“Have the people of Israel build me a holy sanctuary so I can live among them…Have the people make an Ark of acacia wood…place inside it the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. Then make the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—from pure gold…Then make two cherubim from hammered gold, and place them on the two ends of the atonement cover…Place inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you…I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel” (Exodus 25:8-22, NLT).
After God gave Moses the law, He proceeded to describe the plans for the Tabernacle and its furnishings so the Israelites could construct a place where God could abide among His people.
God’s first design specifications were for the Ark of the Covenant, which was the most significant item in the Tabernacle complex. (“Ark” is an an archaic English word meaning “box.”) The Ark of the Covenant, or covenant box, was a chest containing the artifacts that signified God’s covenant with the Israelites, specifically, the stone tablets containing the terms of the covenant.
The Hebrew word translated as “atonement” means “to cover over.” Thus, the Ark’s cover was the place of atonement because it physically and symbolically “covered” the covenant.
It was covered-up by God’s presence!
For God, who is Holy, to live among sinful human beings in a covenantal relationship, it is necessary to sanctify sinful human beings to be in the presence of God.
So, all the religious practices that took place in the Tabernacle and later in the Temple were symbolic of what was necessary to be in the presence of a Holy God.
Today, God has again perpetrated a Great Cover-Up on humanity! Now, God has determined a new dwelling place for His Holy Presence.
God has once and for all atoned for our sins! By the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, our sins have been covered up!
And, if you believe in Jesus and accept the terms of His covenant in your life, then God will save and sanctify you and establish a personal, covenantal relationship with you.
And, when you are covered by God’s new covenant, He seals the deal by the manifestation of His presence. His Spirit comes!
So, when we accept Jesus as our Savior, God covers us up with His grace and then ratifies His covenant by sending His Spirit to dwell in us.
“By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.” (Hebrews 10:20-22, NLT)