Glory Upon the Rock

Glory Upon the Rock

1 Samuel 6

Before the Ark of the Lord was returned to Israel by the Phillistines, it brought a good deal of torment upon them. Not able to withstand it any longer, the Philistines placed the Ark on a wagon and shipped it back to Israel, but prior to sending it back they conducted a very practical test, notice!

"but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us, but that it happened to us by chance.” (1 Samuel 6:9 NIV)

The test came back positive. Under the guidance of the Spirit of God, the two cows pulling the wagon with the Ark of the Covenant on top of it travelled straight on to Beth Shemesh in Israeli territory and stopped right next to a large rock.

"The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock...” (vs.14)

Once it was spotted and identified as the Ark of the Lord by the people of Beth Shemesh, the Levites (priests) took the Ark, placed it on top of the large rock, and the people offered burnt and sacrifice offerings to the Lord (vs.15). Notice carefully that in many passages of scripture both in the Old and New Testaments the Messiah Jesus Christ is referred to as the “rock". To mention just a few of many:

"Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." (Psalm 62:6, 7 NIV)

"for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ." (1 Corinthians 10: 4 NIV)

“...A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall...” (1 Peter 2:8 NIV; Isaiah 8:14 NIV)

The Ark of the Covenant represented the glory and presence of God among the people. It was believed that the very presence of God rested between the two cherubim on the superior part of the Ark (Ezequiel 9:3). As the priests placed the Ark on top of this "large rock” we can draw a very practical and powerful parallel alluding directly to Christ, “The Rock of Ages.”

Remember when the Messiah Jesus Christ was sacrificed on the cross? He was placed there for the countless sins; past, present and future of those who accept His sacrifice. But, remember how He was treacherously "set up" by priests of that time, especially the high priest Caiaphas, who was said to have organized the plot to kill Him (Mark 14:53, 55, 56 NIV). In essence, the Messiah Jesus Christ was "set up" to become an offering sacrifice and literally placed on the cross by priests (Levites) of that time.

The imagery associated with the Ark being placed on top of the large rock is suggestive of the character and nature of the Messiah Jesus Christ in His redemptive role of humanity. As an object representative of God’s glory (1 Samuel 4:22) the Ark of the Covenant was placed on top of the "large rock" by local priests (1 Samuel 6:15). As this event takes place, it is as if the glory presence of Yahweh was literally coming to rest upon that "large rock.” The sacrifices and burnt offerings made by the people and the priest in verse 15, are also suggestive of the Messiah Jesus Christ and His ultimate blood sacrifice, spilling His very own blood to atone the sins of man.

In the sequence, the prophet Samuel registers these interesting words:

"The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh” (1 Samuel 6:18 NIV).

Since His death and resurrection, "The Rock of Ages," Jesus Christ is a witness of sacrifice, bravery, courage, and love to all human race. In the same way that the glory of Yahweh rested upon that "large rock" when the priests placed the Ark upon it, the glory of God rested and continues to rest upon the man, the rock, Jesus Christ of Nazareth as He walked amidst sinful man performing signs and wonders asserting to his God likeness.

The Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ and the “the large rock" on which the Levites placed the Ark of the Lord are similar in the sense that the glory of God rested upon both. Similarly, both rocks became altars of sacrifice atoning for the sins of the people. Both rocks also became powerful witnesses of God’s faithfulness, power, and wrath (vs.18). Notice how Samuel record in verse nineteen that God struck down seventy people when they looked into the Ark.

"But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them" (1 Samuel 6:19).

The Bible reads that the Rock of Ages will also be the reason of many people falling victim of God’s holy wrath. In the book of 1 Peter 2:8 it reads that Christ is like, “A stone that causes people to stumble and a rock that makes them fall." (1 Peter 2:8 NIV). This verse also explains the reason why many people will experience the wrath of God, in a similar way that the seventy in Beth Shemesh did. “They stumble because they disobey the message."

The glory of Yahweh God rests upon that Rock of Ages. Don't stumble on it!

Thiago Gonçalves
Missionary Evangelist

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