Hebrews Lesson 139 November 6, 2008
NKJ Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
We diverted back in early May from our verse-by-verse study of Hebrews because Hebrews chapters 9 and 10 presuppose that the person who reads these two chapters has a good grasp of the Old Testament teaching in relationship to the Tabernacle, the Temple and the articles of furniture in the Tabernacle - and the ritual that occurred in the Tabernacle and also in the Temple. So we took a diversion to go through a study (a detailed study) of the Tabernacle and the articles of furniture and the significance of each piece of furniture in the Tabernacle.
We started with the outer courtyard. Then we looked at the two things that were in the outer courtyard – the brazen altar and then the laver. Then we went into the holy place looking at the table of showbread, the menorah (the golden candlestick), the altar of incense then through the veil which represented the body of Christ to the Ark of the Covenant seeing how each of these pieces of furniture and the ritual that occurred there teaches something about the Lord Jesus Christ. It helps us to understand a different facet of His ministry.
The brazen altar emphasizes substitutionary atonement. The laver emphasized the necessity that a priest must be cleansed of sin before he can serve, before he can minister, before he can grow as an individual believer. The table of showbread emphasized Christ as the Bread of Life. The menorah emphasized Christ as the Light of the World. The altar of incense emphasized Christ as our intercessor. The Ark of the Covenant speaks of His substitutionary work on the cross where He paid the price for our sins so that we could have eternal life. All of this is taught in the Tabernacle.
Now as we are coming to our conclusion, we started to trace the history of the Ark which is the history of the Tabernacle and the history of the Temple in the Old Testament. The Ark is at the very center of the worship of the Tabernacle. Now as I taught this, we started as we would experience it approaching the Tabernacle coming from the outside - walking through the gate seeing the outer curtains and then going in and seeing each item as you would - going from the outside in. However when God revealed this to Moses and Moses writes it down in the book of Exodus, he started at the center. He started with the Ark of the Covenant and worked his way out because God is at the center.
There is a saying in Midrash Tanhuma Kedoshim 1.
Jerusalem is in the center of the world. The Temple Mount is in the center of Jerusalem. The Temple is in the center of the Temple Mount. The Holy of Holies is in the center of the Temple and the Ark is in the center of the Holy of Holies.
The rabbis also said (thought) that the Ark was in the exact center of the world, standing on the starting point of the creation. The foundation stone on which the Ark rested in the Holy of Holies is believed to have been the stone on which Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac. Of course the Moslems have perverted that through the satanic influence of Mohammed that it was Ishmael. But it wasn't; it was Isaac. God demonstrated the essence of substitutionary atonement at that point by at the last minute stopping Abraham's hand and substituting a ram that had been caught in the thicket. At that time the Temple Mount was out in the rugged wilderness. There was a ram that was caught, trapped by his horns. So God provided a perfect sacrifice as a substitute for Isaac.
Now as we've gone through the history of the Ark in the previous lesson (We took a brief hiatus as we looked at the doctrines related to decision making in the voting booth, but now we're back just to bring you up to date) we saw that God spelled out specific regulations in the Old Testament for how the Ark should be transported. In Deuteronomy 10:8 and Numbers 7:9 we have the essence of this that it was the tribe of Levi. Only the Levitical priests were to carry Ark of the Covenant of the Lord. It was not to be carried on something else. They were to carry it.
NKJ Numbers 7:9 But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because theirs was the service of the holy things, which they carried on their shoulders.
Numbers 7:9 - specifically the sons of Kohath the tribe of Kohath was to carry it because theirs was the service of the holy objects. That is, the furniture within the Temple. They were to carry it upon their shoulders.
Now that's important because we got right up to the point of David bringing the Ark into Jerusalem this last time and this was one of the problems that David faced. He failed to follow these strict guidelines when he brought the Ark into the Temple. There was the episode where the oxcart that was bringing the Ark in hit a bump in the road. It looked like the Ark would fall out and Uzzah (one of the sons of Abinadab, the priest) put his hand out to stabilize the Ark and he died instantly.
What we learned from this is that God has a specific way that we are to do things. There's a specific way of salvation. There are precise guidelines, precise mandates for the spiritual life. We have to be in fellowship. If we regard iniquity in our hearts, the Scripture says the Lord will not hear us. We can't come to God on our terms on the basis of how we think things can go. Our relationship with the Lord isn't based on some sort of general ideas that are presented in the Scripture. But there are very precise protocols that are laid out for us and we need to learn them because only by doing these things the way the Scripture says, can we have a profitable relationship with the Lord, walk with Him and grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Ark illustrates this.
