The Ark and the 10 Commandments
By Let Us Reason Ministries
Sabbatarian's claim since only the Ten Commandments were placed in the Ark of the Covenant that this proves they should have a greater significance and should be practiced today. The other ceremonial laws which consist of 603 commands were not, so there is a distinction to be made between the 10 and the law of Moses. But what of the other items that were placed within the Ark? They were just as significant for their time. The ark contained a golden jar of manna and Aaron's staff that had blossomed (Hebrews 9:3-4). Since these items were in the Ark along with the two tablets of stone, it would make sense they would also hold some kind of special significance or observance for us today as well? Who distinguishes what is to be upheld or ignored? The Bible does.
What is needed to be asked is where is the Ark now? Why is it no longer here? All the items in it including the tablets are gone. The fact that it is not among us today seems proof that the whole old covenant has faded away completely not only in part. As Christians we live under a new covenant operating by the work of Christ on our behalf. So their argument in favor of required law observance today fails. Just as the temple was destroyed to show the sacrificial system is no longer necessary, likewise the ark was no longer found before Christ's coming. All the items in the temple- both the written law and the 10 Commandments as well as the ark are all gone.
The veil that kept us out was rent, proving we have direct access to his presence without the law. Not access to his commandments in the tabernacle but to his person and presence. Heb.10:10 says we have been sanctified through his body not by commandment keeping. Heb. 7:12: " For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also." It was God who changed it, God has replaced it all with himself, the Spirit.
The Ten Commandments were the first installment of what is known as the Book of the Law, or the Book of the Covenant, or the Book of the Law of Moses. These were spoken by God from Mount Sinai to Moses . The people were very fearful and told Moses to hear what God had to say because they didn't want to die. They asked him to come back speak his words to them (Exodus 20:18-19). Neh. 9:13: "You came down also on Mount Sinai, and spoke with them from heaven, and gave them just ordinances and true laws, good statutes and commandments.(all of it is from Gods mouth)14 You made known to them Your holy Sabbath, and commanded them precepts, statutes and laws, by the hand of Moses Your servant." So we see Moses was the mediator for all that God spoke and commanded.
I King 2:3: "And keep the charge of the LORD your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses."
When the Ten Commandments were written on the stone tablets, they were then placed in the Ark of the Covenant. The ark which was wood was overlaid with gold and two cherubim's, inside was the tablets, the manna and Aaron's rod where they could not be seen. The Ark could not to be touched or one would die.(2 Samuel 6:7; 1 Chron.13:10). The Israelites had to make another copy of the laws outside the Ark since they were not allowed to access what was inside it. This is where the book of Deuteronomy the book of the law comes into practice later on.
The people were to be obedient to all that God has said Exod.24:7: " Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient." Deut.30:1 "if you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this Book of the Law, and if you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Num.15:40: "and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God." Notice all the laws were read for them to be obedient. This was in reference to all 613 Commandments if one did not do them they suffered the penalty.
Neh.10:29 "these joined with their brethren, their nobles, and entered into a curse and an oath to walk in God's Law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and His ordinances and His statutes." We can see the law was a unit and they were to obey all, not just part.
In Joshua 1:8, "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."
All 613 laws, included the Ten Commandments were to be obeyed. God told Moses to write all of His words down and put them in a book because these words were a covenant between God and Israel. These words of God included the Ten Commandments and all of the other laws given in the Torah (the Torah are the books from Genesis-Deuteronomy). So, not only were the Ten Commandments written in stone and kept in the Ark, but the same Ten Commandments along with all of the instruction concerning them (the other 603 laws) made up the Book of the Law which were placed in the side of the Ark (Deut.31:26) The first installment of the ten were not kept separate from the rest.
They were to be obedient to all the law like in 2 Kings 18:12 because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them." So it was important to hear all the law.
The Israelites would have had no access to the words of God if there had not been a complete copy of all the laws outside the Ark. All 613 laws were their instruction, including the Ten Commandments. While the original 10 were inside the ark it only makes sense that they were also written down with the others outside the ark for the priest to have access to their instruction.God told Moses to write all of His words down and put them in a book because these words were a covenant between God and Israel. These words of God included the Ten Commandments and all the laws, commandments, statutes and ordinances given in the Torah. So all of His words (whatever division is used : moral, ceremonial, civil, etc.) were to be given as commandments to Israel, as a covenant between God and Israel, it was all a unit that they were to obey. They were all together in the Holy of Holies, which is a type (shadow) of Jesus who was the temple not made with hands, fulfilling all the law. Jesus had to keep all 613 not just the 10 to not sin.
The book of Deuteronomy includes the law which expanding on the original covenant since it was previously broken and renewed, Deut.5 (Ex.20.). The term the "book of the law" indicates this is the book of Deuteronomy itself, because this term does not appear until this book. Moses would refer to the book of the law (covenant) not only the 10 commandments for the simple reason it included the 10. Exod 24:7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read in the hearing of the people. And they said, "All that the LORD has said we will do, and be obedient." They could not obey all if the 10 were not also included.
1 Kings 8:21: "And there I have set a place for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord, which He made with our fathers when He brought them from the land of Egypt." (Deut.9:9; 2 Chron.6:11 all state the 10 on the tablets were the old covenant).
The book of the covenant in Exodus preceded the book of the law (Deuteronomy). Even if one looks at these being individual books, the 10 commandments are included in the book of Deuteronomy (Deut.5 the book of the law). Which is proof that they were in both the book of the law and the book of the covenant.
