Sermon #1624 Miscellaneous Sermons
Title: Bring Back The Glory!
Text: 1 Samuel 4:22
Subject: The Glory of God and Gospel Preaching
Date: Sunday Morning — June 19, 2005
Tape # Y-72a
Reading: 1 Samuel 4:1-22
“1 ¶ And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. 2 And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. 3 And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. 4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. 6 And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp. 7 And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 8 Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. 9 Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight.”
“10 ¶ And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen. 11 And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”
“12 ¶ And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. 13 And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out. 14 And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli. 15 Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see. 16 And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son? 17 And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. 18 And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.”
“19 ¶ And his daughter in law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. 20 And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast born a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. 22 And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken.” (1Sam. 4:1-22)
If there is one thing that characterizes religion today it is this — There is no mystery to it. There’s no wonder. There is no glory in it. I cannot tell you how often, when I hear a sermon, even one that is theologically precise, I come away asking, “Where is the wonder? Where is the glory?”
Illustration: Recently, a friend of mine who has been (with good reason) sadly disappointed by the preaching of his new pastor, made this observation: “I don’t know how to describe his preaching, except to say, There’s no mystery to it.”
Preaching ought to move us Godward. It ought to inspire awe, reverence and wonder before the Triune God. Preaching ought to cause us to be utterly overwhelmed with the greatness, majesty, and glory of our God. When I get done preaching, it is my goal, my prayer, my heart’s desire that you who hear me will be so utterly overwhelmed by the greatness, grace, and glory of God that you leave this house crying in your soul, “O Lord, my God, my Savior, give me grace to devote myself to you!”
God’s Glory Paramount
The glory of God is paramount. Nothing is so important as the glory of God. Paul tells us in Ephesians one that everything God has purposed and everything he does in the redemption and salvation of his people is to the praise of his glory. In fact, he tells us that three times in the first fourteen verses of the chapter!
In Revelation four and five, the apostle John tells us what he saw in heaven, around the throne of God. Paramount in the visions he had was the fact that everything shall ultimately show forth the glory of God.
God’s prophet, Elijah, wanted, asked for, and sought only one thing when he confronted the Lord’s enemies on Mt. Carmel. He cried, “Let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel!” He wanted nothing else. He desired the manifestation of God’s glory as God.
When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and sought wisdom and grace to lead the chosen nation through the wilderness, he prayed, “O LORD, I beseech thee, Show me thy glory!”
In the worship and service of our God, nothing is important compared to the glory of God. The conversion of sinners is important; but the glory of God is essential. The comfort, edification, and encouragement of God’s saints is a matter of great concern; but the glory of God is paramount. Sweet fellowship in the house of God is delightful; but the glory of God is vital.
1. That which Satan wants to hide from men is the glory of God.
The prince of darkness wants to keep you from seeing, being aware of, or coming into contact with the glory of God.
(2 Corinthians 4:3-4) "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ (The Gospel of the Glory of Christ), who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
If ever a sinner sees, is made aware of, and comes into contact with the glory of God, he will never get over it. He will never be the same. That is what happened to Isaiah. He saw the glory of God in Christ!
(Isaiah 6:1-8) "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. (2) Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. (3) And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. (4) And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. (5) Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts. (6) Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: (7) And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. (8) Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me."
Satan’s number one objective is to keep men and women from any sense of or contact with the glory of God. He does not care what you do or don’t do. He could care less whether a girl grows up to be a hooker or a nun. He does not care whether a man becomes a politician or a priest, a pimp or a preacher. His only concern is to keep you from the irresistible power of the glory of God. If ever you come under the influence of God’s glory, hell has lost its power over you.
2. The glory of God in this world is intimately connected with the preaching of the gospel of Christ, and can never be known by any other means.
(2 Corinthians 4:5-7) "For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
3. Nothing is more manifestly obvious, even to the casual observer, than the fact that the glory of God has departed from the church of the twentieth century.
The churches of our day are bigger than ever, richer than ever, more politically influential than ever, more entertaining than ever, and engaged in more activities than ever. Yet, in so far as the glory of God is concerned, in so far as the manifest presence of God is concerned, the churches of our day are poorer, emptier, less powerful, and less significant than ever. Why? The name of the church today is Ichabod! The glory has departed.
Proposition: When the preaching of the gospel is neglected, or takes a secondary place, in the house of God, write Ichabod over the door. — The glory has departed!
