Posts Tagged ‘Ark of the Covenant’

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 65

Though this was the moment for which he had waited, Absalom still felt betrayed and angry. It was a little less dramatic than he had expected. His father, the king, had not been willing to stand up to him and fight. The city had been evacuated of his followers. Today you may flee for your life, but sooner or later you will pay, father, Absalom thought. One day you will be humiliated as you have humiliated me. You will not get away so easily.

For now, Absalom was content to go to the palace, accompanied by the cheers of the people; his people. The celebration would go on for many days.

His men searched the palace thoroughly. No-one was left in ambush. Ten of David’s concubines who had been assigned by David to look after the palace were incarcerated. For the moment, I will trust no-one. Some of their rooms were set aside for Tamar who was installed immediately.

Twenty of Absalom’s best men were sent out as spies into the city to discover David’s whereabouts. “Bring me anyone who even smells suspicious.” A list of the most likely problem people was drawn up and he would determine whether or not they were still in Jerusalem. Then and only then would he succumb to the celebrations.

But Absalom was still not satisfied. Rage still ate away at him from the inside. He had the hearts of the men of Israel but his own heart burned with the smouldering coals of malice. When he discovered that Zadok and Abiathar were still in the city, his suspicions were aroused. They were asked to report to Absalom immediately.

Priests in charge of the temple, Zadok and Abiathar left their sons and the Levites to fulfil their duties as they came and bowed respectfully before Absalom who now sat on David’s throne. After the formalities were observed, Absalom spoke first and got to the point, “I expected that you would have taken the ark and fled with my father? Why are you still here.”

Zadok replied, “We thought that we might be expected to go also, so we had the Levites take the ark to king David. We warned him that the Lord may place a curse on him as He did with the Philistines if he were to take the ark from Jerusalem.

He instructed us to return the ark to the temple and escape from the city as quickly as we could because you would surely kill us by the sword. But we know you to be a man of justice, my lord. We have decided that we should remain where we belong, in the service of the Lord. We are needed here to attend to the sacrifices.”

It was verified by some of the spies who had been left in the city that the ark had been taken from the temple by the Levites and then returned.

Absalom had no time for priests and had a superstitious fear of the Ark of the Covenant. “Return to the temple. I will offer sacrifices of thanksgiving to the Lord in the sight of all the people left in Jerusalem, of course, but in the meantime, you will keep watch and report to me of anything suspicious. Otherwise, stay out of my sight.” The priests returned quickly to the temple, satisfied that they had not aroused too much suspicion. Absalom had them watched as they expected.

The words of king David were imprinted in Zadok’s memory as they returned to the temple, “You are a man with prophetic insight. Return to Jerusalem in peace with Abiathar and your two sons. I will wait at the fords of the wilderness until I receive word from you to inform me.

If I find favour in the eyes of my Lord, then He will allow me to return to Jerusalem, and to the place of His presence. But if He says to me that He no longer delights in me, then let Him do to me whatever seems good to Him.” Zadok had sensed the very presence of God surrounding them as they spoke. There was no question in his mind as to whom he should serve.

Returning the ark of God to its tent, Zadok and Abiathar had remained in Jerusalem as they had been instructed. They would make sure that they kept their eyes and ears open as the days went by and get news to king David whenever they could. They would also remain open to the Lord and pray.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration of Job. You will not read another commentary like it. All royalties, if any, will go to Hope Street in Sydney, Australia.

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS Chapter 25

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 25

Obed-edom was a Philistine who now served David, and he had been horrified when he saw the Ark. He had not attended the festivities and could not believe that David would order the Ark to be moved to his house. Not here, my lord king, he thought. “Yes, of course, my lord king” he said. His people had once captured the Ark in battle and they had been struck with boils and skin cancers. It had caused them so much trouble they had returned it to Israel.

When he learned of Uzzah’s death, Obed-edom was even more concerned. Never-the-less the old Philistine had recently come to know the God of Israel and was determined not to be superstitious. Never-the-less, he would not look under its covers or touch it. Lord God, protect me! To his relief and amazement, God answered his prayers immediately. The Lord blessed him and his whole family. In fact, everything he did seemed to be successful. It seemed that everyone wanted a weapon or household utensil made by the master iron smith.

When David had calmed down enough to investigate Obed-edom’s welfare three months later, he was excited to find that in that brief amount of time the man had prospered greatly. This is surely a sign of the Lord’s favour. In the last months he had studied the holy writings which Zadok had brought to him concerning the movement of the Ark and reassessed how best he might honour God in bringing the Ark to Jerusalem.

A period of mourning had been observed, and now that three months had passed between Uzzah’s death even Abinadab had agreed that it was time the king attempted to retrieve the Ark again.

