Thursday, November 26, 2009

2 Maccabees 2:4-8 and Revelation 11:19 – 12:2 – Ark of the Covenant

2 Maccabees 2:4-8 and Revelation 11:19 – 12:2 – Ark of the Covenant
2 Maccabees 2:4-8
The same document also tells how the prophet, following a divine revelation, ordered that the tent and the ark should accompany him and how he went off to the mountain which Moses climbed to see God's inheritance. When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a room in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he blocked up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it. When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them:
"The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy.
Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the Place might be gloriously sanctified."

Revelation 11:19 – 12:2
Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery.


Comment
The small empire built up by David and expanded by his son Solomon broke up after Solomon died (see 1 Kings 12). The two small kingdoms of Israel and Judah could not stand up against the great world powers. First Israel fell to Assyria (see 2 Kings 17:1-6); then Judah fell to Babylon (see 2 Kings 25).

The prophet Jeremiah had warned the people of Judah that God's judgment was coming upon them. But he had also predicted a time when God would build up His people again and make a "new covenant" with them (see Jeremiah 31:27-34).

A story in 2 Maccabees 2:4-8 tells us that Jeremiah prepared for that time by hiding the Ark of the Covenant on Mount Nebo.

Since that time, the Ark has never been seen on earth again.
The Ark would not be seen again until the time when God showed His mercy and gathered His people together again. But when would that be?

Luke uses parallel language and images to make his point about the Ark of the Covenant. But John, the author of Revelation, tells us directly that he saw the Ark of the Covenant - the holy object that had been lost since Jeremiah's time - in a vision. This is a strange string of images, almost overwhelming - like much of the book of Revelation. But certainly the statement that the Ark of the Covenant was visible must have caught the attention of the first people who heard the vision.

If the Ark had been seen, then the time Jeremiah spoke of must have come: the time when "God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy," the time when "the glory of the Lord will be seen in the cloud, just as it appeared in the time of Moses" (see 2 Maccabees 7-8)

And indeed the sights and sounds are the same as in the time of Moses - storm and earthquake:
"There were flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder, an earthquake, and a violent hailstorm" (see Revelation 11:19).

"On the morning of the third day there were peals of thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled . . . Mount Sinai was all wrapped in smoke, for the LORD came down upon it in fire. The smoke rose from it as though from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently" (see Exodus 19:16, 18)

Naturally, we want to hear more about the rediscovered Ark of the Covenant.
And John goes on to describe what he sees: "a woman clothed with the sun" (see Revelation 12:1).

In our modern Bibles, there is a chapter division between the appearance of the Ark of the Covenant and the description of the "woman clothed with the sun."

But chapter divisions were added in the Middle Ages (in the twelfth century) to make the books of the Bible easier to refer to.

John did not make any divisions: he wrote straight through from Revelation 11:19 to Revelation 12:1 without a break.

In the dream-like but deeply significant logic of John's vision, the Ark of the Covenant is "a woman clothed with the sun."

But does this passage in Revelation really refer to Mary? Some say the woman represents Israel or the Church, and certainly she does. John’s use of rich symbolism is well known, but it is obvious from the Bible itself that the woman is Mary.
The Bible begins with Genesis with a real man (Adam), a real woman (Eve) and a real serpent (the devil) — and it also ends with Revelation with a real man (Jesus, the Last Adam, 1 Cor 15:45), a real woman (Mary the New Eve, Rev 11:19—12:2) and a real serpent (the devil of old). All this was foretold in Genesis 3:15.

Source: a Bible Study from SalvationHistory.com (that is why you see all of the scripture references in brackets) 
Plus the inserted text at the end is from
Steve Ray’s article about the Ark of the New Covenant

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