The “Ark of the Covenant” Mystique


The “ark of the testimony” (also called the “ark of the covenant”), which the God of Israel instructed His servant Moses to construct, has been the subject of great interest, awe, terror, admiration, desire, or puzzlement, as the case may be.

The ark was constructed after the children of Israel had left the land of their bondage, Egypt, miraculously crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, and reached the other shore in the land of Midian in the Arabian Peninsula, roamed the surrounding wilderness, before they reached the Land of Promise – Canaan.

Exodus 25:10-17 records God’s instructions about the measurements/dimensions, the materials to use, details of the construction of the ark, which looked like a box, chest, or trunk made of acacia wood. The distinctive feature of the ark was the “mercy seat,” which was a removable top cover of the ark and was made of beaten pure gold; at the end of the seat knelt two cherubim (angelic beings with four wings) carved from gold, facing each other, their upper wings stretched upward, their tips touching each other, while their lower wings covered their bodies. [For an illustration of the ark, Google search “ark of the covenant illustration,” and scroll down  or click “Ark of the Covenant/Location & History.”]  Ezekiel 1:5-11 describes Ezekiel’s vision of angelic “living creatures” which, in Ezekiel 10, are identified as cherubim.

The actual construction of the ark was not done until later, by Bezalel, as closely guided by Moses (Exodus 37:1-9). God must have already given Moses a visual image of cherubim, as he wrote about them in Genesis 3:24. This construction happened after God had spoken His Ten Commandments to the people of Israel from the top of the holy Mount, Sinai or Horeb. God then wrote those Commandments on two tablets of stone with His own fingers and gave them to Moses.

God then gave the people more laws – judgments, ceremonial ordinances, and statutes – through Moses (Exodus 21-23).  God gave instruction on the building of a tabernacle, a place for the people to worship God with all its furnishings, including the garments for the priesthood and their consecration for the sanctuary and worship of Israel (Exodus 25-30).

Then the people of Israel went into idolatry by worshiping an image of a golden calf, with the participation of Moses’ elder brother Aaron as High Priest.  Moses became so angry (as God did) that as he came down from the mount, he threw down the tablets, dashing them to pieces, and chiding everyone and breaking down the image (Exodus 32). God slew some 3,000 men of Israel.

God then had Moses cut two new stone tablets, on which He wrote the Ten Commandments again with His own hands as before (Exodus 34).

Finally, the tabernacle was built, and its furnishings made (Exodus 35-40). The new tablets of the law were placed inside the ark (40:20). As God told Moses, it was from the ark’s mercy seat that He would speak or testify to Moses about His other commandments to the people (Exodus 25:22); thus, it was called the “ark of the testimony.”

In addition, God commanded that a bowl of manna be placed in the ark as a testimony to the succeeding generations, of God’s unfailing provision for His people (Exodus 16:22).  As well, Aaron’s almond branch that budded (Numbers 17:1-10) was placed in the ark as a testimony against wannabe priests who were not of Aaron’s ancestry, as God had ordained.

The tablets were also called the “tablets of the covenant” (Exodus 9:15; 34:28;   Deuteronomy 9:11); thus, the ark was, more often, also called the “ark of the covenant.”

The ark of the covenant was where God’s earthly presence dwelt.  For the most part, it rested in a special place in the tabernacle later called the “Holy Place” (Leviticus 16:16-17).  Only the High Priest was authorized to enter the Holy Place, and that only once a year, during the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:2, 29-34; 23:26-32). The ark had rings on the sides, through which two poles of acacia wood were inserted so the assigned Levites, the Kohathites (Numbers 10:21), could carry the ark whenever the tabernacle was moved, or whenever the people of Israel were commanded to move.

Miraculous events with the ark’s presence

After Moses died, Joshua took over as the leader of the people of Israel (Deuteronomy 31:7-8, 23; 34:9), to lead then into the Promised Land. The first miracle that involved the ark was the crossing of the people through the Jordan River from its east bank to the west (Joshua 3-4). Upon hearing of the wondrous divine intervention for Israel, the Canaanite kings became filled with dread and terror (Joshua 5:1), just as the people of Jericho were when they heard about Israel’s God drying up the Red Sea and Israel’s conquest of the Amorite kings Sihon and Og (Joshua 2:9-11; Numbers 21:21-38).