Here we have a map showing the travels of the Ark in this very dark period in Israel's history when they have gone to battle at Aphek. Aphek is located right here on the map. They go to the Battle of Aphek against the Philistines and the Philistines defeat them roundly. Eli's two sons are killed. Eli, as a result of it, falls over dead when he hears the news. The Ark is captured by the Philistines and is taken back by the Philistines to one of their chief cities, Ashdod, and put inside the temple of Dagon.
This is one of those episodes in the Bible that is rather earthy. It shows God has a great sense of humor, great sarcasm and irony here as He is ridiculing the gods of the Philistines. He puts down their religious system in a way that certainly wouldn't be acceptable today. Probably The New York Times and a number of other newspapers would come out condemning God roundly because He is so insensitive to people. I make that point because we live in a world today where people are becoming so influenced by these worldly value systems that if I got in the pulpit - and I've been accused of being too sarcastic at times and I really don't think I am. But the Bible is filled with these sarcasms. From the first chapter of Genesis, almost everything in Genesis 1 is said in such a way as to tweak the believer in the Babylonian religions and the Babylonian view of creation as well as the Egyptians. So there is this undercurrent there. But if you just read the Bible in the English, you don't know anything about these cultures; you don't realize how God is doing this. He's just not politically correct.
At Ashdod when the Ark is placed in the temple to Dagon, the next morning they wake up and Dagon has fallen on his face and bowing down before the Ark of God. So the people come in. Of course they're all upset and concerned. They stand Dagon back up on his feet. The next day they come in and he's down on his face again. But, this time his head and his hands have been cut off to show that Dagon is just a piece of stone. He can't think and he can't do anything. It is only the God of the Jews that can do that.
So then the people in Ashdod decide to send the Ark away because it's too much trouble and causing too much pain and suffering because they have experienced all of this. So they sent it over to Ekron.
Now the people of Ekron couldn't believe this - that the Ashdodites would send them this horrible Ark of the Covenant. When the Ark of the Covenant comes there, there is disaster. God kills a number of them and brings this terrible disease upon them. Many people think that it is the bubonic plague - that they had these tumors. I always like the King James translation translating it hemorrhoids. I always had a lot of fun trying to imagine what a golden hemorrhoid would look like. Many scholars believe these were the sores or the tumors (the buboes) that were caused in bubonic plague. In order to pacify the God of Israel - and also they made 5 golden mice. It would be the fleas from the mice that would cause or pass on the bubonic plague. So that kind of helps put it together. So they made 5 golden mice, 5 golden tumors that they put inside the Ark to take it back. They hitched up the Ark to a couple of milch cows which are mama cows that don't have their calves with them and are not trained to pull an oxcart. They don't think it can work, but God is in control. The milch cows bring the Ark back to Israel and return it to Beth Shemesh. So we see it go from Ashdod, Gath, Ekron over to Beth Shemesh and then to Kirjath Jearim.
Now at Beth Shemesh there is going to be a problem because God is not treated with respect. One of the things that come out of this study of the Tabernacle and the Temple is how everything supports the honor and the glory of the Lord and that He needs to be treated with the utmost respect.
So they come to Beth Shemesh and when they arrive at Beth Shemesh the people are reaping their wheat harvest out in the fields and they raise their eyes and they see the Ark coming and they're rejoicing. It's been 7 months. The people have been depressed thinking that God has deserted them - their God has been defeated.
Many times we go through circumstances in life when we think that the plan of God must have hit a major speed bump because of the way things have turned historically. But God is still in control and so we can learn a lot from this. I pointed out three principles.
- God is never defeated though God's people may be defeated.
- God is greater than any circumstance in human history.
- God does not need man to protect Him or to give Him security or take care of Him.
What we note here is when the Ark is returned they follow proper procedure. They finally follow proper procedure. It is Levites who come to take the Ark of the Lord off of the oxcart and to take care of it. So there is the Ark and a box that's with it that has the mice and the golden hemorrhoids and then puts them in a large… The men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings sacrificed sacrifices that day.
NKJ 1 Samuel 6:15 The Levites took down the ark of the LORD and the chest that was with it, in which were the articles of gold, and put them on the large stone. Then the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices the same day to the LORD.
So they had everything provided for them at that instant. They had the two cows which they sacrificed as a burnt offering to the Lord. They used the oxcart - dismantled it to use it to create the fire for the burnt offering. So they worshipped God.