There was a great deal of celebration when the day finally arrived despite the tragedy of the previous attempt. All of Israel was relieved to see the Ark being carried by the Levites and every six steps they took, a bull and a fattened calf was sacrificed to the Lord.

David was so excited. He sensed the very presence of God and was lost in worship as the music played from instruments of wood, lyres and harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. Wearing a linen ephod, he danced before the Lord with all his might. Everyone was involved in the worship and the throng of people seemed to flow like a mighty river, with shouts of praise and trumpets declaring the greatness of God. Carried along in the tide of this throng, the Ark made its way to Jerusalem. Even Obed-edom, the old iron smith had been allowed to attend, and tears of joy flowed down his face.

Michal, the daughter of Saul, was asked to look after Absalom who wanted no part of the Ark that had killed his cousin. The hurt buried in their hearts found eachother in their time of need. They watched from one of the windows of the palace and talked.

The heartache in Absalom’s eyes triggered memories of sorrow in Michal. She had seen this kind of hurt before and she remembered her husband, Paltiel, who wept bitterly as they had been prized apart. Michal had been forcibly returned to David as part of the bargaining when the kingdoms of Judah and Israel became one nation.

As the Ark entered the City of David, they saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord. Neither of them felt like celebrating.

Absalom turned away, tears in his eyes, and again Michal felt his pain, deeply. Something of the spirit of Absalom entered her soul as she looked at her husband, dancing before the Lord in only a linen ephod. I despise you.

The Ark of the Lord was placed inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. Then he blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Hosts. A loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins was distributed to each person in the crowd, men and women, and the crowd eventually disbursed to their homes.

When David returned home to bless his household, Michal left the room and came to meet him. Absalom still sat by the window, staring at the tent in which the Ark had been placed, but he heard her speak.

“How the mighty king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing himself in the sight of slave girls like someone who is vulgar and foolish!” She was sarcastic and spiteful. David was terribly hurt but remained calm.

“I danced before the Lord, who chose me and appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel rather than your father or anyone else from his house. I intend to continue to celebrate before the Lord, and perhaps become even more undignified than this; completely humiliated if necessary. But you need to know that although I may not have been held in honour in your sight, in the sight of these slave girls you spoke of, I was not only held in honour, but I also had their respect.”

Michal, the daughter of king Saul, outspoken and now estranged wife of king David, would have no children to the day of her death.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 24

Both David and Absalom were furious when Uzzah was struck dead after touching the Ark. David, because God had struck down his nephew and Absalom because he regarded his father as responsible.

He was my cousin, advisor and best friend! Grief expressed itself in anger and in questions about the fairness of God. A root of bitterness had already begun to entangle fingers around his heart and grow; bitterness not only towards God but to those who represented God; to his father who was anointed of God to be king of Israel.

Absalom went over and over it all in his mind. First of all, it was, “Why did God allow this to happen?” Then it became, “It’s all my father’s fault!” This is all his doing and it has ended in the death of my closest friend, my cousin of cousins. If he didn’t move the Ark in the first place this whole thing would not have happened. It was a crazy/stupid idea in the first place wanting the Ark to come to Jerusalem! How could he do this!

Absalom thought of Zadok. When his anger was under control he made his way to Zadok to find some comfort and perhaps some answers to why his cousin had been slain. His heart was still breaking and he was near to tears at what he saw as God’s injustice. As he rounded the corner he could hear voices and knew that Zadok was speaking with someone. He could overhear the old priest saying,

“We can’t try to accomplish the things of God by ignoring the principles of His holy writings, and trying to deal with grief in inappropriate ways can soon become sin.”

“You’re right, Zadok,” said David, “I have come to confess that I have sinned. You tried to warn me and now my nephew is dead.” His voice was almost breaking with emotion. David was asking in his shock and grief, “Why did He strike down Uzzah?”

“My son, you know why. God’s justice was exercised on Uzzah,” said Zadok.

Justice and Righteousness! thought Absalom, It was those angels that killed Uzzah!

“But how can I bring the Ark to me now?” said David, “It would have been better if it had stayed with the Philistines!” David declared in a moment of rage and heartache.

Absalom was sickened. Your only concern is for the Ark. You still want to bring that curse-giving cause of all my grief to Jerusalem. He left unseen with anger unspoken but burning deep within his chest. Though he spoke with no-one, his grief and bitterness against his father and God remained for many years to come.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 22

When the day came for the Ark to be brought to Jerusalem, the sense of excitement was contagious and audible as people sang and danced on the sides of the road that led to Jerusalem waiting for the Ark to arrive. Young nobles were given room at the front so that they could see an event as important as this. Some of them had never seen the Ark of the Covenant but they had certainly heard of it and this day it would have a huge impact upon their lives. Here was something so precious that the king himself and all the leaders of Israel held it with the highest respect. This was a treasure of inestimable value and something to be guarded at all costs.