The most famous and storied conquest that Joshua undertook was the formidable walled central city of Jericho. Joshua 6 records the details of the Israelite army’s seven-day march around the city’s walls, with the ark at the front behind the seven priests blowing seven trumpets, and how the walls fell on the seventh day of their march (Joshua 6:6-21).   With the ark in their camp, Joshua and his army went on to conquer the kingdom of Ai and several kings (Joshua 8-12).

After Joshua’s death, God appointed judges to lead the growing tribes of Israel.  Because of the people’s unfaithfulness to their God, He allowed them to be harassed and subdued by hostile Canaanite people whom they were unable to eliminate.  Among their persistent enemies were the Midianites and the Philistines.

At this juncture, God raised up a great prophet (Samuel), borne miraculously by a barren woman, Hannah, whose husband Elkanah was a descendant of the Levite ancestor Kohath (1 Chronicles 6:33-38). In his time Israel was especially beleaguered by their Philistine neighbors.  The High Priest then was the elderly Eli, who had two unruly sons (1 Samuel 1-3).  In a battle with the Philistines, Israel was defeated, the ark of the covenant was taken by them, and Eli’s two sons (Hopni and Phinehas, who apparently bore the ark) died (1 Samuel 4:1-11).

1 Samuel 5 records the mysterious, tragic events that happened to the Philistines and their idol god Dagon.  Alarmed by the great damage to themselves, the Philistines sent the ark outside of their country, and eventually back to Beth Shemesh in Israel (1 Samuel 6), where over 50,000 of the people were plagued by God for looking into the ark.

Finally, the ark was brought from there by the people of Kirjath Jearim into the house of Aminadab, where it remained for twenty years. (1 Samuel 7:2).

With the continuing unrest, the people of Israel demanded that they have a king over them, just like the nations around then did.  The rest of the two books of Samuel detail this extra-colorful part of Israel’s history.

The second king of Israel, David of Bethlehem, became one of the greatest heroes of Israel.  Besides single-handedly slaying the Philistine giant Goliath, with a stone thrown with a sling, David sought to bring the ark of the covenant back to the tabernacle, from the house of Obed-Edom, where it had remained for three months (2 Samuel 6).

After David died, his son Solomon became king of Israel.  It was during his reign that a temple was built in Jerusalem, and a Holy Place was provided for the ark.

Jerusalem’s impending downfall

Solomon led the way for subsequent kings to fall into idolatry, and God’s judgment (1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles). God’s special prophet during the last kings of Judah was Jeremiah. He prophesied about the impending conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (Jeremiah 25:1-14).  2 Chronicles 36:17-21 gives a pithy account of that debacle:

Therefore He  [God] brought against them the king of the Chaldeans, who killed their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, on the aged and the weak.  He gave them all into his hand.  And all the articles from the house of God, great and small, the treasures of the house of the LORD, and the treasures of the king and of his leaders, all of these he took to Babylon. Then they burned the house of God, broke down the wall of Jerusalem, burned all the palaces with fire, and destroyed all its precious possessions.  And those who escaped from the sword he carried away to Babylon, where they became servants to him and his sons and the rule of the kingdom of Persia., to fulfill the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land had enjoyed her Sabbaths.  As long as she lay desolate she kept Sabbath, to fulfill seventy years.

Was the ark of the covenant among the treasures of the temple that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed or carried away to Babylon?

Strong Jewish tradition has it that, well before the Babylonian invasion, God had instructed Jeremiah to cart away the ark from the temple and hide it in a place He would show, which no man could find, much like God hid the body of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). As Jeremiah himself quoted God: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh.  Is there anything too hard [difficult] for Me?” (Jeremiah 32:26.)

The ark sought after

Since the ark’s disappearance, and believing that it is hidden somewhere in some secret place, some people have sought to retrieve it and possibly use its mysterious, supernatural powers to win battles. The story is told that, during World War II, the German dictator Adolph Hitler sent out men to search for and find the ark, in order to ensure Germany’s rule over all the world. U.S. security officials became apprehensive about this rumor, and engaged the expertise of an archeologist-scholar and adventurer, Indiana Jones, to be on that search too, so as to preempt the ark getting into Hitler’s hands. This story was portrayed in the movie “The Raiders of the Lost Ark.”  The ark was not found among the nobles of Ethiopia who claim to have taken the ark during their Queen of Sheba’s encounter with King Solomon, nor anywhere else.

