Wednesday after the Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 9:1-10 (NKJV)
1 Then indeed, even the first covenant had ordinances of divine service and the earthly sanctuary. 2 For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; 3 and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of All, 4 which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron’s rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; 5 and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail.
6 Now when these things had been thus prepared, the priests always went into the first part of the tabernacle, performing the services. 7 But into the second part the high priest went alone once a year, not without blood, which he offered for himself and for the people’s sins committed in ignorance; 8 the Holy Spirit indicating this, that the way into the Holiest of All was not yet made manifest while the first tabernacle was still standing. 9 It was symbolic for the present time in which both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience—10 concerned only with foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances imposed until the time of reformation.
How the great museums of the world would yearn to have on carefully guarded display the items listed in our text, the ark of the covenant and its contents. However, all these items and their use in Old Testament worship had to do only with fleshly ordinances. They could not fully address the conscience or the root of human sin in the heart.
It is not known where all these items have gone, but the veil that was in use between the two sanctuaries at the time was very likely destroyed in the calamity that befell Jerusalem as city and temple were destroyed in 70 A.D. But not before it was torn in two at the time of Jesus’ death on the cross, signifying that by His blood we now have access to the Father.
No longer are the 12 cakes of showbread on display to signify the presence of God. He is present in His holy Word and the blessed Sacraments, which declare and make real for us that the atonement emanates not from the mercy seat above the ark, but from the cross and the empty tomb. He is present at our altars, not as in a museum, merely pointing toward a glorious past, but to provide meaning for life today and holy assurance of a future.
We pray: We thank You, Father, for sending Your Son, Jesus, Who is the propitiation for our sins; not only for ours only, but also for the whole world, for all who trust in Him. Amen.