I grew up on Indiana Jones. In fact, at some point in my childhood, I managed to get my hands on an actual whip – (I truly can’t remember WHERE I found one of those) – and I practiced for hours trying to perfect Indy’s technique. I never did, by the way, and at some point my parents banned all whips inside the house for reasons I would rather not discuss.
The fact remains – Indy was one of my heroes. I followed him to the Temple of Doom. I cheered along on his Last Crusade. Before both of those, of course, I watched him hunt for the Ark of the Covenant.
Of course, at that time, I had no understanding of the Ark and the special significance it played in Scripture. I only knew that it must be valuable, because everyone in the movie was willing to die to secure it.
As I grew, I began to understand that the Ark was really, really important – so important that nearly every cable TV channel has produced a different program promoting a different theory of its whereabouts. Over the years, experts have told me that it is:
- In Ethiopia
- Under the Vatican
- In a cave belonging to Jeremiah
- Under the Temple Mount
- In Heaven
- And on and on the theories go
Along with millions of others, I have watched these specials and speculated as to the whereabouts of the Ark and when God would allow it to be found. In all of this “detective work”, however, I missed the most important part of the story – the part that shows the location of the REAL ARK.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up and remind you of a few things.
First, Exodus 25 gives God’s detailed instructions to Moses on how to build the Ark. A summary of those verses is basically this:
- The sides of the Ark were made of wood covered with gold.
- The top (lid) of the Ark was made of solid gold. It has a flat surface with Cherubim on each side. This was called the Mercy Seat – the place where God resided. Each year, on Yom Kippur, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holies in the Temple, where the Ark was kept, and sprinkle the blood of sacrifice on the Mercy Seat. This was for the atonement of sins.
- Inside the Ark were three objects: the tablets of the Law; a pot of manna; and Aaron’s staff (which had budded).
- The Ark is last mentioned in 2 Chronicles 35. Soon after, the Babylonians invaded and the Ark disappeared from the pages of Scripture. Thus, the scramble to discover its whereabouts.
Now, back to my statement from earlier. In all of my conspiracy-theory glory, as I soaked in these television specials about the real hiding place of the Ark, I neglected to remember the connection between Old Testament symbols and the Messiah. Everything in the Old Testament points towards the Messiah who would one day come.
The Ark is no different. In fact, everything in its construction points towards the Messiah:
- Wood covered with gold – what a great picture of humanity mingled with divinity. Jesus was Son of Man and Son of God. He was both human and divine. The construction of the Ark pictured that.
- The contents of the Ark did, too. The Law – Jesus fulfilled that. Manna – Jesus claimed to be the “Bread of Life” – the embodiment of the bread God provided in the wilderness. Aaron’s budded staff – what a powerful picture of resurrection – life out of death.
- But the most profound picture of all – the one that never had once crossed my mind – involved the solid gold Mercy Seat. I never saw it . . . until I read a profound observation from John McArthur.
McArthur points at that in John 20, when Mary was looking into the empty tomb of Jesus, “she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.” MacArthur observed that, in that moment, Mary saw the New Mercy Seat, the perfect mercy seat.
Think about it – two Angels, one sitting at each end of the slab which had held the broken body of our Lord. That scene points straight back to the Ark of the Covenant where two cherubim hovered over its blood splattered mercy seat!
McArthur writes: Where did God meet man throughout the Old Testament? He met man between two angels on the Mercy Seat where the blood was sprinkled. My friends, since Jesus Christ left the tomb, where does God meet men? He meets them between two angels but the Mercy Seat is no longer the Ark of the Covenant, it’s the resurrected Christ’s tomb. God meets men on the basis of a resurrected living Christ, does He not? There’s a new Mercy Seat and nobody needs to go in there and sprinkle any blood anymore because He has once for all accomplished the sacrifice that took care of sin.
Here’s the point – there is no more need anymore to look for the Ark. Jesus has fulfilled all that the Ark stood for. He is the ultimate expression of God’s love and care and presence. He is the Mercy Seat. He is the Ark of God’s Convenant.
And it was there all along.