Enter Ron Wyatt

I believe, as a good number of other people do, that the American anesthetist nurse and amateur archeologist Ron Wyatt has God’s anointing in being able to discover archeological evidence of certain key events in the Bible. Many others, however, have also questioned Wyatt’s credentials as an amateur archeologist and staunchly maintain that Wyatt’s discoveries are his mere uneducated guesses.  Among these is the real route that the children of Israel took in their “exodus” from their bondage in Egypt, through the Egyptian desert into a shore area large enough to rest some two million plus men, women, and children of Israel and their livestock, from where they crossed the Red Sea, whose waters God miraculously parted so they could cross over dry-shod to the other shore, in Midian, in the Arabian Peninsula. Having prayed for God’s guidance and help, God’s Wyatt, with his sons, found incontrovertible proofs of the real and actual route of Israel’s exodus through the Red Sea, and the real location of Mount Sinai or Mount Horeb. [See my article: The Real Red Sea Crossing.] Wyatt has also found remains of what looks like the ark (boat) of Noah and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

One of the last discoveries made by Wyatt, before his death, which has probably earned him the greatest flak and number of detractors, is his claim to have found the probable location of where the ark of the covenant has been hidden these past centuries. He gives details of this in this video: “Ron Wyatt’s Explosive 1984 Ark of the Covenant Discovery Interview” [Google Ron Wyatt — ark of the covenant discovery, and scroll down to that interview]. Wyatt claims to have received a number of visions of Christ and angels that inspired him to get on with the arduous task of digging in the site.

Wyatt recounts that he was able to get a sample of the dried blood which trickled from the cross on which Christ died down through the rocks onto the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant where it is hidden, underneath the cross hole on the hill of Golgotha when the earth shook at His death.  That Wyatt did not get slain for looking at the ark is, to me, proof of God’s approval of Wyatt’s efforts. Wyatt reports that six Jewish men tried to get near where the ark is believed to be lodged, and they died inexplicably. He had to drag their corpses out of the tunnels.

Wyatt reconstituted the dried blood sample and  had some Jewish scientific technicians examine it for its chromosome content, etc. The lab technicians were blown away to find that the blood sample did not carry the usual number of male and female chromosomes. The sample revealed the natural number of female chromosomes from the mother, Mary, but only one male chromosome instead of the 20-some from a human father – indicating that Jesus was begotten by a spiritual Father! The Jewish technicians asked Wyatt what to make of the findings.  He tearfully told them, “It is the blood of your Messiah!” Wyatt reported that, because of this, those Jews have become believers of Christ!

What of the “ark of the covenant” in Revelation 11?

I read of a religious writer who discredited Wyatt’s discovery of the lost ark of the covenant in the tunnels under the crucifixion site on the hill of Golgotha as the work of a mere archeological charlatan! This writer pointed to Revelation 11:19, “Then the temple of God was opened in heaven and the ark of His covenant was seen in His temple.  And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.”

Since that ark is described as being in God’s heavenly sanctuary, this said writer asserted that there can be no other ark remaining on the earth, as Wyatt promotes! How do we reconcile this Bible scripture with Wyatt’s claim about the ark being found?

Hebrews 9:4-5 mentions the ark of the covenant in the “earthly sanctuary.” Verse 23 says that this and the other objects or furnishings of the earthly tabernacle/temple were merely “copies of the things in the heavens.”  It therefore stands to reason that the ark shown in Revelation 11:9 is the original – and spiritual — ark, which Ezekiel’s vision of cherubim (Ezekiel 10) portrays as a movable throne where God sits as He chooses to go.

Jesus promised: “For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:2). In His own time God will reveal all things now covered and hidden!  That certainly includes the knowledge which a humble servant like Ron Wyatt has uncovered about events, places and objects mentioned in the Holy Bible as he reports on his website [see: Wyatt Archeological Research <>] to prove God’s Word to be true indeed!

Is it possible that, at Christ’s soon return with His hosts of angelic armies God will, in time, remove His ark of the covenant from its hiding place, to be borne by angels as the last great trumpet of God is blown, with a great shout of the archangel (1 Thessalonians 4:10; Revelation 16:17-17:6), and – like the walls of Jericho, around which Joshua and his armies marched with the ark, the noise of trumpets and great shouts of the armies, and the walls came tumbling down – Satan and his kingdom, now actively working through “Babylon the Great,” will fall  with a great and final fall (Revelation 18)?

It would seem that the finally revealed ark of the covenant will rest in the Holy of Holies in the new temple that Christ will rebuild in Jerusalem in the early years of His millennial reign [see: The Temple in Ezekiel 40-44.]


Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.