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Written by Victoria Radin   
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The Ark of the Covenant

And Its Spiritual Counterpart

"And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them." (Exodus 25:8)

The Ark of the Covenant, as it was called at times, was the most important piece of furniture in the Tabernacle. It was, moreover, the reason for the Tabernacle. The aim of the Ark was to manifest G-d on earth, made possible only through the Covenant He made with the Israelites. G-d did not instruct the Israelites to make an image of Himself to worship. In fact, G-d forbade the Israelites from fashioning any idols. The Ark rather, only represented G-d's attributes and character.

For the Israelites, the Ark was G-d's throne where judgment was decreed, the site of the visible manifestation of His Glory, and the place where the Presence of G-d resided. For Believers in Yeshua, the Ark is a spiritual representation of the Triune G-d: G-d the Father is the Righteous Judge, Yeshua is the visible manifestation of His Glory, and the Holy Spirit is the Presence of G-d residing in human tabernacles. All of the attributes and character traits that the Ark portrayed spiritually pointed to the Messiah, Yeshua. Even physical materials from which the Ark was constructed portrayed divinely hidden, eternal truths about Him.

The Ark was present in the wilderness tabernacle and in Solomon's Temple; but the Ark of the L-rd disappeared just before the Babylonian invasion of Jerusalem. The apocryphal account in 2 Maccabees 2:1-8 states that Jeremiah, in anticipation of the destruction of Jerusalem and the sure pillage of the Temple, took the Ark and hid it. Others claim that the Ark found its way to Ethiopia as a result of a conspiracy between the Temple priests and Menelik I, the alleged son of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. This legend concludes that the Ark that remained in Solomon's Temple was only a replica. These are only two of the many legends that have circulated concerning the Ark's whereabouts. These ancient tales have spurred untold numbers of archeological expeditions as well as a plethora of books and videos on the subject. The current fascination over the lost Ark is a sign of the prophetic return of the L-rd to His earthly Temple in Jerusalem.

An interesting theory, resulting from an unusual interpretation of several biblical passages, concludes that before the Babylonian exile, G-d took the Ark into heaven (Revelation 11:19). The Bible does not mention the Ark's presence in either Zedekiah's rebuilt Second Temple or in Herod's reconstruction of it. The Scriptures, however, do hint that G-d would be present there. The prophet Haggai in 2:9 records the L-rd's own words: "The glory of this latter House shall be greater than that of the former...." G-d's Glory is the manifestation of His presence. If the Ark had disappeared, how was G-d's Glory to be manifested in the Second, rebuilt Temple? The answer can be found by examining the Ark's biblical structure and function.

First, the Ark served as a conduit for G-d's power, a passageway of divine might and authority. For instance, when the Ark was brought to the Jordan River where the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, the waters immediately parted so that the Israelites could cross over. Likewise, whenever the Ark was brought onto a battlefield, Israel and her enemies attributed the outcome to the presence of the G-d of Israel (Numbers 14:44-45; 1 Samuel 4:8 & 17-22; 5:2-12; 2 Samuel 11:11).

G-d's power as exhibited through the Ark, could result in a blessing or a curse to the Israelites. When Eli's rebellious sons presumptuously took the ark into battle against the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:21) for instance, they were killed, their army sorely defeated, and the Ark removed from their presence. Also, those who treated the Ark irreverently or without regard to G-d's specific instructions were like-wise cursed as in the case of the people of Beth-Shemesh (1 Samuel 6:19) and Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:6, 7). When people like Abinadab (1 Samuel 7:1-2) and Obed-Edom (2 Samuel 6:11-12) treated the Ark with honor while in their care, the result was great blessing.

Through the Ark, G-d's will could be discerned. It was the means through which the L-rd instructed and guided His people. It was before the Ark that G-d met with Moses and spoke to him from between the cherubim (Exodus 25:22; Numbers 7:89); and there that Joshua and the elders of Israel inquired of the L-rd (Joshua 7:6, 7; Judges 20:27). The Ark performed a number of functions relating to the Israelites; but most importantly, spoke of the prophetic destiny for the Jewish people and Gentiles alike­­the Ark itself:

"They shall make an ark of shittim wood....overlay it with pure gold­­overlay it inside and out­­and make upon it a gold crown round about." (Exodus 25:10, 11)

The rabbis who translated the Septuagint rendered the passage: They shall make an ark of incorruptible wood. Wood denotes that which is earthly. Gold, on the other hand, symbolizes the divine, that which is costly and valuable. These construction materials, therefore, express the dual nature of the Ark as both natural and spiritual, giving clarity to the dual nature of the Ark's spiritual counterpart, the Messiah, as both man and G-d. The gold covering the 'incorruptible' wood illustrates the uniting of the divine with that which is earthly but undecaying. The shittim wood also gave testimony to the Messiah's incorruptible nature (sinlessness - 1 John 3:5)­­ the incorruptible seed that died to produce a great crop (1 Peter 1:23 & John 12:24).

Shittim [shi TEEM] wood, according to Strong's #7848 refers to sticks of wood from the acacia tree­­, its scourging thorns, which are extremely durable. The crown Yeshua wore at His crucifixion was pictured in the Ark having been constructed of the acacia's scourging thorns (shittim) overlaid with pure gold having a crown round about.. Yeshua took 'the curse of thorns' to the cross depicting the removal of the scourge on mankind for Adam's rebellion against G-d (Genesis 3:17, 18). The acacia tree also exudes a medicinal gum which speaks not only of the physical healings Yeshua accomplished, but more specifically of the spiritual healing of mankind.

G-d further instructed that a lid, the mercy seat, be placed upon the Ark, being made of pure gold and bearing the likeness of two cherubim facing each other with their wings spread out so as to touch each other. It was the place where the atonement blood was sprinkled once a year on Yom Kippur to seek pardon from G-d for the sins of the Nation of Israel.

Cherubim were the angelic agents who carried out G-d's judgments (Genesis 3:24; Ezekiel 9 & 10; Revelation 6:1-8; Revelation 15:7). Deuteronomy 19:15 states that no one can be convicted by the testimony of only one witness. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three. The two cherubim on the mercy seat serve as the two witnesses to the sin-guilt of all mankind. Yet, they rest on G-d's mercy seat.

Yeshua came not to judge the world, but rather to save the world from judgment. When Yeshua's blood was sprinkled on the heavenly ark (Hebrews 9:24, 25) the witness of the two Cherubim changed. Their testimony is now that judgment has been paid in full for all who trust in the Messiah. G-d has granted mercy because of the shed blood of His Son, Yeshua.

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