But they mishandled the Ark. The Beth Shemites think that God is something that can be curiously investigated. So they come up and they open the Ark and they try to look at everything and some 50,000+ of the Beth Shemites are struck down by the Lord according to I Samuel 6:19-20. You don't trifle with God because eventually God is going to bring judgment.
There we read:
NKJ 1 Samuel 6:19 Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the LORD. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the LORD had struck the people with a great slaughter.
It emphasizes His holiness: that He is distinct. That's the Creator-creature distinction.
Then they send for the Levites to come. They're going to properly handle God now.
NKJ 1 Samuel 7:1 Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD,
The Beth Shemites wanted the men of Kirjath Jearim to take it. Kirjath Jearim is a suburb of modern Jerusalem known as Abu Gosh and it's about 7 or 8 miles from the Temple Mount.
and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill,
Abinadab is a Levite and a priest.
and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
Ahio and Uzzah are the grandsons. Eleazar is Abinadab's son. Then he has two grandsons, Ahio and Uzzah. They consecrate Eleazar his son to take care of the Ark.
The only thing that really happens with the Ark during the next period of time is that it is taken by Saul into the Battle of Michmash in 1041 to lead the Israelites into victory.
Now if you look at the text that we have there in II Samuel 7:1-2, it says that:
NKJ 1 Samuel 7:1 Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the LORD.
But the next verse says:
NKJ 1 Samuel 7:2 So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
That's when Samuel begins his public ministry. Before this time he's functioned more as a priest within the Tabernacle. His public ministry more as a prophet begins in chapter 7:3.
So twenty years goes by where the Ark is with Eleazar; and then there will be another 40 years that covers the period of Samuel and Saul; and then ten years (approximately) in the first reign of David. So that comes to about 70 years between this time and the time that the Ark is finally brought into Jerusalem and up on the Temple Mount by David.
Now as the Ark is initially brought into Jerusalem in II Samuel 6, it's brought on an oxcart just as the Philistines had brought the Ark to Beth Shemesh. The problem is that the Jews are looking to the pagans to tell them how to have a relationship with God and how to handle God. So they're not following the protocol in the Mosaic Law of having the Levites carry the Ark on their shoulders. So when it hits this bump in the road and the oxcart begins to jostle, it looks like the oxcart might fall. Uzzah sticks his hand out to stabilize it and Uzzah dies instantly. David and everybody are struck so by this that David just shuts down the whole procedure and stops. He goes back and he begins to study the Word to find out why this happened and what he should do in order to properly move the Ark. We know that because when David comes back several verses later to move the Ark the rest of the way into Jerusalem, he does it correctly. They bring the Levites out and they carry the Ark on their shoulders on the carrying rods.
Now there's an interesting problem that shows up here in II Samuel 6:12 that I want to address because I read something about this recently on the internet. I know there are many people who listen to me - go out and there are a number of doctrinal websites out there. People put different things out there some of which are quite good and many things on this particular website that I looked at were quite good. But the guy who does the work on this particular website was trying to do something that I thought was interesting; it just doesn't work. That is he tried to resolve this problem that we see depicted as many people imagine it of David and the Levites dancing like they're at some junior high sock hop before the Ark of the Covenant. It's not exactly the way it would have been. See the thing is, we bring too much of our own culture to these particular issues. Anyway what this individual attempted to do was argue that the verb that is used in II Samuel 6:12 which reads:
NKJ 2 Samuel 6:12 Now it was told King David, saying, "The LORD has blessed the house of Obed-Edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God." So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with gladness.
NKJ 2 Samuel 6:13 And so it was, when those bearing the ark of the LORD had gone six paces, that he sacrificed oxen and fatted sheep.
So all along the way they were sacrificing. So this was time consuming. They would have these burnt offerings. It was also extremely – extremely bloody.
Then in verse 14 we read:
NKJ 2Samuel 6:14 Then David danced before the LORD with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.
Now a linen ephod would come down to about knee length or just a little above. Well, this individual attempted to argue that the root meaning of the Hebrew verb that's used here has the idea of circular motion or walking around something. Etymologically words can often have certain nuances that don't come across in usage. But what he was saying was that what David was doing after the death of Uzzah was he was walking around the Ark as it was going up the road to Jerusalem checking everything out all the way along the way to make sure everything was done properly.
