(Key verses: Gen 6:14-18; Exo 2:1-10; Exo 37:1-9)
(PLEASE NOTE: The verses in blue have links to the BibleHub website)
“…..by him all things consist” and everyone in the first Adam “have their being”, and through Him God’s purpose with everything in this creation is also fulfilled (Col 1:17; John 1:1-3; Rom 11:36; Rev 1:8):
Act 17:27-28 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
Eph 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him.
The theme of an ark appears several times in the Scriptures which help to get a better picture of how God works His process of salvation in the generation of the first Adam. The word “ark” relates to a box or vessel which is used to retain or assemble precious things (please refer to Gen 50:26; 2Ki 12:9; 2Ch 24:8, 2Ch 24:10-11). Various dictionary definitions also explain the word “ark” as having to do with a “depository” or “preserver” (Luk 17:33; 2Ti 4:18). God, the Father, basically works with two main vessels, or “arks” in this sense, to carry all His precious human creation to one “high calling” or destination, and that is to be perfect in spirit in Him (Rom 8:39; 1Cor 15:22-28). The first vessel is our first man Adam, the vessel “unto dishonour”, which is given to us to take us through a fleshly evil experience by which we are humbled to learn about all the opposites of what a righteous, holy and loving God is about (2Ti 2:20-21; Rom 9:21; 1Co 15:42-46).
Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.
God never ordained that the unclean spirit of flesh should provide a permanent and safe resting place for His spiritual treasure – the earth is for sure a place where corruption (“moth and rust”) rules (1Cor 15:42-50; 1Cor 1:29; Matt 11:28-30; Matt 12:43; Matt 8:20; Matt 6:19-21). The other vessel God uses to bring all in the first Adam to Him (which is also referred to as “another vessel” in this verse in Jeremiah), is Jesus Christ, the spiritual “Zion” whom God ordained for His rest and habitation (Ps 132:13-18). Jesus is our final “vessel unto honour”, or “the ark of Thy strength” through whom all in the first Adam will be saved and find spiritual rest (2Ch 6:41; Mic 5:1-18; Isa 66:1; Rom 9:21; 2Ti 2:20-21; 1Cor 15:22-28).
Psa 132:6-8 Lo, we heard of it at Ephratah: we found it in the fields [or city] of the wood. 7 We will go into his tabernacles: we will worship at his footstool. 8 Arise, O LORD, into thy rest; thou, and the ark of thy strength.
But the message of these two vessels or “arks” through which God works His salvation process, is better understood when we take a closer look to the three arks which are mentioned specifically as such in the Scriptures. These three are the “ark of gopher wood” which Noah built, the “ark of bulrushes” in which Moses as a baby was hidden, and the last, but in no way the least, the “ark of the testimony”, also called the “ark of the covenant”, the “ark of the Lord” or the “ark of God” (Gen 6:14; Ex 2:3; Ex 25:22; Num 10:33; Jos 3:13; 1Sa 5:1). Two Hebrew words were used in Scripture from which the English word “ark” was translated – “têbâh” (e.g. Gen 6:14) and “ârôn” (e.g. Exo 25:10). The Greek Septuagint however used only one word throughout which is “kibōtos” which is also used in the New Testament and translated as “ark” (Mat 24:38; Luk 17:27; Heb 9:4; Heb 11:7; 1Pe 3:20; Rev 11:19). All these three arks contribute much to our spiritual understanding of the work and doctrine of Christ in us:
Isa 28:9-10 Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. 10 For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.
The ark which Noah built as recorded in Genesis, is the first ark which saved eight people through the global flood in those days (1Pet 3:20; Joh 7:37-38; Rev 17:11). Although “all the fountains of the great deep broken up” during the flood in Noah’s days, it was also the first time that “the windows of heaven were opened” (Gen 7:11; Job 26:8). This is spiritually referring to what baptism wants to portray and how God’s judgement will not only save His elect first, but also all in the first Adam (1Pet 3:20-21; Rom 6:3-14; Isa 26:8-9; 1Pe 4:17; 1Cor 15:22-28). These heavenly waters fell for the first time on the earth in Noah’s days which were the waters “above the firmament” we read about in Genesis 1 (Gen 1:6-8). These waters typify the true spiritual waters of His heavenly Word, which is also His spiritual fire (2Pet 3:6-7; Isa 55:10-11):
Eph 5:26-27 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Jer 5:14 Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.
