This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Heb. 9:4b, NIV
In the Old Testament the Ark of the Covenant was in the Holy of Holies in the temple. It represented the manifest presence of God among the Israelites. It was covered with pure gold showing the holiness and divinity of God. It was hidden from the Holy Place by a thick curtain. [Some sources say it was four inches thick and weighted over 2 tons.] Only the High Priest could enter the presence of God once a year.
The ark contained three items.
The first item was a golden jar of manna. Manna had been God’s divine provision for the Israelites during their forty years of wandering in the desert. Every morning they gathered one day’s supply - except on the day before the Sabbath when they collected two day’s supply. If they had any left overs, they spoiled over night. This was a picture of God’s faithfulness and provision. He knew what they need and He provided it fresh every day. He never missed a day and they never went hungry. They did have to learn to trust God continually, because it was impossible to hoard and save up for an emergency.
The second item was Aaron’s staff that budded. The Israelites had thought they were living in a democracy. They thought they got to choose their leaders. Almost 15,000 people died by the Hand of God because of their rebellion against God’s chosen leadership - Moses and Aaron. So there would be no doubt about God’s choice in the future, the staffs of the 12 tribal leaders were collected and placed before the ark over night. In the morning Aaron’s staff had budded, blossomed and produced almonds. There was no doubt as to who was God’s choice. So the rod that budded in the ark represented God’s leadership and His right to delegate to whom He chooses.
The final item in the Ark of Covenant was a copy of the Ten Commandments. It showed that God is King. He has the right to establish His law. God loves justice. In His mercy and grace, He has given the rules that define how life was designed to operate. But these laws were not suggestions either. They were voluntarily accepted by the Israelites as they entered into a Blood Covenant with God. The mandatory consequences for violation of a Blood Covenant is death.
On top of the Ark of the Covenant the blood of an innocent sacrifice was sprinkled, looking forward to the time when Jesus Christ Himself would shed His blood on our behalf. Everything in the Ark - God’s provision, God’s leadership and God’s holiness - was only available because of the blood.
In many ways, in the New Covenant period, we have become the Ark of the Covenant - if we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Saviour.
It is only because of the shed blood of Jesus Christ sprinkled over our lives that we are able to come into the presence of God. His blood is our salvation and protection. Because of that blood we are covered with gold - God see us as if we were Jesus Christ Himself. He sees perfection - no flaw whatsoever.
Also, because of the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit - the manifest presence of God - lives within us. We have become the dwelling place of God on earth. It is through us that Jesus is seen by the world. It is not God’s will for us to be hidden behind a massive curtain. He wants us moving through the world expressing Who He is to the hurting and deceived people around us.
The manna within the Ark shows that we have access to God’s provision. We can have full confidence that He will look after us. He may not give us what we need in advance, but when we need it, it will be there. He never failed the Israelites - as rebellious as they were - and He will never fail us - Whom He views as perfect as His Son.
God has also given us His appointed leadership. This applies both to the Holy Spirit and to human leaders. The Holy Spirit lives within us and guides us in the way we are to go. He is our constant Companion and Comforter. God has also anointed human leaders to guide and direct us in His paths. They, too, are to receive respect and obedience. Finally, as Christians, each one of us is to be a spiritual, God-appointed leader at some level. We are the leaders and examples to our spouses, our children, our co-workers, friends, etc. We need to be sure we are leading in Godly ways.
God has not forsaken His law, but He has now written it on our hearts. The Law of God is no longer an instrument in the hands of satan for condemnation. It is an instruction manual on how to live pleasing to God, how to get the most out of life and how to expand the kingdom of God in every area of life. Because it is written on our hearts, it is something that we should delight in doing. If it is a burden then we are not viewing it from the perspective of redeemed sons and daughters of Almighty God.