But that's not what the text says because when we compare that with I Chronicles 15:29, a different word is used. The word raqad is used in the piel stem which has a clear meaning of dancing. Also it's used in synonymous construction with another word in the passage that means to dance. This is substantiated by every major lexicon that's has been published. Forms of this word raqad are found in title Baal Marqad. You hear it? The QAD, the RQAD in the title one of the Baal Marqad, the Baal of the Dance - (one of the Baal manifestations), as well as cognate words in other languages such as Acadian, Syriac and Old South Arabic all indicate dancing is the key meaning of the term.
But how are we to understand that because many of us who have grown up in a post World War II environment where the forms of dancing broke down to different people getting out on a dance floor and doing whatever they wanted to do (sort of a dance form of our epistemology - everyone doing what's right in their own eyes). All rules broke down. So that's what we think of when we think of dancing. But we're bringing our cultural experience and frame of reference to the text.
Now in many cultures there are dances associated with various religious rituals. You can go to places in India, China, Japan and many other places in the world. You see these dances and they're extremely formal and structured. They're not this unstructured jumping around however you want to, to an imagined beat. They're very formal and they're very somber, serious. That is what would have been going on here. You had the musicians that were out there that David had brought and organized. You had the orchestra playing. So it could very much have been a very organized and formal structure. You can think of a Tchaikovsky ballet or a Japanese Kyoto Nomai or a Kabuki dance. These styles are extremely elegant, formal and artful; but they are rigorously disciplined and structured.
I would suggest that if you were to pluck somebody out of 17th century Japan, 7th century Byzantine Empire or Russia in the 19th century you would be able to take a picture of the image that's in their heads when they read this verse that David was dancing before the Lord; you would see three completely different images of what this dance looked like. And I don't think any of them would be anything close to what was actually happening when David was dancing before the Lord. So we have to be careful not to read our culture into the text but to think a little more consistently within the context of how orderly and structured everything is in the worship service of Israel. All of the sacrifices, all of the ritual, all of the clothing had to be done just so.
We can also think of another word that's used in the I Corinthian passage – David was leaping before the Lord. But, the leaping of a Rudolph Nureyev in Swan Lake is nothing (Trust me if you didn't see it) like the leaping of Richard Gere in the film King David. But you use the same word to describe both actions. So we have to be careful with this.
Anyway after David got into Jerusalem, they took the Ark and stored it at the house of the Gittite Obed Edom who was a Levite according to II Samuel 6:11. Now that's created another problem because if you were from Gath (like Goliath was from Gath) you would be called a Gittite. But there was another village with a similar name just down the road from Kirjath Jearim and someone from that village would also be called a Gittite. So it's a Levite who is again handling the Ark. They've learned their lesson.
I Chronicles chapter 15 and chapter 16 indicate that David constructed a temporary tent for the housing of the Ark on the Temple Mount as he prepared to build the Temple. I Chronicles 16:1 reads:
NKJ 1 Chronicles 16:1 So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. Then they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God.
NKJ 1 Chronicles 16:4 And he appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to commemorate, to thank, and to praise the LORD God of Israel:
NKJ 1 Chronicles 16:6 Benaiah and Jahaziel the priests regularly blew the trumpets before the ark of the covenant of God.
NKJ 1 Chronicles 16:7 On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the LORD:
So he structures an orchestra and organizes everything. So what we see here is that worship in the Old Testament wasn't spontaneous. There is something about modern evangelicals that want everything to be off the cuff, spontaneous. If it's not spontaneous, then it can't be from the Holy Spirit. My question always is: if God is a God of order, why does the Holy Spirit have to wait to the last minute to tell us what to do? Why can't He give us time to plan and organize so it comes across as somewhat professional?
During this period of time prior to the building of the Temple, we saw that it's the High Priest Abiathar who is responsible for the Ark and taking care of it and overseeing the service to the Ark in Jerusalem.
Then finally after David dies, Solomon comes along (We studied this in detail in our Kings Series.) and he built the Temple. In I Kings 8, Solomon then brought the Ark and all of the Tabernacle furniture (The rest of it was in Gibeah) and brought it to the Temple Mount and there it would reside.
In 1 Kings 8:4 we read:
NKJ 1 Kings 8:4 Then they brought up the ark of the LORD, the tabernacle of meeting, and all the holy furnishings that were in the tabernacle. The priests and the Levites brought them up.
Now underneath the Temple there were huge storerooms – underneath the Temple Mount. This is where they would have stored all of the furniture that they had used in the Tabernacle. It's not mentioned again, but they had constructed a larger menorah and a larger table of showbread and all of the other furniture that had been built for the Temple was different from that that had been used in the Tabernacle. So all of this was stored in the storage vaults underneath the Temple.