With those things in mind, I want us to look at 1 Samuel chapter four together. May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher, as I preach the gospel to you. The title of my message is Bring Back The Glory! My text is…
(1 Samuel 4:22) "And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."
In this message, I want to show you five things. I hope you will listen carefully and lay to heart the things that are recorded in this chapter for our learning and admonition.
Rabbit’s Foot Religion
I. First, I want to point out the fact that most people use religion like a rabbit’s foot.
(1 Samuel 4:1-10) "And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out against the Philistines to battle, and pitched beside Ebenezer: and the Philistines pitched in Aphek. (2) And the Philistines put themselves in array against Israel: and when they joined battle, Israel was smitten before the Philistines: and they slew of the army in the field about four thousand men. (3) And when the people were come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, Wherefore hath the LORD smitten us to day before the Philistines? Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies. (4) So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from thence the ark of the covenant of the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth between the cherubims: and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. (5) And when the ark of the covenant of the LORD came into the camp, all Israel shouted with a great shout, so that the earth rang again. (6) And when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, What meaneth the noise of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews? And they understood that the ark of the LORD was come into the camp. (7) And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. (8) Woe unto us! who shall deliver us out of the hand of these mighty Gods? these are the Gods that smote the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. (9) Be strong, and quit yourselves like men, O ye Philistines, that ye be not servants unto the Hebrews, as they have been to you: quit yourselves like men, and fight. (10) And the Philistines fought, and Israel was smitten, and they fled every man into his tent: and there was a very great slaughter; for there fell of Israel thirty thousand footmen."
Eli, the high priest in Israel, was an old, old man. His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were vile wretches who used the priest’s office to indulge their own lusts without restraint. If you read chapter two, you will see that these men not only took the sacrifices that men brought to the Lord for themselves and committed adultery at the very door of the tabernacle, but they caused the people of Israel to abhor the offering of the Lord (2:17) by their actions.
(1 Samuel 2:17) "Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD."
Yet, Eli restrained them not. He mildly scolded them, enough to soothe his own conscience (2:23-25), but did nothing to stop them.
(1 Samuel 2:23-25) "And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. (24) Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord's people to transgress. (25) If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall entreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them."
They just laughed at the old man and went about their wickedness.
The sad fact is that sometimes truly faithful men are unfaithful in some areas of their lives. Genuine believers often to that which is contrary to what they know they ought to do. Eli was a faithful man; but he honored his sons above God (2:29).
(1 Samuel 2:29) "Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?"
And his actions, his honoring of his sons above God, not only destroyed them, but also brought the judgment of God upon the entire nation! — “How great a matter a little fire kindleth!” We must never imagine that disobedience to God is a personal matter, that our disobedience has no effect on others.
· Eli indulged his sons in their iniquity.
· His sons indulged themselves.
· Their indulgences caused the people of Israel to abhor the offering of the Lord.
· In the end Eli’s sons were killed, his family obliterated, and Israel was brought under the judgment of God, and thirty-four thousand men lay dead!
The first battle mentioned in this fourth chapter was a catastrophe. Four thousand Israelite soldiers were slain on the battlefield. The people wondered what they could have done that may have made the Lord angry with them! They concluded that the problem must have been that the ark of God was in Shiloh.
They sent for the ark, treating it like a rabbit’s foot, nothing more than “a good luck charm”. They thought, “If we bring the symbol of God’s presence to the battlefield, we will have his presence and win our battles.” Sound familiar?
They gave no thought to their ungodliness, their utter disregard for God’s law, contempt of God’s sacrifice, and their own desperate need of repentance. Now, with the ark of God on the scene, with their “good luck charm” in place, the Jews were elated. They sang and shouted with such zest that the Philistines got scarred. They too thought the ark of the covenant was Israel’s “good luck charm”. They thought the ark carried Israel’s mighty gods! When Israel went out to battle again, their “good luck charm” did them no good. This time there were thirty thousand slain, including Hophni and Phinehas, and the ark was taken by the Philistines.
It is a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that most people use religion like Israel used the ark, as a good “good luck charm”, nothing more. For most people, going to church, having a Bible, saying a prayer, is like rubbing a rabbit’s foot. They do not really think much of it, but just in case God is out there somewhere, they figure, it can’t hurt to use a little religion.
