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The Ark of the Covenant

A 3D reconstruction of the Ark of the Covenant.
Contributed by Bible Scenes
Story also available on our translated websites: Spanish, Portuguese
The construction of the Ark of the Covenant was commanded by God to Moses while the Jews were still camped at Sinai (Exodus 25:10-22; 37:1-9). – Slide 1
It was built by Bezalel, a craftsman ‘filled with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.’ (Exodus 31:1-10) – Slide 2
The dimensions of the Ark were two-and-a-half cubits in length, by one-and-a-half cubits in height, by one-and-a-half cubits in width (a cubit is about 18 inches, 45cm). It was constructed of acacia wood, and was plated with pure gold, inside and out. – Slide 3
On the sides of the Ark, four gold rings were attached, through which two poles, also made of acacia and coated in gold, were put. These poles were always kept in place. When the Ark needed to be moved, the family of Kehath, of the tribe of Levi, would carry it on their shoulders using these poles. – Slide 4
The Ark was carried approximately 2,000 cubits (2,600 feet, 800 meters) in advance of the people when on the march or before the Israelite army. When carried, the Ark was always hidden under a large veil made of skins and blue cloth, always carefully concealed, even from the eyes of the priests and the Levites who carried it. – Slide 5
Covering the box was a pure gold covering that was two-and-a-half by one-and-a-half cubits, known as the 'atonement cover' or 'mercy seat’. Attached to the lid were two sculpted Cherubim, also made of pure gold. The two Cherubim faced one another, and their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover. – Slide 6
Inside the Ark were placed the two tablets with the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s rod and a pot of manna. – Slide 7
According to the law God gave Moses, only the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies, and only once per year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). Before entering, the High Priest washed, put on special clothing, and gathered incense and the blood from a sacrificed animal. Once inside the Holy of Holies, the high priest burned the incense, then sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat of the ark. This act was part of a ceremony completed every year where the Israelites as a nation would ask God for forgiveness of their sins. – Slide 8
The most explicit declaration about God’s presence in the Holy of Holies is in the instructions for the Day of Atonement where God declares, ‘I appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.’ (Leviticus 16:2) – Slide 9
The Ark was the manifestation of God's physical presence on earth (the Shekhina glory). When God spoke with Moses in the Tent of Meeting in the desert, he did so from between the two Cherubim (Numbers 7:89). – Slide 10
The Ark accompanied the Jews throughout their time in the desert. When the Jews crossed into the land of Canaan, the waters of the Jordan River miraculously split and the Ark led them through (Joshua. 3). Throughout their conquest of the land, the Jews were accompanied by the Ark and most the dramatic demonstration of its power was when the Jews breached the walls of Jericho merely by circling them, blowing horns and carrying the Ark (Joshua 6). – Slide 11
After the conquest was completed, the Ark, and the entire Tabernacle, were set up in Shiloh (Joshua 18). There they remained until the battles of the Jews with the Philistines during the Priesthood of Eli. The Jews, after suffering a defeat at the Philistines' hands, took the Ark from Shiloh to Even-Ezer in hopes of winning the next battle. But the Jews were routed, and the Ark was captured by the Philistines. (I Samuel 4). – Slide 12
The Philistines took the Ark back to Ashdod,where they placed it in the temple of their god Dagon. The next day, however, they found the idol fallen on its face. After replacing the statue, they found it the next day decapitated, with only its trunk remaining, and soon afterward, the entire city of Ashdod was struck with a plague. The Philistines moved the Ark to the city of Gath, and from there to Ekron, but whatever city the Ark was in, the inhabitants were struck with plague. After seven months, the Philistines decided to send the Ark back to the Israelites, and accompanied it with expensive gifts. – Slide 13
From Beit Shemesh, the Ark was transported to Kiryat Yearim, where it remained for twenty years. From there, King David transported it to Jerusalem. En route, however, the oxen pulling it stumbled, and when Uzzah reached out to steady the Ark, he died immediately. As a result of this tragedy, David decided to leave the Ark at the home of Obed-Edom the Gittite. Three months later, he moved it to Jerusalem, the seat of his kingdom, where it remained until the construction of the First Temple by David's son Solomon (I Sam. 5-6). – Slide 14
The Ark remained in the Temple until the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem, led by Nebuchadnezzar. What happened to the Ark before or after the Temple was destroyed is unknown and has been debated for centuries. It is unlikely that the Babylonians took it, as they did the other vessels of the Temple, because the detailed lists of what they took make no mention of the Ark. – Slide 15
While Jesus hung on the cross, the veil in front of the 'Holy of Holies' tore from top to bottom (Matthew 27:50-51). By tearing the veil, God dramatically showed that people no longer needed a barrier to keep them from accessing God. Hebrews 10:19-20 says, 'We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body.’ – Slide 16
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