From Ziklag to Zion
In our previous articles we have traced the journey of the Ark of the Covenant from its removal at Shiloh. This was due to Israel’s casual regard for the presence of God. The priests (Eli and his sons) who were tasked with representing God to the people were corrupt and self-serving. God allowed Israel to be defeated before the Philistines. The true tragedy was the loss of the Ark of the Covenant into enemy hands. God was making the statement that His presence would no longer be taken for granted. It did not take long for Israel’s enemies to realize that their gods were no match for the living and true God. Throughout many of the chief cities of the Philistines death and destruction were left in the wake of the Ark’s journey. It must be remembered that God moved through the land of the Philistines with no accompanying order of priests. It was God’s victory alone. The Ark was brought back to Israel at Kirjath-jearim under the care of Abinadab. It served as a temporary resting place while a man was being prepared to one day assume stewardship of the Ark.
It is God’s intention that His people become true kings and priests unto His name. (Rev 1:6, 5:10) David at this time is still in exile for the purpose of being groomed for future rulership. This is a key truth to grasp. Saul became king without having priestly qualities developed within him. His rule was a product of what people wanted. (1 Sam 8:19-20) It should be noted that Saul was not even of the promised kingly line of Judah; he was a Benjamite. (Gen 49:10) It is through the life of David where we get a picture of a true king and priest. He was anointed to be king as a teenager but never assumed the throne till about 13 years later. These years found him fleeing for his life from King Saul at times finding sanctuary amongst the enemies of Israel. Does this make sense?
We noted in our last article that Saul never sought after the presence of God during this period. (1 Chr 13:3) David now comes to a moment of crisis at a place called Ziklag. It is here where everything seems lost; his wife and family, his possessions as well as the confidence of his men. (1 Sam 30:1-6) Where does he now turn; why are these events happening to him? David decided to continue encouraging himself in the goodness of God. The reason why David went through such ordeals was that he was being groomed to be a true priest who would soon assume the custodial care of the Ark. This is a critical truth; a priest is what qualifies one to reign as a king. The time is soon coming when the Ark will once again be in the hands of one who loves and respects the presence of God. The qualifications are high as seen in the preparatory years of David during his years fleeing from Saul.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
When David lost everything at Ziklag he did not give up. Like David we must not subscribe to the resignation mentality that is besieging many of today’s churches which often results in compromise and a weakened church. It is a time to take God at His Word while making continual enquiry, without presumption in knowing how to proceed. There was something contagious about David’s courage and resilience which sparked faith and loyalty in his men. Their example helped to inspire others to align with David as he made his approach to Zion.
It was recognition of a New Season where the kingdom of Saul was now transitioning to David. (2 Sam 3:10) David was anointed a 2nd time over Judah after the death of Saul. (2 Sam 2:4) The influence of David continued to increase as the house of Saul diminished in significance. The time has now come when David would be anointed over all of Israel. (2 Sam 5:-15) David was 30 years old at the time of the 3rd anointing. He now set his sights upon Jerusalem to deal with an enemy that has constantly stood in the way of God’s people, a group known as the Jebusites. The Jebusites were a formidable enemy that even Joshua was not able to remove during the time of his conquests. (Josh 15:63)
David seeks after the Ark
The Ark is about to be reintroduced to a capable priest. David understood the significance of the Ark seeing he had such a love for the presence of God. There is one more painful lesson about to be learned before the Ark is to be brought back to Jerusalem; it is a lesson that serves as a message for us today. It involves the danger of presumption. Here is the account:
2Sa 6:5 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.
2Sa 6:6 And when they came to Nachon’s threshingfloor, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it; for the oxen shook it.
2Sa 6:7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God.
It would only seem natural to try and prevent the Ark from stumbling off the cart. What was the problem here? The instruction was for Levites to bear the Ark on their shoulders, not on a cart. David presumed to bear the Ark on terms contrary to God’s instructions that were given to Moses. (Num 4:15, Deu 31:9)
1Ch 15:2 Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever.
