THE CONTENTS OF THE ARK
In the holy place there are three main things: firstly, Christ is the bread upon the table; secondly, He is the light from the lampstand; and thirdly, He is the sweet incense, the acceptance to God, from the incense altar. Hebrews 9:4 tells us that in the holiest of all, within Christ as the ark, there are also three things: the hidden manna, corresponding to the bread; the hidden law which enlightens us, corresponding to the light; and the hidden rod, sprouting with almond blossoms, corresponding to the incense of the golden altar in the matter of acceptance. Only Aaron was acceptable to God; therefore Aaron’s rod sprouted with almond blossoms. The almond blossoms signify resurrection. This means that God accepted him in resurrection.
In the holy place everything is open, but in the ark everything is hidden. In the holy place the bread was called the showbread, signifying something openly displayed. But in the ark it becomes the hidden manna, something deeper. In the holy place there was the lampstand with the light shining forth. But in the ark the law was hidden, which signifies the law speaking in a hidden and deeper way. From the incense altar the fragrance ascended outwardly. But in the ark the sprouting rod was hidden. The experience of the ark in the holiest of all is much deeper than the experience of the things in the holy place. This is also proved by the ark being overlaid with gold within and without. Both the showbread table and the incense altar were overlaid with gold only on the outward side. That means that the overlaying of gold was to a lesser degree and more shallow. The overlaying of gold upon the ark is greater and deeper, signifying that the experience of Christ here is greater and deeper than before.
Suppose we meet two new Christians who have just been baptized. They have both experienced Christ as their living bread, and they love to come to the meetings and show Him forth to others. They testify: “Oh, we have enjoyed Christ so much this week!” Two sisters who were baptized with them are shining with the light they have received from the Lord. They also testify and shine forth in the meetings. All four have experienced Christ in the holy place, and now they express Him publicly in the meeting. If the Apostle Paul were to attend the same meeting, however, I do not think that you would so easily recognize him as a Christian. He would sit there quietly with no outward display. However, if you were to converse with him later you would be amazed. You would wonder where on earth he came from. Something within him is so rich, so hidden. You could not observe so much outwardly, for with him, everything is hidden.
The priests in the holy place must dress the lampstand in the morning and light it in the evening. But there is no need to attend thus to the hidden law. It is always there speaking. The new sisters who are so brightly shining in the meetings may appear next week with gloomy countenances. They are yet so shallow in their experience of Christ; they need a priest to dress and lighten them.
In the holiest of all with the ark we enjoy God in Christ as the hidden manna, as the divine, regulating law, and as the sprouting rod with resurrection power. Here we experience God in Christ in such a deep and rich way. He becomes so real and rich to us as the hidden manna, the hidden law, and the hidden resurrection power within us. This is the uttermost experience of Christ, the very climax of spiritual experience. At this point, we are fully and wholly mingled with God; we are overlaid with God as the gold in everything and in every way. The two natures, divinity and humanity, are mingled as one.
THE DIMENSIONS OF THE ARK
The dimensions of the ark are completely in half-sizes. The size of the brass altar was five by five by three cubits (Exo. 27:1). The ark, however, is two and a half, by one and a half, by one and a half cubits (Exo. 25:10). Its dimensions are one half those of the altar. What is the significance of this? When we see a half of a watermelon, we automatically surmise that there must be another half somewhere. In principle, this is the meaning of the ark of testimony. A testimony requires two witnesses. The ark needs another “half.” Thus, the ark’s dimensions of half sizes impart the meaning of testimony.
(The Vision of God's Building, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)