Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 1/28/07
"'See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god beside me; I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand" (Deut. 32:39).
Since confession is good for the soul, I need to clear up a mistake in the recent writing entitled, "David's Fallen Tent." (See Link at End). My "assignment" from the Lord was to show that He is the "Architect" of all things (no matter what they look like at the time), and also the "Demolition Expert," when what He built is no longer serving His will and purpose. In the writing, I focused on the "The Tent of Meeting," which He commissioned Moses to build and the three temples (Solomon's, Zerubbabel and Herod the Great's), which He caused to be built and subsequently destroyed, but I had forgotten that there was another "tent" which David himself built to house the ark of the Covenant. My thanks to Gary Amirault and John Gavazzoni for pointing out my oversight.
Based on the many e-mails we received, the piece hit home with many of you who are sitting in the rubble of your own "tents" right now, but I want to make it clear that David had also built a tent to house the ark of the Covenant when he brought it from Abinadab's house where it had been stored for 20 years, to Jerusalem (II Sam. 6:2-3; I Chron. 15:1; 1 Chron. 16:1). In it, he "offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord" (II Sam. 6:17).
Perhaps bit of pride had crept in as to my knowledge of the Bible, and so maybe this was just a lesson to me that I'm not as diligent as I thought I was, or perhaps this is one of those ways God has of shining a spotlight on something new that holds blessings for us. My attention has always been focused upon the Tabernacle built by Moses, and the three temples which followed, but unbeknownst to me, in Pentecostal circles, some believe that rebuilding David's tent has to do with participating in Spirit anointed worship. Nevertheless, I'm sorry for the confusion, and as I ran the references for the tent David pitched for the ark, I saw that there are more goodies to be uncovered in this second tent.
The Ark of the Covenant is a good place to begin, because all these places of worship were built to house the ark where God dwelt. You can read the instructions God gave Moses regarding the ark in Ex. 25:17-21. The significance of it is found in Vs. 22: "There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites." Under the Old Covenant, God dwelt in a physical place, and communed with His people between the wings of the cherubim: "When Moses entered the Tent of Meeting to speak with the LORD, he heard the voice speaking to him from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony. And he spoke with him" (Num. 7:89).
God instructed Moses to place the ark of the Covenant (also known as the "ark of the Testimony") in the most holy place. Only the high priest could go in, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement, to sprinkle blood "on the atonement cover and in front of it. In this way he will make atonement for the Most Holy Place because of the uncleanness and rebellion of the Israelites, whatever their sins have been. He is to do the same for the Tent of Meeting, which is among them in the midst of their uncleanness" (Lev. 16:15-16). Everything under the Old Covenant is a shadow of the blessings we have received in Christ. When the high priest sprinkled the blood on the atonement cover, he was reconciling the people to God. The blood of bulls and goats effected only temporary atonement, because it had to be done over and over again (see Lev. 17:11), whereas Christ died "once for all" (Heb. 9:25-27). Moreover, the Hebrew writer shows the limitation of the sacrifices made under the Law: "the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper" (Heb. 9:9).
One fascinating aspect of the "atonement cover" which Moses made for the ark of the Covenant (Ex. 25:17), is its reference to Christ: "In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the OT) the word for "atonement cover" is the same one used of Christ and translated "sacrifice of atonement" in Rom. 3:25." (NIV Study Note on Lev. 16:2). In Romans 3:21-25, Paul expands the definition of atonement to include righteousness: "But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." He then asks the question that all of us should ask ourselves frequently, "Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded" (Vs. 27).
David was a man after God's own heart, quick to love, quick to fight for what was right, and quick to repent when he missed the mark. He loved the Lord with all his soul and all his strength and all his might. How poverty stricken we would be without the Psalms of praise and worship he wrote. As a personal observation, a bit off the main point we're considering, he worshipped and praised God, not to GET something, as some Christians appear to me to do, but because it flowed out of a heart full of gratitude and thanksgiving. I love him for saying how he felt, good and bad, angry and peaceful, hopeful or despairing. He was honest before God, and God blessed him for that. There are those who believe you have to say "Praise the Lord," when you are hit by a truck or He will further demolish your "tent." My experience is that eventually, you will praise Him for everything, because He does bring good out of all things, but to force yourself into a mechanical ritual of praise because you think that's what He demands, is ridiculous and insulting to the mind and character of God. He knows what you really think and feel, so who are you fooling when you deny it?
David built the tent in Jerusalem to house the ark of the Covenant which he finally had the courage to bring "home." It had traveled many miles under difficult circumstances, a journey I'll try to summarize and get from "Genesis to Revelation" on the subject in short order.
Under Joshua's leadership, the Israelites had set up the "Tent of Meeting" which housed the ark of the Covenant at Shiloh. There it remained until the time of Samuel. The Lord spoke to His people through His prophets at that place. One of Samuel's first assignments as prophet occurred when God gave him His judgment against the house of Eli, the high priest, whose sons were worthless pukes. They had defiled the Law and themselves instead of serving God (I Sam. 2:22-25). Eli knew that God had spoken to Samuel and demanded to know what was said. Samuel told him that God would judge his family forever because of the sins of his sons which Eli did nothing to curtail (I Sam. 2: 27-33; 4:11-21).
