So they brought the ark of God, and set it in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it. (1 Chronicles 16:1)
The Ark of the Covenant was the sign of God’s presence among His people. Wherever it went, it brought blessing to those who honored it. But it also brought judgment on the enemies of God. When the Ark fell into the hands of the Philistines, they set it in the temple of Dagon, their own little god. They actually thought they had the God of Israel captured in a box and that, once in their possession, He would have to protect them. But God can never be held in a box, and the Ark merely symbolized the presence of His rule and reign. Since the Philistines had no respect for God Himself, the box did them no good. To their chagrin, they discovered that it brought only judgment upon them. They set it their temple, but the next morning they found the idol of Dagon had fallen over, its face to the ground before the Ark of God and its arms broken off. After seven months, the Philistines decided that it would be better for them to return the Ark to Israel (you can read the whole story 1 Samuel 4:1-7:2).
Unfortunately, the people of Israel had developed the same “God in the box” mentality themselves and had become quite fearful of the Ark. So they settled it in Kirjath Jearim, where it remained for twenty years. When David finally became king of Israel, he went and defeated the Philistines, then turned his attention to the Ark of God. After a false start, he finally led the Ark into Jerusalem, dancing before the Lord with all his might (2 Samuel 6). Then he established a place for it and erected a tabernacle. According to the literal meaning of the words, he “pitched” a “tent” over it. In this simple way, the presence of God was once again made manifest in Israel.
But that is the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, cut with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the people of God now have God Himself dwelling within. That which was only typified in the Old Testament tabernacle is now fulfilled in the Church. Paul said, “Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16). We are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Himself as the cornerstone “in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord” (Ephesians 2:21). Peter said, “You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Not only are we collectively the temple of God, but we are even so individually. “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
We are living, breathing tabernacles walking around with the Ark of God — which is the Lord Jesus Christ — inside us. It is a blessing to all who are willing to receive Him, but also a judgment on every work that stands against the will of God. The book of Acts presents a very interesting example of this.
And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them. Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Acts 5:14-16)Peter walked with a great awareness of this divine, powerful presence — the life of Jesus — dwelling within. As a result, he “cast a shadow” that released the judgment of God on sickness and brought healing to many. Because Jesus was on the inside, the power and blessing of God manifested on the outside as people laid hold of it by faith. He was a walking tabernacle.
If you know the Lord Jesus Christ, He dwells within you by the Holy Spirit. He is the Ark of God living inside you. The power to heal and to bless with he blessing of God is present within you, just as Jesus Himself healed and blessed in His earthly ministry two thousand years ago. You are a walking tabernacle of the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
(See also The Shadow of Glory)