Absalom had one of the best positions of all. He stood with his father and all the great men of Israel who were there to celebrate and guard the Ark. The events of that day were to have a profound effect upon him and his view of his father’s God. He blamed David for what happened.

As the Ark came into view there was a subtle but audible change in the sound of the combined noise in the crowd. At first, it seemed like a thousand people suddenly taking a breath and then came the coos of astonishment and wonder at the beauty of the craftsmanship as those behind pushed forward, trying to gain a better vantage point. Shouts of worship rose above this noise as they heard the musical instruments being played and joined in to sing and shout. Such tumultuous joy had not been experienced in Jerusalem before and such celebration had not taken place since the anointing of David himself.

Now, as the Ark came closer, it seemed even more glorious than Absalom had recalled. It shines with the lustre of a king.

He remembered Zadok’s words; “It is the very throne of God.” Zadok’s voice had become quieter as if he was standing in the presence of God at that moment.

Absalom’s question had broken the moment. “But Rabbi, how can it be God’s throne? God is not like a person.”

“It is a little difficult to understand. God’s presence is somehow enthroned above the mercy seat between the Cherubim when He wants to make Himself known. Your father sits on a throne as a king. Thrones only belong to kings and God has chosen this place especially to make Himself known as the King of all kings.”

Absalom now found himself focusing on the space between the Mercy Seat and the Angels.

“But why would God need to sit on the Ark of the Covenant as His throne?” Absalom had asked. It all seems a little far-fetched.

“Let me ask you a question about thrones.” Zadok had said, “You have seen your father sit on a throne. For what purpose does your father use his throne?”

“It is a place where my father judges the matters that his people bring to him, a place of judgement.”

Zadok had been surprised at Absalom’s answer. This young man understands much more about being a king than I thought.

“You have identified the purpose of a throne well, my son. It is a place of judgement. It is where your father judges his people with righteousness and justice. These two things are important in the way God rules. God rules with righteousness and justice.”

That must be the names of the angels, Absalom thought.

Absalom now looked at the two magnificent creatures looking down upon the Ark. “Righteousness and Justice”, he said out loud, but his small voice was lost in the noises of the crowd.

“Behold, the Ark of God which is called by the name of Jehovah Sabaoth – the Lord of Hosts, who is enthroned between the Cherubim that are on the Ark!” David’s voice boomed with pride as the Ark made its way towards Jerusalem. Jehovah Sabaoth. The words seemed to echo in David’s mind from some far away valley. He had once declared them to a giant called Goliath. You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the Name of Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts. It was a military name.

When Joshua took the city of Jericho they called on Jehovah Sabaoth. It showed God as One who has the might and power that His people needed to push back the enemy. The Ark was a picture of Jehovah Sabaoth – the Lord of hosts! They were under His influence and protection. When people met together in Shiloh to worship they also called upon the Lord of hosts. As David looked at the Ark he could see it all so clearly in his mind. The Ark has been right here in the middle of all the most glorious moments of our history.

David looked at the space between the two angels and could sense the very presence of God. The Lord of hosts is here. Suddenly he felt uneasy. Something is wrong! He didn’t know what it was, but he brushed the feeling aside quickly.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 21

Jonathan and Ahimaaz could not believe that their fathers would not allow them to attend the celebration and watch as the Ark came into Jerusalem.

“Can’t you see?” said Abiathar, “All Ahithophel can see is two milch cows, pulling a cart with the Ark of the Covenant. But the holy manuscripts command that it is the Kohathites’ job to carry, on their shoulders, the holy things of the Tabernacle.”

Kohathites were Priests in Israel from the tribe of Levi. Kohath was the second son of Levi. This Priestly tribe had the special responsibility to look after the sacred objects to use in the Tabernacle.

“I might add that there were no carts assigned to the Kohathites.” His sarcasm made it clear where he stood on this issue. He was now red in the face and beginning to get out of breath. He sighed.

“It seems so strange,” he said, “that the king isn’t doing things according to what God has instructed. It doesn’t make any sense. His motivation is right, but his method is flawed. All he seems to want is to get the Ark from the house of Abinadab as quickly as possible and bring it to Jerusalem. But to use a cart! It was never carried like that in Moses time.”

“Was Moses allowed to carry it?” asked Absalom who had appeared around the corner at an awkward time having heard the raised voices.

“No,” said Abiathar, and began to wonder how much of the conversation Absalom had heard, “It required a number of strong Priests to carry it. They didn’t put it all on one man’s shoulders. God didn’t require that Moses bear the Ark alone. And He didn’t require Aaron as the high priest to carry it alone. A number of priests were involved.”

