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1.The Ark of the Covenant was Completely God's Design
When the Israelites left Egypt through the parting of the Red Sea the Shekinah glory cloud led them to Mount Sinai where God gave them his 10 commandments, but God also gave them the exact specifications for the Ark of the Covenant. God revealed to Moses that the Ark was a physical representation of his throne in heaven. It was a small box made of wood overlaid with gold, on its side were rings with poles for transporting. Along the top was a crown of gold, and the lid (mercy seat) was made of solid gold, there were two standing cherubim with wings outstretched who looked down upon the blood that was sprinkled on the Day of Atonement. The Ark of the Covenant was entirely different than anything in ancient Egypt, and it was completely God's design. (See Ex. 25:10-22)
2. The Cherubim were Judgement Angels with Four Faces
God commanded the Israelites to create the lid for the top of the Ark of Covenant with cherubim. The cherubim were first revealed in the Bible in Genesis 3:24 where they guarded the way to the tree of life after Adam and Eve had sinned and they wielded a flaming sword that turned in 4 directions. This indicated that the cherubim were judgement angels and guardians of God's holiness, when the blood was sprinkled their judgement was stayed. The prophet Ezekiel in chapter one had a vision of the LORD's glory and saw four living creatures with four faces, the face of a lion, an ox, an eagle, and a man. Later in chapter 10 they were revealed as cherubim. The Biblical description is much different than the cherubs of ancient Egypt and other cultures who were seen as squatting down with wings outstretched upward and downward. The Bible reveals that both wings of the cherubim were outstretched upward. (See Ex. 25:18-22, Gen. 3:24, and Ez. 1)
3. The 10 Commandments were Placed in the Ark of the Covenant
God told Moses to have the children of Israel place the 10 commandments inside the Ark of the Covenant, the same ten commandments that God spoke from the top of Mount Sinai. The Ten Commandments were actually two tables of stone that were given a second time and inscribed by the "finger of God." Moses broke the first set after the Israelites had built the golden calf while they were waiting for him to come down the mountain. The fact that the ten commandments were placed inside the Ark and covered from view by the Mercy Seat is significant because the 10 commandments make every man guilty of sin, and when the cherubim saw the blood upon the mercy seat judgement was stayed and mercy was granted. God's covenant with man required the blood of a substitute to cover man's sins every year until the sinless man Jesus came to cover every sin by offering himself as the final substitute. Later the Bible reveals that there were two more items placed inside the Ark: Aaron's rod that budded, and a golden pot of manna from their journey's in the wilderness. (See Ex. 25:16-21, Deut 31:26, Heb 9:4, and Rom 3:23-25)
4. God Appeared Above the Ark of the Covenant
God's presence "shone forth" above the Ark and upon the Mercy Seat between the two cherubim. The Bible reveals that it was here that God appeared when he spoke to Moses "face to face as a man speaks unto his friend" (Ex 33:11). God's glory appeared to Moses on Mount Sinai with smoke, great darkness, and thunder and lightning. God's glory also appeared to Moses in the Holy of Holies above the Ark and he would speak with Moses about his plans. Besides Moses, only the high priest could enter the room where the Ark was, but it was much different. There was great ceremony when Aaron the high priest came into the holy of holies on the Day of Atonement. He first took two handfuls of incense and poured them on hot coals which were in a censor that he was carrying. A cloud of thick smoke would fill the holy of holies as Aaron sprinkled the blood on the Mercy Seat between the cherubim, he also sprinkled the floor seven times in front of the Ark. God's presence would shine forth above the Ark, and the glory cloud would appear above the Tabernacle for all of Israel to see. It was on the Mercy Seat that God's glory appeared, and this is always where God's glory appears, at the place of mercy. When Solomon built a resting place for the Ark and dedicated the Temple, he offered a sacrifice and said a prayer and suddenly fire came down and consumed the sacrifice and the glory of God filled the Temple so that the priests could not enter, and all of Israel fell down and cried out unanimously "Praise the LORD for he is good, and his mercy endures forever." (See Ex. 40:35, Lev 16:2, Num 7:89, 2 Chr 7:3, and Ps 80:1)
5. The Ark of the Covenant Disappeared from History
The Bible records that the Ark of the Covenant was within the Temple of Solomon throughout the history of the kings of Israel and Judah. Suddenly in 586 BC the Babylonians came and destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple of Solomon. They brought the spoils to Babylon and yet there was no mention in the Bible as to what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. It was not mentioned among the spoils of the Babylonians, nor was it mentioned with the objects returned to Jerusalem by Cyrus, king of Persia. None of the prophets including Jeremiah and Ezekiel mentioned its whereabouts. It was not mentioned in the Second Temple, The Temple of Zerubbabel. Even the New Testament makes no mention of the Ark of the Covenant within the Temple of Herod. The Ark of the Covenant completely disappeared from history and it has never been seen again. In a Bible History Online interview with Dr. Bahat, Chief Archaeologist of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem for over two decades, he said very decisively, "No one has seen the Ark anywhere in Jerusalem." He was asked about various sightings by specific individuals and organizations and his reply was "Rubbish, all Rubbish." We asked him where would be the most logical place to search for the Ark, his reply was "I would start on Mount Nebo." This was because of the extrabiblical citation in 2 Maccabees 2:4-7 which says that the Ark was hidden by Jeremiah in a cave on Mount Nebo and will not be revealed until God's determined time. The Book of Revelation reveals that John saw the Ark in a vision of God's Temple in heaven.