By these waters and fire God sanctifies and purifies our heavens (our way of thinking) and our walk in this world (Isa 66:15-18; Matt 3:11-12; Mat 6:17; John 17:17-19; Act 22:16; Heb 9:23; 1Thes 4:1-4; 1Pet 1:2). This is also when we start to understand how we have His peace and can enter into His rest. The ark in Noah’s days is therefore also a spiritual type of God’s preservation and the accompanying spiritual peace and rest – which is the meaning of Noah’s name:
1Th 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Joh 13:8-9 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. 9 Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
The ark of Noah is therefore not a way to escape God’s judgment, as some proclaim in their error, but indeed showing us that all the fleshly things and attachments in our lives will be mercifully taken away through God’s righteous judgement process. All the materials used in the ark of Noah and the structure of that ark have spiritual applications relating to a better understanding of Jesus. As we know Jesus also came in the same fleshly “ark” as us, but He endured all its fleshly beasts “without sin[ning]” (Rev 1:8; Rom 5:14; Isa 45:7; 2Co 5:21; Jas 1:12-15; Heb 4:15). Through this we learn that spiritual perfection is not the privilege of any flesh, even the flesh of Jesus was sinful and He had to relinquish His flesh through death (Mar 6:3; Gal 4:4; 2Co 5:21; Heb 2:14-15; Luk 22:42; 1Cor 15:50). Jesus also endured God’s judgment to prove this truth, and also to “succour” or help all in the first Adam to endure their own judgement and redemption at the appointed time (Isa 53-54; Matt 10:38; Gal 2:20; Col 1:24):
Heb 2:17-18 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
The second ark that is mentioned in Scripture was much smaller than the ark of Noah. This is the ark in which the baby Moses was hidden for three months by his family from the threat of the Pharaoh to kill all Hebrew boys born at that stage under their time of slavery in Egypt (Heb 11:23):
Exo 2:1-3 And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi. 2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink.
By God’s workings, the Pharaoh’s daughter saw this boy in his ark and took him as her own son. He was later raised in the palace of this very evil Pharaoh and the Pharaohs’ daughter gave him the name Moses, meaning “son” that was “brought forth” out of water (Ex 2:5-10; Ps 18:16). Moses was kept safe by that small ark which was made for one person only and in this sense it has an appearance of something individualistic. In Moses’ ark the material used to make and cover it, also is significant:
Exo 2:3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes [Hebrew: “gôme”], and daubed it with slime [Hebrew: “chêmâr”] and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river’s brink [bank or edge].
Bulrushes (also called “rush” in the Scriptures) grow in shallow water and the water is marshy and stagnant:
Job 8:11a Can the rush [Hebrew: “gôme”] grow up without mire? [Hebrew: “bitstsâh” = a swamp or a marsh area]
Slime [Hebrew: “chêmâr”] was also used in the building of the city and the tower of Babel which is part of our own building (our self-righteous works) “whose top may reach unto heaven” as we naturally want to “make us a name” (Gen 11:3-4). This self-centred and high-minded flesh links to the individual nature of the structure of the ark in which the baby or immature Moses was hidden. The ark of Moses links to our spiritually immature works and preservation of the flesh which was what the laws given by Moses to the physical nation of Israel reflect (and all natural laws and legalism for that matter). The works of the flesh are important and of great value to the spiritually immature who cannot see that all flesh and physical things are evil and temporal (1Cor 3:1-4; 2Co 4:18; Gal 2:16-17; Heb 5:12-13). The best of the flesh is still sin and evil, and it cannot secure spiritual salvation (Rom 6:6-8; 1Ti 1:9-10; 1Cor 15:50):
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
The third ark mentioned in Scripture was revealed during Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness under the leadership of Moses, and later when the temple was built. This ark took on yet another form and purpose. It was called the Ark of Testimony or the Ark of the Covenant (Exo 25:10-22 ; Exo 35:30-35 ; Exo 37:1-9). This ark was kept in the most holy section of the tabernacle and the later temples, symbolizing the very presence of God where He met with the spiritual leaders of Israel:
Exo 37:1-7 And Bezaleel [Hebrew: “betsal’êl” = in the shadow of God] made the ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half was the length of it, and a cubit and a half the breadth of it, and a cubit and a half the height of it: 2 And he overlaid it with pure gold within and without, and made a crown of gold to it round about. 3 And he cast for it four rings [Hebrew: “ṭabba‛ath” = a signet ring] of gold, to be set by the four corners of it; even two rings upon the one side of it, and two rings upon the other side of it. 4 And he made staves [Hebrew: “bad” = separation] of shittim wood, and overlaid them with gold. 5 And he put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, to bear the ark. 6 And he made the mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half was the length thereof, and one cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 7 And he made two cherubims of gold, beaten out of one piece made he them, on the two ends of the mercy seat;
