The Ark of Covenant depicted the physical manifestation of the love of God among His people. It was the revelation of His loving kindness since the beginning of His relationship with Abraham and also the secret of abundance of His glorious presence that will be unfolded among His people as long as they continue in righteousness with God. Ark of God is not an idea of man. It is the wisdom of God manifesting in physical. It came to existence through the commandment of God. “Then, have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.” (Exodus 25:8-9) Although the Ark of the Covenant is a God-breathed monument, it is not one of the creations of God. God made His people to design and construct it according to His specifications. Another name for Ark of Covenant is Ark of Testimony. We shall discuss this later.
The Ark of Covenant is different from the Ark of Noah. The Ark of Noah was also God-breathed project of salvation to filter the good people from the wicked and to salvage and preserve them for His glory. The wicked generation of Noah was completely destroyed in the forty day and night rain that covered the whole earth but the boat of salvation, The Ark of Noah, floated on the water and its occupants were delivered. The salvaged family of Noah became the inhabitants of the world till this day. Please note that ‘salvation’ is a derivative from the word ‘salvage.’
Ark of the Covenant is one of the holy items that God commanded His children to place in the tabernacle. Among other items in the tabernacle of God is Ark of the Covenant, (Exodus 25:10-22) the Table for the bread of the Presence, (Exodus 25:23-30) the Lamp-stand, (Exodus 25:31-37) the Altar of Burnt Offering, (Exodus 27:1-8) the Altar of Incense (Exodus 30:1-10) as well as the Priestly Garment for the anointed priest serving the table of the Lord in the temple. Part of the priestly garment is the Ephod and the Breastpiece. (Exodus 28:6-30) Other materials for the tabernacle of God are basins for washing, anointing oil, incense and atonement money. (Exodus 30:11-38) The items and the materials in the tabernacle may be holy but if the priests serving at the table of the Lord are not holy, everything done in the temple would amount to nothing. The holy items are to be used in the holy temple of God by holy people to minister in holiness to Holy God in the Holy of Holies. For this reason chapter 29 of the book of Exodus was devoted to the detailed instruction about the consecration in holiness of the priests.
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. Exodus 25:10-22
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; The tabernacle of the congregation, and the ark of the testimony, and the mercy seat that is thereupon, and all the furniture of the tabernacle, And the table and his furniture, and the pure candlestick with all his furniture, and the altar of incense, And the altar of burnt offering with all his furniture, and the laver and his foot, And the cloths of service, and the holy garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments of his sons, to minister in the priest’s office, And the anointing oil, and sweet incense for the holy place: according to all that I have commanded thee shall they do. Exodus 31:1-11
CONSTRUCTION OF THE ARK
It is one thing to receive an instruction from God to do the work of God, but it is another thing to be able to interpret the instruction according to the specifications of God. It takes someone that is filled with the anointing of Holy Spirit to understand the instruction of God from the same point of view of Almighty God. For this purpose, God anointed Bezalel and Oholiab with power of Holy Spirit to possess the skill of craftsman to be able to construct all the items and utensils in the tabernacle of God. Anointing of God is not only for preaching the word of God. It is not only for teaching and praying but also for excelling in our calling for the glory of God. One important principle that we must remember about anointing is that it empowers you with divine ability to overcome an uphill task that you would not have overcome with your knowledge, intellect and power for the glory of God.
The dimension of the Ark is two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide and a cubit and a half high. (3 ¾ x 2 ¼ x 2 ¼) cubic feet. Four gold rings are to be made that will be fastened to the four corners of the bottom of the Ark in such a way that two poles of acacia wood that is covered with gold can be inserted into the gold rings at the corners of the chest to carry the Ark. On top of the Ark is the atonement cover made of pure gold two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. Atonement cover is also known as the mercy seat. Two Cherubims made of gold on each end of the mercy seat with their wings stretch forth on high covering the mercy seat, and their face looked unto each other toward the mercy seat.
