And inside the second veil was the place which is named the Holy of holies; Having a vessel of gold in it for burning perfumes, and the ark of the agreement, which was covered with gold and which had in it a pot made of gold for the manna, and Aaron’s rod which put out buds, and the stones with the writing of the agreement. Heb 9:3-4
Today, I will continue yesterdays teaching and describe the three elements found in the arc of covenant. For better understanding, please read that entry first.
Yesterday, I established that the old testament is a shadow of the new, expressing in narratives and symbols the principles of God. We started the journey through the tabernacle, and I just repeat the major pitfalls of that journey.
To be on a journey is like maturing. It does not really matter where you are at at the moment, as long as you keep progressing. If not, there are patterns you are likely to adapt.
If you stop in the outer court, one pattern will be legalism. You will judge everything naturally, based on outward appearance and an external law.
But if you stop in the Holy place, it is more likely that you will cherish the fruit, the gifts, the provision more than the giver. You will, out of your own strength, try to be like Jesus, as you find it arrogant and even blasphemous to be one with him. But to be like somebody means to be separate from him.
We can only proceed into the Holy of Holies by becoming one with him, as only the high priest is allowed in. He the head and we the body. And it is only possible through prayer and worship – communication – and sacrifice.
But in the Holy of Holies we do not need any other light source, because he will be their light (Rev 21 – future or attainable right now?).
But let us come to the ingredients of the arc of covenant.
We saw in the outer court that the law can well become a pitfall for us. But it is written that he will make a new covenant with us.
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah:I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jer 31:33
And we know that we live in this new covenant, because Jesus told us so:
And the cup in like manner after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in my blood, even that which is poured out for you. Luk 22:20
Thus, now inside the arc of covenant, we find the tables of the law. Not an external law to follow, but a desire of the heart given to us by God.
Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Ps 37:4
He will put them into your heart as well as bring them to fruition.
Speaking of fruit: there is a jar of manna. The Israelites in the wilderness got their provision from God. But instead of looking to the giver, they looked for the gift and started to disdain it. So much that God gave them meat, so much meat that they grew sick. He overflowed them with blessings in a time they could not handle it because of their heart condition.
But the jar of manna in the arc symbolizes the fact that provision comes from within Christ, or short, from within, and that we are to become providers, fruit to feed others, both within the tabernacle as well as outside. It is heavenly provision. It does not stay fresh, but has to be collected daily again, yet it stays the same. Not that we know all about it – hey, it still is called “what is it” in Hebrew – and some things we think we know we might have to relearn – remember, it’s a journey into maturity. But it feeds us and others. It feeds our whole household – the people that we are trusted with and responsible for. Hint: read John 15 about this!
And then we come to the rod of Aaron.
The rod of Aaron is in the arc of covenant to remind the people of the fact that Aaron and the tribe of the Levites were chosen for priesthood. Again, we are a kingly priesthood. And we are in Christ, our high priest, he the head and we the body. Therefore, this applies to us. Even though we are from a different order.
The people of Israel revolted against Aaron and God wanted to make something clear once and for all. He had them put a rod for every tribe into the tabernacle over night to decide who was called by God. Those twelve rods were walking sticks of the respective tribe leaders, and they were dead! They had been used for a while. But Aaron’s budded over night, as the only one.
Thus, the rod stands for authority. Just like the rod Moses used to part the sea. Just like the rod in Rev 12, where it says that we will reign with an iron rod.
But there is more to it.
On this rod, there were leaves, flowers, and ripe almonds.
This tells me that I do not have to be perfect to grow into this authority. Some parts of me will just be budding, others will flower, while in some parts I already bring fruit. Mature fruit. On a journey into maturity. 30 – 60 – 100-fold. Child, youngster, father.
Almonds in botany are called prunus dolcis. Let me make a wordplay: sweet pruning. Only through pruning we will become more fruitful – and granted, it is not always sweet while we are in the midst of it. Again, read John 15.
Almonds provide folic acid – something essential for pregnant women. Well, I am pregnant with the dreams and the assignments of God in my life. Almonds are essential for me. Authority, assignment, pruning, growing maturity.
Almond flowers have five leaves. It is necessary to have two things in our lives to grow into this maturity and authority I am talking about. Both are linked to the number five. They are grace and the five fold ministry.
A more modern name in botany for the almond is prunus amigdalus. The amigdalae (plural) are almond-shaped areas in the brain that help to judge sensations we get from our five senses. They help us learn and cope with our emotions. The help us to – if brought under the Spirit – renew our thinking.
All this was given to us on the cross. On the cross, Jesus became the arc of covenant, the mercy seat. The rod of Aaron, a dead piece of wood that brings forth life, symbolizes that cross as well. So why the journey? We have to grow into all this. We have to come to believe it. Again, you can’t talk about everything with a four year old, not trust him with everything.
The bible talks about almonds in a few other places. In Eccl. 12:5 it reminds us that we grow old. The things that were easy – to climb a hill – or reminded us of new beginnings – as the almond tree, the first to bud in the spring – become reminders of our restraints.
But there is one more scripture about almonds.
Moreover the word of Jehovah came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond- tree. Then said Jehovah unto me, Thou hast well seen:for I watch over my word to perform it. Jer 1:11-12
Some explanation upfront: the almond tree in Hebrew is shoqet. To watch over something is shaqat. Same word stem.
I already said that the almond tree – together with the fig tree – is the first to bud in spring, in Israel as early as January or February. It reminds us that as long as the rainbow is in the sky there will be spring, summer, fall, and winter. There will be sowing and reaping. That as long as the moon is in the sky there is peace available.
And God here even gives us a greater promise: he will watch over his word. He will watch over all his promises. No word will come back to him void, but he will perform it.
The almond reminds us that God will perform his word. Amen. Logos and rhema. Written and prophecy. He will perform it.
The law was there in the outer court. The provision was there in the Holy place – as were the almonds, as ornaments on the lamp-stand, but only in form of leaves and flowers. But only in the Holy of Holies, only in the arc of covenant, only in Christ they become what they really are. As we realize that we are not to outwardly judge, that it is not about getting something, even immature authority, or to be like him.
It is in Christ that we become him. We are not under the law any longer, but we live and breath the Kingdom. We become fruit and provision for others. And we walk in ever growing maturity and authority.
As for me, I want to go there. Come with me?