Once again we see the function of a true priest which helps to shed light on its significance for today. There are other factors to consider; it was only priests that had access to the Holy Place and Holy of Holies in Moses Tabernacle. The Ark of the Covenant was contained in the Holy of Holies being only acceptable to the high priest once a year on the Feast of Atonement. As noted in our first article the Ark contained three items; the golden pot of manna, Aaron’s rod that budded and the two tables of stone. (Law) A true priest will have the heart that seeks to know God in His fullness. (Exo 33:13, 18) A true priest will have authority that is distinguished and recognized as illustrated through Aaron’s Rod that blossomed. A true priest will also be acquainted with the Laws of God; having them fashioned and established upon his heart. (Jer 31:33) These are keys that will enable us to reign in life while qualifying for the first resurrection.
God allowed for David to go through a process of qualifying that required many years of fleeing from Saul even though he was already anointed to become king. If we minimize the priestly role we will be subject to presumption which could result in an Uzzah type tragedy. This is one of the biggest problems today; the church seeking to steady and steer the Ark outside the prescribed boundaries of God’s Laws. Essentially, it is seeking to reign without the order of the priest.
It is the king and priest together that must emerge in these last days to enable the presence of God to be made manifest. Jesus first came to earth as a Lamb to assume the priestly role of becoming sin for mankind. (John 1:29, 35) He will return the 2nd time as a conquering king. If we want to reign with Him we will first need to become acquainted with the priestly attributes of the lamb. (2 Tim 2:12)
David was not a Levite but due to his heart and love for God. He qualified to become a spiritual Levite (priest) through his wandering years of fleeing from Saul. David established a relationship with God as a youth while tending sheep. His tender heart caught the attention of God as he was anointed king. (1 Sam 16:7) In his years of wandering he came to know God in an even more intimate way. His response to God at Ziklag was a turning point when everything seemingly turned against him. It would be natural for anyone to throw in the towel and speak of God not being fair. David could speak to his distressed soul and still find a way to encourage himself in the Lord. (1 Sam 30:6)
Do we have this capacity in our own life to bless the Lord at all times? How will we respond to God when our perceived and presumed “spiritual world” falls apart? This is the danger of presumption and it is a lesson we need to learn. The matter of Uzzah should not be quickly dismissed as an irrelevant Old Testament story. There is far too much presumption in the modern day church; the kind of presumption that led to the forfeiture of the Ark from Shiloh.
The time has now come for the Ark to be brought to Zion to its resting place. (Psa 87:2, 132:13) It is the place that the Lord has chosen to dwell and He gives an open invitation to any who desires to accompany him. Be warned; the requirements are high but is He not worth it? It is the Lord’s heart and pleasure that we come alongside Him in His battles. He longs to share the triumphing over the enemy through His authority and power; as he did when His presence journeyed through the land of the Philistines. (1 Sam 5)
It is often said in church services that all believers are kings and priests; this is not true. We are all given the opportunity to be made unto kings and priests unto the most-high God but only a few actually qualify. The journey of the Ark of the Covenant helps for us to understand the distinction of the two priesthoods of Eli and David. Eli and his son’s role were characterized by presumption while David’s was known by the heart he exhibited for God.
We can only become acquainted with the heart of God by going through seasons of trial and testings. It is here where our true allegiances are revealed; it is here where we can come to know God in a unique and personal way. It is God’s desire that all would ascend the Holy Hill of Zion where we can come to know of His ways and His presence.
It is from this Holy Hill where the Law of God and His Word will go forth to meet the challenges of a deteriorating world. The opportunity exists for the church to be a modern day version of David at Zion; will we be among those who ascend the hill of the Lord? (Psa 24:3) Will we journey alongside the Ark in its sojourn from Shiloh to Zion? The choice is ours to make!
Mic 4:1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.
Mic 4:2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.