Last time we entered a new section in Exodus wherein the Lord instructed Moses how to build the Tabernacle beginning in chapter 25. After first directing Moses how the offerings were to be collected, the Lord then instructed Moses on the dimensions and materials of the Ark of the Covenant.
The Ark holds a prominent place in history recorded in the Old Testament. It was this Ark that held the Commandments written with the Lord’s own hand (Exo 31:18). The Ark led the people through the wilderness (Numbers 10:33-36). The waters of the Jordan River parted as the Ark was carried into the river so Israel could pass through on dry ground (Joshua 3:13-17). The walls of Jericho fell as the Ark was carried around the city seven times (Joshua 6:6, 20). And in our text (chapter 25:10-22) the Ark also takes up a prominent place in the Tabernacle itself. One might suppose that a description in the construction of the Tabernacle would begin with the Tabernacle itself, but the Lord starts with a description of the heart of the Tabernacle, the Ark of the Covenant; in fact, the Ark is what the Tabernacle was made for. It was here that the Lord would meet with His people, as Exodus 25:22 describes.
The Ark of the Covenant had at least two purposes: First, to hold the commandments the Lord would give Israel (25:16); and second, to house the mercy seat, which covered the Ark (25:17-22). Further, in Leviticus 16:11-16, the Lord tells Aaron to make a sacrifice and place the blood on the mercy seat to make atonement for sin on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). The word for “mercy seat” in Hebrew is kapporet, which is related to the word Kippur, meaning to atone or propitiate. This word is translated in the Greek version of the Old Testament, hilasterion, which is the same word ascribed to Jesus in Romans 3:25: “whom God put forward as a ”hilasterion” a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” At the cross, Jesus is the final atonement; He is our mercy seat! In this way the Ark of the Covenant points us to Jesus Christ and His once-for-all, final, perfect sacrifice.