Illustration: Going to Church when Trouble Comes
M. C.’s Religious Interest
Believer’s and God’s Glory
II. Secondly, I want you to see that nothing is so important to true believers as the glory of God.
(1 Samuel 4:11-22) "And the ark of God was taken; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain. (12) And there ran a man of Benjamin out of the army, and came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes rent, and with earth upon his head. (13) And when he came, lo, Eli sat upon a seat by the wayside watching: for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city, and told it, all the city cried out. (14) And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What meaneth the noise of this tumult? And the man came in hastily, and told Eli. (15) Now Eli was ninety and eight years old; and his eyes were dim, that he could not see. (16) And the man said unto Eli, I am he that came out of the army, and I fled to day out of the army. And he said, What is there done, my son? (17) And the messenger answered and said, Israel is fled before the Philistines, and there hath been also a great slaughter among the people, and thy two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. (18) And it came to pass, when he made mention of the ark of God, that he fell from off the seat backward by the side of the gate, and his neck brake, and he died: for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years. (19) And his daughter in law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, near to be delivered: and when she heard the tidings that the ark of God was taken, and that her father in law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed; for her pains came upon her. (20) And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said unto her, Fear not; for thou hast borne a son. But she answered not, neither did she regard it. (21) And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. (22) And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."
All the time it was gone, Eli sat by the wayside watching, trembling for the ark. When news came back to Shiloh about the massive loss of life, and the death of his two sons, the old man Eli, while he was concerned about those things, was primarily concerned for the ark of the covenant. When he found out that the ark had been taken, the shock and horror of it caused him to collapse. When he did, he broke his neck and died.
His daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife seems to have been of the same spirit. When the news of her husband’s death, Eli’s death, and the fact that the ark was gone, reached her ears she went into early labor. She died giving birth to a son. But the name she put on that boy’s head tells us where her heart was. Read verses twenty-one and twenty-two again.
(1 Samuel 4:21-22) "And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel: because the ark of God was taken, and because of her father in law and her husband. (22) And she said, The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."
The ark of the covenant had been captured! Therefore, she said, “Name my son Ichabod, for the glory of God has departed from Israel!” As far as she was concerned, nothing else really mattered.
Now, let me show you why this piece of ancient Jewish history is important to us.
The Ark’s Place
III. Thirdly, the ark of the covenant was the central, dominant, and most important thing in thing in the worship of God in the Old Testament.
There was nothing in the tabernacle or in the temple that came close to the ark. It was the single most important article of furniture in the house of God.
What was so special about that ark? Why did the capture of the ark send shock waves through the tribes of Israel? The ark of the covenant was a wooden box, made from shittim wood. It was overlaid inside and out with a coat of pure gold. The ark was approximately forty-five inches long, twenty-five inches high, and twenty-five inches wide, about the size of a large coffee table. It was to be carried by no one but the priests of God, and carried only on two poles made of shittim wood overlaid with pure gold.
Inside the ark were the tables of the law of God given at Sinai, the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron’s rod that budded.
· The Law demonstrated our need of Christ as our Substitute.
· The Golden Pot of Manna represented both God’s providential provision for his people and Christ the Bread of life who was to come down from heaven.
· Aaron’s Rod that budded when he was chosen to be God’s high priest represented the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
The lid, or covering, of the ark was called the mercy-seat. The mercy-seat was made of pure gold. On each end of the mercy-seat were cherubim of pure gold. As they faced each other, their faces were toward the mercy-seat and their wings covered it. Those cherubs represented Gospel preachers, whose eyes are ever fixed upon the sin-atoning blood of Christ.
(Exodus 25:10-22) "And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. (11) And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. (12) And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. (13) And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. (14) And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. (15) The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. (16) And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. (17) And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. (18) And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. (19) And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. (20) And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. (21) And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. (22) And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel."
The ark was kept in the holy of holies. It was there on the day of atonement that God’s high priest went to sprinkle the blood of the Passover lamb to atone for the sins of the people. And it was there, in the most holy place, upon the mercy-seat, between the cherubim that God promised to meet with his people and speak to them.
(Exodus 25:22) "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel."
The high priest could not enter into the holy of holies and approach the mercy-seat without the blood of a sacrificial lamb. Without the ark there was no place of atonement and no place at which God and man could meet. The ark of the covenant was the very center and basis of all true worship in the Old Testament. In fact, without the ark Israel had no way of worshipping God, no hope of atonement, no way of access to God, and no assurance of acceptance with God if they could approach him. Therefore, those who knew the place of the ark in the worship of God were devastated to hear that the Philistines had taken it. Without the ark sinners had no hope of forgiveness, atonement, or acceptance with God. — In a word, Without Christ there is no hope!
