. (2.) Where God's presence is with any soul, obedience will be its delight. (3.) Whenever the law of God is truly made our rule of conduct, and we delight in it after the inner man, it is a testimony of our simplicity and God's approbation.
2. The mercy-seat was the covering of the ark, and made of solid gold, whereon the blood of the atonement was sprinkled. Christ is the true mercy-seat, standing between a holy law and an offended God, to make reconciliation for the sins of his people.
3. The cherubim of gold: they were emblematical figures of angels, bending towards the mercy-seat, in token of adoration, or deep contemplation of the mysteries of grace therein contained; and winged, to signify the speed, alacrity, and delight, with which they obey the Divine commands. From between these cherubim, above the mercy-seat, God promises to meet and commune with his people. Note; They who draw near to God in his appointed way will find him ever ready to hear and answer them.
4. The table of shew-bread and its appurtenances are directed to be made, to stand in the holy place. Twelve loaves were placed upon it continually in token of their thankfulness for the provision in the wilderness, and afterwards for their abundance in Canaan. Note; (1.) Our daily bread is God's, and should be sanctified by daily prayer and thankful acknowledgment. (2.) They who visit God's house shall be fed with his bread. He has consolations to bestow sweeter than manna, and more strengthening to our souls than bread to our bodies.
See commentary on Exo 25:23
Exodus 25:31. Thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold— This candlestick or chandelier was to consist of a shaft, from which were to issue six branches, each branch to have three bowls or cups, made in the shape of almonds, with knops and flowers, ornaments round and foliated like blossoms to each, and a lamp on the top of each of them. In the shaft of the candlestick were to be four of these almond-like bowls, with a lamp upon the top of it, Exo 25:34 and there were to be in each of the six branches, besides the knop which belonged to the bowls, knops in the shank of the candle-stick, so contrived, that the six branches should arise out of three of them, two out of each knop; one on the one side, and the other on the other, Exodus 25:35. Thus there were to be seven lamps, one in the shaft on the middle, and six in the branches around, Exodus 25:37. These lamps, Aaron and his sons, the priests, were to light. Witsius observes, that "God everywhere, in the administration of his covenants, joined the symbols of light for knowledge, and of food for nourishment. In the first was the tree of knowledge and life; in the desert, the pillar of fire and the manna; here, the candlestick and the table: in the New Testament, baptism called φωτισμος, or illumination, by the ancients, and the holy supper: each of which things we especially want: food to support life; light to walk wisely and rightly."
Exodus 25:39. A talent of pure gold— A talent was 3000 shekels, as may be collected by halving the number of the Israelites, (because each brought half a shekel,) which half is 301,775, and is the sum of the shekels which they all contributed. Now, Moses assures us, ch. Exo 38:25-26 that these shekels amounted to 100 talents and 1775 shekels over; wherefore that number which, dividing 301,775, will quote 100, and leave 1775, is the number of shekels in a talent: but, 3000 only will do this; therefore 3000 shekels was a talent. Now, a silver shekel being computed at 2s. 4d. English, a talent or 3000 such shekels will amount to 350£. and reckoning gold to silver as 15 to 1, the talent of gold will amount to 5250£. sterling. Cumberland's Scripture Weights, ch. 4.
Exodus 25:40. And look that thou make, &c.— Moses was now in the mount with God: this verse therefore should be rendered, in conformity with the 9th, look that thou make them after the pattern which is shewed thee, or, which thou art caused to see, in the mount; which is a literal translation of the Hebrew, and agreeable to all the versions.
REFLECTIONS.—1. The tabernacle being without a window, light was necessary; and a most noble candlestick of gold of seven branches, highly ornamented, must be provided. Christ is to his church, and to every individual believer, what this candlestick was to the tabernacle. He shines in the temple of his grace, to shew them the way to the presence and throne of God, who dwelleth between the cherubim. 2. Moses is charged not to deviate from the Divine pattern in any particular. In God's ordinances we must abide by his express institutions.
A review of the Ark, with the Mercy-seat, considered typically.
First, It was a visible representation of the throne of JEHOVAH, the King of Israel. The law in the midst of the ark signified the equity of his government, or that justice and judgment are the habitation of his throne. The cherubim at both ends of the mercy-seat were emblematical figures of the blessed elect angels that surround his throne, and fly swiftly to execute his high commands. The gold of which they were framed may signify the purity of their essence. The position of their faces towards each other may denote the perfect harmony and mutual love of the innumerable company of angels. The adoring attitude of their bodies may represent the profound veneration they have for their eternal Sovereign. And their flying posture (for their wings were expanded, and touched one another) did surely indicate the expeditious alacrity with which they fulfil the heavenly commissions.