Again wood forms the base material of this ark pointing to our initial condition as from the earth, yet in this ark wood has a positive application. This is referring to our redeemed position in the resurrected Christ – “in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne” of God (Eph 2:6; Isa 6:1-3; Rev. 4:6-9). The gold covering “within and without” the Ark of the Covenant typifies something much more durable and long-lasting than the coverings of the other two arks. This is pointing to the true spiritual covering of the righteousness of Christ and His doctrine in those whose minds are firmly set on God (Isa 26:1-3). We are advised to buy or invest into this protection because it gives total and complete redemption and clear spiritual vision (Eph 1:13-14):
Rev 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
The “crown of gold” on this Ark of Covenant also symbolises rulership for those who are diligent in doing the works of faith:
Pro 12:24 The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute [be under taskmasters].
The four rings of gold on each of the four bottom corners of the ark of covenant were divided into two on each side gives testimony (or witness – the number two spiritually points to witness) of God’s ownership over us and our total acceptance of His election (Gen 41:41-43; Est 8:8; Hag 2:22-23). A ring symbolizes a bond of love in a covenant relationship, sharing the same inheritance:
Gen 41:42-43 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
God ascribes His righteousness to us and fitly joins us to Him and His body (Eph 2:20-22; 4:16):
Luk 15:22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him [the prodigal son]; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
The staves of the Ark of the Covenant were to be put through the four rings, two on each side, and never to be removed from those rings, although they were sometimes adjusted by the high priest when the ark needed to be moved (Exo 25:13-15; Num 4:6; 1Ki 8:8; 1Cor 9:19-23). These starves therefore gave direction whether the ark was positioned in the holy of holies or carried by the appointed priests. They rested on the shoulders of the priests with the ark raised above their shoulders (as the head is above the shoulders). In this way the ark was never to be touched or moved in another way, as King David found out with dreadful consequences (2Sam 6:1-16). This all witness to the headship of Jesus and Him being the way to the Father as His chosen elect will be the same to the rest of humanity:
Joh 14:5-7 Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? 6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.
The mercy seat is the upper part of the ark of covenant and this part was also made of pure gold.
Exo 25:16-22 And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. 17 And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. 18 And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. 19 And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. 20 And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. 21 And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. 22 And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
It is the place from where God meets and communicates with His elect first (typified by these two cherubims – Rev 11:1-12; Gen 3:24; Zec 4:1-14), and then at a later stage with all in the first Adam:
Rom 11:30-32 For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their [physical Israel and also all in the first Adam] unbelief: 31 Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. 32 For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
The mercy seat also links intimately in this sense with the two cherubims, “beaten out of one piece” on the two ends of the mercy seat. This again points to those in Christ who are His witnesses as God brings His seven plagues or complete tribulation through His fiery trials (Rev 11:3-12; Acts 14:22). Through these trials the heavens and minds in the elect are pounded and renewed as they are caused to bring their whole being as a holy sacrifice unto Him (Pro 10:4; Pro 12:24; Eph 2:10; Exo 39:3; 1Pet 4:12; Rev 15:1-8):
Heb 12:6-8 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
This ark was reserved to be only in the holy of holies, which is the very heaven of God and His Christ. This heaven is the highest heaven, the so-called “third heaven”, which reveals the mind and doctrine of God for His people, which is found in His Word (2Cor 12:1-4). His Word is also typified by “the golden pot that had manna”, and Aaron’s rod, and “the tables of the covenant” inside the ark of Covenant (2Co 12:2):
Heb 9:3-4 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; 4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant.
The true ark, Jesus Christ, gives salvation and protection to those who are given the faith to be in a covenant relationship with God. This is what Jesus fulfilled and every aspect as He is beneficial both in the present, but much more in the future for all in the first Adam (1Tim 6:6):
2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.