If we study the meaning of each part of the Ark of the Covenant we will receive a wonderful salvation message.
The Ark of the Covenant with the Mercy Seat and the Cherubim was located on the other side of the veil in the Most Holy Place. There the High Priest entered only once a year to sprinkle sacrificial blood on top of the Mercy Seat.
The appearance of the Ark was quite awesome, not only because of its brilliant gold, but also because of the mysterious light that hovered over the center of it—the Shekinah Glory, which was the glory of the very presence of God.
The Ark itself (without its lid) was just a box, 3 ½ feet long, 2 ½ feet wide and 2 ½ feet deep. It was made of acacia wood overlaid with gold. The wood represented the humanity of Christ, and the gold, His deity.
The main purpose of this golden chest (it appears) was for the safe keeping of three very important articles: Aaron’s rod, the golden pot of manna, and the two tablets of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments. Much could be said about these articles and what they represent; however, let me tell you what Charles Fuller has said about them. “… [They were] articles most cherished because they signified God’s mighty, miraculous deeds on Israel’s behalf.”
The most impressive part of the Ark was its cover, which was made of pure gold. But it was not just a flat piece of gold. Two Cherubim were hammered out from it, one on each end, which were made to have their wings spread upward and overshadowing the cover, each with eyes that gazed down at the blood sprinkled on the cover, also called the Mercy Seat (Ex. 25:17-22).
According to Charles Fuller, their gaze upon the blood was quite significant. He said, “If the Cherubim’s attention was constantly focused upon the shed blood of sacrificial animals in the Old Testament times, how much more should our attention be centered upon the cross, where Christ’s blood made atonement for our sins!”
This is so true, but I would emphasize here that God intended for us to see the cherubim gazing not at the blood of animals, but rather at what the animal’s blood represented—the precious blood of Christ. Those Cherubim I believe were made to be in awe not of the shed blood of animals, but of the blood of Christ shed for us. That is, they were in awe, as we should be, that God loves us so much that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (Jn. 3:16).
Moreover, the Mercy Seat was for Israel—and also for us—a covering. For Israel (in Old Testament times), it was meant not only to keep the dust off of the articles in the chest, but also to cover, or to put a lid on the wrath of God—which proceeded from the tablets of stone in the ark (God’s written law). Stories have been told of those who peered into the Ark and died from the power of God (1 Sam. 6:19). And we will also perish if we try to live according to the law of God on our own strength, because we have all transgressed His law. As Galatians 3:10 states, “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.’”
Accordingly, we must now rely on what the blood sprinkled Mercy Seat represents for us: the blood of Jesus Christ as a propitiation for our sins—which, in fact, it is. But it covers not all people, it covers only those who have come to the place where the Shekinah Glory hovered—to repent of their sins and cry out to God for mercy. There at the mercy seat, which represents the cross, God applied (and will continue to apply) the blood of Christ to our heart, which forgives our sins, and covers (appease, propitiate) the wrath of God for us forever.
Praise God! Forever He clothes us in righteousness. As Charles Fuller writes, “Our own righteousness is as filthy rags, but if we take Christ to be our propitiatory covering we will be clothed in the bridal dress of His righteousness (Isaiah 61:10).”
So, as we come, finally, to the Ark in our prayer journey, let us thank God that the veil was rent in two at His death—making it possible to come boldly into His presence, to commune with Him at any time. And let us thank Him for His mercy and for the merciful covering of the blood of Jesus that covers the wrath of God for us who believe. Let us praise Him and rejoice in His great love for us, for He has given us entrance into His presence and into His realm of glory and kingship. In this Most Holy Place, surrounded by the Shekinah glory, we sit with Christ on His throne to pray. Hallelujah! What great confidence we can have in Him as we pray!
Source: Charles E. Fuller, The Tabernacle in the Wilderness (USA: Fleming H. Revell company, n.d.), p. 80-90.