He used the opportunity to soften his anger a little. At least, I may be able to teach you to respect the things of God, he thought. “In the same way, carrying the things of God in our lives is not just dependent upon important people. Each of us is involved in some way. God chose the Levites to bear the Ark of God’s presence, but the whole of Israel will be lifting God high as we sing His praises.

You see, Absalom, God doesn’t have a temple like the false gods of the Philistines. He dwells with His people and together we carry the things of God in our hearts and we exalt Him with our lips. We are His temple. And together we will have an impact upon the nations who don’t know our God. They will know that we are worshipers of the One true God because of the way we honour His Ark.”

What is he talking about? thought Absalom, “Where will the Ark be taken?”

“It has a special place in the Tent of Meeting.” said Abiathar, “The Ark is holy, something that is separated for use by the Lord. That’s why it has been anointed with a sacred oil just like your father was anointed when he was set apart to be king. It will be placed in the holiest place of all in the Tent of Meeting, called the Holy of Holies.” said Abiathar.” Abiathar turned to his son. “Jonathan, tell me the other name for the Tent of Meeting?” he asked.

“The Tabernacle.” said Jonathan without hesitation.

“Yes, very good.” Jonathan was expected to learn everything to do with the Tabernacle and it’s objects. Ahimaaz was priest Zadok’s son, and Ahimaaz and Jonathan were best friends. This was revision for them, but they still took great interest in what Abiathar was saying.

“The Ark has different names also. Mostly it is called the Ark of the Covenant but it is also known as the Ark of Witness, or the Ark of the Lord, or the Ark of God’s strength. Each name teaches us something. For example – It was called the Ark of Witness because it is where God witnesses our response to Him. Do you understand?”

No, I don’t. “I think so.” I don’t think I like the idea of God watching me. Did God see me in the darkness when we looked at the Ark in Abinadab’s house? Absalom shuddered at the thought, never-the-less he was fascinated by the Ark. Everyone had been talking about it being brought to Jerusalem. The air was filled with expectation and excitement.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 20

It was never intended that the Ark of the Covenant be carried on a cart! David had insisted on leaving the planning for the transport of the Ark to Ahithophel, a trusted advisor. Zadok and Abiathar had tried to speak with David about this.

“The things that speak of the rulership and the presence of God are meant to be carried on the shoulders of His priests, the Levites. They alone are intended to be the vehicle of the Holy Presence of God,” said Zadok. The Levites alone are chosen by God for such a royal task. You know we are a holy priesthood, called to proclaim the excellent greatness of God. What must I say to change your mind? “A cart could never support the Ark of the Covenant. A cart is meant to carry light loads and sheaths from the harvests for short distances. And besides, they are notoriously unstable.”

David looked to Ahithophel for support. How do I get rid of these complaining priests? They are obviously jealous that I appointed Ahithophel to take care of the details of transporting the Ark. As far as David was concerned, it didn’t matter how the Ark arrived in Jerusalem as long as it arrived safely and soon.

Ahithophel said in a condescending tone. “I assure you, my lord, that the animals are strong and that the cart is new. It has never been used before.”

“But the point is that a cart was never intended to be used to carry the Ark.” said Zadok.

“I am sure that the Lord will understand,” said Ahithophel, still trying to be diplomatic but obviously annoyed. These interfering priests! What does it matter how the Ark is transported.

“How can you even think of carrying the Ark in such a way?” said Abiathar.

“Enough!” said David, “I have given the task to Ahithophel. What he decides is to be done. Do you understand?” The time for argument was over.

“Yes, my lord. But we will have no part in this.” Abiathar replied, and Zadok was obviously in agreement.

“That is entirely your choice.” These two have annoyed me long enough. Can’t they see they have already destroyed some of the excitement about this important occasion and of all things over some trifling matter of how the Ark is to be transported. I resent your intrusion. “Now leave me.” With these things still in his heart he had continued the preparations with Ahithophel and inspected the cart. Despite the unpleasant attitudes of the priests, it looked good. The two milch cows were strong. To all appearances, the cart would hold the weight. I should have ordered them to ride in the cart also. His annoyance had remained. Perhaps it was inevitable that the cart would stumble.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 19

The lesson the next day held particular fascination for Absalom and Uzzah.

“Why are the angels on the top of the Ark?” said Uzzah before anyone had a chance to ask any other questions.

“The angels on the top of the Ark of the Covenant carry God’s righteousness and justice to us,” said Zadok, “Although we can’t see them, I am sure that God has designated real angels to be at His side as He makes His presence known to us on top of the Ark of the Covenant. These two angels have a special name. They are known as Cherubim. They sit on top of the Ark of the Covenant with their wings outstretched and look down at the Mercy Seat. Cherubim are God’s warrior angels. Do you remember me telling you how God placed Cherubim with a flaming sword east of the Garden of Eden to stop Adam and Eve from eating from the Tree of Life after they had sinned?”

