Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Ark of Your Testimony

And you shall put into the ark the Testimony which I will give you. (Exodus 25:16)
The Ark of the Covenant is also known as the Ark of the Testimony. The Hebrew word for “testimony” is edut, which means “witness” or “record.” It comes from the primitive root ud, which means to duplicate or repeat. Literally, it refers to something that is spoken again and again. Its purpose is to remind, to bring up again in your mind, and bring to prominence in your thinking.

Testimony is a powerful thing. It can not only bring something back to your mind but also back to your heart. It can recreate the emotions, the sense of the experience of that to which it testifies. For example, have you ever heard an old song on the radio that reminded you of the days when you first heard that song. It can make you think of old friends and places and the way you felt back then. It is amazing how a song can bring them again to you in such an emotionally powerful way. When a song triggers a memory like that, people even say, “Oh, that takes me back.” And in a way, it really does take them back to that time and place, and those old friends. That song has become a testimony to them, a witness of things past but which still have great meaning.

That is what the Ark of the Testimony did. It was a witness that spoke of the covenant God made with Israel. Everything about it testified to something in their experience with Him. It represented — re-presented — His presence among them. On top was the mercy-seat, the place of atonement, of divine forgiveness. The Testimony that was placed inside was threefold: The Ten Commandments, a jar of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded (Hebrews 9:4).
  • The tables of the commandments spoke of God’s instruction, wisdom and promises — the covenant He made with Israel.
  • The jar of manna spoke of the miraculous provision God made for them in the wilderness, a provision that sustained them throughout their wilderness wanderings.
  • The rod of Aaron spoke of high priestly authority. For when the people tested God and rebelled against Aaron, God caused his rod to bud as a sign that He had indeed chosen Aaron.
The testimony of these things was always before them to remind them, not only of who God had been to them in the past, but also who He would continue to be to them in the future. For a testimony is not just about what God has done, it also reveals what He is going to do.

David understood this. He kept an ark of testimony in his heart so that He would not forget the benefits of God in his life, to give God glory and continue to trust in Him. He specifically instructed and reminded himself. “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psalm 103:1-2). Look at what he kept in the ark of his testimony:
  • Who forgives all your iniquities (v. 3)
  • Who heals all your diseases (v. 3)
  • Who redeems your life from destruction (v. 4)
  • Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies (v. 4)
  • Who satisfies your mouth with good things (v. 5)
  • So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s (v. 5)
  • The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed (v. 6)
  • He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel (v. 7)
  • The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy (v. 8)
This is not just about the way God used to be, but about the way He is now and always will be. He is the same yesterday, today and forever — He does not change. The testimony of what He has done in the past is a seed of faith about what we can also expect Him to do in the future. When someone stands up and gives a testimony that God forgave them, saved them, rescued them, healed them, changed their life, it is a witness that He will do the same for whoever will trust Him. That is why it is important to remember the testimony of what God has done for you and share it with others. It is also why it is important to pay attention to the testimonies of others. They remind you of who God is and what He can do. The most important testimony, of course, is that of God Himself — what He was done for us in Jesus Christ, and the promises we have through faith in Him.

What is in the ark of your testimony? What are the promises of God’s Word that you are claiming? What are the times you have experienced God’s guidance? What are the provisions you have received from Him, the daily providences and the unusual supply that has shown up in your life? What are the ways that He has made His presence known to you? What are the ways He has revealed the life of Jesus to you? What are the ways He has revealed the life of Jesus through you to others? These are seeds of expectation that He will continue to be and do what He has always been and done, and that He will see you through any crisis.

Greetings to our friends in Telemark, Norway; Waterloo, Ontario; Baden-Wurttemburg; Tel Aviv; Glasgow; Yakima, WA; Walterboro, SC; Eugene, OR; Sunnyside, NY and Polway, CA.