The Ark of the Covenant
Building of the Ark of the Covenant: (Ex 25:10-22, 31:1-2, 37:1-9)
The Ark was commanded by the Lord to be built and placed in the Most Holy Place of the Tabernacle. The Lord told Moses to choose men whom the Lord have given wisdom in all manner of workmanship. Bezaleel, the son of Uri of the tribe of Judah was chosen for the job.
- Shittim Wood- This wood is also known as acacia wood, it is found in the Sinai Peninsula and is very hard. This wood is harder than oak and is avoided by wood eating insects.
- Pure Gold- Used to overlay the ark, make the rings, overlay the staves, and the gold was used to beat and form the mercy-seat and the cherubim’s.
Dimensions: The ark is to be 2 ½ cubits in length, 1 ½ cubit in breadth, and 1 ½ cubit in height. In English terms the Dimensions are 4 ft. in Length x 2 ½ ft. in width x 2 ½ ft. deep. The mercy seat is 2 ½ cubits in length and 1 ½ cubit in breadth. In English it is 4ft x 2 ½ft.
- Make the Ark of Shittim Wood, overlay it with gold and make a crown of gold to put on top of it.
- There shall be 4 rings of gold in the 4 corners, 2 rings on one side and 2 rings on the other side.
- The staves are to be in the rings of the Ark, they are to be made of shittim wood and overlaid with gold.
- A mercy seat shall be made of pure gold.
- 2 cherubim’s of gold are to be made of beaten work and placed upon the mercy seat. Each Cherub is to be placed on each end of the ark, facing each other, their wings shall be stretched forth on high covering the mercy seat. Their faces are to be towed each other, facing the mercy seat.
Items placed inside the Ark: (Heb 9:4)
- The testimony of the commandments– The first tablets of stone were broken (Ex 32:19) because of Moses anger towards Israel regarding the idolatry worship of the golden calf. A second set was made in Ex. 34:1 and these tablets containing the 10 commandments were placed in the Ark (Ex 25:22)
- The pot of manna- This pot is made of pure gold and manna that was to be kept for future generations was placed in it. They placed an omer worth of manna which is a tenth part of an ephah. This comes out to measure between 3-6 pints (J. Gill). (Ex 16:32-36)
- Aaron’s Rod – 12 rods were given to each prince of Israel according to the house of his fathers (the 12 tribes). Aarons name was placed on his, and his was according to the house of Levi. The rods were placed before the tabernacle and Arron’s rod budded. It brought forth buds, blossoms, and yielded almonds. The Lord told Moses to place the Aarons rod with the testament as a token against rebels. (Num 17:1-10)
The Ark was only allowed to be handled by the Levitical priesthood. Whenever the pillar of a cloud moved, the tabernacle was packed up by specific instructions and handled by specific people chosen by God. The Ark played an important role in the crossing of Jordan and the conquest of Jericho (Josh. 3-6). It was moved to several different locations: Gilgal, Shechem, Bethel, (Josh. 8:30-35; Deut. 11:26-32 27:1-26; Judg. 20:26) then permanently located to Shiloh where the Temple was built (1 Sam 1:9; 3:3). It was captured by the Philistines (1 Sam 4). The men of Beth-shemesh welcomed the return of the Ark, but looked into the Ark thus violating its holiness. (1 Sam 6:13-20) Uzzah was smitten by the Lord and died for touching the ark, while it was intended to be carried by the priesthood and not to be pulled on a cart by oxen (2 Sam 6). No one but the Lord knows who last captured the Ark and its final destination. (Matheney)
Types and Shadows
Picture of the throne of God: The pillar of a cloud rested upon the mercy seat in-between the cherubim’s thus symbolizing the throne. (1 Sam 4:4; 2 Sam 6:2)
Types and pictures of Christ:
The shittim wood and gold: This sets forth 2 natures which symbolizes the 2 natures of Christ. Christ was verily man (the wood) and verily God (the Gold).
The Crown of Gold: This sets forth the authority and eternal Kingship of Christ. The Government shall be upon His shoulders, He is the King of King’s.
The Cherubims: These holy creatures represent those in heaven who never rest day or night before the throne of God continually giving Him praise.
The mercy seat: This reminds us of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. This is where the blood was sprinkled once a year during the Day of Atonement. Jesus is our High Priest who entered into the most holy place and offered himself one time as an atonement for our sin.
The Testimony within the Ark: Christ fulfilled the Law to a jot and to a tittle. He left no stone unturned, Jesus paid it all. He did not put away, but fulfilled the Law.
The pot of manna: The gold pot resembles his deity, and notice that the manna within in the Ark did not go bad. Jesus is our living bread. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst”. (John 6:35)
Aaron’s rod: Notice that the rod was a dead piece of wood, but it brought forth life! Not only is Jesus our source of Life but He is our resurrection. Jesus conquered death, Hell, and the grave. Because He lives we also shall live eternally with Him.
Sources: KJV Bible, John Gill, and Bible Dictionary
Elder Jonathan Cook