“Yes, Rabbi, but why would God want His warrior angels on top of the place where He wants us to know His presence? He doesn’t want to make war with us, with these …” Uzzah repeated the new word that described them, “… Cherubim, does He?” The other children laughed, but it was a nervous laugh.

“God’s warrior angels are not to be trifled with.” said Zadok, his deep voice cutting across their laughter. “They represent two of the most magnificent creatures ever created from the hand of God. They defend the justice and righteousness of God and that’s why they are depicted on the Ark of the Covenant.”

“What would happen if you touched the Ark? asked Absalom.

“The angels would draw their swords and kill you!” said Ahio. Uzzah and Absalom laughed but it was laughter peppered with apprehension. It’s ridiculous that two golden angels could draw their swords and kill us. They were both aware of the serious look on Zadok’s face and equally surprised and disturbed by his answer. It seemed that he agreed with Ahio.

“Yes!” said Zadok, “The only way you can approach the Ark is with blood from a sacrifice. If you touch the Ark of the Covenant without the blood of a sacrifice then you become the sacrifice, yourself.” Absalom and Uzzah looked at each other. It all seemed to have become a little far-fetched but they were still not quite sure.

“Is there anything inside the Ark?” Uzzah said suddenly to change the subject.

“Ah, It seems that I have missed out a very important part of my story. Yes, there is something inside the Ark. In fact it is what is inside that is important to our people because it contains objects from our history.” Absalom and Uzzah were once again fascinated. “Inside the box are three objects that all have a special meaning.” said Zadok, “These three objects represent the sin of our people, yours and mine included.”

“But what are these objects, Rabbi?” asked Uzzah.

“The first objects deep inside this box are broken. Originally they were the stone tablets containing the 10 commands that God gave to Moses. Why were they broken?” asked Zadok. Uzzah knew this well.

“They were broken because our people began to worship an idol.” he said.

“Yes, and when Moses saw them worshipping a golden calf, he smashed the tablets of the law on the ground. The pieces were collected and eventually put into the Ark of the Covenant as a picture of their sin against the Law of God. These broken tablets speak of our sin against the law of God.”

“Will they show us these tablets of the law that Moses tomorrow?” Absalom asked.

“The Ark hasn’t been opened since the days of Moses.” said Zadok. Uzzah and Absalom were obviously curious.

“What was the second object in the Ark?” Absalom was fascinated with what Zadok was teaching him. He loved to hear about the history of his people. Why do I feel afraid of Zadok? Sometimes he makes me feels so uneasy? He commands such authority, but he’s just a priest. One day, people will listen to me. Absalom wanted to learn how to wield such authority himself. He felt the same way in the presence of his father. Zadok answered him,

“The second object that was placed into the Ark was Aaron’s rod that budded. This spoke of how our people rebelled against God’s appointed leaders. You know this story. Our people had rebelled against Moses and Aaron, and God told them to choose rods for each of the twelve leaders of Israel and write their names on the rods. They were then to be placed in the Tent of Meeting in front of the Ark of the Testimony. The rod that sprouted would indicate to the people God’s appointed priest. What happened? Do you remember?”

“Only Aaron’s rod had sprouted by the following day.” said Absalom.

“Yes.” said Zadok, looking directly into Absalom’s eyes, “Unfortunately many of our people in Israel have rejected the priests and prophets of God and they have even rebelled against king David.”

“Yes”, said Absalom. Again he felt uncomfortable.

“Now let me tell you about the third object. The third object that was placed in the Ark was a pot of Manna. This pot of manna speaks of how our people complained and sinned against the provision of God. During the time of their wandering through the desert, God provided them with manna from heaven to eat each morning, but once again they complained, and God had to deal with them.

These three objects speak together about our people’s sin. But let me see if you have been listening. What are the three ways in which our people have sinned against God?”

Ahimaaz answered. “We have sinned against the Law of God, against his appointed leaders and against his provision for us.” He had listened carefully. He could always recite the correct answers.

“Very good! You have been listening well, my son.” Zadok was delighted with his son’s progress spiritually. One day he would be a fine priest. Absalom returned to the subject of his real interest.

“But why can’t we look at these holy objects that our father Moses once held?” he said.

“The angels who guard the throne on top of the Ark are the only ones who look down upon Israel’s sin and they don’t need to have the box opened to see how badly we have offended the holiness of God. God has made it very clear that the Ark of the Covenant is to be touched and carried only by the Priests.”

“You’re a priest. Would you be able to open it up for us to see Aaron’s rod?” asked Absalom.

