The Law Applied with Mercy--Part 1, The Tabernacle of David
Jan 30, 2008
In the days of Eli, the corrupt high priest of Israel, the Ark of the Covenant was taken into battle and captured by the Philistines. They held it for eight months (from the feast of Tabernacles to the following Pentecost). Then, because God judged Dagon, the fish-god of the Philistines, they decided to return it to the Israelites. It arrived in Israel while the people were harvesting wheat (1 Sam. 6:13).
But because Shiloh, the old resting place for the Ark, had been destroyed in the previous battle, the Ark was never brought back to that place, for the priests had set up a new headquarters in the town of Kirieath-jearim, in the house of Abinadab (1 Sam. 7:1). There it remained for twenty years (7:2).
In the three years following the return of the Ark, there was a growing sentiment that Israel ought to have the king that had been promised to them as far back as Jacob's day (Gen. 49:10; Deut. 17:14). God had withheld the king from them, because Judah's sin with Tamar (Gen. 38) disqualified the tribe of Judah for ten generations (Deut. 23:2). They were yet in the eighth or ninth generation.
So because of their impatience, God gave them a king--the best in the land--but he was of the tribe of Benjamin. His name was Saul, and he reigned for 40 years.
If the Ark of the Covenant was placed in Kirjeath-jearim two or three years before the coronation of Saul, and remained there twenty years, it must have been moved in the 17th or 18th year of Saul. That was a crucial year in the reign of Saul, for 18 is the number that indicates "oppression" (Luke 13:16). I have also noticed from biblical history that Joseph arrived in Egypt as an oppressed slave at the age of 18. David had to flee from Saul at the age of 18.
Further, Saul's 18th year was when he was fully disqualified from the monarchy of Israel by his rebellion in the war with Amalek when he spared King Agag (1 Sam. 15). David himself was overthrown by his son, Absalom, in the 18th year of his reign. Eighteen seems to be a time of oppression in Scripture.
The bottom line is that the the Ark of the Covenant must have been moved to another location at the time of--or just before--Saul's battle with the Amalekites in 1 Sam. 15. In fact, we find the Ark mentioned in the previous chapter, in association with another battle in which Saul made a foolish vow that nearly took the life of his son, Jonathan. We read in 1 Sam. 14:18,
"Then Saul said to Ahijah, 'Bring the ark of God here.' For the ark of God was at that time with the sons of Israel."
So the Ark was brought to the battlefield, in the same way that was done twenty years earlier in the days of Eli. The Ark was brought to determine who had eaten during that battle, after Saul had bound the army with a vow that no one was to eat anything until the battle had been won. Jonathan did not know of that vow and ate some honey from a honeycomb (representing the Gospel of the Kingdom).
Like all the stories in the life of King Saul, the Pentecostal type, this one too is prophetic of the Church. Each year in the life of Saul represents one Jubilee cycle (49 years) in the history of the Church. Saul reigned 40 years; the Church under Pentecost reigned 40 Jubilees from Pentecost of 33 A.D. to Pentecost, May 30, 1993.
So the eighteenth year of Saul speaks prophetically of the eighteenth jubilee cycle of the Church. The 18th Jubilee extended from 866-915 A.D. This was the time in Church history that Cardinal Baronius described as the "Age of Pornocracy." As the end of the 18th jubilee approached, there was a six-year period that saw seven popes and one "anti-pope," with one pope after another being overthrown and murdered--often by his successor pope.
Roman Church historians looked back at that time in horror, when describing the so-called Synod horrenda of 896 A.D., when Pope Stephen VI sat in judgment upon the corpse of the late Pope Formosus, who had led a rival faction among the cardinals. The corpse had been dragged out of its tomb after eight months, dressed again in its priestly robes, brought into the council chamber, propped up on a throne, in order to stand "trial." Pope Stephen VI raved and screamed insults at the corpse, condemned him and all his acts, chopped off his three fingers of benediction, and finally dragged the body through the streets of Rome and cast it into the Tiber.
This was also about the time that a girl named Marozia was born, who, along with her mother and sister, were to become the mistresses of popes and the mothers of later popes.
From the standpoint of open immorality, it was probably the lowest point in the history of the Roman Church. When we see this as the 18th Jubilee cycle and relate it to the reign of King Saul, it is apparent that this was the point where God fully rejected the Church under Pentecost, even as God had fully rejected King Saul from having a perpetual dynasty to rule Israel (1 Sam. 15:23).
In Saul's day, it was also the 20th year of the Ark's sojourn in Kiriath-jearim. We are not told where the Ark was housed for the rest of Saul's reign, but for some reason, it was again at Kiriath-jearim when King David moved it to his new capital, Jerusalem. 2 Sam. 6:2 says that David fetched it from "Baale of Judah," which was the old Canaanite name for Kiriath-jearim. In 1 Chron. 13:6, it is called "Baalah, that is, to Kiriath-jearim."
David then housed it on his property near his house in a tent called "the tabernacle of David." It remained there during David's entire reign in Jerusalem, and was moved only when Solomon's temple was built.
David thus had time to contemplate the Ark of the Covenant and its revelation about the connection between the law and the mercy seat. David wrote Psalm 136, whose theme is "for His mercy endures for ever." And it is no coincidence that the singers would choose this psalm to sing at the time when the glory of God came down to fill Solomon's temple and rest again on the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place.
We read in 2 Chron. 5:13 that when the trumpeters and singers came into one accord (harmony), singing the song entitled, "He indeed is good, for His mercy endures forever," then the glory returned. That glory had been lost 98 years earlier when the Ark of God was first taken in the days of Eli. The title of this psalm (song) is taken from the first line (verse) in Psalm 136:1.
In that dedication of the Temple, the trumpeters and singers came into unity. They represent the unity between the tables of the law and the mercy seat. The trumpeters represent those who speak the Truth of the Word (law), while the singers present that truth in a musical form that represents mercy to the hearers. When the Word is spoken apart from mercy, it is like a trumpet being blown disharmoniously with the singers.
A little over a year ago, the Word of the Lord came to a number of us in an unusual way on Nov. 30, 2006--"MERCY." One year later, on Nov. 30, 2007, I was in Little Rock, Arkansas, and I was asked about the story in John 21, where Jesus told the disciples to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. What did this mean? I told them that the left side represents judgment, while the right side represents mercy. The disciples had been fishers of men trying to catch fish with a message of judgment. Try fishing on the right side (mercy). The disciples brought in 153 large fish.
The word of the Lord then came and was spoken, "Upon this Little Rock, I will build My Tabernacles Church. It will be established in MERCY."
Soon, as more revelation came, I began writing about the law and the mercy seat.
This is the first part of a series titled "The Law Applied with Mercy." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones