Psalm 47:5 – “God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.”
Raiders of the Lost Ark was one of the defining movies of my childhood. It was a great adventure with just enough blood and gore to make it fascinatingly scary to a 10 year old but it also contained references to the Biblical ark of the covenant which made it safe viewing for many parents. I thouroughly enjoyed it and have watched it numerous times and each time I watch it I can help but wonder, where is the famous ark of the covenant now located?
Apart from that however we don’t think a lot about the ark. In fact I imagine that most of us read Psalm 47 without seeing it for what it truly is, a direct reference to the ark of the covenant going up to Jerusalem. All of David’s readers and listeners most certainly would have got the reference yet for us, something is lost in translation. David is talking about the ark and the procession of worship and worshippers as the ark, and with it presumably the presence of God goes up to Jerusalem.
This generally happened on the Day of Atonement that is referred to in Leviticus 16. On that day of course the blood of an animal was applied to the mercy seat signifying forgiveness for the people of Israel in regards to their sin. Of course this was just a temporary forgiveness and thus it was a sacrifice that had to be repeated over and over again. The writer of Hebrews focusing on this fact says “the blood of goats and bulls cannot take away sin.” And yet there was a sacrifice that could.
That sacrifice had yet to burst on the scene when David wrote Psalm 47 but 700 years later John the Baptist made the triumphant declaration, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” The sacrifice was born, the king who would “save His people from their sins” was born. 33 years later He went up to a cross and made the once and for all sacrifice so that our sins could be taken away.
On the Day the veil of the Temple that separated the Most Holy Place from the rest was torn in two, and now because of the blood of Jesus we have access to God. In the OT the high priest only got to go into that place once a year, applying the blood to the mercy seat for the people’s forgiveness. Now however there is a better way, the way of Jesus Christ who has made a continual relationship with God possible through His work on the cross. Becuase of that we can do as the psalmist says and clap our hands, and shout and sing. We can worship expressively and with passion because of Jesus. Through the cross we can enter into God’s presence and through the cross we can truly worship with joy. Through the cross we can be transformed and our wills can be subdued and changed. All of that is only possible through the grace of God. Through looking to His law (what was inside the Ark of the Covenant), realizing we can’t keep that law, and crying out for a Savior. Then that grace changes us, it transforms us, it makes us able to live and to worship with joy. Because Jesus was lifted up everythig has changed and we can live with the joy of knowing that one day we will be “lifted up” as well. To God be the glory!