The Review and Herald


November 9, 1905

Lessons From the Life of Solomon—No. 9

The Ark of the Covenant


Beyond the inner veil of the wilderness-tabernacle built in the time of Moses, was the holy of holies, where centered the symbolic service of atonement and intercession. In this apartment was the ark, a chest of acacia wood, overlaid within and without with gold, and having a crown of gold about the top. It was made as a depository for the tables of stone, upon which God himself had inscribed the ten commandments. Hence it was called the ark of God's testament, or the ark of the covenant, since the ten commandments were the basis of the covenant made between God and Israel. RH November 9, 1905, par. 1

The cover of the sacred chest was called the mercy-seat. This was wrought of one solid piece of gold, and was surmounted by golden cherubim, one standing on each end. One wing of each angel was stretched forth on high, while the other was folded over the body in token of reverence and humility. The position of the cherubim, with their faces turned toward each other, and looking reverently downward toward the ark, represented the reverence with which the heavenly host regard the law of God, and their interest in the plan of redemption. Above the mercy-seat was the Shekinah, the manifestation of the divine presence; and from between the cherubim, God made known his will. RH November 9, 1905, par. 2

Throughout the times of Moses and Joshua, and of the judges and kings of Israel, the ark of the covenant was regarded as a symbol of God's presence among his people. It was the ark that led the way for the hosts of Israel when they crossed the Jordan and entered the promised land. Surrounded by a halo of glory, the ark was borne around the walls of Jericho by priests clad in the dress denoting their sacred office. During the conquest of Canaan, Gilgal was the headquarters of the Jewish nation and the seat of the tabernacle. Afterward, Shiloh, a little town easy of access to all the tribes, was chosen as a place most suitable for the tabernacle of the congregation. RH November 9, 1905, par. 3

The ark remained at Shiloh for three hundred years, until, because of the sins of Eli's house, it fell into the hands of the Philistines, and Shiloh was ruined. Through the providence of God, the ark was returned, uninjured, to the Israelites, and was placed in the house of a Levite at Kirjath-jearim, nine miles distant from Jerusalem. There it remained for many years, until David, at the head of a triumphal procession, with sacrifices, and dancing, and music, brought the ark to Jerusalem, and deposited it in the tent that had been prepared for its reception. RH November 9, 1905, par. 4

The Transfer of the Ark to the Temple

After Solomon had finished building the temple, he assembled the elders of Israel, and the most influential men among the people, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of the city of David. These men consecrated themselves to God, and, with great solemnity and reverence, accompanied the priests who bore the ark. “And they brought up the ark of the Lord, and the tabernacle of the congregation, and all the holy vessels that were in the tabernacle, even those did the priests and the Levites bring up. And King Solomon, and all the congregation of Israel, that were assembled unto him, were with him before the ark, sacrificing sheep and oxen, that could not be told nor numbered for multitude.” RH November 9, 1905, par. 5

Solomon followed the example of his father David. Every six paces he sacrificed. With singing, and with music, and great ceremony, “the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the Lord unto his place, into the oracle of the house, to the most holy place, even under the wings of the cherubims. For the cherubims spread forth their two wings over the place of the ark, and the cherubims covered the ark and the staves thereof above.” RH November 9, 1905, par. 6

A most splendid sanctuary had been made, according to the pattern showed to Moses in the mount, and afterward presented by the Lord to David. In addition to the cherubim on the top of the ark, Solomon made two other angels of larger size, standing at each end of the ark, representing the heavenly angels guarding the law of God. It is impossible to describe the beauty and splendor of this sanctuary. Into this place the sacred ark was borne with solemn reverence by the priests, and set in its place beneath the wings of the two stately cherubim that stood upon the floor. RH November 9, 1905, par. 7

The sacred choir lifted their voices in praise to God, and the melody of their voices was accompanied by all kinds of musical instruments. And while the courts of the temple resounded with praise, the cloud of God's glory took possession of the house, as it had formerly filled the wilderness-tabernacle. “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place, that the cloud filled the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud: for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord.” RH November 9, 1905, par. 8

A “Shadow of Heavenly Things”

Like the earthly sanctuary built by Moses according to the pattern shown him in the mount, Solomon's temple, with all its services, was “a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices;” its two holy places were “patterns of things in the heavens;” Christ, our great High Priest, is “a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.” As in vision the apostle John was granted a view of the temple of God in heaven, he beheld there “seven lamps of fire burning before the throne.” He saw an angel “having a golden censer; and there was given unto him much incense, that he should offer it with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne.” Here the prophet was permitted to behold the first apartment of the sanctuary in heaven; and he saw there the “seven lamps of fire” and the “golden altar,” represented by the golden candlestick and the altar of incense in the sanctuary on earth. Again, “the temple of God was opened,” and he looked within the inner veil, upon the holy of holies. Here he beheld, “the ark of His testament,” represented by the sacred chest constructed by Moses to contain the law of God. RH November 9, 1905, par. 9

In the ministration of the earthly tabernacle, which served “unto the example and shadow of heavenly things,” the holy of holies was opened only upon the great day of atonement, the typical day of judgment, set apart for the cleansing of the sanctuary. Therefore the announcement, “The temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament,” points to the opening of the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary, at the end of the twenty-three hundred days,—in 1844,—as Christ entered there to perform the closing work of the atonement. Those who by faith followed their great High Priest, as he entered upon his ministry in the most holy place, beheld the ark of the testament. RH November 9, 1905, par. 10

The sanctuary in heaven is the very center of Christ's work in behalf of men. It concerns every soul living upon the earth. It opens to view the plan of redemption, bringing us down to the very close of time, and revealing the triumphant issue of the contest between righteousness and sin. It is of the utmost importance that all should thoroughly investigate these subjects, and be able to give to every one that asketh them a reason for the hope that is in them. RH November 9, 1905, par. 11

We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin, by humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life, should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin, and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged in by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet he will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Every one must be tested, and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. RH November 9, 1905, par. 12

Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement. Momentous are the interests involved therein. The judgment is now passing in the sanctuary above. For more than sixty years this work has been in progress. Soon—none know how soon—it will pass to the cases of the living. In the awful presence of God our lives are to come up in review. At this time above all others it behooves every soul to heed the Savior's admonition, “Watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” “If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” RH November 9, 1905, par. 13

When the work of the investigative judgment closes, the destiny of all will have been decided for life or death. Probation is ended a short time before the appearing of the Lord in the clouds of heaven. At that time, Christ will declare: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” RH November 9, 1905, par. 14

The righteous and the wicked will still be living upon the earth in their mortal state—men will be planting and building, eating and drinking, all unconscious that the final, irrevocable decision has been pronounced in the sanctuary above. Before the flood, after Noah entered the ark, God shut him in, and shut the ungodly out; but for seven days the people, knowing not that their doom was fixed, continued their careless, pleasure-loving life, and mocked the warnings of impending judgment. “So,” says the Saviour, “shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Silently, unnoticed as the midnight thief, will come the decisive hour which marks the fixing of every man's destiny, the final withdrawal of mercy's offer to guilty men. RH November 9, 1905, par. 15

“Watch ye therefore, ... lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping.” Perilous is the condition of those who, growing weary of their watch, turn to the attractions of the world. While the man of business is absorbed in the pursuit of gain, while the pleasure-lover is seeking indulgence, while the daughter of fashion is arranging her adornments,—it may be in that hour the Judge of all the earth will pronounce the sentence, “Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting.” RH November 9, 1905, par. 16