Now the reason that's important is because we're going to come to the question - where is the Ark of the Covenant today?
NKJ 1 Kings 8:6 Then the priests brought in the ark of the covenant of the LORD to its place, into the inner sanctuary of the temple, to the Most Holy Place, under the wings of the cherubim.
The brought the Ark into the holy place and they set it between these enormous statues of the cherubs that Solomon had built. And the poles that were used to carry the Ark would stick out beyond the gate so that they could move things around if necessary without anyone having to go into the Holy of Holies itself.
We studied how Solomon dedicated the Temple. From that point on, the Ark stays within the Temple.
But there's an interesting situation that occurs toward the end of the kingdom of Judah. The Ark seems to have been removed from its place in the Holy of Holies during the evil reign of Manasseh and his son Amon. I mentioned them on Tuesday night I believe. It was during this time that Manasseh had put the Ashera and Baalim and all these idols into the Temple and it is believed that the priests during this time hid the Ark of the Covenant in one of the storerooms beneath the Temple Mount. Then there is this one passage to indicate this.
NKJ 2 Chronicles 35:3 Then he said to the Levites who taught all Israel, who were holy to the LORD: "Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built. It shall no longer be a burden on your shoulders. Now serve the LORD your God and His people Israel.
So this seems to suggest that they had a hiding place and in light of Solomon's warning in I Kings 8 and 9 when he is praying his prayer to God to ultimately fulfill His promises to Israel: that if they're disobedient, idolatrous and He even takes them out of the land for God to ultimately restore them to the land. Solomon was aware that eventually they would become apostate. So there are some who speculate that Solomon in his wisdom had a hiding place created deep inside the Temple Mount to store the Ark of the Covenant for times of apostasy so that it would not be lost to the people.
The last time we have any reference to the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament is in Jeremiah 3:16 not long before the Shekinah Glory leaves, not long before Babylon comes in and conquers the Southern Kingdom. This is merely a prophecy, but it mentions the Ark.
NKJ Jeremiah 3:16 "Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,"
That is during the kingdom looking forward to the millennium.
says the LORD, "that they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.
In other words in the Millennial Kingdom the Ark is not going to be significant.
That is the last mention of the Ark in the Old Testament. It's never mentioned at all in the New Testament other than historical references back to the early period in Israel's history.
So a question that has come up for many people especially since the film Raiders of the Lost Ark is: where is the Ark today? What happened to the Ark? The ancient sources all cite that the Ark once rested on that bedrock (the foundation stone) that the Jews called the foundation stone. The Arabs called it the Rock. It's the rock that's at the center of the Dome of the Rock. That has been a focal point of investigation by Jews when they could. But they don't have access inside the Dome of the Rock.
One particular archeologist Leen Ritmeyer who is the former chief architect of the Temple Mount believes very strongly – he's the one whose done the most research up there – he believes very strongly that the rock in the Dome of the Rock is the platform on which the Ark of the Covenant once rested. He believes that the crusaders when they came in 1099 tried to reshape the rock into a more acceptable form and they covered it with marble slabs so it doesn't have the same shape that it once had.
There have been several suggestions as to what happened to the Ark. I am just going to run through these because you've probably heard one or more of these.
1. There are some that have suggested that the Ark was in the Temple when Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Temple and the Babylonians took it along with all the other furniture in the Tabernacle, melted it all down and took all the gold back to Babylon. So it is no longer in existence. On a variation of that, some have suggested that they didn't melt it down. They took all the furniture back to Babylon. That's what's referred to in Daniel 5 when Belshazzar is having the big party and he sees the handwriting on the wall and he is going to have all these treasures brought out from the storeroom there in Babylon so that he can show everybody how wealthy he is. The idea is that the Ark was taken. Maybe the Jews brought it back with them even though it's never mentioned after the Babylonian captivity. All of that is based on silence.
2. Secondly there is a rabbinical tradition that says that the Levites buried the Ark; they hid it in a subterranean chamber beneath the Temple Mount before the Babylonians could capture the city. Nobody knows what happened to it or how to get to that chamber. The knowledge was lost.
3. Third, there is another tradition in one of the apocryphal books. It states that Jeremiah took the Ark out of Jerusalem and hid it in a cave out in the desert. Of course the location for that cave has now been lost and would await disclosure by the Lord when He returns.