As time rocked on, Israel was at war with the Philistines (who seemed to me to be a barometer of Israel's relationship with God. When Israel obeyed the Lord, the enemy was defeated; when they sinned, the enemy won). In this case, the battle wasn't going well, so Eli's two rotten sons, Hophni and Phinehas decided to take the ark into battle with them, thinking surely God would defend it and give them victory. Their self effort led to disaster. They were killed and the ark was hijacked by the Philistines and taken back to Ashdod, one of their cities (I Sam. 4:1-5:1). This is a thrilling story, one which Hollywood couldn't improve upon so I hope you'll read the account of how the Philistines put the ark inside the temple of their god Dagon. When they got up the next day, their god was fallen face down before the ark. They put him back up on his stand, but the following day, he had fallen face down again and his head and hands had been broken off. God afflicted the hapless people of the city with tumors, which some footnote I read somewhere said may have been genital warts. Ouch.
They moved the ark from one Philistine city to another, but each time, God punished them with tumors for their audacity. They came up with a plan to put it on a cart drawn by two cows which had calved, but had never been yoked. They thought that if the cows took the cart back to Beth Shemesh, which was an Israelite settlement, then they would know the Lord had brought the disasters upon them. However, if the cows returned to their calves and their own territory, they would know what happened was merely chance (I Sam. 5:1-6:11).
The cows pulled the cart straight to Beth Shemesh, where the Israelites were harvesting their wheat. They sacrificed the poor cows to God in thanks for bringing the ark home, but their celebration was short lived, because some of the people looked into the ark, which was strictly forbidden. God killed seventy of them that day, making them want to get rid of it. They quickly sent it to Kiriath Jearim, to Abinadab's house. They consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. It was there for twenty long years.
The people of Israel mourned their loss of the ark, and the loss of battles to the Philistines. Samuel was their prophet and he told them that if they would put away their false gods and dedicate themselves afresh to the Lord, he would pray for mercy and reconciliation. The people responded to that; Samuel sacrificed a suckling lamb as a burnt offering and cried out to God on Israel's behalf. God answered him by giving them a mighty and miraculous victory over the Philistines, one which they knew came from Him, not from them (I Sam. 6:12-7:11). If you ever sang the hymn, "Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing," with the words, "Here I raise my Ebenezer," that is a reference to the commemorative stone Samuel set up between Mizpah and Shen, which he named Ebenezer, saying "Thus far, has the Lord helped us" (I Sam. 7:12).
The ark stayed in Abinadab's house during the reign of Saul, but when King David decided to bring it up to Jerusalem, He encountered once more the power of God's displeasure. On that occasion, when they were celebrating before the Lord with all their might, the oxen carrying the cart stumbled, and Uzzah, one of Abinadab's sons, reached out to steady it. God struck him dead for his impertinence. Filled with fear, David quickly changed his plans to bring it to Jerusalem. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom, the Gittite (II Sam. 6:9-10). (The study note suggests that Obed-Edom may have been a Levite, and we remember that members of that tribe were the only ones allowed to touch or move the ark.) It remained in the house of Obed-Edom for three months, during which time he and all his household were greatly blessed by God (Vs. 11).
When David was told this, he "went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the City of David with rejoicing" (II Sam. 6:12). When I read the following verse, I figured he was "hedging his bets": "When those who were carrying the ark of the LORD had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf." When they arrived at Jerusalem, David had the ark placed in the tent he had pitched for it (II Sam. 6: 17).
And that, dear friends, is all I know about the tent David pitched, but I feel we can draw some inferences from his actions. The record states that "David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the LORD. After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD Almighty" (Vs. 17-18). Clearly, King David longed to have a place in "the City of David" in which to worship the Lord. All God's people have the same desire, which is why so much money is spent on building churches. Some are grand like Solomon's Temple; others are very modest like the temple Zerubbabel built. There's nothing wrong with the desire to worship God; it is the response to knowing Him in His glory, but where people go astray is in emphasizing a building rather than the Lord Himself.
WE are the temple in which God dwells, and if that doesn't give you pause, I don't know what would. In his prayer on the occasion of the dedication of the temple he built for God, Solomon acknowledged, "But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!" (II Chron. 6:18). Solomon couldn't comprehend what we take for granted, that we enjoy God's presence within us.
Perhaps Amos and James' prophecies about God rebuilding "David's Fallen Tent" referred to David's intense desire to worship God, or perhaps they were acknowledging that what God gives, He may take away. I could find no record of what happened to David's tent, but no doubt, it went the way of all material things. The accounts of God building and destroying and then rebuilding the physical places of worship over the course of many generations shows the temporary nature of physical things. What is everlasting, of course, is that which God builds. We are the living stones of His house (I Pet. 2:5), so we can rejoice that we are everlasting, even as He is. Our works won't make it through the cleansing flames, unless they are authorized and accomplished by Christ in us, which means that really, they are no longer our works, no longer something we can take credit for, because God gets all the glory. The comforting thing about that to me is that He also takes the blame. If Romans 11:32 means anything, it means that. If I had only a few Bible verses to hang on to, this one would be among my most prized: "GOD has ALL men penned together in the prison of disobedience, that he may have mercy upon them ALL" (Rom. 11:32).
Father, we worship and praise You, that You have called us from before the foundation of the world, and Your eternal glory is being worked into our very being. For everything began with You, continues its existence because of You, and ends in You. You are over all and through all and in all. To You be the glory for ever, and ever, amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
Rebuilding David's Fallen Tent
The Glory Road
We're always happy to hear from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 01/11/06
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 12/11/08.