The three parts of the Ark of the Covenant are the Mercy Seat, the Chest or Ark, and the Poles. This post will look at the Chest of the Ark and its symbolism of Jesus. The given instructions are in Exodus 25:10-12 and its purpose is in verse sixteen. The Chest was to hold the stone tables of the Law. Over the course of time a pot manna and Aaron’s symbol of leadership, the sprouted staff was also placed inside the Chest. (Hebrews 9:4)
Materials and Parts
- Acacia wood
- Gold (to cover the wood)
- A gold molding
- Four gold rings (for the Poles)
- Four feet
(Symbols and symbolism can be like beauty – “it is in the eyes of the beholder”. There is always more that can be said, please add these to your list.)
- I looked but did not see where ornaments or decorations were added to the sides of acacia wood.
- The gold on the wood speaks of Jesus’ dual nature God/Man, heavenly/earthly, plain/rich. This list could go on for a while.
- The gold molding can represent the crown that was always His. It should have helped to maintain the Mercy Seat on the top of the Ark.
- The feet were necessary for the attachment of the rings. This arrangement would have the Ark high and lifted above the Levities who carried it.
- The rings held the Poles (the Holy Spirit).
The Real Ark
Moses made a copy of what he saw in heaven when he talked with God on Mount Sinai. Revelation 11:19 is John seeing the Ark in the heavenly Temple. Is there possibly still an ark here on earth? Sure, why not, but it is still a copy of what Moses saw. John 1:17 says it differently, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
Numbers and symbols are tools of our God to teach us lessons. They are not to be feared or worshipped, they do not bring you good or ill, they are just tools. Instead of fearing them, fear the One who made them. With that said, pundits of the past and present see five as representing grace. Why? When they count things in the Bible, they see sets of five as being associated with the things of grace. (Remember what your eyes see.) Are they wrong, NO? If you do an internet search for things in the Bible, please be aware that many secular and New Age sites work biblical numbers in with their non-godly philosophies.
Jesus is the reason we have God’s grace. The ark/chest, which I see as representing Jesus, has five sides. The sixth panel of the box is the Mercy Seat, which is the Father. This idea helped me to make sense of why five fish fed the 5,000. The five fish were broken into pieces (like Jesus was broken) and that allowed for the 5,000 to receive grace and be fed. If you continue your study to when the crowds found Jesus on the other side of the lake; Jesus called them out for only wanting to be fed. The forty years of manna was in this conversation. A jar of manna was in the Ark for a long time.
Rules, Provisions, Leadership
Moses was directed by God to put three items in the Ark: Tablets of the Law, a gold jar of manna, and Aaron’s rod. These items are the reason I began this study. A pastor I respect rightfully said that these things are associated with rebellion against God. He continued by saying that they are covered by being in “Jesus”. I saw the items as positive things that Jesus has waiting for us in Him. Like the Tree in the Garden, many things can have good/bad thoughts associated with them.
- Manna – This heavenly bread was going to be supplied because the people had to eat. The congregation of Israel just had to complain instead of thanking God for His provision. The amount stored was an omer. The same amount that one person needed for one day.
- Aaron’s Rod – God had a dead stick blossom and fruit so everyone could see whom He picked to be responsible for leading the Levities. This came about because Korah (a Levite) wanted authority that was not for him to have. The stick blossomed as an almond. See the post on Fruit and Nuts.
- Stone Tablets of the Law – The tablets that went in were the second set God wrote. Moses broke the first set because of the golden calf Aaron had made and how quickly the people went wild. The Law was given to help us and would have been stored somewhere.
- Gold – (How you look at things.) The inside of the Ark was covered with gold. Just saying.
When and how did the manna and rod leave the Ark? Were the contents ever brought out and shown to the people? How big were the tablets?
A Little of the Ark’s Travels
- In Judges the Ark was in Bethel, this is where Jacob saw the stairs and angels coming and going from heaven.
- Samuel starts with the Ark in Shiloh.
- After the Philistines returned it, they had it for seven months. The people took it to Kiriath Jearim (Baalah of Judah), a Levitical town. It stayed there for twenty years. It is hard to say if the Ark and the rest of the Tabernacle were together at this time, but it did not go back to Shiloh. This is a serious separation. No, sacrificing near the presence of God.
- David puts it on a new cart (like the Philistines) and tries to move it to Jerusalem. A priest dies and it goes to the house of Obed-Edom for three months. The question here is did anyone know the correct way to transport the Ark? The priest and Levites seemed to agree and go along with this improper way of honoring God.
- David pitches a tent for the Ark in Jerusalem, and it stays there until Solomon moves it into the Temple.
- Through good kings and bad, the Ark stays in the Temple. 2 Chronicles 35:3 is the last mention of the physical Ark I can find. Josiah is telling the Levites to stop carrying it around Jerusalem and teach the people. Treasures had been removed by several invading countries, and kings have used the Temple’s treasures to buy off bully nations, but no one touched the Ark. You have to wonder if the seven months in the land of the Philistines had something to do with it?
- Jeremiah 3:16 is the last mention of the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament timeline. It actually is a promise from God to the people about not needing it. The last part of the verse, to me, is strange- “nor will another one be made”. Bible translations seem to be split on how to handle this verse. Many infer that seeking the Ark won’t happen. (There are legends that Solomon may have made a copy.) It is assumed that Jeremiah, a priest, removed the Ark from the Holy of Holies and hid it or carried it off.
The shadows that these movements and events create are complex. The symbol of the triune God in the hands of the Philistines is very unnerving. I could see links to Jesus’ life and sacrifice here. The roughly 400 years of silence in scripture about the Ark also leaves many questions. I will take for granted that the priest still carried out their duties, but did the people join them? Hezekiah and Josiah both had “cleaning out the Temple” and “finding the Book of the Law” moments, so it seems that the priest had lapses in doing what was right.
Simple links and comparisons of the chest of the Ark to Jesus may be few. I know this study has challenged me to see and seek God are more insight into this mystery.