4. The fourth suggestion is that the Ark was transported to heaven where it now rests. Some claim that's the Ark that is seen and mentioned in Revelation 11:19.
5. There are others who think that the Ark was taken away by Jeremiah and taken down to Egypt after the Babylonian conquest and that it eventually ended up in Ethiopia. That was a popular view back in the 90's.
I believe that the most likely view is that Solomon built a chamber somewhere deep inside the Temple Mount to hide the Ark during times of apostasy. We know from history that Jerusalem and the Temple would have been threatened many times: Shishack the Egyptian pharaoh, the Assyrians, later on the Babylonians not to mention problems with their own apostate kings who put idols in the Temple.
It seems that the passage that I just showed you in II Chronicles 35:3 suggests that the Ark was hidden during the time of Manasseh's apostasy. There are passages in the Mishnah and the Talmud that suggest that this is a very real possibility.
There was no Ark of the Covenant in the Temple during the Second Temple Period. That's the temple they built when they returned from Babylon. Zerubabbel rebuilt the Temple in 516 BC. They dedicated it. Then it was remodeled by Herod beginning in about 20 BC and was still in the process of being remodeled during Jesus' lifetime. In fact it was only finished in the 40's not too long before it was destroyed. There was no Ark then. There was just a foundation stone and the High Priest would go into the Holy of Holies and he would sprinkle the blood on the foundation stone on Yom Kippur. When Pompey invaded Jerusalem in 63 BC, he entered the Holy of Holies and found it empty. He had heard you know these stories about this Ark. He went into the Holy of Holies and there was nothing there.
According to one of the tractates in the Mishnah (Tractate Shekalim), a priest in the Second Temple Period was doing some refurbishing in the Temple underneath in the storage rooms down below and found a loose stone in the floor of the woodshed where they stored all the wood for the burnt offerings and for the sacrifices. As he was running out to announce what he had found, he was struck dead and died on the spot. We don't know how accurate that history is.
In modern times there have been various attempts made to locate the Ark of the Covenant. I want to show you a number of slides to try to orient you. If you've never been there it's a little difficult but I've tried to put some slides together so you can get a feel for what I am talking about. This is an aerial shot of the Temple Mount. The gold dome there to the left of center is the Dome of the Rock. If you move down to the lower right from there, you see this dark gray dome here. This is the Al-Aksa Mosque. This area just to the east of the Al-Aksa Mosque now is the area that's called Solomon's Stables. Solomon didn't have horses there. He didn't have stables there. It's just called that. The Arabs have excavated that and built an underground mosque that'll hold about 5,000 people.
Here where the arrow is, this is the Eastern Wall. On this side is your Western Wall. What I'm primarily going to talk about now is what's happening on the Western Wall. This area here in this plaza is the area known as the Wailing Wall – the Western Wailing Wall. This is all open, but as you proceed towards the upper left in the picture you basically go underground. There are tunnels that go under - parallel the outer support wall. This wall that is here was the retaining wall for the platform on which the Temple stood that was built up by Herod and reinforced in order to support all the people and activities that were going on.
Now the area that I want to talk about is the area where the arrow is pointing. You can see from this picture that if you were to walk straight into an opening here and walk straight forward, you would come out under where they believe the Holy of Holies was. That was opened up by a couple of rabbis in the early 80's.
Now just to give you a little different visual, this is an artist's painting of what the Temple Mount would have looked like at the time of Jesus. The arrow there is pointing to that same opening. This is known as Warren's Gate. You have another archway here, a walkway that goes into the temple grounds. This is where the priests would've entered the temple grounds. Then down here you have another arch here. This is known as Robinson's Arch named after the archeologist who identified it back in the middle 19th century. Again this depicts this opening that was here that these two rabbis believed they discovered. They began to excavate very secretly because of course the Arabs were going to do whatever Arabs do every time the Jews go on the Temple Mount. That is, riot.
In 1967 (The 6 day War), Rabbi Shlomo Goren who was the chief rabbi for the Israeli Defense Forces and he was the chaplain for the IDF was put in charge of the Temple Mount after it was captured by the Jews. There he is blowing his shofar as they came on the Temple Mount. He immediately assigned a corps of engineers a two-week task to measure and map the entire area of the Temple Mount. No Jews had been up there in centuries.
Unfortunately two months later Defense Minister Moshe Dyan on his own authority without consulting anybody gave control of the Temple Mount back to the Palestinian or the Arab authority or Moslem authority known as the WAP. So Jews had to leave the area.
