Exodus 25:1-22 The contents of the Ark of the COvenant, which were the tablets of the Lar, Aaron’s rod, and some manna, are types (TYPOLOGY!!) of some aspects of the New Covenant definitively established by Christ. (CCC 128,2130)
Ch 25:16 The tablets on which the Law was written is called “the testimony.” They contained the entire written covenant between God and Israel that was agreed to at Mt. Sinai. (CCC 2058-2059)
Ch 25:22 The “mercy seat” of the Ark is where God is present. Centuries later, when the first Temple was built and the Ark was situated in the Holy of Holies, the high priest would sprinkle the mercy seat with blood from an animal sacrifice once a year to atone for the sins of Israel. Cherubs: Contrary to erroneous interpretations of the commandment against “graven images,” sacred images are ENCOURAGED as a way of nourishing and strengthening faith in God and his providence. (CCC 433, 1192)
Exodus Chapters 26-31 These chapters give detailed instructions on building the Tabernacle, or tent, that would house the Ark of the Covenant. They also describe rules for priests, use of vestments, modes of offering sacrifices, and prescriptions for ceremonies and rituals by which the Israelites were to worship God. The dimensional proportions of the sanctuary resemble those of the Temple that will eventually be built in Jerusalem, complete with the veil that represents the entrance to the Holy of Holies, the room where the Ark would be kept. The dare and detail assigned to the Tabernacle of God’s presence is likewise reflected in the design and splendor of temples and churches built today. (CCC 1181)
Leviticus (Today, is mostly a recap of things we’ve already learned in Exodus)
Psalm 119 This psalm, the longest psalm written in Hebrew, was composed of twenty-two stanzas, each of which was comprised of eight verses. Moreover, the first letter of each stanza spells out the Hebrew letters IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER using the words from the Torah. Some of these words include LAW, WORD, WITNESS, JUDGEMENT, SAYING, DECREE, PRECEPT, and ORDER. This psalm is a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s many blessings and manifestations of love, especially expressed in his gift of the Mosaic Law, which serves as a roadmap to eternal life.
God’s Law is likened to a light that dispels darkness and confusion and leads to the fullness of joy and peace. The darkness represents ostensibly the dangers, persecutions, and attacks of Israel’s enemies On a deeper level, darkness is intimately linked to sin and the wiles of the Evil One, who is called the Prince of Darkness. It is vital then, for the faithful to keep their eyes fixed on the light of God’s Law. (St. John Paul II, General Audience, July 21, 2004, January 15, 2003, and November 14, 2001)
(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)
The Significance of Sinai
After the covenant meal, God recalls Moses to the top of the mountain (Ex 25-31).
The mountain is wrapped in fire and smoke as Moses enters the glory cloud of the Lord to receive the last of God’s instructions.
Having received the LAW, Moses now receives the LITURGY.
This liturgical legislation comes at a key point in the story.
Now that Israel has received the Torah (law) and the mission to be a priestly people, they will soon leave Mount Sinai to sojourn back to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the land that God promised Abraham he would give to his descendants once he freed them from the land of slavery (Gn 15).
The question thus arises, “In leaving the holy mountain, will Israel be leaving God’s presence?”
The liturgical legislation revealed to Moses on the mountaintop answers this question by making clear that the TABERNACLE—where God will be perpetually present—and the liturgy surrounding it perpetuates God’s presence in the midst of Israel, functioning as the portable mountain of God based on the heavenly “pattern” shown to Moses on the mountain (Ex 25:9, 25:40).
This portable mountain of God contains many reminders of the original.
The TABERNACLE, also referred to as THE TENT OF MEETING, was defined by three distinct boundaries:
At the center, containing the Ark of the Covenant, was the HOLY OF HOLIES, which only the high priest could enter;
Surrounding the Holy of Holies was the HOLY PLACE, which the priests could enter; and
Around that the OUTER COURT, accessible to those Israelites who were ritually clean.
This threefold boundary is much like the boundaries given regarding Mount Sinai.
All Israel could encamp at the Mount as long as they were ritually washed (Ex 19:12-15)
Only the elders and priests could go part way up the mountain (Ex 24:9-11), and
Only Moses could go to the top (Ex 24:15).
Opposite the table that held the Bread of the Presence was the lampstand, which is described like a tree or bush bearing seven branches that support seven almond-shaped cups for oil.
When the seven lamps were burning, the lampstand would evoke the burning bush from which God revealed himself to Moses;
The menorah symbolized that God’s presence on the Mount is made perpetual in the tabernacle and the liturgy.
The Ark of the Covenant
As described in Exodus 25:10-22, 37:1-9, the Ark of the Covenant was a box made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold.
On top of the ark was the mercy seat with two cherubim made of gold who “spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to the other” (Ex 25:20).
Two poles were threaded through gold rings attached to the ark and used to carry the ark when Israel journeyed; otherwise, the ark was kept in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle and then, later, in the Temple. Inside the ark were placed the tablets of the Law, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff (Heb 9:4).
Where the ark was, God’s presence dwelt among his people.
(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)
The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Ark of the New Covenant
* Michal E. Hunt, "The Blessed Virgin Mary, The Ark of the New Covenant." AgapeBibleStudy.com, 2002, Revised 2006.