It was also a repository for the tables of the law, which were the instruments of that solemn covenant made between God and that peculiar people; and hence it was a perpetual pledge of the Divine favour and protection to their nation if they fulfilled their obligations to the King of heaven, and a witness against them if they should prove unfaithful. The gold and cedar were fit emblems of the invaluable worth, the spotless purity, and the perpetual duration of the inclosed law.
But especially it may be considered as a figure of Jesus Christ, the promised Messias, whom all the holy things seem to have pointed out with one consent. There will appear to be no contemptible likeness between him and this most holy vessel, if we attend to the following things: the materials of which it was framed; the depositum which it contained; its ornaments; its uses; its virtues; and, lastly, its removals from one place to another till it rested in the temple.
The materials of the ark were shittim-wood and gold. How naturally does this lead us to think upon the constitution of his wonderful Person, whose Humanity is like the shittim-wood, the fruit of the earth, but not subject to corruption; and his Divinity, like the gold in the ark, embosoms his human nature, ennobles, but is not blended with it?—The depositum it contained was the second tables of the law; for the first tables were broken before. In Jesus Christ we may see that law which we had broken preserved inviolate, and perfectly fulfilled in the immaculate obedience of his holy life, who says of himself, "I delight to do thy will, O God: yea, thy law is within my heart." Psalms 40:8.——Its ornaments were, 1 the border of gold resembling a crown, which reminds us of the Messiah's regal dignity; and, 2 the Cherubim of glory, which were emblems of those bright and glorious creatures, the angels, who are supported in their happy state by Jesus Christ, as the cherubim were by the ark;—who desire to look into the mystery of man's redemption, and pry into it with the most unwearied attention, the most sublime satisfaction, the highest wonder, and the profoundest adoration;—and who are all ministering spirits, ascending and descending upon the Son of man.—The uses of the ark were various and important. Here God was enthroned. So God is in Christ reconciling the world to himself.—Here the law was covered from all eyes: so Jesus Christ, our true Propitiatory, interposes himself between us and that condemning law, which never fails to curse and kill all who presume to meddle with it, but through his alone merit and through his alone strength; for when the commandment comes without him who fulfilled it, sin will revive, and, like the men of Bethshemish, we shall die.—Here oracles were given, and here, said God to Moses, "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." Exodus 25:22. So Christ is the meeting-place of God with man, in whom he deigns to reveal his gracious will and pleasure to the fallen creature: hence is he called "the Word of God;" Rev 19:13 and is said to declare God the Father, who never was, and never can be, seen by any man. And, lastly, here prayers were presented, and offerings were accepted; for the most holy Israelite durst not approach the presence of Jehovah, but as he sat upon the mercy-seat sprinkled with blood. Nor could the holiest Christian presume to hope for the acceptance of his best duties, were it not for the mercy of God in Christ Jesus.—The virtues of the ark were such as these: it searched out a resting-place for Israel in the wilderness. So Christ is to his people the breaker of their way, who goes before them, gives them rest, and prepares for them a place. It opened a passage for the ransomed tribes through the river Jordan. O Jesus, through thee we safely pass through the Jordan of death, and have abundant entrance ministered into the heavenly kingdom, because these waters shall not overflow them who have his presence with them according to his promise! It overturned the walls of Jericho, when carried round them seven days: so shall the walls of Babylon fall, and every high thing that exalts itself against God be cast down by the preaching of his Gospel, who is the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God. It overthrew Dagon of the Philistines in his own temple, maimed his brute image, and utterly abolished that monstrous idol: so shall he that sits in the temple of God, and shews himself that he is God, be destroyed by our spiritual ark, even by the spirit of his mouth, and brightness of his coming. It sanctified the places to which it came in the opinion of Solomon himself; and blessed the house of Obed-edom, where it transiently resided. It is the presence of Christ which makes us holy and happy, and in him we are blessed with every spiritual blessing.—The removals of the ark from place to place in the wilderness and in Canaan, till it rested in the temple, (shall we say,) bear some faint resemblance to the humbled Redeemer, going about doing good while he was upon earth, until the everlasting doors of heaven were opened to receive him? Or, was the bearing of the ark about upon the shoulders of the Levites, a figure of the ministers of Christ bearing his name among the Gentiles in all the corners of the world?
It is long since the Babylonians destroyed this glory of Israel; but we have an ark which shall never be destroyed. John saw it in the heavenly temple. The Old Testament ark, like the covenant it confirmed, is vanished away. But the New Testament ark, in which the new covenant stands fast, shall abide for ever in the presence of JEHOVAH. Nor is it death for any one to took into this ark; for the word of life was looked upon with the eyes, and handled with the hands of men. Let it be our one and chief desire that all the days of our life we may abide in his house, behold his beauty, and inquire in his temple.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Exodus 25". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany