The Ark's Promise

The promises of God are the most important gifts that he has given us. Promises are the foundations of our faith and are what we believe to be the solid truths of Christianity. Without these tokens of truth, our religion would be purely logic based. Our personal relationships with God would be devoid of purpose and depth. In the Old Testament, on several occasions, God mentions a covenant. Revelation 11:19 says that the prophet saw God's temple in heaven opened, "And the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple." Clearly the Ark is both a promise meant for us and a thing of holiness that is to be respected.

Hebrews 9:4 states that the Ark contained three things: "The golden pot that had manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant." Each of these items has a certain significance in history and faith. First, the manna. Exodus 16:4 says, "Then said the Lord unto Moses: 'Behold, I will cause to rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in My law, or not." Manna is an emblem of trust. In this situation, the Israelites were once again doubting the Lord. They complained, much like we often do, that they didn't have food. Actually, they did not have food. Their complaint was justified. Although sometimes our very own complaints are justified, there is no reason to blame the Lord. After all, he took us out of Egypt in the first place. When we lack trust, we suffer the consequences. Much like the Israelites, we need a reminder of God's love and faithfulness. The manna is just that. It provides a solace that Jesus always provides in times of trials. This is the covenant.

The story of Aaron's rod is one of the hidden gems of the Old Testament. To prove the Lord's guidance in the high priest's position, Moses commanded each tribe to craft a staff, and carve their name in its side. They were to place their staffs in the Tabernacle, and come morning, whichever tribe's staff budded was the heir to priesthood. Of course, come morning, it was Aaron's staff that budded. God's influence in the Israelites’ lives is easy to see now, but from their perspective, I'm sure it would have been hard to decipher whether or not all of Moses’ decisions were inspired or not. Yet again, we see that trust is essential in a relationship with God, and without it, we can be led to doubt and deny. Is it possible that in our lives it can seem that God's intervention is a thing of the past? We have to remember the promises that God has made to us, and the intervention shown in this story. This is the covenant.

The third item found within the Ark of the Covenant is the Ten Commandments. These stones are the foundations of our Christian faith. They put down law and order within God's people. When Moses was on the mountain receiving the commands, the Israelites were at that very moment worshipping the golden calf. We certainly need some steadfast laws and moral signposts to live by; without these checkpoints, our faith would be formless and single faceted. A religion solely based on Jesus is certainly getting the point down, but a foundation without a house of creed is pointless. The holy law is one of the most important things that helps to strengthen our moral compass, and is certainly a promise to cherish. This is the covenant.

We have looked inside the Ark of the Covenant. The Chest of Promises. The Lord's Love. Inside are the most important emblems of faith ever recorded. Each of these items can teach us an important lesson about faith. Each of these items can strengthen and support us through the hardest of times, and help us to always remember our Creator. The promise of trust, intervention, and law are all important to our relationship with God. So, as we proceed with our not-so-normal lives in this time, we must look to the promises of the Cross for our body, soul, and strength.

Leif Bromme lives in Longwood, Florida, and is a seventh grader at Forest Lake Education Center. He enjoys collecting shells, coins, sharks’ teeth, and all sorts of other stuff.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10428
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Thank you for the article. I appreciate the focus on promises.
However, there are some statements that don’t work for me, such as:

There is just one foundation of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ.
Is the foundation promise or law? Is the Christian foundation Christ or law? Who is the foundation stone? I have found my answer.

And to use the Ark metaphor: Jesus Christ is the manna, the rod, the law. All these things pointed to him. And he is not just the things in the temple; he is the ultimate temple that units heaven and earth: Heaven came down to earth in the “temple Jesus.” Heaven kind of stays here at earth in the “believer temple.” And finally, heaven will come to earth in a fuller sense at the end, and the union of heaven and earth will be finalized with no area apart from this union. These are the promises that keep me personally excited, that lift up the veil between heaven and earth for me, and that show me the heaven-earth-union that is already here in a way. Anyways, again, thank you for writing about the promises that make your faith brighter.

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This sentence jumped out to me as well.

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C., the same words trigger us. :grin:
Sisters in Christ and in the Spirit forever.

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This article is impressive for a seventh grader. However, much of Paul’s letters show this above statement up to be a twisting of what the new covenant experience and shared life is about. 2 Cor. 3 jumps out as a real problem to reconcile with this, pointing to the superiority of Christ and the ministry of his Spirit over the former covenant, that is said to be passing away. Galatians in its entirety is also a problem.

The New Testament (covenant) says through and through that our faith is founded on Christ and the reception of his Spirit…not the Ten Commandments. Instruction is given to the mixed believing communities of Jews and Gentiles that draws from the ten, and even more of the Torah, but never invokes the ten or the Torah as the covenant arrangement that identifies the people of God in the world, simply because it is not.

The fulfillment of the law that the NT speaks of in a variety of ways is: faith that expresses itself in love, bearing one another’s burdens, love for ones neighbor as oneself, faith in Jesus and love for one another, faith that joins Jews and Gentiles together that is actually what the Torah was always pointing to in the blessing to Abraham, and ultimately self giving love, that is the fulfillment of the law. It is not the ten, and it is certainly not sabbath keeping as the sign of belonging and life in the Spirit.

To say that Christians are left morally rudderless because the law is not the foundation of life for the community is to repeat similar charges that Paul himself faced in his gospel ministry. But, that simply is not true. The ultimate guide to which he pointed his congregations to solve their relational problems and after which they were to pattern their lives was not the ten. It was Christ crucified, and the love that he displayed by giving himself over to death for their good. And for ours! Christ is the pattern of faithfulness to God and love for one another that the Spirit drives home to shape our individual lives, and our shared life together. He is the living law/Torah.

Thanks…

Frank

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I guess I joined the party! :grinning:

Frank

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Leif, your writing style far outpaces your age. Don’t feel bad about all of the people here that will be piling on you. :slight_smile:

Take it as an opportunity to expand your theological perspective. It’s very exciting to see people of your age take such detailed interest in theology.

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This is a deep and thought-provoking essay. I have read it several times. I have been thinking about this essay for much of the afternoon.

It is interesting to me that Leif places all of us in the biblical story. He says that the Lord “took us out of Egypt.” What Leif does reminds me of the urging in Richard Davidson’s essay, “You Are There!” Davidson marshals various texts in support of this placing of ourselves in the biblical story, as suggested by what is recited during the Passover seder: “Let every person, in every generation, think of himself as one of those who came out of Egypt.”

Leif’s astute discussion of the continuing relevance of the emblems in the ark of the covenant further reinforces the aptness of particular words that would resonate with Davidson and most other Seventh-day Adventists: eternal, transcendent, universal, absolute, unchanging. These strong words contrast with the descriptor hermeneutists would use: historically conditioned.

Are we to conclude that the hermeneutical approach to Scripture of Davidson and most other Seventh-day Adventists is no more sophisticated than that of a seventh-grader? Maybe that’s a compliment. We can understand why a seventh-grader would not possess what the hermeneutics literature refers to as historical consciousness. But what about everyone else in the Seventh-day Adventist Church? Why are there so few Seventh-day Adventists who understand that all knowledge is of a historical character and that all of reality that we observe, including texts we read such as the biblical text, are historically conditioned? Maybe the road to heaven is paved with the ahistorical innocence of a seventh-grader. How do we maintain that innocence while yearning for an understanding of the meaning of things?

Once we understand that God is not the sole cause but a proximate cause of the biblical text and that another proximate cause is the historical context, then we are forced to reckon with where the hermeneutical circle takes us. The points on the hermeneutical circle that can be characterized by grandiose words–eternal, transcendent, universal, absolute, unchanging–are not the circle’s only points and in fact lie in tension with other points that are of a historical character.

To insert ourselves into the biblical story might presuppose that historical context is flat, singular, and unchanging. That presupposition would be hermeneutical error. Our historical context is different than the historical context of the ancients. Scripture’s lessons for us must be determined in conjunction with an analysis of how our historical context compares with the historical context of the ancients.