Both 2 Chron. 34:3 and II King 23:3 Then the king stood by a pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to follow the LORD and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. "You cannot find in the OT any reference to the 10 commandments specifically separate from the rest of the law and ordinances? They were all a unit as the law of Moses, just as they are referred to in the NT. The covenant was also written in the book.
In the Book of Deut.4:13, in which Moses remembers his experiences, he declared: "He (God) declared unto you the covenant, Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.." And he wrote upon the tables the words of the 10 commandments."
Exod 32:15-16: "And Moses turned and went down from the mountain, and the two tablets of the Testimony were in his hand. The tablets were written on both sides; on the one side and on the other they were written. Now the tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God engraved on the tablets." This was the first installment of the law. After Israel broke the covenant and it needed to be renewed. In Deut.29 Moses refers constantly to the book of the law Deut.30:10.
Deut. 31:24-26: "So it was, when Moses had completed writing the words of this law in a book, when they were finished, that Moses commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying: "Take this Book of the Law, and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there as a witness against you; 27 "Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel." Here is the problem for the commandment keepers since Moses wrote them down and they too are the covenant. The 10 commandments are included in Deuteronomy in chpt.5. This is the very thing Paul write in Col.2:14 having wiped out the handwriting of the requirements (testimony) that was against us, which was contrary to us and he has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross." This includes the writing of God on stone because all the law was against them not just parts of it, especially the moral ones (what law keepers call the 10) which they broke more than the ceremonial.
What happened when the Ark of the Covenant was no longer with Israel, the Book of the Law became their only source of the law. There is no justification to think the Israelites obeyed God by only 603 commands excluding the 10 or only the 10 without the other 603. The Israelites still needed to hear all His words. The only way they could do that is if someone read them from the Book. In Nehemiah 8 Ezra the priest assembled the people and brought the book of the law before them and read it from the morning to mid day. This must have included the 10 for instruction otherwise they could not be obedient OT all God said.
Deut. 17:18-20: "that he shall write for himself a copy of this law in a book, from the one before the priests, the Levites. "And it shall be with him, and he shall read it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God and be careful to observe all the words of this law and these statutes." If one would not have access to the ark, then years later with another generation they would not know what was in. Certainly one cannot logically make a case that The 10 were put away from view never to be referred to in writing. How would one know months or years from when it was given that it was quoted accurately unless it was inscribed in the book with all the laws. this would be assurance that the people followed accurately and did not break the commandments. So it all had to be written down outside to be read to the people for them to obey all the commandments.
The Hebrew language brings clarity to these terms. copy #4932 mishneh from #8138; properly, a repetition, i.e. a duplicate (copy of a document), or a double (in amount); by implication, a second (in order, rank, age, quality or location): copy,.. double,... twice as much. (Strongs concordance) mishneh-double, copy, second, repetition a) double b) copy (of law) c) second (in order)...(Brown driver Briggs)
Law #8451 Torah; from 3384; a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch: (Strongs concordance) ..torah-law, direction, instruction a) instruction, direction (human or divine)
1) the body of prophetic teaching 2) instruction in the Messianic age 3) the body of priestly direction or instruction 4) the body of legal directives b) law 1) law of the burnt-offering 2) used of special law, codes of law c) custom, manner d) the Deuteronomic or Mosaic Law (Brown Driver Briggs)
The N.T. clarifies the ark and high priests purpose. Heb. 9:8-11 "the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation." The way into the holy place was not open while the outer tabernacle was still standing. The whole tabernacle was removed, it was symbolic and unless it was taken out of the way we could not enter in through the veil which was the true tabernacle, his flesh. Jesus told the Pharisees in Jn.2 destroy this temple and in 3 days I will rebuild it. When Jesus was nailed to the cross the true temple was destroyed (His body). The physical temple built by mans hands was ripped open so that the access of the old covenant was no longer to be used. The temple was opened because it represented division between the Jews and gentiles, who he was going to bring together in him. This proves the commandments that were protected from everyone except the high priest were now gone. They were no longer to condemn because we have been forgiven of them by Christ's sacrifice.
Why was the ark gone before Jesus came? Because he was the true Ark, the true Temple not made with hands. The shadow pointed to the one who would come. God made a new Temple and a new high priest that kept his laws perfectly.
Heb.10:19: "Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh." When Jesus was nailed to the cross he was ready to negate the temple, as long as the temple stood it signified separation. It separated sinful man from God; the high priest from the other priests; the priests from people; separation of the men from the women and the Jews from the gentile by the walls of partition. Eph.2:14-15 tells us he abolished the wall, we are the living stones the bricks of the new temple not made with human hands. Because Jesus body was broken so the temple which was the shadow had to be also. The temple and the law represents the division between Jew and gentile, he needed to remove that division when that was removed so were the barriers to our entering his presence.
Where is the Ark now? Just like the priesthood and sacrifices it is gone. Its disappearance is proof positive of what the Scriptures say; that the whole old covenant has faded away both physically and spiritually for those who walk in faith by the new covenant. The whole temple was destroyed in 70 A.D., not just the holy place. Both the book of the law, the ark and the 10 commandments are all gone, so God made a point. He ripped the veil when Jesus died (Heb.10) so we can enter in to his presence without any of the functions of the Old covenant practices. He is our high priest that has entered once. That's the good news.