1 Samuel 6:20-21 (New Living Translation)
20 “Who is able to stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?” they cried out. “Where can we send the Ark from here?”
21 So they sent messengers to the people at Kiriath-jearim and told them, “The Philistines have returned the Ark of the Lord. Come here and get it!”
The Ark of the covenant, first mentioned in Exodus, was a holy object, a place of meeting with God. But by the time of the young prophet Samuel, its significance and symbolism had become distorted so that it was seen by the Israelites and their enemies as having intrinsic, almost magical properties, to bring good outcomes in battle and good fortune to whichever people possessed it.
In 1 Samuel 4-6, the account is told of the capture of the Ark by a people called the Philistines, who soon returned it like a hot potato to the Israelites at Kiriath Jearim. The initial rejoicing and excitement felt by the conquerors at possessing it, soon changed to a desire to pass it on as fast as possible. Why? Dire consequences resulted when the instructions God had given concerning the ark, were not followed, and when the holiness of God, which he had given to this object made of gold and wood, was disregarded.
Thousands of years later no one knows what became of the Ark, but I find myself thinking how easy it is for us to have similarly skewed ideas about God in our lives.
God's desire was always to live with mankind. One of Jesus' names is Emmanuel, "God with us." But his presence is holy. With the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he became "God in us."
Am I a "sacred object" like the Ark? Maybe it wouldn't hurt to consider what it means to carry the presence of God in me.
God's Word uses metaphor, saying that we are light bearers to a dark world and letters to be read by others. His holiness, his mercy and compassion--he's counting on us to carry them to the world. We are his chosen vehicles for this age of grace.
2 Peter 3:14 (New Living Translation)
14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in his sight.