But there may be an edifying reason for inserting ourselves into the biblical story, a reason that is not concerned with interpretation of the biblical story. We should be sensitive to the reality that often our application of the biblical text precedes our interpretation of the biblical text. We should be tolerant when that happens, as we are guided by the Holy Spirit.

Theoretically, a sound hermeneutical approach should hold whether we are discussing the ark of the covenant or slavery. The ark of the covenant, though, is in heaven. The grandiose words seem to be befitting. A spiraling is more and more in their direction, which is why I very much appreciate this essay.

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That’s what Peter 2:3-5 gives us also, Kate. Thank you for that.

3 If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

4 To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

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I didn’t look at his age. If I did, I would have rephrased or added certain sentences in my post. Wow, in seventh grade I couldn’t write an article that would be published. Ark, thank you for pointing that out.

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phil, I am thinking about hermeneutics, the topic you brought up. What can it mean for us later times believers that John was shown the Ark in heaven? What does it mean for you if you want to share it?

Visionaries see things that are familiar in their age and culture. E.g. John saw an idolatrous statue that became a living entity (Rev 13) pretty much like the rituals in every pagan temple at his time: experts created the statue and other experts performed rituals for animation of the statue. Then the god could be manifest in this material object. After those rituals vanished in most of Western culture, many Western believers nowadays don’t take Rev 13 at face value and don’t think about an idolatrous statue that will live and talk and has to be worshipped before the end of the world, although John saw such an animated idol. He was shown things that he could relate to. In this case, most believers separate the culture-bound symbol from the concept.

Back to the Ark in Revelation 11, does the vision of an Ark in heaven necessarily mean there is an Ark in heaven? Or is this an insight into the reality in heaven that was shown to John in culture-bound, familiar terms, as functional as symbols? I’m not talking about absolute certainty, I just like thinking and appreciate your thoughts. (It would be awesome if Leif registers and also participates.)

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I am very much confused on how to use this spectrum magazine I just noticed my friend had made a post and just wanted to say Great job

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I would never disclose what was predominantly on my mind (every 30 seconds) when I was entering my early adolescent years. :grinning:

Kudos to Leif! Keep up your trajectory. Jesus was also 12 years old when he told his earthy parents (Luke 2:49) “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business? But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them."

Some are blessed to have acquired abstract thinking at an early age.

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Since you seem to have a grasp of hermeneutics, are you familiar with the Psychoanalytic criticism approach to biblical scholarship?

Here is an article from The Journal of Psychology and Christianity. Let me know what you think…

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Elmer I hesitate to even post this because the young author should be given high praise at this point. Having said this, Lief would not be the first adolescent to have adults attempt to attribute “higher” connections in the SDA church. EGW ? However, that conclusion should not be drawn either.

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Leif could be another SDA prophet but the memory and devotion of the SDA church is so entrenched with EGW, we will never have another prophet. :frowning:

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That is not in dispute is it. Certainly Jeremy could never entertain that opinion. After all he does his research🙄

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Alas. We have no objective evidence yet of even one. :roll_eyes:

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Your essay is a competent statement of faith. When I was in the seventh grade, I couldn’t find Hebrews with both hands. :wink:

Several years ago, I discovered that when it comes to the law, Ellen White was not entirely on the same page as Paul. I choose Paul. His perspective is pretty well covered in the third chapters of 2 Cor and Galatians.

		2 Cor 3

5 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
6 …for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious…
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather [more] glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.

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i think concepts of holiness and respect are somewhat lacking in our current mindset, and i must say, especially with the jesus only crowd…but even in traditional services that include noticeable helpings of egw, we just don’t seem to have reverence, certainly nothing approaching the dread and even fear that OT figures felt in meeting up with an angel, let alone god…

i wonder if we’d even recognize the jesus of nazareth we all believe we adore, if we saw him and interacted with him as he was when he lived on earth…something tells me there would be a major cultural gap…we’d probably avoid him, and keep him at arm’s length…

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