“No! The Ark is only to be touched when it is carried. Two poles are to be placed through rings in the side of the ark and the Priests are then able to carry it around.” Absalom thought he might find a way one day to open the Ark.

Zadok’s voice became lower and, with shining eyes that expressed his love for these children, in almost a whisper he said, “The Lord of hosts is there with the Ark of the Covenant. Once a year, on the day of Atonement the priest brings the blood from the sacrifice and sprinkles it over the mercy seat and instead of seeing Israel’s sin, the angel’s see that a sacrifice has been made. The angels that carry God’s righteousness and justice are satisfied.

That’s why your father has decided to bring up the ark to Jerusalem, that it might be near him, and that it might focus attention upon God’s presence and His rulership in Israel. It has remained in the house of Abinadab, your uncle for some time now, but finally we are to see it come to it’s rightful place. Can you see now why your father wants to have it near us?”

“Yes,” said Absalom. “Yes, I think I do. Thankyou Rabbi.” The Ark is a great symbol of power. That’s the main reason why my father wants it with him. He would love to see the objects inside, but for now, he would be content to watch it come into Jerusalem tomorrow.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 18

The window had been covered and so the room was dark except for a small lamp burning on the side wall. It cast eerie shadows as Absalom and Uzzah closed the door carefully behind them. Absalom could feel his heart pounding in his chest and in the silence he could hear the sound of blood pulsing through his ears. Their lips and throats were dry and so when Uzzah spoke, it was in a high pitched squeak that didn’t sound very brave at all.

“I think it’s over there,” he said, but Absalom couldn’t see where he was pointing. As their eyes began to adjust to the dim lighting, the vague shape began to emerge from the darkness and both boys stood with eyes wide open in the awe of the moment. Uzzah took the lamp from its stand and as he did, it made a small scraping noise. The sound seemed so magnified that he almost dropped it and Absalom jumped nervously. His legs seemed weak all of a sudden but he moved behind Uzzah and both of them moved closer to the object in the middle of the room.

“Don’t go any closer.” said Absalom, in a whisper.

“I thought you wanted to open it up and see what’s inside?” said Uzzah.

“I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think we should touch it.”

“Why?” Uzzah asked, secretly relieved, but he taunted Absalom. “Are you afraid of boils?” Apparently some Philistines had been afflicted with boils when they had tried to steal the Ark a long time ago.

“Of course not, but we have to get out of here before your brother gets back. If they find us here they could hang us up in the marketplace with our arms and hands cut off like Baanah and Rechab,” said Absalom.

“You know your father wouldn’t do that to you. Let’s try to open it just a little bit.”

They gazed upon the box-shaped object which, in the light of the small lamp, seemed to glow like smouldering coals. They could now make out the shapes of two creatures on top of the box whose golden wings were reflecting ripples of light. It was such magnificent workmanship. As they slowly moved closer, light seemed to flash from the golden wings of the muscular shaped creatures which made them look as if they were moving.

“Stop!” said Absalom, “I don’t want to touch it.”

“Don’t be so superstitious,” said Uzzah

“I think I saw something move,” said Absalom whose forehead was now beaded in sweat. All of a sudden it felt as if the walls were closing in on him.

“Where?” said Uzzah, thinking that his brother, Eleazar, had returned. Fear began to rise up in Uzzah, but he would not admit this to Absalom.

“You know what they say about the Ark,” said Absalom in a whisper, “Let’s get out of here. It’s too risky.” Absalom started to head towards the door. He could see his own shadow looming before him and panic was rising up within him. All he wanted to do was get out of there. Both of them ran the last couple of steps to the door, colliding with each other as they flung it open.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 17

Jesse’s family was well respected and this is why Samuel had entrusted the Ark into Abinadab’s keeping after the Philistines had returned it. He was an older brother of king David, the second eldest in the family of Jesse. One of his sons, Eleazar had been consecrated to guard it.

Eleazar and Abinadab’s other sons, Uzzah and Ahio, David’s nephews, were direct cousins to Absalom.

It had been decided that the Ark of the Covenant would be brought to Jerusalem in time to celebrate the day of Atonement. Sacrifices would be made to atone for the sins of the priests and the people.

The news quickly spread to the rest of Israel and on the sacred day called Trumpets on the first day of Tishri, they gathered at the gate, nine days before the day of Atonement to discuss the details with king David Himself.

The Day of Trumpets was a holy day and days such as this were often used to celebrate and to share with friends and family.

Zadok the priest was a mine of information and enjoyed spending time with the children and answering their questions as preparations were made.

