Ark of the Covenant
And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it. And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof. And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
There are three arks that are mentioned in the Bible.
Ark of Bulrushes
Ark of the Covenant
When an ark is mentioned or built, it is said to be pitched. To pitch is to layer the inside and outside so that whatever you put in it will be preserved.
God gives specific instructions to Moses to build the ark. God is an architect. He is a master designer. He didn’t build any of the arks, he just designed them and instructed those who did build the arks. God gives the plan and if you follow the plan, you will be preserved.
Everything about the ark of the covenant is a shadow and type of Jesus.
Each year on the day of atonement, lambs were slain and offered to God for the sacrifice of sin. The blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat to forgive the sins of the previous year. This was a process they repeated every year until Christ (The Lamb of God) came and paid the debt of sin. He didn’t just forgive the debt, He paid it in full.
The lamb is innocent but pays the price of the guilty so that the guilty could live as if they are innocent.
As the shittian-wood was one that never rotted, it was a most appropriate emblem of the ... It is indeed striking to find that in the Septuagint (the first translation ever made of the Old Testament—into Greek) it is always translated "incor- rupible wood." Strong, hard.
The wood points to Christ’s humanity. The gold points to His divinity.
The Ark was wood and gold.
Jesus is all man and he’s all God.
The ark testifies of the Holy Trinity.
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, And shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, And gather together the dispersed of Judah From the four corners of the earth.
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The Ark always went first:
And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.
And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of Jordan, that the waters of Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above; and they shall stand upon an heap.
The Ark’s Contents
The Ark’s Contents
The Ark of the Covenant contains things that reflect God’s holiness and His faithfulness. Inside of the Ark are two tablets of the Decalogue or the Ten Commandments, a pot containing manna, and Aaron’s rod which had budded. The symbolism of the tablets is that God is a holy God and requires obedience to His Law. The manna was from the days when God miraculously sustained Israel in the Wilderness and has future implication of Jesus being the Bread from Heaven, the Bread of Life (), and the rod of Aaron’s that had budded and even produced almonds speaks of God’s sovereignty in His choosing leaders and that this leadership must come from God and not from man and that men do not choose themselves to be saved and placed into leadership positions but they are chosen by God. The Ark also contained the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament written by Moses. The Ark represented the presence of God and by their careful treatment and handling of the Ark, Israel had to be strict in their adherence of all that God required so that they might live (; ).
The Ark and God’s Presence
The Ark and God’s Presence
As I have written before, the Ark represented the presence of God because the contents reflected God’s nature and His attributes of faithfulness, holiness, and sustaining of life for those who are His own. The Ark is mentioned over 200 times in the Old Testament in 22 different designations. The Ark is sometimes referred to as the Ark of the Covenant (), the Ark of the Testimony (), the Ark of Yahweh (), the Ark of God () and sometimes simply the Ark () but one of the main purposes for the Ark was that of God’s being present or dwelling with His people and when the Ark was missing, so too was God’s glory. When the Philistines captured the Ark () the glory was said to have departed from Israel () but the Philistines suffered from several plagues when they had it (, ). When Israel crossed the Jordan River with the Ark the waters miraculously stopped () and Israel was able to cross over on dry ground (). The significance of the water being stopped is that water sometimes represents God’s judgment and when God is present and a person or a nation lives in obedience to Him, the judgment of God is withheld. The many historical accounts in the Bible clearly show that the Ark of the Covenant was real and not fictitious, even though no one knows where it is today.
The Ark’s Symbolic Meaning
The Ark’s Symbolic Meaning
The Ark of the Covenant was placed behind the Holy of Holies since the Ark represented God’s presence and no one but the high priest could have access to the Holy of Holies and then, only once a year (on the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur). Anyone that came in to contact with the Ark, besides the high priest, would instantly die since no one can see God and live (). The Ark and the temple is an earthly symbol of the heavenly sanctuary. The top or lid of the Ark was appropriately called the Mercy Seat and pictured the Lamb of God by Whom we have all obtained mercy (). The lid had two golden cherubim angels which protected the Holy of Holies just as a cherub angel guarded the Garden of Eden once man had fallen and prohibited them from returning to it and partaking of the Tree of Life. These two cherubim protect and magnify God’s glory. When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement, he sprinkled blood over it representing Christ’s shed blood that would be shed for the remission of sins. At that time, it only covered the people’s sins but could never took them away () but when Christ shed His own blood, He took away the sins of those who trusted in Him (). This was where the blood and the mercy of God (on the Mercy Seat) meet in the form of the blood of the Lamb of God, shed for us who have repented and trusted in Him. We get what we do not deserve (called mercy) while not getting what we truly do deserve (called mercy).
By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.