Rabbi Shlomo Goren went on to become the Chief Rabbi for the city of Jerusalem.
Then in 1981 Rabbi Meir Yehuda Getz (here we have him pictured on the screen) began a secret dig on the Temple Mount in the area of Warren's Gate. This is Warren's Gate here. That's the gate that I have been talking about named after Charles Warren a British explorer who discovered this 100 years earlier. It's due to Warren's work that we have so much information. Most of the information we have on the Temple Mount is due to his work because he crawled around and went places he wasn't supposed to go and mapped and charted everything.
Well, Rabbi Getz had discovered this when they were excavating an area to try to build a small synagogue in the wailing wall tunnels underneath the wall there that would be the closest synagogue to the Holy of Holies. So they discovered this opening. He took 10 students, swore them to secrecy and they began to excavate their way through this passage way for the next year and a half. No one knew that they were doing this other than Rabbi Shlomo Goren.
He writes that after they had traced the leading water to its source - they had gone through a couple of passageways, down some stairs to a large open room with several passageways that led off of it. Then they went down another staircase where they ran into a lot of water and they had to pump that out. He said:
After we traced the water to its leading source we discovered this large opening - Warren's Gate - 25 meters long, 30 meters high and 8 meters wide. I believe it was from the First Temple. When we found this entrance, I ordered the wall to be opened and we discovered a giant hall shaped like the Wilson Arch but with exit tunnels running in different directions. The length of this hall was about 75 feet. There were some stairs that we descended about 30 feet however at the bottom everything was full of water and mud.
When they got there somehow word got out that they were digging and the Arabs rioted and they had to shut down the whole project. No one has gone down there since. But to the day he died, both he and Rabbi Getz believed that they were within 30 or 40 feet of the storage place for the Ark of the Covenant.
So again, I'm going to show you some slides so you can orient a little bit to what the Temple Mount looked like. There is Warren's Gate there on the left. Then here where this rectangle is is the Wailing Wall called the Kotel, the western retaining wall. This is where the Jews gather to pray. Just to the right of that is Robinson's Arch and that is called Wilson's Arch named after Charles Wilson another archeologist back in the 19th century.
If you go there on a tour, you'll go down into the subterranean chambers and you'll walk along the foundation of the Temple structure, the platform that Herod had built. You'll see these huge stones, foundation stones - 450 tons they estimate. Just enormous! This is the area where they were digging.
Now here's a little different view of this for you. This is an outside model they build (perfectly scaled model) of 1st century Jerusalem. The area that's circled is where you have the entry for Warren's gate. You see the same thing. This is Robinson's Arch here and then Wilson's Arch back behind it. This is the Temple here. Wilson's Arch was at the walkway that the priests used going on to the temple precinct. Here is a little bit closer view.
Then in the background here is Fortress Antonio where the Romans barracked their soldiers. You can see that on the towers they could go up in the towers and look down into the temple precincts to keep an eye on the Jews.
One more model here shows you the same thing. Here's the Temple Mount. Here's Warren's Gate, Wilson's Arch, Robinson's Arch; so you can see the closeness. If you go straight in, you are not that far from where the Dome of the Rock would have been located. You can see in the background of this picture – it's pretty dark but you can see the archway back here. This wall that you see illuminated is the retaining wall. That's the Western Wailing Wall.
This is a picture along the tunnel. This is how narrow it is. You can see down the tunnel a little bit. I've got a couple of other shots here. There is another schematic. I love maps and charts.
Here's an old picture of the Wailing Wall. Here's the Dome of the Rock and the area we're talking about is just to the left edge of this screen shot. Here are a couple of shots of the Wailing Wall tunnels on the left and the area where they would have gone in to try to excavate underneath the Temple Mount. It's not a very large area.
Okay, I have one more thing I want to cover just briefly before we wrap up our study on the Tabernacle. That has to do with the clothing of the High Priest – the clothing of the High Priest. It involved six different elements. The High Priest had to dress a specific way. The High Priest and the under priests (the other priests) could not dress however they wanted to. God specifically told them how they were to dress when they came to carry out their specific responsibilities. The fabrics and the dyes from which all their clothing was made were the most expensive because God is worthy of all honor and glory and praise. You don't show up to worship God in faded out blue jeans and cutoffs. So they wore the finest clothes and the most expensive dyes - vibrant colors. Most people were dressed in rather earthen colored garments. But these garments that the High Priest wore stood out. They were extremely well dressed. The colors that were used were the same colors that were used in the Tabernacle. So aesthetically they blended perfectly with everything that you were looking at in the Temple. The artistry, the way God puts it all together was fabulous. Those who made the garments were given skill just as Aholiab and Bezalel were. The Scripture says that they were wise of heart. They had chokmah. They had skill at making all of these garments.
