The Law and the Ark

Exodus 34:11, “And the Lord said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.”

In Exodus, from chapters 25-40, we read much about the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. Information about this structure and God’s commands concerning the service therein may also be found in Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. One particular article of furniture placed in this structure was the ark of the covenant. The ark measured 2 ½ x 1 ½ x 1 ½ cubits (if we considered the cubit to be 18” that would make the ark 3 3/4’ x 2 1/4’ x 2 1/4’; the cubit of Exodus is considered by many to be 18”-21”). Inside this rectangular box made of shittim wood, and overlaid with gold, were three articles. Hebrews 9:4, “… and the ark of the covenant, overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.” There is much which could be said about all three of these articles, but in this effort we will labor to concentrate on the ark and the tables of the covenant.

In Exodus chapter 32, we read about the time when Moses went into Mount Sinai and received the ten commandments. The Lord with His finger wrote those commandments on tables of stone. While Moses was in the mount, Israel sinned and worshiped false gods. Aaron took gold and made a “molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” Israel sinned, and when Moses saw their sin he became angry he broke the tables of the law which the Lord had given him (see Exodus 32:3-4 and Exodus 32:19).

Our study verse tells us about a second set of tables the Lord gave to Moses. But this time instead of Moses breaking them, he was commanded to put them in the ark of the covenant to be kept (see Deuteronomy 31:26). As a Bible student, I find this quite amazing. The first time the law was given, a man broke them, and the second time the law was given they were placed in the ark to be kept.

In Genesis 2:15-17 we read about the man Adam. The Lord gave him a law, and he broke the law. Adam, like Moses, broke what God had given him. The Bible teaches us about another man, the man Christ Jesus. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47 tells us that He is the “last Adam” and the “second man.” Jesus is the God Man. He is God manifested in perfect humanity. He came into this world to do what the first man failed to do, to represent His people righteously and satisfy the judgment seat of the Father in their room and stead. Psalm 40:8, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” God’s law was given to Him, but unlike Adam in the garden, He kept God’s law to perfection.

Why is all this such a precious study and blessing? The lessons in Exodus about the ark and the tables of the law are a type/picture/allegory that remind us of the Lord and what He did for us. The law was given to Adam, and he broke the law in the garden condemning all he represented. The law was given to Jesus and He kept it for His people. What does this mean? It means if Jesus did this for us as our representative, and what He did is imputed to us, when we get to heaven it will be like we never sinned and we are justified (or just as if we never sinned). That’s good news for poor sinners. The glory of eternal salvation belongs to God. He did it and He did it alone. Hebrews 1:3, “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;…” Amen!

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