|Author||James Harrington Evans|
|Publication Date||February 20, 2011|
Originally Published 1856
AMONG the material objects which constituted the appliances of the Levitical system, special prominence was ever given to THE ARK. Its construction was the first thing enjoined on Moses, when, on Sinai's mount, he received ceremonial precepts, and was entrusted with the pattern of whatsoever would be needful for the maintenance of the Jewish worship. According to the author of the book of Cozri, "the ark, with the mercy-seat and cherubim, was the foundation, root, heart, and marrow of the whole temple, and all the ritual worship performed therein." It was made, as it were, the central and cardinal point. It was that, for the sake of,and in connection with which all else was appointed. The tabernacle was to shelter it; the veil, to screen it. On it (or beside it) was the blood of the atoning victim to be annually sprinkled; and before it was the sweet incense to be waved. Thither was the voice of prayer directed, and thence were heavenly responses vouchsafed. In the story of the Israelitish wanderings, it occupies a conspicuous place; and in the narrative of Canaan's conquest, we find it again in the foreground. Consistently and continuously is it presented to our view, as an object of deepest importance and significance.
Numerous have been the theories entertained concerning its precise intention; and many the speculations as to what it was designed to teach, or what it was meant to foreshadow. Some theologians, for example, have explained it as an emblem of the throne of God in heaven; some, as a figure of heaven itself; some, as an image of Paradise; some, as a memorial of the cherubic banishment of man from Eden; some, as a type of Christ; and others, as a prefigurement of the church. The simplest and most ordinarily received interpretation, and that which seems to meet every requirement alike for critical and practical purposes, is that which regards the ark as having been a material symbol and accompaniment of God's residence on earth. It is under this aspect that we propose to trace its interesting and eventful history,---each differing phase presenting us with an affirmative answer to the question, "Will God in very deed dwell with men?" and each affording some new illustration of man's duty as arising out of God's wondrous condescension.