Typical of Christ
IV. Fourthly, the ark of the covenant was the dominant thing in the Old Testament because it was a beautiful, instructive type and picture of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The word translated “propitiation” in the New Testament is the same word that is translated “mercy-seat”. Christ who is our propitiation is Christ our Mercy-Seat, our sin-atoning, justice satisfying, God appeasing Sacrifice for sin.
(Romans 3:25) "Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation (A Mercy-Seat) through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;"
(1 John 2:1-2) "My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: (2) And he is the propitiation (The Mercy-Seat) for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
(1 John 4:9-10) "In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. (10) Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation (The Mercy-Seat) for our sins."
When the publican prayed in the temple, “God be merciful to me a sinner,” his prayer was literally, “God, be propitious to me, have mercy on me, the sinner, through the propitiatory sacrifice!”
The shittim wood from which the ark was made typified the humanity of Christ. As it was a common wood, so Christ was a common, ordinary man, except for the fact that he had no sin. The pure gold with which the wood was overlaid represented the glorious purity and divinity of our Redeemer.
So it was that in order to redeem and save his people, the Son of God had to become a man. He had to be made like unto his brethren. Else, he could not work out for us that righteousness without which no man shall see the Lord (Heb. 12:14) and could not make atonement for our sins by the shedding of his blood.
(Hebrews 2:14-17) "Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; (15) And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. (16) For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. (17) Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people."
The mercy-seat itself, the solid gold lid covering the ark was also typical of Christ.
A. As that mercy-seat completely covered the ark and the broken law found inside it, Christ has completely covered all the demands of the law for us by his obedience unto death as our Representative. Christ is our Righteousness!
(Romans 8:1-4) "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (2) For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. (3) For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: (4) That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit."
(Jeremiah 23:6) "In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
(Romans 10:4) "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."
(1 Corinthians 1:30) "But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption."
B. The blood of the paschal lamb sprinkled on the mercy-seat represented and typified the blood of Christ, by which he entered in once into the holy place in heaven, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Christ is our Atonement!
(Hebrews 9:12-14) "Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. (13) For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: (14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
(1 John 1:7) "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
(1 John 1:9) "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
C. Just as the mercy-seat covered with blood was the only place where God and man could meet ceremonially in the Old Testament, Christ is the only place where God and man can ever really meet. Christ is our Mediator!
In order for God to meet with men and men to come to God, there must be an acceptable Priest, and acceptable Sacrifice, an acceptable Altar, and a Mercy-Seat. That is what Christ is! We can never come to God upon the footing of legal obedience, ceremonial services, religious duties, doctrinal purity, or personal piety. Our only access to God is Christ the Mediator! We cannot come to God in way other than by the merit of his blood and righteousness.
(John 14:6) "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
Now, listen carefully. I want you to see this. It is of utmost importance.
D. That which the ark of the covenant brought to the worship of God in the Old Testament the preaching of the gospel brings to us in the worship of God today.
Both point to and proclaim Christ crucified as the only way of acceptance with God.
1. Just as the glory of God was revealed in the ark in the Old Testament, the glory of God is revealed in the preaching of the gospel today.
2. Just as the people gathered outside the holy place as the high priest went in to make atonement for them, so believers gather in the house of God to hear the gospel of the crucified Savior today, knowing that God receives, accepts, and blesses us upon the merit of Christ’s blood just as he ceremonially accepted Israel through the blood of the paschal lamb.
3. Old Testament believers came repeatedly to the ark and never tired of it.
Even so, God’s saints come repeatedly to the house of God to hear the glories of redemption accomplished, and never tire of it. In the Old Testament, as the high priest went about his daily business in the holy place, bells and pomegranates sewn in the hem of his garments constantly chimed out in symbolism the gospel of God’s sovereign grace and redeeming love in Christ (Ex. 28:33-35).
(Exodus 28:33-35) "And beneath upon the hem of it thou shalt make pomegranates of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, round about the hem thereof; and bells of gold between them round about: (34) A golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the hem of the robe round about. (35) And it shall be upon Aaron to minister: and his sound shall be heard when he goeth in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not."
God’s saints never tire of the old, old story of Jesus and his love. Our souls hunger for the Bread of Heaven and thirst for the Water of life. When we come to the house of God, we expect the blessing of God; but we expect God’s blessing only as we hear the gospel of God’s glory.
