Exodus 37 Devotional
by Pastor Mark Hudson
In Exodus 37 we see the construction of the Ark in vs. 1-9, a fulfillment of Ex 25:10-20. Ex 37:10-16 we find the construction of the tabernacle table, a fulfillment of Ex 25:23-29. In Exodus 37:17-24 the construction of the lamp stand a fulfillment of Exodus 25:31-39. Finally Exodus 37:25-28, we find broad guidelines for the incense altar, a fulfillment of Ex. 30:1-5, and the composition of the anointing oil and incense, a fulfillment of Ex. 30:22-25, 34-36.
The ark of the covenant, invisible to all but the high priest once a year only, symbolizes God’s presence. As you can tell, the construction was to be completed just exactly as God told Moses. The appearance of the ark makes a rather dramatic change in events wherever the ark appears. But first a bit of a summary of the ark and its surroundings.
As mentioned, the ark was never seen by most of the Israelites except the high priest and his sons. (Num 4:5). It was always covered by a veil or screen. The ark contained the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod and a urn of manna (Heb 9:4). The ark was meant to be mobile with rings at each end and poles built to move it.
The ark is where Moses met with God in the tabernacle (Num. 7:89) . The ark led Israel whenever it moved. When the ark moved, Israel moved. When the ark stopped, Israel rested. “And whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Arise, O LORD, and let your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate you flee before you.” 36 And when it rested, he said, “Return, O LORD, to the ten thousand thousands of Israel” (Num 10:35-36).
The ark was carried by the priests when they entered the Promised Land. As they came to the Jordan, as soon as the priests who were carrying the ark step into the river, the river bed dried up and the water was held up (Josh 3:15ff) so the nation could walk on dry land to cross the river.
The ark was carried around Jericho when the walls collapsed (Josh 6:16-20). God was consulted at the ark (Josh 20:27). Then a terrible tragedy happened to the ark. In I Sam 4:11, the ark is captured by the Philistines. It gets every more strange. Both Eli’s sons were killed in that battle and upon hearing the news that the ark had been captured, Eli fell over and died. In this bizarre tale, the Philistines return the ark but not before a number are killed because they peeked in the ark. Then the ark was taken to the home of Abinadab, whose son Eleazar was sanctioned to keep it (I Sam 7:1). Shortening up this story, we conclude by confessing that we do not know what became of the ark. Did it go to Babylon in the Babylonian captivity or was it buried or in cave?
It seems odd to us that God instituted this beautiful ark to represent His presence. I’m sure some people confused this symbol with the real thing. But true believers then and now realize the truth that Solomon prayed in II Chr 6:18, “Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, how much less this house that I have built.” In the Old Testament, we see God uses symbols to point people to Himself: the ark, the tabernacle, the temple. Admittedly it may seem strange to us that the invisible God would use such mundane visible representation.
Christianity and Judaism exhibits cross currents in theology that are interesting to consider. The invisible God wanted to build a tabernacle, the ark, and a temple. The worship of sacrifice resembled something like a mass butcher shop rather than a beautiful sanctuary. Yet, they were never to make any image to represent God. They were taught He is a Spirit and they were worship Him not these created symbols.
Christ was fully man who ate, worked, slept, walked, and lived on this earth. His death was public, gory, and outwardly it may appear he was another criminal dying on a cross. Even our worship service is rather physical. Our deepest mystery involves bread and wine. We use water to introduce people into the kingdom.
Yet, the heart of our faith is the invisible relationship between fleshly human beings and the eternal, holy, invisible, majestic God of all creation. You do not need advanced degrees to know this God intimately and truly. The most humble person with little education, anywhere in the world, can know this God through our Lord Jesus.
The presence of God is everything. If you read the Bible everyday or attend church every Sunday or serve God in an ordained position or even as a missionary and do not genuinely know God through the power of the Spirit through our Lord Jesus, you have missed the greatest thing in life. Knowing Christ is Christianity. Some of my favorite verses are found in Philippians 3:8ff “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith–10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death . . . .”
Don’t let anything keep you from Christ. Pursue Him as if you life depends on Him. Don’t let anyone or anything keep you from knowing Christ. Know Him through tears and disappointments. Know him through loss and sickness. Know Him in days of loneliness and heartache. Know him when you do not have enough money and when your family is in turmoil. Whatever you do, love Him, grow close to Him, run after Him. As the Psalmist wrote, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps. 73:25-26).