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In 8 Parts

Part 1: The Title

Part 2: The Cross

Part 3: The Icon - General Perspective

Part 4: The Icon - Historic Perspective

Part 5: The Eagle - Jesus in Matthew and Mark

Part 6: The Eagle - Jesus in Luke

Part 7: The Eagle - Jesus in John

Part 8: End Note

 

 

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Part 8: End Note

The Witnesses in the Human Heart

The heart of fallen mankind is powerfully and prophetically portrayed by the Tabernacle in Shiloh after the Ark of the Covenant was removed by the hands of Eli's sons.  What remains within the Holy of Holies without the Ark is symbolic for what remains within the human heart without God, or without the presence of the Holy Spirit; that is, without the restoration of the Ark or a born-again experience.  The Tabernacle was not completely empty.  There were two items that remained.

First of all there remained the Book of the Law.

When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book, to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, "Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you."  [Italics mine] Deuteronomy 31:24-26

This corresponds to human conscience, or the "law written upon the heart."  It can be ignored.  It can be perverted.  It can be abused.  It can be misunderstood.  It can be misinterpreted.  Yet there always exists, as long as breathe remains, by the conviction of the Holy Spirit mostly achieved through human agency (that is, witnessing; "making disciples") the ability to properly respond to this law.  This is when a human being faces the stark reality that they have violated this law, that they are done with their own attempts at trying to satisfy it, and they yield to God, accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, experiencing the remission of their sins, their breach of this law, having their conscience sprinkled by the blood of Jesus Christ, the result of the cross, being thusly made clean and holy for the first time before their God.  The human conscience is the witness inside of everyone of the righteousness of God and can only be satisfied and made clean by the cross.

The second item that remained within the Holy of Holies after the removal of the Ark was Aaron's rod that budded.  Aaron's rod is a powerful testimony of resurrection life.  The rod itself speaks of fallen humanity, dead wood.  Yet this dead wood produces life; is alive from the dead.  This corresponds to the eternal life within the heart of every human.  This is the eternity which is in the heart (Ecclesiastes 3:11).  This corresponds to the quest for the eternal kingdom.  This speaks to that deep-seated, though perhaps unarticulated but subconsciously known precept that the soul of human beings was originally designed to be eternal.  Human beings, if they are honest and by their very design, will have at least some inkling that there is a greater glory, that there is a more robust and non-decaying life for which they long.  The human race still has life because of the breath of God that He breathed into it through Adam.  The human race, even the fallen, even those separated from God, still owes their very existence to the breath of God and the life of God that remains in them.  But that life, without regeneration by the Spirit of God or without the return of the Ark of God or the manifest presence of God inside of them; that life is separated from God.  The tabernacle in Shiloh, without the Ark, was but a dead form and ritual.  And that is pretty much what human life is without rebirth, without renewal.  It is but a semblance of the true life that each human was meant to have.  It is only floundering.  And that life cannot remain alive for long when separated from the source of life, as long as the Ark (symbolic for the presence of God) is removed.  It is only when the life of God returns to its desires abode that resurrection life (eternal life) within the human heart can be realized.  That life and the token of that life, Aaron's rod, will eventually perish without the Holy Spirit coming and taking up residence, restoring full and complete life to the fallen.

In regard to the historical presence of Aaron's rod within the Holy of Holies, there may be some disagreement.  In fact the Bible seems to contradict itself in regard to the location of this rod.  Here is the apparent contradiction.

And the LORD said to Moses, "Put back the rod of Aaron before the testimony [the Ark of the Testimony]..."  [Italics and parenthetical comment mine] Numbers 17:10

"Before the testimony" would imply in front of it, or possibly next to it.

For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place.  Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant...  Hebrews 9:2-4

These verses from Hebrews would seem to indicate that the rod was not next to the Ark, but inside of it.  So we have, from the Old Testament, that the rod was "before" the Ark and from the New Testament that it was "contained" within the Ark.

Here is proposed one interpretation of this with the recognition that it could be wrong.  It is certainly nothing with which to be dogmatic about, but simply an explanation of this seeming incongruence.  In light of further and greater revelation to the contrary this theory will be wholeheartedly abandoned.  Yet the presence of these two items within the Holy of Holies with the absence of the Ark seems to bear a remarkable similarity to the witness inside the human heart with the absence of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore the Old Testament is believed and the New Testament will require explanation.

In the same passage from Hebrews it is also remarked that the Altar of Incense was "behind the second curtain" or within the Holy of Holies.  Most of us subscribe to this altar being, not in the Holy of Holies, but in the Holy Place.  The Old Testament also bears out the location of this altar.  So we know through the entire testimony of scripture that the Altar of Incense was in the Holy Place, before and not within the Holy of Holies.  And likewise it can be understood that the rod was before the Ark and not within it.

And to further solidify this point, let the dimensions of the Ark be recalled.  Also, let a rod and a staff be brought to mind, which generally stood at the height of a man.  We then discover that the rod of Aaron, if understood to be the same type of instrument used in those times, would in no wise fit within the Ark.  It would have been too tall to have been put within the Ark.  Therefore it would have had to be put next to the Ark.