E. There are numerous other ways in which the ark of the covenant typifies Christ and his gospel.
1. It had to be carried by God’s appointed priests, and only by God’s appointed priests.
Men of God’s choosing had the burden of the load of the ark. Even so those who are called of God to the work of the ministry carry in their hearts “the burden of the word of the LORD.”
2. Moreover, the ark had to be carried in the way God prescribed.
Just ask Uzzah! The ark was never to be carried upon a new cart (2 Sam. 6:3) or protected, or promoted by the arm of the flesh, no matter how sincere and well-intentioned such actions might be.
The gospel of Christ is to be carried through this world by his church, by preachers gifted and ordained of God for the work. And it is to be done in the manner God has prescribed — BY PREACHING! It is not to be carried in the new cart of religious dialog, adorned with human philosophy, or promoted by the gimmicks and tricks of religious entertainment.
· Those who distort the gospel would destroy the gospel (Gal. 1:8).
· Those who replace the preaching of the gospel with skits, plays, religious entertainment, theological debate, and moralisms take away the glory of God from his church.
(1 Corinthians 1:21) "For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."
V. Fifthly, I want to impress upon you the importance of what I have been saying by showing you that Satan’s primary objective throughout the Old Testament was to capture the ark.
The old serpent knew that if he could snatch away the ark from Israel, if he could get Israel to give up the ark, he would snatch away Israel’s glory. Without the ark, Israel was nothing!
Things have not changed. Satan’s primary objective is to snatch away the preaching of the gospel. He will be delighted to give us historical validity, orthodox creeds, denominational recognition, and religious morality. But if he gets the preaching of the gospel out of the pulpit, he has won the day. “Ichabod” is written over the door! — The glory is departed.
It matters not whether the ark is taken by the Philistines in battle or by pastors and churches simply casting aside the preaching of Christ and him crucified, the result is the same. “Ichabod!” — The glory is departed!
· Some cast aside the ark of God for the arks of other gods.
· Some cast aside the ark of the gospel for legal duties.
· Some cast aside the ark of the crucified Substitute for the study of prophecy, angels, demons, numerical charts, and imaginary secret codes.
· Some cast aside the ark to promote morality, family values, and to fight abortion.
· Some cast aside the simplicity of the ark (gospel preaching) for the sophistry of historical creeds, reformed traditions, scholarly investigation, and the latest theological novelty.
My friend, Allan Jellett, was exactly right when he wrote, “Sadly, there are those who sincerely want God to be honored and worshipped aright, yet they fail to do consistently that which alone brings him honor. The unashamed, unambiguous preaching of Christ and the gospel of substitutionary atonement and particular redemption in Christ must be central to all our worship and preaching.”
Christ crucified is our message. Christ crucified is our only attraction. Christ crucified is the revelation of the glory of God. Christ crucified is…
· The Message of the New Testament.
· The Message of the Old Testament.
· The Sinner’s Only Hope.
· The Believer’s Motive, Example, and Inspiration.
(1 Corinthians 2:2) "For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."
(1 Corinthians 9:16) "For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!"
If we would bring back the glory of God to the church and house of God, we must bring back the preaching of the gospel of Christ.
I have been talking to you about the glory of God. Would you see it? Would you behold it? Do you cry out in your soul, as Moses’ did, “I beseech thee, Show me thy glory?” Hear what God says. He says, “Come, there is a place by me. I will put you in the cleft of the Rock and cause all my goodness to pass before thee. My glory is the sovereign goodness of my saving grace to sinners through Christ crucified. — ‘I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy!’”
Behold, yonder upon Calvary’s tree, the crucified Christ, and behold the glory of God! There, in my crucified Redeemer, I see mercy and truth meeting together, righteousness and peace kissing each other. Now, I see how that he who is the God of Glory is “a just God and a Savior.” And I am utterly overwhelmed!
(Isaiah 45:20-25) "Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. (21) Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. (22) Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (23) I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (24) Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. (25) In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory."
(2 Corinthians 4:3-7) "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (4) In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (7) But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."
(2 Corinthians 5:21) "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
 The glory of God is not necessarily connected with preaching, or even with Bible preaching, or with expository preaching, or even with Calvinistic preaching. The glory of God is connected with and revealed in gospel preaching, the preaching of the glory and grace of God in Christ, our almighty, effectual Substitute.