Easter Sunday – The Ark of the Covenant

[The LORD said to Moses,] “Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the tablets of the covenant law that I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the covenant law, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.” (Exodus 25:21-22)

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (Hebrews 7:23-25)

“Bezalel.” Do you recognize that name? In his day, in his field of expertise, he was known above all other names. Yet in our era, you may not have even heard of him. You may even have difficulty forming your mouth and lips to say and pronounce his name. “Bezalel, Bezalel.”

So, you may be thinking to yourself, why on this most celebratory day in history, when death itself was conquered by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave, are we giving devotional time to a relatively obscure man named Bezalel? The answer lies in the fact that Bezalel was a master craftsman, a chief architect, an interior designer, and a supreme artisan above all others of his era. God chose Bezalel, out of all the Israelites, to be the general contractor of a building that was to become the central focus in the worship life of God’s people, namely, the tabernacle. Scripture also records for us that Bezalel was entrusted with the special honor of constructing the most important piece found in the tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant.

Bezalel carefully constructed the box where the 10 Commandments were placed. Yet Bezalel’s job was not complete. He still had to fashion and build the most important piece of furniture in all of Israel, the covering, the lid to place on top of this box. The importance of this lid lay not in the gold, the wood, or the craftsmanship used in construction. Nor were the golden wings of the cherubim, arching over the cover and the ark, its most valued feature. It was the fact that God himself would sit on that piece of furniture and dwell among his people on what was known as the atonement cover, the mercy seat of God.

Look into that ark. There are the 10 Commandments. There we come face to face with our sins as God’s holy covenant law convicts us. There we come face to face with the consequences of our sins, realizing that the ultimate curse of sin is a wage extracted called “death.”

But now step back and look at that cover on top of the ark, the atonement cover, the mercy seat of God. Watch over the ages as 83 different high priests entered the Holy of Holies on Atonement Day and sprinkled the sacrificed blood of an animal to signify the forgiveness of sins. Yet none of those priests nor all of the blood
they sprinkled were enough to cover our sin.

That blood belongs to the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus is both the victim and the priest. Jesus is the spotless Lamb, and his blood purifies us from every sin. The grave is empty. Sin is atoned for. Death is conquered. He is risen! He is risen indeed!

Dear Jesus, you have made atonement for my sins. Your sacrificed blood covers me completely. You paid the price of death for me with your death. You conquered death once and for all by rising from the grave. Your ascension assures me of my own ascension. All the blessings associated with being “at one” with God are mine because of you. Praise be to your name! Amen.

Rev. Douglas Lange serves Martin Luther College as a professor of theology and physical education.