Well, the tabernacle proper and the alter have been built. Now it is time for the very core of the tabernacle; the furnishings. We have the table, the lampstand, the alter of incense, and most importantly, the ark of the covenant. When i was a kid i always thought that the ark of the covenant would be BIG. It would be taller than me and so big i wouldn’t be able to touch from end to end. Almost like it would be the length of a big dining room table, but it’s actually very small. If a cubit is the distance from the average person’s elbow to the tip of their middle finger, and the ark of the covenant is 2 1/2 cubits long, it’s really not very big. Add to that the height and width each being 1 1/2 cubits, it’s something i could easily jump over from a standing position (not running)… not that i would. I’m just saying that it would have been feasible if i had wanted to and God hadn’t struck me dead for even thinking it.
It’s even more interesting when you consider that the ark of the covenant sat on the floor / ground and not on a table. So chances are that the ark of the covenant didn’t even come up to most people’s waists. It was the throne of YHWH, yet while standing up you looked DOWN on it!?! I guess it’s surprising to me because i would think that the throne of the God of the universe and everything would be a wee bit bigger than… well, than that. But it’s His ark. I’ll let Him make it as big or small as He wants it to be.
The other interesting thing i wanted to note is how you hold it. I grew up watching Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. My dad really liked that movie. So i know what the Ark of the Covenant looked like. It was covered in pure gold, it had the two cherubim on top and the rings for the carrying poles about 3/4 of the way up. But wait! According to the text, the rings for the carrying poles were at the feet of the ark?… It was the same way with the table. The rings for the carrying poles were on the feet. It’s almost like YHWH wanted everyone to be able to see it when they travel. Almost as though it wasn’t just meant to be hidden away in some tent 24/7/365. Hmm, what an interesting concept! You mean God isn’t just some hidden away god that we aren’t allowed to see or interact with?
What is the significance of scent, of aroma and of oils? Why is it so important? It seems to be important to the LORD, and in part i understand it. Yet on the other hand i know that there is a part to it that i really just don’t grasp. Scents can have a stressing or a calming effect on a person depending very much on what the scent is. They can be irritating, soothing, or both at the same time. In the major prophets when God is talking about the people of Israel, there are numerous times when He makes a statement similar to this; “Your sacrifices are offensive to my nostrils.” Instead of being an aroma, pleasing to Him as is it’s intended purpose, it becomes noxious and vulgar.
Now, i can understand this to some extent as many strong perfumes and candles tend to give me headaches. Also, at one point in my life when i worked as a cashier at a clothing store there was a regular customer who always made it a point to go through my line. She appeared to be an older lady, and she would, whenever she had the chance, stop and talk with me for as long as she could. It was kind of an uncomfortable situation under normal circumstances, but she also wore extremely strong and noxious perfume. It was so bad that the majority of times, after talking with her for about five minutes or so, my head would be spinning so much i would have to lean on the counter to keep from falling over.
But that’s not what God was referring to when He spoke of their sacrifices being noxious in His nostrils. He was referring to how the people would bring their sacrifices to the temple on the right days, but then would live as if YHWH meant nothing at all other times. Their sins and offenses meant nothing to them as long as they came and made their appropriate sacrifices. That is not how these sacrifices and incense are supposed to work. They are supposed to enhance the sacrifice and make it more pleasing and acceptable to Him.
This chapter also deals with the anointing oil. The anointing oil has been a fascinating thing to me. It is used to consecrate and make holy. It is used to define and explain the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. It is used as a symbol of purification and for healing. It is all of this and more. In this chapter the anointing oil and the process of it being made is described in part. Yet, it is still a mystery. Some of the ingredients have been lost in time, or in the least their names have changed and we don’t know what they are anymore. Even if we did know what they were, it would be easy for us in the church today (in our ignorance of God’s Holiness and the importance of His commands) to abuse its use and bring curses down upon ourselves. For those same reasons i am glad that the true pronunciation of the name YHWH has been lost.