What happened to the Ark? Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary says, “After the destruction of the first temple (Solomon’s temple- B.H.), there is no evidence as to what happened to the ark, but only highly speculative tradition and conjecture” (p. 71).
Jewish tradition is that it was hid in a cave on Mt. Pisgah before Jerusalem fell to Babylon in 586 B.C. (2 Macc. 2:4-8). Some have a theory that it is in Ethiopia. Still others claim the Vatican or the Freemasons possess it.
However, I want to tell you about the true Ark, not the shadow but the substance, not the type but the antetype.
Information About the Ark
The word “ark” refers to a container. Its dimensions: 45″ long x 27″ wide x 27″ high (Exodus 25:10-11). The ark was constructed at God’s instructions (Exodus 25:8-ff) by Bezaleel (Exodus 37:1) while the children of Israel were encamped at Sinai.
It is referred to as: (1) “the ark of the covenant” (Numbers 10:33, etc.) it contains the Ten Commandments representing God’s covenant with Israel. (2) “the ark of the testimony” (Exodus 30:6, etc.). It contained the testimony, or words of God (Exodus 16: 34; 25:16; 31:18). It testified against and condemned sinful men (Deuteronomy 31:26-27). (3) “ark of the LORD/Jehovah” (Joshua 4:11, etc.) and the “ark of God” (1 Samuel 3:3, etc.). It represented God’s presence. [Study the following passages: Numbers 10:33, 35-36; Joshua 6:6-8; 7:6-7; 1 Samuel 4:3, 7, 6:19-20; 1 Chronicles 16:4, 37]. (4) “The ark of Your strength” (Psalm 132:8). It represented the power or might of God.
The perimeter of the top of the ark was crowned with gold. This crown helps keep the lid of the ark, the mercy-seat, in place (Exodus 25:10-11). The original word for “mercy-seat” refers to a covering, a propitiation. Sacrificed blood on the Day of Atonement was sprinkled by the High Priest on the mercy-seat thereby making atonement (Leviticus 16:14).
I do not know where this ark is, or if it exists. It does not matter. We’re told that upon Israel’s return from captivity the ark would not be important, nor would they have it (Jeremiah 3:13-14, 16-17a).
Jesus is the “propitiation” for our sins (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). This same word is rendered “mercy-seat” (Hebrews 9:5). Jesus is pictured as the sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27), the High Priest (Hebrews 7:27; 9:24-ff) and the mercy-seat (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
- The ark of the Old Testament contained the Ten Commandments (Exodus 25:16, 21; Deuteronomy 10:4-5; Hebrews 9:4). Jesus is the Word of God (John 1:1, 14). Jesus is the incarnate word. He not only told us how to live, He showed us. Moreover, it is by His words we’ll be judged (John 12:48).
- The ark of the Old Testament contained a pot of manna (Exodus 16:32-34; Hebrews 9:4). Manna was sent down from above to meet the temporary physical needs of the children of Israel in the wilderness. Jesus came down from above to provide eternal sustenance (John 6:48-51, 58, 63). We need to consume this word (Job 23:12; Psalm 19:10-11; Matthew 4:4; John 6:27 cf. 63, 68).
- The ark of the Old Testament contained Aaron’s rod that budded (Numbers 17:10; Hebrews 9:4). God took a dead rod and returned it to life to testify of Aaron’s priesthood. Even so, God’s ultimate verification of Jesus was the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
- The ark of the Old Testament opened up the promised land to the children of Israel (Joshua 3:9-ff; 4:10, 17-18). Jesus opened up the access to the true promised land (John 14:1-6).
- The ark of the Old Testament helped them conquer Jericho (Joshua 6:6-8, 11). Even so, we today can do “all things through Christ” (Philippians 4:13). God has not given us a task too hard to accomplish through Jesus.
- The ark of the Old Testament was at times treated as a magic box (1 Samuel 3:11-13 – cf. 4:1ff). They lived sinfully and expected the ark to deliver them. Man today, think they can live like the devil and still be blessed and delivered from destruction. It won’t work.
- The ark of the Old Testament had the false god “Dagon” fall before it (1 Samuel 5:1-ff). One day all will bow before Him (Romans 14:11-12). False religion will be destroyed (2 Thessalonians 2:8).
- The ark of the Old Testament was not to be taken lightly (1 Samuel 6:19-20; 2 Samuel 6:7). Jesus is not to be taken lightly. Things are to be done in an unauthorized way (Colossians 3:17).
- The ark of the Old Testament had a crown and a mercy-seat (Exodus 25:10-11; 17). Jesus is king (1 Timothy 6:15). He has all authority (Matthew 28:18-20; John 12:48). Yet, through Him is an opportunity for mercy (Acts 2:36-38, Acts 8:13; cf. 18-22). Won’t you accept His terms for mercy today!