The High Priest had an ephod. That is the multi-colored garment that you see here. He had breastplate that attached to the shoulders of the ephod and then by gold chains and blue threads to the waist area of the ephod. Underneath that, he wore a blue robe and underneath that there was a white tunic. On his head he had a specific headdress that he wore and on it was a gold plate on which was inscribed the phrase "Holy to the Lord" – Kadosh Le Yahweh. As we look at the breastplate and the way it is described in the Scriptures, it attached to the ephod through rings at the shoulders. There were two onyx stones on which were inscribed the names of the tribes of Israel – 6 on each stone. The stones were placed on the shoulders on the epaulettes. Then the breastplate itself was attached by gold rings and gold chains to the ephod rings. At the bottom there were also gold rings and two sky blue wool threads that were used to attach it to the waist of the ephod.
The breastplate itself had 4 rows of three stones each. These are listed in Exodus 28.
NKJ Exodus 28:17 "And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row;
18 "the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond;
19 "the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst;
20 "and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings.
We're not sure those are correct. In fact I read an article by an archeologist this last week that they're beginning to think that it emphasized color more than the kind of stone. So there was a set color for each of the tribes of Israel. Each of these stones had the name of the tribe inscribed on it so that the priest had the names if Israel, the tribes of Israel, over his heart so that when he went into the Holy of Holies and is carrying out his responsibilities he is representing by means of these 12 stones and the epaulettes the tribes of Israel.
Here is a picture of the epaulettes. The names are inscribed there, but it doesn't project well on the projector.
Here's another view of the 12 stones on the breastplate. Some have gone to Israel and come back and have little – a couple of ladies bought little necklaces that have a depiction of this on them representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Over his heart on the breastplate the High Priest would put the Urim and Thummim. Nobody knows what they were. Somehow they were two stones used to discern God's will. Whether they were like lots or whether they buzzed or hummed or changed colors or vibrated nobody knows. But they had something to do with discerning God's will.
Here is a recreation of the gold plate that says Kadosh Le Yahweh on it that was put on the High Priest's headdress. There is another depiction of the High Priest's turban that he wore. He was to always to have this upon his head when he went into the Holy of Holies.
What we see here emphasized again and again is that God pays attention to the details. The precision of the description is very important because it shows that God is not a God who is worshipped haphazardly. There is an emphasis on protocol, on order, that everything had to be done following very precise descriptions. There is an emphasis as well on aesthetics, on beauty. Again and again it states in the text that it was beautiful. All of this is to reflect the glory of the Lord, not the glory of the priests. The priests were to dress appropriately when they were serving the Lord. They were to dress appropriately to add dignity and honor to worship.
Exodus 29 describes the consecration of the priests. We studied that when we studied the golden laver. The priest in his consecration would be completely washed or bathed. There was also a sacrifice involving one young bull and two rams that were without spot or blemish. That's described in Exodus 29.
So when you finish a study of the Tabernacle several things should impress you.
1. The distinctiveness of God. He is unique. That's the concept of holy. He must be approached on His terms. He is the only one who can define those terms. He is completely set apart from His people. He is distinct. He is unique. It emphasizes the Creator-creature distinction. There was nothing like that in any of the pagan religions.
2. The second thing that we note is that He cannot be approached apart from cleansing or purification, which is ultimately done by a blood sacrifice – the emphasis on substitutionary atonement. The animals used in the sacrifices - the bulls, the goats, the sheep - all had to be without spot or blemish. This all depicts the uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ who was without sin and thereby qualified to go to the cross and die on the cross on our behalf. When the worshipper comes into the Tabernacle or Temple and places his hand upon that animal, that depicts identification and a recognition that his sin is covered by the sacrifice of the animal just as when we put our faith in Jesus Christ we recognize that His death on the cross pays the penalty for our sins so that when we study all the sacrifices and all the different rituals of the Temple, each of these depict some different facet of the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ primarily on the cross but also in relation to His current high priestly ministry and His future priestly ministry and our future priestly ministry as members of the body of Christ who will be ruling and reigning with Him in the Millennial Kingdom. That becomes a focal point in our study of Hebrews 9 and 10.
We will get back into Hebrews 9 next Thursday night. Let's bow our heads in closing prayer.