Some People Say They Have Seen it, Touched It!
Wherever the Ark of the Covenant (AOC) went miracles followed; be it the parting the Jordan river, turning the walls of Jericho into a rock quarry or destroying whole Philistines cities and killing people who didn’t realize how holy it was.
The AOC is most famous today as the subject of the 1981 film “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.” The movie tells of a hero’s attempt to prevent the Ark from falling into the hands of the Nazis, who would harness its power for evil. When they did find it and look into the golden box their faces melted. You will remember in I Chronicles 13:10 when Uzzah reached out to touch the ark “he died there before the Lord.” Would that happen today if the AOC was found and you looked inside, or even touched 2x4x2 feet golden box?
|If you believe that we are living in the Last Days and that biblical prophecy is coming true before your very eyes, than you also believe that another (Third) Temple must be built in Jerusalem. (See Zechariah 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelations 11:1).If the above verses are true, as I believe they are, than it follows that if a new temple is going to be re-built than the AOC must be either found or re-built. It also means that hundreds of vessels and the seven sacred pieces of furniture necessary to perform sacrificial offerings must be found or rebuilt as well.. But are there no such ancient vessels extant and the most sacred prize of all – The Ark of the Covenant is like looking for the Hoy Grail.
When Israel was finally conquered by the Babylonians in B.C. 586 we are told that all the sacred vessels of the temple were taken and stored away in Babylon; but there is no mention in scripture of the AOC being taken to Babylon. My supposition is that if it was, it would have been mentioned along with the sacred vessels. Seventy years later we see 50,000 Jews leaving Babylon and returning to Israel by the decree of Cyrus the Persian king and taking thousands of the sacred vessels with them. (Ezra 1:7-11) But no mention is made of the AOC returning with them. After the destruction of the temple of Solomon we never hear of the AOC again.
The Ark itself plays no role in Jewish life today. It is merely a potent symbol of the Jewish peoples’ past. However, the desire to construct a third temple in Jerusalem is very high, and there can be no legitimate temple without the AOC in its Holy of Holies.
There is only a brief mention of the Ark of the Covenant in the Koran, and having read what it says (002:248); I would be surprised if they would want to destroy it. But like the Philistines it would be a living nightmare to them, a hornet’s nest gone wild. Their basic reaction would be one of fear. It would certainly set alarm bells off a pose a possible holy war throughout the whole Middle East. Their greatest fear would be that Israel would become more zealous than ever and want to control the temple mount and build temple number three on top of its 32 acres, which is now occupied by their shrine, The Dome of the Rock. This shrine is the third holiest place in Islam. You can almost hear the sirens of the Middle East a-blazing.
The Evangelical response would be to see this find as a sign that the Messiah’s advent is nigh and that Israel will soon build a third temple as predicted in the New Testament.
Another good thing that would happen is that it would cause a lot of liberal – progressive seminary professors and archaeologists to blush in shame and tear up their ludicrous lecture notes, and to rush to their libraries and throw their books of skepticism in the dumpster where they have always belonged; because many of them deny that the Exodus of Israel from Egypt ever occurred and that the AOC was ever with them in the wilderness. Yet the Bible tells us that it was built by Bezalel, and carried from Mount Sinai to Canaan. They would have a lot of splainin to do.
But then I remember that Jesus raised the dead in front of eyewitnesses who still refused to believe. The discovery of a big wooden box with gold isn’t going to change their unconverted minds. If these cynics found Moses’s birth certificate inside the ark they would still remain cynics.
What would be the response of the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches which are usually on the side of the Palestinians when it comes to the Near East? I believe the theological impact would be minimal. Very few people get excited about relics anymore. The shroud of Turin was just a blimp on the radar screen. Religious relics have a very dubious history. In the Dark Ages there were enough phony splinters of the cross floating around to build a ship and enough old bones of the apostles and saints to fill Ezekiel’s boneyard. Today the AOC would be granted no miraculous powers. After all, God’s presence left the AOC long ago. (Ezekiel 9:3; 10: 4:18; 11:23) The Roman Catholic Church believes that it replaced Israel as God’s chosen. It was this erroneous ‘replacement theology’ that caused so much anti-Semitism through the Middle Ages.