CONTENT OF THE ARK OF THE COVENANT
Inside the Ark of the Covenant a golden jar of manna as God commanded. ‘And Moses said unto Aaron, “Take a pot, and put an omer full of manna therein, and lay it up before the Lord, to be kept for your generation. As the Lord commanded, Moses, so Aaron laid it up before the Testimony to be kept.”’ (Exodus 16:33-34) Also in the Ark was The Ten Commandments which were written upon the tablets of stone that was given to Moses on Mount Sinai. “Inside the Ark was a gold jar containing some manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves and the stone tablets of the covenant with the Ten Commandments written on them.” (Hebrew 9:4) God commanded that the rod of Aaron that sprouted leaves, that affirmed his priesthood in Israel, in the presence of rebels should be kept as a token before the testimony. “And the Lord said unto Moses, “Bring Aaron’s rod again before the testimony, to be kept for a token against the rebels; and thou shalt quite take away their murmurings from me, that they die not.” (Numbers 17:10)
INTERPRETATION OF THE ARK
The Ark of the Covenant is an object of faith. It is the monumental of God great deed among his people Israel. That is why the ark is called Ark of Testimony. It is interpreted thus: My physical presence was with you and has been revealed to you as a pillar of cloud through out your journey in the wilderness, and the token of my presence still remain with you in the Holy of Holies in remembrance to the future generation. The Manna is interpreted thus: I am Jehovah Jireh, I provided manna for you in the wilderness for forty years, I am the source of your provision and I will supply your needs. The rod of Aaron that sprouted leaves is interpreted thus: I am a righteous judge; I uphold righteous judgment among my people to vindicate my servant and the rod served as a token of righteous judgment that I will uphold for ever among my people. The tablet of stone is interpreted thus: With my fingers I wrote my law on the stone upon Mount Sinai to guide you in righteousness. The law is my rod of judgment. I shall judge the wicked and the sinful nation in my law. My statutes must you keep through out eternity. The two Cherubim with span of stretched wings covering the mercy seat symbolized divine protection upon his people as the eagles hovering around its young ones. The mercy seat or the atonement covering upon which atonement of sin-offering is made is interpreted thus: In my mercy I have been seeing you through the blood of atonement from ages because my mercy endures forever; I will not judge you from my law if you repent of your wicked ways and continue to seek my face.
THE FACTS WE MUST KNOW ABOUT THE ARK
The Ark of the Covenant does not contradict the law of God that states, “You must not set up an image as an object of worship.” The Ark of the Covenant is to be placed in the Holy of Holies in the inner temple of God. Although it bears the presence of God, it is not an object of worship. When the Israelites gathered in the temple to worship God, the glory of God would come down in the Holy of Holies among His people. God meet with His people where the Ark of Testimony is placed in the Holy of Holies when His presence filled the temple. It was not the ark the people worship but they worship God whose glory filled the temple.
The Creator of the whole universe is so big beyond any measuring size, beyond imaginable power, beyond any conceivable imagination. He did not make a microchip of Himself and he cannot be locked up in a rectangular chest of acacia wood.
The Ark of Covenant was not a lucky charm. “When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat upon us today before the Philistine? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that it may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” (I Samuel 4:3) The people did not seek the face of God, they did not attempt to pray for the Lord’s help because they thought it was the Ark of the Covenant that give them victories over their enemies.
ARK OF THE COVENANT IN A STRANGE LAND
Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again. And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagon’s torso was left of it. Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon’s house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day. But the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory. And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god.” Therefore they sent and gathered to themselves all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?” And they answered, “Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath.” So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away. So it was, after they had carried it away, that the hand of the Lord was against the city with a very great destruction; and He struck the men of the city, both small and great, and tumors broke out on them. Therefore they sent the ark of God to Ekron. So it was, as the ark of God came to Ekron, that the Ekronites cried out, saying, “They have brought the ark of the God of Israel to us, to kill us and our people!” So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people.” For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven. I Samuel 5:1-12
The Philistines captured the Ark of God in a battle. They rejoiced about it because they thought they had captured the god of Israelites that gave them victory other their enemies. They placed the Ark of the Covenant in the shrine of their god and coexisted the holy monument with their idol god of Dagon. The Philistines did not know God; neither did they know what the Ark of God, the presence of God represented. The altar of God and the altar of darkness do not rub shoulders. They do not have anything in common. After all, light and darkness cannot co-exist. “To whom will you compare me or count me equal? To whom will you liken me that we may be compared?” Isaiah 46:5 The judgment of God began upon their idol god. The following morning when the priests of Dagon got to the shrine, Dagon had fallen face down, which means that the god of the Philistines bowed before God of Israel to worship Him. The priest placed the idol god on its position. As if this was not enough, the following day when the priests came back to the temple of Dagon, they met it broken into pieces. The priests ran away and never came back.
