The Ark and Its Contents

 •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 12
“Wherein was a golden pot that had the manna,” God's daily provision for the need of His people passing through the wilderness; the manna which came from heaven day by day gathered and appropriated by the people in their natural state and condition. Believers and unbelievers alike ate of it and proved its sustaining qualities. Where faith was in exercise as with Caleb, it was a daily expression of the gracious interest God took in the life and circumstances of His people; to such it was a real link which grace had formed between the God of glory who dwelt in heaven, and the needy pilgrim on his way to the promised rest. Caleb's testimony before all Israel and to Joshua, was a striking witness of the faithfulness of Jehovah which should have been the experience and testimony of the whole nation (Josh. 14:6-156Then the children of Judah came unto Joshua in Gilgal: and Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite said unto him, Thou knowest the thing that the Lord said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea. 7Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart. 8Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God. 9And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the Lord my God. 10And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. 11As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. 12Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the Lord spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the Lord will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the Lord said. 13And Joshua blessed him, and gave unto Caleb the son of Jephunneh Hebron for an inheritance. 14Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite unto this day, because that he wholly followed the Lord God of Israel. 15And the name of Hebron before was Kirjath-arba; which Arba was a great man among the Anakims. And the land had rest from war. (Joshua 14:6‑15)). Jehovah had kept him alive “these forty and five years,” and that too with undiminished strength and enthusiasm. It had been by means of the manna, but if not thus it would have been by some other means, for the word and honor of God were pledged to it. The children of Israel had wandered in the wilderness, but he had lived, nor do we read of his death; his links with God had been daily renewed, faith strengthened, and experience of God's faithfulness extended and deepened. Every case of death of rebels, who were also his brethren, confirmed the truth of Jehovah's word to his soul, while the hope set before him as time rolled on (and he knew the precise period of the wanderings of the children of Israel), became clearer and more stimulating than ever.
How well did his life's history illustrate the truth that “this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith!” And how intensely individual is the path of faith in the day of provocation in the wilderness Joshua and Caleb stilled the people. Now in the day of triumph, Caleb recalls “the thing that Jehovah said unto Moses the man of God concerning me and thee in Kadesh-barnea.” The fellowship of those two faithful servants had not widened out. They knew how to keep a secret, and when to declare it and to claim the prize.
We are not to suppose that there was any potent charm or mysterious virtue in the manna; it was no “elixir of life” to prolong the life of the body indefinitely. The Lord Jesus told His hearers in John 6, “Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and died,” and again, “Not Moses has given you the bread out of heaven.” It was very distinctly a type of Christ sent from heaven, “that a man may eat thereof and not die” which necessitates faith in His person and a real acceptance and appreciation of the grace that brought Him into this world, and which was continually in evidence in His daily life and ministry up to the cross where He then became the Antitype of the paschal lamb. But just as God ordained that an omer of manna should be laid up before the testimony for a witness to succeeding generations, so has God the Spirit, in the four Gospels, given us a divine record of the words and ways of our Lord Jesus Christ as He trod this earth the constant manifestation of grace and truth, which alone meets the real need of our souls now passing through a wilderness. There will come a time when we shall need this no longer. It came to an end when Israel reached the land of promise, “The manna ceased... neither had the children of Israel manna any more” (Josh. 5:1212And the manna ceased on the morrow after they had eaten of the old corn of the land; neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year. (Joshua 5:12)). And as for us, when the journey has come to a close, faith shall change to sight and we shall know as known. It will then be our experience to have gathered up the manna to prove the sympathies and grace of Christ and His strength made perfect in weakness. The circumstances of grief, weakness and poverty will then be no longer existing for us, but it is here that the “hidden manna” comes into use. It was the memorial before God of that which had been so efficacious in the past for the blessing of the people of Israel. The golden pot containing it speaks of divine excellence and particularly of divine righteousness. If the people had laid it up for themselves for future use, it would have become nauseous (Ex. 16:2020Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms, and stank: and Moses was wroth with them. (Exodus 16:20)), but Aaron the divinely appointed high priest was commanded to lay it up before the testimony (the ark was not then made). It was therefore a priestly act intended for the instruction and edification of future generations, and pointing to the wondrous truth that He who came down from heaven full of grace and truth, and was here upon earth for a time in all lowliness, despised, unknown and rejected (as thus it was with the manna), has gone into heaven in righteousness. The once humbled Man is now the glorified Man. He came down from heaven in grace. He is gone back in righteousness.
The scripture before us is the only one which speaks of the manna being in the ark; and the divine purpose in placing it there seems never to have been realized because of the inability of the Israelites to draw nigh to God in the holiest; so the garments “for glory and for beauty” intended [?] for Aaron's use in the most holy place were never worn there (compare Ex. 28:29, 3529And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually. (Exodus 28:29)
35And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the Lord, and when he cometh out, that he die not. (Exodus 28:35)
with Lev. 16:4, 324He shall put on the holy linen coat, and he shall have the linen breeches upon his flesh, and shall be girded with a linen girdle, and with the linen mitre shall he be attired: these are holy garments; therefore shall he wash his flesh in water, and so put them on. (Leviticus 16:4)
32And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest's office in his father's stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: (Leviticus 16:32)
), and yet again, the proposal that Israel should be unto Jehovah “A kingdom of priests, a holy nation” was not fulfilled under the law which made nothing perfect, but was made good to the remnant according to the election of grace who believed on the risen Christ (1 Peter 2:99But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)). Yet such a one as David, found in the ark and its contents that which spoke of Jehovah's presence in holiness and grace amongst His people, so that faith was strengthened and spiritual affections nourished (1 Chron. 15). It is only the overcomer who escapes the corruption of the world through lust and rising to the height of the heavenly calling, that is enabled to feed upon Christ by faith and to realize that all that grace which was so blessedly manifested in Christ here on earth is the present portion of the believer, now that He is gone into heaven. It were easy perhaps to overcome the spirit of the world in its own proper place, but it has to be withstood and overcome amongst the saints, and the Lord's promise to the overcomer in the church at Pergamos appeals with peculiar distinctness to His saints to-day when all the characteristics of that assembly are so clearly marked. “To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna” (Rev. 2:1717He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (Revelation 2:17)).
(Continued From P. 144)
(To be continued).