Daily Reading & Meditation

Wednesday (August 15): The Ark of the Lord's Dwelling Place

Scripture: Luke 11:27-28   (alternate readings: Luke 1:39-56, Matthew 18:15-20)

27 As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!" 28 But he said, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!"

Scripture: 1 Samuel 15:3-4,15-16; 16:1-2

15:3 David assembled all Israel at Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD to its place, which he had prepared for it. 4 And David gathered together the sons of Aaron and the Levites... 15 And the Levites carried the ark of God upon their shoulders with the poles, as Moses had commanded according to the word of the LORD. 16 David also commanded the chiefs of the Levites to appoint their brethren as the singers who should play loudly on musical instruments, on harps and lyres and cymbals, to raise sounds of joy.
16:1 And they brought the ark of God, and set it inside the tent which David had pitched for it; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before God. 2 And when David had finished offering the burnt offerings and the peace offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the LORD.

Meditation: How does God wish to dwell in holiness with his people - corporately and individually? When God established a covenant with his people in the wilderness at Mount Sinai, he instructed Moses to make a sanctuary (the Tent of Meeting which later became the Temple at Jerusalem) so he could be enthroned among them as their true Lord and Sovereign God (Exodus 25:8). The heart of the sanctuary was the Ark of the Covenant which was also known as the throne of God and seat of mercy (Exodus 25:17,21-22). There God chose to dwell in holiness with his covenanted people so he could be worshiped and glorified among them.

The Ark of the Covenant prefigures the New Covenant and Living Temple established by Christ
When King David united the 12 tribes of Israel into one kingdom, he brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem as the new center of worship for the people of Israel (1 Samuel 15:3-4,15-16; 16:1-2). The Ark of the Covenant prefigured the New Covenant and Living Temple which Jesus Christ established through his incarnation, death, and resurrection.

Jesus died, rose, and ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven so that we might share in his victory over sin, Satan, and death. Through Christ we become living temples of the Holy Spirit so that we may offer a pleasing sacrifice of praise and worship to the Father.

The Apostle Peter depicts Jesus Christ as the cornerstone and the Christian people as living stones built into a holy house or temple where God is enthroned and worshiped among his people:
"Come to him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God's sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God  through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).
How can we come to Christ, the living cornerstone of God's Temple, and be built into a spiritual dwelling place for is glory?.
Mary's call to be a chosen vessel for God
Mary  is a model of faith and hope for all believers who accept the Gospel - the good news of Jesus Christ our Savior who came to redeem us from slavery to sin, Satan, and death, and to give us abundant new life in the Holy Spirit. Mary humbly submitted herself to the miraculous plan of God for the incarnation of his only begotten Son - the Word of God made flesh in her womb. When Gabriel the Archangel delivered God's word to her, she promptly responded with her unequivocal "yes": I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38). Mary accepted her mission with uncompromising faith and obedience. She acted with unwavering trust and faith because she believed that God would fulfill the word he had spoken. Her great hymn of praise echoes the song of Hannah (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10) and proclaims the favor of the Lord: God exalts the lowly and he fills the hungry (Luke 1:46-56).

Jesus publicly honored his mother, not only for her maternal care for him, but most importantly for her faith and obedience to God's word: "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!" (Luke 11:27-28). She is a great model of steadfast faith, persevering hope, and undying love as she followed her Son and stood by him when he died on the cross. She also witnessed his resurrection and ascension into heaven. And she remained with the apostles and disciples of the Lord as they waited in the upper room in Jerusalem for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Feast of Pentecost.

Mary tasted the first fruits of the abundant new life which her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, accomplished for all who believe in him. The early fathers from the Eastern churches addressed Mary as "Theotokos" which literally means "God-bearer." Through her faith and obedience, Mary became a living temple of the Holy Spirit, and, like the Ark of the Covenant, a chosen dwelling place of God the Incarnate Word who "became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

We, too, are chosen vessels of God's grace and power
The Holy Spirit, who transformed Mary into a chosen vessel of God, is at work in us who believe in Jesus Christ. As we yield our lives to the Holy Spirit and obey God's word, we, too are transformed as chosen vessels of God's grace and power. The Holy Spirit enables us to know and experience the indwelling presence of God and the power of his kingdom. The Holy Spirit is the way in which God reigns within each of us. The Holy Spirit purifies and changes us so we can grow strong in faith, courageous in hope, and on fire with Christ's consuming love and mercy.

Do you want to be a chosen vessel of God's grace and power and a faithful witness of Christ's redeeming love and mercy for sinners? Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill you with a holy desire for God and for a greater readiness to obey and follow God's will and plan for your life.

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and give me joy in seeking to know you more clearly, love you more dearly, and follow you more fervently, you who are my All."

Psalm 132:6-10,13-14

6 Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah, we found it in the fields of Jaar.
7 "Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!"
8 Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place, thou and the ark of thy might.
9 Let your priests be clothed with righteousness, and let your saints shout for joy.
10 For your servant David's sake do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
13 For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his habitation:
14 "This is my resting place for ever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it.

Daily Quote from the early church fathers: Christ the fruit of the faithful, by Ambrose of Milan (339-397 A.D)

"You see that Mary did not doubt but believed and therefore obtained the fruit of faith. 'Blessed are you who have believed.' But you also are blessed who have heard and believed. For a soul that has believed has both conceived and bears the Word of God and declares his works. Let the soul of Mary be in each of you, so that it magnifies the Lord. Let the spirit of Mary be in each of you, so that it rejoices in God (Luke 1:46-47). She is the one mother of Christ according to the flesh, yet Christ is the Fruit of all according to faith. Every soul receives the Word of God, provided that, undefiiled and unstained by vices, it guards its purity with inviolate modesty. (excerpt from  EXPOSITION OF THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 2.26)

Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use - please cite credits: copyright (c) 2018 Servants of the Word, source:  www.dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager

Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.  Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.

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