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God’s Presence – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

The tabernacle in the Old Testament is all about the presence of the Lord. The Lord God of Israel chose to make His presence known in the part of the tabernacle that is called the Holy of Holies. In the Holy of Holies there was only one piece of furniture––an ark. (Exodus 25: 10-16) The word for ark could probably be better-translated “chest.” It was a chest made of acacia wood and covered over with precious gold, both within and without. On top of this Ark of the Covenant was placed the Mercy Seat. Attached to the Mercy Seat were two cherubim that looked down on the Mercy Seat as angelic beings.

 
There would be over that Ark of the Covenant in the Holy Place, a burning light. It was the outshining of the Shekina Glory of the eternal God. The Ark was a constant reminder that the manifest presence of God was present in that tabernacle.
 
To stand before the Ark of the Covenant, the high priest had to move through the veil. He was invited to move beyond the veil only once each year. To venture into the Holy of Holies and to stand before the Ark of the Covenant on any other day meant certain death. This is a reminder to us that the presence of God is always a holy presence. Wherever God manifests His presence in time or eternity, it will always be a manifestation of His holiness. Holiness is so much a part of who God is that there can be nothing else connected with His presence.
 
Moses was given specific instructions that the two tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written were to be stored in the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, this was one of the primary purposes of the chest itself. Other things were added later, such as pot of manna, the rod of Aaron that budded, and then even time later some golden symbols that were placed beside the Ark by the Philistines when it had brought such decimation to them. However, in the beginning there were only the Ten Commandments.
 
We must remember the context in which God gave the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments embodied the basis of God’s Covenant with His people. He would be their God and they would be His people if they lived by the principles revealed in the Ten Commandments.
 
On each corner of the Ark, God had placed a ring. Through each of these golden rings there was at all times a rod or a pole. These poles were covered with gold. The purpose for these poles was for the movement of the Ark. Whenever the Ark was moved from place to place, it was carried by four dedicated Levites. Each of them rested the pole on his shoulder and moved the Ark to the new place where God would establish for it to be settled.
 
You will remember the tragic mistake that David made when he ignored this specific piece of instruction concerning the Ark of the Covenant. When they sought to move the Ark of the Covenant into the city of David, they tragically attempted to bring it on an ox cart. As they were moving it along the road toward Jerusalem, one of the ox stumbled and the Ark was about to tip over.  Uzza put out his hand to steady the Ark, only to be smitten by God. They were in violation of specific instructions about how the Ark was to be moved from place to place. He experienced the ultimate in the holy presence of God in that tragic mistake.
 
The reason that the Ark was so equipped was that God wanted His people to understand that His manifest presence would go with them wherever they went. The Ark was equipped to go with them from place to place. It could be carried on the shoulders of dedicated Levites and set up in the midst of the people.
 
We will learn later in the sacred instructions that God gave his people that when they moved from place to place, the Ark went first. They were led from place to place by the manifest presence of the Lord.  Is this not a wonderful truth concerning the presence of the Lord? Is it not wonderful to know that wherever God leads us He goes before us? How can we be afraid if we know that as we move forward in the will of God we are following the manifest presence of the Lord God Himself?
 
When God led His people to attempt things that were in themselves impossible, the Ark of the Covenant was usually involved. Whenever God led the people through the Jordan while it was at flood stage, it was the Ark of the Covenant that went before them. Joshua said to the priest, “Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and cross over ahead of the people” (Joshua 3:6). It was the manifest presence of God that made the dry pathway through the Jordan for them.
 
Whenever they marched around the walls of the fortified city Jericho, it was the Ark of the Covenant that went before them. The priest carried that ark around the city for seven days.   It was the manifest presence of God that enabled His people and cast down the wall before them.  It is always that way! It is the presence of God with His people that makes His people able to do mighty deeds. Without the manifest presence of the Lord, they are still just flesh.
 
Never forget that to truly worship God, there needs to be the manifest, experienced presence of God. Too many worship experiences are just ritual. They are made up of form, but they have no power. It is easy for a church to slip into such a pattern. The Ark of the Covenant is a reminder that God wants to meet with His people in the manifestation of His presence wherever His people assemble for worship.
 
Why don’t we adjust our expectations and begin to anticipate the presence of God being manifested in our midst every time we assemble for worship!  I encourage you to find a local church where you can worship the Lord.  There are several wonderful churches and pastors in Ellijay and Gilmer County.  Every time we meet for worship it should be representative of being in the Holy of Holies, recognizing that we are in the presence of God.  We all need that in our lives.