So, have you ever seen the move, “Indiana Jones & The Raiders Of The Lost Ark”? Were you aware that the movie was actually based on the Old Testament story of Israel’s Ark of the Covenant? It was a 1981 Steven Spielberg film that starred Harrison Ford as an archaeologist who battled a group of Nazis searching for the Lost Ark of the Covenant. If you’ve never watched it, you need to! It’s iconic! Not that the movie is Biblically accurate; although, it is correct in a couple of ways— First, there really was such an item as the Ark; and, second, it really is lost!
-The Ark Of God
Back in Exodus, chapters 36 & 37, we read how God gave the dimensions for the Ark or “chest” to Moses! And, Bezalel was the skilled craftsman who actually built it from Acacia wood; and, overlaid it with gold! It’s ultimate significance was the “mercy seat” or cover of the Ark; where, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies once a year to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial lamb to atone for Israel’s sins. Obviously, the act foreshadowed the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make for sin on the cross. It’s in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings that we read how King Solomon built the first temple, in Jerusalem, to actually house the Ark.
-Where Is It Now?
But, somewhere during the years following Solomon’s reign— in all chaos of a split nation & a whole lot of evil, wicked kings— the Ark vanished; and, no one knows where. Much of Jewish tradition believes that it disappeared some time before or while the Babylonians sacked the temple in 586 BC and took many of the Jewish leaders into exile in Babylon. An interesting twist, however, is the claim of Ethiopian Christians that the Ark rests in a chapel in the small Ethiopian town of Aksum. They say it arrived nearly 3000 years ago; and, has been guarded by a succession of Monks who are forbidden to step outside the chapel until they die! These Ethiopian Christians believe that once the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, according to Bible prophecy, that they’ll return the Ark as a gift to Israel (NOTE: They make a compelling case from Isaiah 18).
-Don’t You Love A Good Mystery?
Now, while I love a good mystery like that, I suppose God only knows for sure where the Ark is. So, just by observation, we’d conclude that the Ark was kind of a big deal to Israel! Perhaps you recall, from a reading in Exodus, that, after God had made a Covenant, with Israel; and, written the 10 Commandments on stone tablets, that He instructed Moses to have the Ark built and to place the stone tablets inside.
-God Struck Him Dead!
The Ark symbolized God’s presence with His people; and, that’s why it was so devastating to Israel when Saul & the army was defeated by the Philistines & they took the Ark away with them as they plundered Israel. But, after humiliating Dagon, the Philistines false idol; and, causing numerous plagues to strike several Philistine towns, they finally returned the Ark to the Israelite town of Kiriath-Jearim where it was when David is installed as King in 1 Chronicles, chapter 11. After securing the nation militarily, David’s 1st priority was to retrieve the Ark & to bring it to the capital city of Jerusalem (ch. 13). That’s where we find the incredibly interesting story of Uzzah. As all Israel joined King David, in celebration, as they brought the Ark to Jerusalem, Uzzah reaches out to steady the Ark as the oxen, who pulled the Ark, stumbled! And, it says that God “…struck him dead…” because he touched it (v.9). Harsh? Let’s come back to that next week!