The promises of God are the most important gifts that he has given us. Promises are the foundations of our faith and are what we believe to be the solid truths of Christianity. Without these tokens of truth, our religion would be purely logic based. Our personal relationships with God would be devoid of purpose and depth. In the Old Testament, on several occasions, God mentions a covenant. Revelation 11:19 says that the prophet saw God's temple in heaven opened, "And the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple." Clearly the Ark is both a promise meant for us and a thing of holiness that is to be respected.
Hebrews 9:4 states that the Ark contained three things: "The golden pot that had manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant." Each of these items has a certain significance in history and faith. First, the manna. Exodus 16:4 says, "Then said the Lord unto Moses: 'Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or not." Manna is an emblem of trust. In this situation, the Israelites were once again doubting the Lord. They complained, much like we often do, that they didn't have food. Actually, they did not have food. Their complaint was justified. Although sometimes our very own complaints are justified, there is no reason to blame the Lord. After all, he took us out of Egypt in the first place. When we lack trust, we suffer the consequences. Much like the Israelites, we need a reminder of God's love and faithfulness. The manna is just that. It provides a solace that Jesus always provides in times of trials. This is the covenant.
The story of Aaron's rod is one of the hidden gems of the Old Testament. To prove the Lord's guidance in the high priest's position, Moses commanded each tribe to craft a staff, and carve their name in its side. They were to place their staffs in the Tabernacle, and come morning, whichever tribe's staff budded was the heir to priesthood. Of course, come morning, it was Aaron's staff that budded. God's influence in the Israelites’ lives is easy to see now, but from their perspective, I'm sure it would have been hard to decipher whether or not all of Moses’ decisions were inspired or not. Yet again, we see that trust is essential in a relationship with God, and without it, we can be led to doubt and deny. Is it possible that in our lives it can seem that God's intervention is a thing of the past? We have to remember the promises that God has made to us, and the intervention shown in this story. This is the covenant.
The third item found within the Ark of the Covenant is the Ten Commandments. These stones are the foundations of our Christian faith. They put down law and order within God's people. When Moses was on the mountain receiving the commands, the Israelites were at that very moment worshipping the golden calf. We certainly need some steadfast laws and moral signposts to live by; without these checkpoints, our faith would be formless and single faceted. A religion solely based on Jesus is certainly getting the point down, but a foundation without a house of creed is pointless. The holy law is one of the most important things that helps to strengthen our moral compass, and is certainly a promise to cherish. This is the covenant.
We have looked inside the Ark of the Covenant. The Chest of Promises. The Lord's Love. Inside are the most important emblems of faith ever recorded. Each of these items can teach us an important lesson about faith. Each of these items can strengthen and support us through the hardest of times, and help us to always remember our Creator. The promise of trust, intervention, and law are all important to our relationship with God. So, as we proceed with our not-so-normal lives in this time, we must look to the promises of the Cross for our body, soul, and strength.
Leif Bromme lives in Longwood, Florida, and is a seventh grader at Forest Lake Education Center. He enjoys collecting shells, coins, sharks’ teeth, and all sorts of other stuff.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
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