Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Blessed Because Of The Covenant

And it was told to King David, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” – 2 Samuel 6:12a  (ESV)

The Ark of the Covenant, and it is always crucial to remember that the Ark was the Ark of the “Covenant,” had been placed in the house of Obed-edom because of the death of a man named Uzzah.  The Ark was being transported on a cart---which was contrary to the way in which the God of the Ark had commanded it to be carried.  During the course of that transportation, Uzzah, for reasons that are not terribly important as it relates to this study, touched the Ark.  Without getting into an analysis of whether or not God was justified in His response, “the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God” (6:7). 

King David was angry at the Lord’s response, while also being afraid of the power and responsibility clearly represented by the Ark, of which it was said that the Lord dwelt between its cherubim.  His response was to say, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” (6:9b).  In light of that, “David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David.  But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite.  And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months” (6:10-11a). 

Interestingly, the man that at one point in time was said to “after God’s own heart” (though this would cease to the case) was fearful.  However, because of the presence of the Ark in his home, “the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household” (6:11b).  This should not be an unexpected or surprising turn of events.  Remember, this is the Ark of the Covenant.  What Covenant?  The Covenant that God had extended to His people, which was the Covenant into which He had brought Abraham.  The result of that Covenant with Abraham, through the dissemination of the knowledge of the Covenant God, was to be the blessing of all peoples, so we should not be surprised to find that the presence of the Ark, which represented the presence of the Covenant God, resulted in a blessing for this man and the entirety of his household.  Indeed, what would be most surprising is if this was not found to be the case.  It is of the utmost importance, so it bears repeating, to make the connection that his household was blessed because of the ark.  Though the nature of the blessing is not reported, the narrative informs us that the household was blessed because of the presence of that which represented God and His Covenant. 

How does this relate to us, to the covenant people of the Covenant God, in this day?  The connection is fairly obvious.  The people of God, who are those that have received and believed the New Covenant message, that being the message of the Gospel that Jesus is Lord, find themselves as the Ark of God.  Just as the Ark of the Covenant represented God and His Covenant, so too do those who have been moved to a belief and loyal confession of the sovereign and cosmic Lordship of Jesus Christ.  The Ark was the locus of God’s presence, just as Jesus Himself was ultimately understood to become the locus of God’s presence (in embodiment and as the new Temple).  In a believer’s union with Christ, which is not necessarily mystical, but primarily the confession of Jesus as Lord (by which one joins with the covenant people in unity), and which makes itself manifest in deeds of love and mercy, believers (Christians) are the ongoing Ark of God, the locus of God’s presence, and that which represents the Covenant of God. 

Because of this, we should not be in the least bit surprised to find that the presence of God’s covenant people, seeking to extend and establish Christ’s kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel and the sacrificial works of uncalculating love that such preaching demands (as all is accomplished through the engaging power of the Holy Spirit), brings blessings in both the natural and the spiritual.  If one was to follow the broad Scriptural narrative and seize on a markedly recurring theme, this blessing would take the form of the care of orphans and widows.   What would and should be astonishing is if we found a lack of such blessing (and its evidences) associated with the presence of believers and the presentation of the Gospel (Jesus is Lord).  Just as it was the presence of the Ark in his house, and its attendant message of the faithful working of the Covenant God, that brought blessing, so it should always be the case with the presence of those who trust in the message of the Gospel and its attendant message of the faithful working of the Covenant God through Christ, through the message about Him, and through loving imitation of His way of suffering and sacrifice. 

If the message of the Gospel did not manifest itself in such ways, would we truly be able to honestly and sincerely speak of the power that brought forth Christ from the dead and of its effectiveness for transformation and for renewal?  This is the essence of the life of the age to come (the power of heaven, eternal life, the life of the Spirit), in which we share and by which we live here and now, and not merely in a post-mortem hopefulness based on the deeds of the present.  This is the essence of the manifestation of the Resurrection power by which we and all of creation are restored to new life, both now and in the future.  The presence of the people of the Covenant that was inaugurated in Christ is supposed to result in the blessing of the household of all mankind, as the power of God goes forth in and through them.  This is the blessing of the Covenant.    

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