Their ignorance was not spared. The hands of God came down heavily upon the people of Ashdod, the city of the Philistines, and they were heavily devastated and afflicted with tumors. This is the first place I learnt of the dreadful disease of cancer in the Bible. There was a great panic in Ashdod as the city was stricken with terror. “The ark of God of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy upon us and upon Dagon our god,” they said. The Ark of God was taken to Ekron. The same terror and panicking was the portion of the people of Ekron. They protested and said, “Send the Ark of God of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.”
There is something important to note here, brethren. Your body is the sanctuary of God; the abominable articles are from the sanctuary of Satan so also are the abominable practices. The two does not match. The combination of good and evil on your body and in your heart would corrupt your person and destroy your life. It would bring forth the devastating judgment of God. The hand of God is a comforting hand to all who know Him and keep His commandments. It is also a consuming fire and terror to those who do not know Him nor keep His commandment.
JUDGMENT OF GOD FOR DISOBEYING THE COMMANDMENT FOR THE HANDLING OF THE ARK OF COVENANT
God assigned the caring and maintenance of the holy things in the temple to the Kohathites, the branch of Levites. (Numbers 4:1-20) Explicitly, God commanded them that they should not just go in into the temple to look at the holy this, even for a moment otherwise they will die. “But the Kohathites must not go in to look at the holy things, even for a moment, or they will die.” (Number 4:20) When the Philistines sent the Ark of the Covenant in a cart, upon two cows to Israel in Beth-Shemesh, the people rejoiced and offered burnt offering unto the Lord. But the people of Beth-Shemesh looked into the Ark of the Lord. God struck fifty thousand and seventy people because they looked into the ark. (I Samuel 6:19) After that, the Ark of the Covenant was in Abinadab’s house for twenty years and Eleazar his son was consecrated to guard the Ark.
In another instance, King David conferred with the elders of Israel (about thirty thousands in all) and proposed to bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. An agreement was reached and arrangement made to bring the Ark. (II Samuel 6:1-6; I Chronicle 13:1-14) The Ark was set on a new cart, and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were guiding the cart driven by oxen and the whole household of Israelites was celebrating before the Lord with song and music instruments. At the threshing floor of Nacon, the oxen stumbled. Perhaps the Ark was about to fall, so Uzzah reached out and took hold of the Ark. Immediately; the judgment of God came upon Uzzah. He was struck down and died beside the Ark. The Ark of the Covenant must not be touched, only the anointed priest, Aaron, and his children can touched the holy things. “. . . Kohathities are come to do the carrying. But they must not touch the holy things or they will die. . .” (Numbers 4:15) Uzzah had good intentions but not according to the knowledge of the word and commandment of God. David did not follow the directive of God on how to transport the Ark of Covenant using the sittim wood inserted in the gold ring at the four corners of the bottom of the Ark. David followed the method of transporting the Ark by the Philistine instead of following the way of the Lord. David was afraid to bring the Ark to Jerusalem; the Ark was taken to the house of Obed-Edom. Within the three months of the Ark in Obed-Edom house, God blessed his entire household. The report came back to David about how God blessed the house of Obed-Edom. King David now brought the Ark to the City of David, Jerusalem.
ARK OF COVENANT MOVED INTO THE TEMPLE
God gave King Solomon, the son of King David, the grace to build the temple of God in Israel. At the dedication of the temple, King Solomon conferred with all the elders of Israel like his father and proposed that the Ark of the Covenant be brought to the new Temple. (II Chronicle 5:7-14) Appropriate preparations were made and the priests consecrated themselves. All the Levite musicians arrayed themselves in fine linen and assorted musical instruments. They were praising and singing thus: “The Lord is good, his mercy endures for ever.” It was awesome. The temple was filled with glory of God, so much that the priest could not perform there service.
When the children of Eli the priest, Hophni and Phinehas, who guided the Ark to the battle front died, and the Ark was lost to the Philistine, the wife of Phinehas gave birth to a son and named the child, Ichabod, meaning ‘no glory.’ She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.” (I Samuel 4:21) When King Solomon did the right thing before God, and put God in position of holiness and preeminence in his kingdom, the glory of God returned to Israel. When the Lord is worshipped in truth and in spirit, He inhabits the praises of His people.