“It is now written in the annals of our history,” said Zadok, “Jericho had probably expected an immediate attack that day, but the same procedure was followed for six days. From the city walls, they watched as a long procession of our people circled around the city. First of all came the armed guard marching and holding up banners, then after that came seven priests with seven trumpets. Next came the Ark of the Covenant, it’s gold flashing in the sunlight, followed by the rear guard. Then on the seventh day the procession circled round the city seven times. The priests carried the Ark of the Covenant for about three hours that day. That’s when the miracle occurred!” The boys eyes were wide with anticipation. “At the end of the seventh circuit the clear voice of Joshua rang out,

‘Shout! For Jehovah Sabaoth has given you the city!’ So when the priests blasted on the trumpets, the people gave a loud shout. Right at that moment Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts, gave orders to a number of His angels to push down the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jericho collapsed in a thunderous tumult of rubble.” Pure excitement coursed through Absalom’s imagination. He would have loved to have been there to see it all happen.

“Rabbi, what is the Ark of the Covenant. Is it like the Ark of Noah?” said Ahio, Absalom’s younger cousin. They all laughed, but Zadok regarded the question seriously.

“There is no need to laugh. That is a good question, but no, it is not, my son.” He used the term ‘son’ affectionately. These were his pupils and he had come to love them.

“Come closer, all of you, and let me explain it to you.” Jonathan, Ahimaaz and Ahio came and sat on the steps while Absalom and Uzzah remained off to the side. They listened carefully as the priest began to speak of the mysteries of the Ark. Each of them sat in awe and silence as he spoke, only occasionally asking him a question or making a comment to show that they understood.

“I have already spoken to you about the Ark of Noah, but the ark of the Covenant is not like the Ark that God told Noah to build. It is much smaller than that.”

Ahio and Uzzah were Absalom’s cousins and were educated with David’s sons under the tuition of Zadok and Abiathar. Their father Abinadab, the second eldest brother of king David, had been one of those on the front lines of the Israelite army who had witnessed David slaying the giant called Goliath. He was a well-respected man and the Ark of the Covenant had been entrusted into his keeping.

Absalom got on well with Uzzah. Ahio talked too much and was a bit too young for Absalom, but he related well with Uzzah. Uzzah was sensible and quiet and Absalom could talk with him for hours about what was happening in the kingdom and how he would do things if he were king. Being a little older than Absalom, Uzzah listened and gave him practical advice. In Absalom’s thinking, Uzzah was his royal counsellor. When he became king he would have Uzzah there to see to the practical details, like Ahithophel did for David.

Uzzah seemed to enjoy listening to Absalom’s dreams. Absalom had even shown him the dagger that Joab had given to him.

Ahio sat with childish curiosity as Zadok spoke of the Ark. “Was it as small as the Ark of Moses?” he said.

“No my son, not quite that small. It is two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide and high, about the size of the feed troughs you see in Bethlehem, small enough to be carried from place to place. God told Moses himself exactly how He wanted it to be made.”

Zadok said, “On top is a seat called the mercy seat, and two golden angels with wings outspread are looking down from either side onto the Mercy Seat. This is where God’s presence dwells.”

“Why are the angels on the top and what is inside the Ark?” Uzzah asked. At this point, a servant came to Zadok and whispered something to him.

“You’re questions will have to wait until tomorrow. I have work to do,” said Zadok with a gleam in his eye and despite the objections the lessons for the day concluded.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

Chapter 16

David could see the blade, honed to perfection, slicing through the air towards him. Everything seemed to be focused on the dreadful edge of that sword, and in that split second David heard the clear voice of God speak, “Baal-Perazim! I am the Lord of the Breakthrough!”

From behind David, in full view of the creature, what looked like a great cloud seemed to surge and lift and fill the sky. It raced over David’s head and across the plain all around him, the thunder of its power now pulsating in his ears. It rippled across the sky towards the enemies who now completely surrounded king David and instead of darkening the sky it seemed as if the sky was filled with light.

A terrifying wind howled around them piercing the air with an awesome sound. The strength in the creatures arm seemed to melt and the force of his sword was easily deflected. A fear that David could almost feel now haunted the creatures eyes as he hesitated just a moment too long. David took the opportunity to thrust his sword forward. The creature looked down in horror as the sword found its mark and sliced cleanly into its heart.

As the creature roared in fear and pain David shouted, “I come to establish the righteousness, peace and joy of the Lord of heaven and earth this day!”

David could see then that the cloud was not a cloud at all, but thousands and thousands of Angelic beings racing towards the enemy. As he thrust his sword a second time towards the creature, the cloud dropped like a flood released from a dam.

“As waters break out, so have I broken out against My enemies before You!” came God’s clear voice from the flood. The deluge broke over them with the force of an exploding volcano. With another thrust of David’s sword, it swamped the enemy completely in front and behind and David lost sight of them in the rushing, surging tide. It seemed that he stood in the eye of a tornado as the enemy was ripped asunder.