Traditions of Where The AOC May Be
A Jewish tradition is that the Ark was miraculously transported to heaven when Nebuchadnezzar captured the temple. And that the ark will be restored when the Messiah comes. If you think this is odd, what do you make of Revelation 11:19 where John is talking about an ark in heaven? “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” Is this the ark that Moses had built? Or, is this a heavenly Ark?
How about under Mt Nebo (aka: Mt Pisgah) in modern-day Jordan, where Moses is buried. The Apocrypha which we as Protestants do not accept as inspired but believe has historical value says in II Maccabees 2:4-8 that Jeremiah had it carried to Mount Nebo (also referred to as Mt Pisgah)
“… the prophet (Jeremiah) , in virtue of an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should accompany him, and how he went to the very mountain that Moses climbed to behold God’s inheritance. When Jeremiah arrived there, he found a chamber in a cave in which he put the tent, the ark, and the altar of incense; then he sealed the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the path, but they could not find it. When Jeremiah heard of this, he reproved them: “The place is to remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows them mercy. Then the Lord will disclose these things, and the glory of the Lord and the cloud will be seen, just as they appeared in the time of Moses and of Solomon when he prayed that the place* might be greatly sanctified.”
I don’t know whether you can hang your hat on what the Apocrypha says here because it does say some foolish things; but there it is for what it’s worth.
If you’re a student of history you certainly know the importance of the date 70 AD. If not, try to remember it because it is a key-point in understanding Bible prophecy. In 70 AD the Second Temple (also referred to as Zerubbabel’s Temple and Herod’s Temple) was destroyed by the Romans. What happened to AOC (if it ever was in the second temple) and all the furniture and furnishings this time? You can visit Rome today and see engraved on the Arch of Titus, Roman soldiers carrying away the seven-branched candelabra and other Temple vessels, but not the AOC. (See Footnote 1 below) Some scholars believe that the Temple furnishings taken by the Romans lie in the catacombs of the Vatican. The Vatican denies they are holding any of these objects.
The Knights Templar’s controlled the Temple Mount for 70 years and had access to the 18 miles of tunnels under its base. As greedy for gold as they became I am sure had they found the AOC buried there they would have gladly brought it back to Rome as a sacred treasure from heaven. If it still lies buried there in a secret niche; some believe it will be found when the Jews begin to build their third temple; nevertheless the crusaders did not find it.
Some believe that the AOC is even ended up in city of Aksum, Ethiopia. The evidence here is as shaky as the King Arthur holding the Holy Grail and in my humble opinion as batty as Von Daniken’s theory which postulated that earth might have been visited by extraterrestrials in the remote past. The hard-nosed fact is that ever since the Babylonian captivity and the destruction of Solomon’s temple, no one knows where it is, if it exists at all.
Various Jewish Rabbis claimed that in 1981 and again in 1994 that they discovered the AOC and its contents hidden in a secret vault below the temple. They believe it was hidden there before the Babylonians came and sacked Solomon’s temple in 586 BC. They say they were forbidden to retrieve it and display it openly to the world by the Muslims who are in control of the temple area.
The most interesting theory to me is that it is buried inside the Islamic Dome of the Rock shrine. Historian Josephus and the Jewish Mishnah talk about the AOC sitting on huge rock within the Holy of Holies. This foundation stone is what I believe the Dome of the Rock is built over. When you superimpose a schematic over the Dome of the Rock where the Holy of Holies would be sitting in Solomon’s temple it fits like a hand in a glove. But again; that’s only my speculation.
What Would Happen If The AOC Was Found?
What would happen if the AOC was found today? It would mean a great deal in the conservative Jewish and Evangelical worlds. But in no way would secularists and Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs en masse start believing in God. It would do no more for them the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, or the discovery of Noah’s ark. It would be like a small asteroid hitting the Sinai desert; a lot of people would be fascinated by it, want to study it, but like hurricane Katrina in 2005 and hurricane Sandy in 2012 its moral effect would be short-lived. Jesus raised the dead in front of eyewitnesses who still refused to believe He was the Messiah. The discovery of a wooden box over laid with gold isn’t going to change anybody’s unconverted mind. The world will keep on dancing around the golden calf of wine, women and song until the Lord returns.
Keep your armor of light on and your lamp well-trimmed and burning.
Footnote: 1 (2 Kings 25: 13-17; Ezra 1:7-11; Isaiah 52: 11-12; Jeremiah 27 :16-22; Daniel 5: 2-4)