THE MISSING ARK
There are many "types" of the church in the scriptures. Both Old and New Testaments are filled with these shadows which point to Christ and His Church. One such picture is the temple of Solomon. This physical building where the priests ministered is a foreshadow of the living, breathing temple made of living stones, you and I, the Church. Paul and Peter both made it very clear in their letters to the churches that God's building, made up of people, not brick and mortar is the real Temple! That's why Jesus told the Pharisees that if you tear down this temple (the shadow), I will raise it up in three days (the reality). He was speaking of His Body, the True Temple, the Church! He would be resurrected in three days and within His body He would bring a whole new race.
You are the Temple
We can learn many things by observing this picture of the temple or the "house" of God. That which applies to our situation in our day is the story of rebuilding the temple during the restoration of Jerusalem. You who are reading this article are probably doing so because you have some interest or involvement in the 'house church movement'. You have a vision and desire, born of God; to see His "house" restored. Just like the Jews who left Babylon to return to the ruined city of Jerusalem, you too are looking for a City. You are hungry for "New Jerusalem" church life! You are longing to touch the reality, which you read about in Acts and the Epistles. In short, you want to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple!
In our "picture" of the story of rebuilding Solomon's Temple there are a few glaring points to be noticed.
First, the remnant of Jews, which left Babylon, discovered that they had an impossible task ahead of them. In Babylon, the nation of Israel had completely forgotten what the temple was and what it looked like. Most of them had never seen the true temple. In Babylon they had cheap substitutes called synagogues! Babylon's influence had almost completely taken over the Jewish mind. They thought like Babylonians, not Jews! Even the thought of this little band of "weirdos" leaving to restore Jerusalem was ridiculous. Come on guys; after all, this is the 90's! These guys, these radical rebuilders, were misunderstood, rejected, and considered crazy by the bulk of Jews in Babylon.
Secondly, this group had to pay a terrible price. They had to leave their homes, jobs, families, reputations and just about everything else for this incredibly risky venture. They must have had an all consuming zeal for the Father's House! Nothing was going to stop them from fulfilling God's desire for His House. Many came against them through either direct opposition or indirect treachery behind the scenes. They had to pay a price. Are you aware of the cost involved in rebuilding?
Something is Missing!
When the Jews finished rebuilding the temple do you know what the prophet Haggai prophesied? Listen to this:
"Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? In comparison with it, is this not in your eyes as nothing?"
My question to you, my dear brothers and sisters, is this: why didn't this newly rebuilt temple have the same glory as the temple of Solomon? They did everything correctly. They followed the instructions as written in the scrolls. They built with the right materials using the same exact measurements according to the writings. In other words, they built according to the New Testament church pattern! They knew their verses and everything they built had a verse behind it. There was only one thing missing . . .
THE ARK OF THE COVENANT!
They had a beautiful structure, a beautiful shell, but the very heart, yes, the very center of the temple was missing! The very purpose of the temple was to be a house for the ark. The Ark of the Covenant represented the very presence and practice of divine Life. I am speaking of the centrality of the Lord Jesus Christ! The actual experience of who He is. Not just messages about Him. Not just prayers to Him. Not just worship for Him. But rather, the actual experience of Him! His Glory! That means Him becoming one with His own as they become one with each other. That means Him being freely expressed through His body here on earth. Reality touching reality, spirit to Spirit! The Ark is Christ Himself! He is the manna. He is the rod that budded. He is the Law fulfilled. Without the ark, the temple is just an empty shell. It may look good, and there may be much "activity", but there will be no Life divine. It may even be according to the pattern of the New Testament Church (whatever that is!), but it is missing it's Center!
You see the ark was the very life of the temple. The temple was only an outward expression of an inward ark. There is one precious thing, which I have discovered (the hard way!).
If the ark is in the proper place, the rest of the temple takes care of itself!
The Church doesn't have to be manufactured when Christ is her Center and Head! She will grow up out of Him quite naturally. The problem is that we never let this happen. We're too busy fussing with the temple. Could it be that we have missed the main point? Could it be that we have never really had our True Center? Men are building houses all over the place. Dear saints. Where is the Ark?