What seemed like only moments later there was silence. It broke upon the plain with an eerie suddenness. David could hear the blood pulsing through his ears. There was no sight of the enemy or their leader. Thousands of broken idols were strewn across the plain. The chains and blindfolds from the captive nations had fallen away and they were standing in absolute silence looking towards him.

“I come in the name of the Lord of hosts,” he said, and his voice quivered with awe. As realisation dawned upon the masses that stood before him, cheering broke out across the plain and shouts of praise and worship filled the air.

In that moment, he felt so weak he collapsed, lying prostrate before the Lord, filled with the exhilaration and exhaustion of victory. He awoke from his vision on the floor, with Ahithophel peering anxiously into his eyes. He had heard David collapse and had run into the room expecting the worst. He was relieved not only to find David alive but somehow glowing.

“What happened, my lord?” said Ahithophel.

“Ahithophel, you know better than to interrupt me while I am in prayer. Why are you here?” said David, ignoring the question.

“My lord, I came to tell you that the Philistines have gathered in the valley of Rephaim!”

David looked into the concerned eyes of Ahithophel and laughed. He said, “No, not Rephaim. Baal-Perazim!” and Ahithophel was totally confused as David headed off to command his army.

Aiming at the heart, with the first thrust of David’s forces, the Philistines were driven back, perplexed at such strength, and had to regather their troops. Again they spread themselves out in the valley of Rephaim, a large army. They didn’t realise, however, that the valley of Rephaim was now the valley of the Lord of the Breakthrough, Baal-Perazim, won through prayer. David went against the Philistines with a sure knowledge of victory that day and defeated the enemy quickly.

God told David to have Israel circle around behind the Philistines and when they heard a marching-like rustle in the balsam trees they were to attack and drive the Philistines from Gibeon to Gezer, a distance of about twenty-four kilometres. God performed His promise, went before them, and routed all the enemy’s force, right to the very borders of their own country.

The destruction was turned upon the Philistines and their evil was broken in the land. As demon worshipers, the Philistines were very superstitious. The charms they wore into battle, idols of Dagon, Ashtoreth and Baalzebub were abandoned in their rush to escape the slaughter. They had become sacrifices to their own idols. They were the same scattered idols David had seen so clearly in his dream. One of the weapons left behind on the battlefield was a dagger. It had the same shaped blade as the dagger Joab had used to kill Abner. In fact, it had come from the same forge. It was picked up by one of David’s soldiers as they carried the idols of the Canaanites away and destroyed them.

From that point on, that part of the Valley of Rephaim, only four or five kilometres South-West of Jerusalem became known as, “Baal-Perazim”, the Lord of the Breakthrough.

The same thing would one day happen at the feast of Pentecost many years hence. When the kingdom of the Messiah came, apostles were told that they were not to do anything until they received the promise of the Holy Spirit.

And when the Spirit came, it was just like the sound of a rushing mighty wind from heaven. It was the sound of victory as warriors of a new covenant went to battle against the forces of evil and to usher in the kingdom of God. In fact, it sounded just like the sound that David heard that day rushing through the tops of the balsam trees.

In prayer, a victorious king David reflected on the goodness of God in his life. He had made the most important decision of his life many years ago out on the hills with his sheep. He would dedicate his life to the Lord of hosts. God had remained faithful over the years and he stayed up for most of this night in prayer.

David had reigned as king in Hebron for seven and a half years. At first there had been a civil war with those who had supported the old regime of king Saul but eventually David had been anointed king over all the twelve tribes of Israel.

After defeating the Jebusites, he had moved his military base to the fortified defences of Jerusalem. Now, it had been relatively easy for his family for a while.

The Philistines saw king David as a brilliant strategist in warfare. They were never a problem to him again. He had been able to build himself a palace, open up highways and trade routes and relax from the pressures of war.

For the first time for Obed-edom, the old Philistine slave, life seemed overwhelmingly good. God had answered his prayers and, miraculously, king David and his army had defeated the Philistines. Somehow he no longer saw himself as a Philistine. Now he was a slave of Jehovah Sabaoth, and each morning he uttered tearful thanks to the God who had created him for such a time as this.

He and his sons all began to find a deep relationship with the God of Israel and they began to wholeheartedly participate in the worship ceremonies. Each Sabbath day they listened avidly to each word that the priest uttered so that they could learn more about God and sometimes they were allowed to ask questions about the things that puzzled them.

For David, the Lord had to have central place in the kingdom, and it was while he was in prayer that he was prompted to bring back the Ark of the Covenant from Kiriath-Jearim to Jerusalem, and place it in the special tabernacle prepared for it. He could not realise how the events of the coming days would change him.