What is the Ark of the Covenant? It was a mercy-seat, rather, God's throne on Earth, made of acacia wood. It was built by the Israelites in the desert after the Exodus occurred, and were given instructions - including the Ten Commandments, at Mount Sinai. (Modern-day Jebel el Lawz) You may recognize it from such films as Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, returning for a cameo appearance in the more recent Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull.
But what about the real Ark of the Covenant? The Ark of the Covenant is first mentioned in Exodus 25:10-22, where God gives Moses the exact instructions on how to build the Ark - to have the ark made of acacia wood, along with two poles to carry it, and an atonement cover (the Mercy Seat) made of pure gold, God's Throne on Earth, where he came to Moses and gave him commandments and talked with him.
Considered the "splendor of Israel" (Lamentations 2:1), the Ark of the Covenant was mentioned over 200 times in the Old Testament. The Ark was usually carried before the army (Numbers 4:5-6, 10:33-36; Psalm 68:1, 132:8), was left in the homes of individuals, sometimes ignored, other times revered - later placed in Solomon's Temple.
After the death of Moses, Joshua was made head of Israel. (1406 BC) When it came time to cross the river Jordan, Joshua was told by God to have the Priests carrying the Ark to go before the People. When they had reached Jordan, the river was in its flood stage, because it was the time of the harvest. "Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away... while the water down [the opposite way] was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho." (Joshua 3:11-17)
After the Israelites had crossed, they not long after came upon Jericho. Jesus, pre-incarnate, came to Joshua, (See entry: Who is the "Angel of the Lord?") telling him to march around the city six days with the Ark of the Covenant, and on the seventh day, blow the trumpets and give a loud shout- and the walls would fall. Joshua listened, and the walls fell. (Joshua 5:13-6:27) We can still see the remains of Jericho today, with the only remaining wall. (God promised Rahab that the wall where she lived would not fall, but all other walls would.)
When the Ark was covered, it was more often than not wrapped in a veil, in "tachash skins," as well as a blue cloth, and was fully concealed from those around it, even those who carried it - though the poles were visible, to carry. Over the course of time, the Ark of the Covenant went through a long journey.
It was captured by Philistines, (1st Samuel 4:3-11) but was finally recovered, after the sent it back. (1st Samuel 5:7-8; 6) used in the days of King Saul, though we are told that Saul did not consult God before battle (1st Chronicles 13:1-13). It went here and there throughout King David's reign, before coming to rest in the Temple after built by King Solomon.
However, that wasn't the end. in 586 BC, the Babylonians invaded Israel, and once they took Jerusalem, destroyed Solomon's temple. The Ark has not been seen since, though some suggest that it was destroyed, while yet others suggest that it was taken by Nebuchadnezzar. Because of this, the rebuilt Temple did not include the Ark in the Holy of Holies room.
In the New Testament, in Hebrews 9:4, we are told that behind the second curtain in the Temple was the Holy Place, "which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant."
We are shown one more glimpse of the Ark of the Covenant. Revelation 11:19 says, "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and within his temple was seen the ark of his covenant." So where is the Ark of the Covenant today? Many theories abound. Some say that the Ark is at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, just beneath the Mount itself, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church claims to have the Ark, saying that the Ark was brought to Ethiopia by Menelik I with divine assistance, while other countries, such as France, the UK, Ireland, Japan, and South Africa claim to have it. Supposedly, when Queen Elizabeth II visited Ethiopia, she claimes to have seen the Ark.
Ron Wyatt claimed to have discovered the Ark beneath the site of Jesus' crucifixion, and that when his blood was spilled, it went down the cracks when the "rock split," and landed on top of the Mercy Seat, therefore initiating the New Covenant. (For Ron Wyatt's finding, go to ArkDiscovery.com) The book of the Apocrypha, 2 Maccabees 2:4-10, seems to support its location as Mt. Nebo.
It says, "Further, this document records that, prompted by a divine message, the prophet gave orders that the Tent of Meeting and the Ark should go with him. Then he went away to the mountain from the top of which Moses saw God's promised land. [Mt. Nebo] When he reached the mountain, Jeremiah found a cave-dwelling; he carried the tent, the ark, and the incense-altar into it, then blocked up the entrance.
Some of his companions came to mark out the way, but were unable to find it. When Jeremiah learned of this he reprimanded them. 'The place shall remain unknown,' he said, 'until God finally gathers his people together and shows mercy to them. Then the Lord will bring these things to light again, and the glory of the Lord will appear with the cloud, as it was seen both in the time of Moses and when Solomon prayed that the shrine might be worthily consecrated.'" Some claim to have seen a copy of the Ark of the Covenant at Mt. Nebo.
Now, we must be very careful when we read the Apocrypha. (For reasons why, see entry: "How Do We Know the 66 Books in the Bible are the Right Books?") Overall, scholars generally agree that if God wants the Ark to be found, he will reveal it in due time. But even with such overwhelming evidence, as if we do not have enough already, there still remains unbelievers, and there will.
Whatever the case, the Ark of the Covenant proves fascinating to say the least. Though some get confused between Noah's Ark, the "lifeboat" that saved humanity, and the Ark of the Covenant, which was God's Mercy Seat, it remains one of the most sought after archaeological finds in history. Tehre have been many theories and interesting discoveries, and while I have my own opinion on where it is, agreeing with a certain finding, I will not make my opinion known - as it is not my opinion, but what the Bible tells us, that should be shared.
What can we learn from the Ark? The Ark of the Covenant was a portable box that was constructed per divine instruction. The Ark contained the original Ten Commandments given to Moses, as well as a few other objects of interest. The Ark, for many years, served as the focus of the place of God, and was later put into the Temple. God showed his power through the Ark various times, and some tested him. The Ark of the Covenant was lost when the Babylonians destroyed Solomon's Temple. Where it is now, we are not entirely sure.
I trust this entry has proven helpful and insightful. For more information on subjects such as these, evidence of God, Jesus, and the Bible, and a plethora of other subjects, feel free to comment below, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the facebook page. Take Care, and God Bless. Troy Hillman