In the previous installment of this “Ark of the Covenant” series, we looked at the main theories as to where the Ark is today. In this final installment, we’ll look to see if the Ark has any future role.
The Forgotten Ark
Regardless of what happened to the Ark, the Scriptures suggest that it will never be found again. This comes as quite a shock to some Christians who have assumed that the Ark must be found before the Tribulation Temple can be built and animal sacrifice re-instituted. Others have simply assumed that the Ark would be replaced in the Holy of Holies when the Lord’s Millennial Temple is built.
But Jeremiah says point blank that “the ark of the covenant of the Lord… shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they miss it, nor shall it be made again” (Jeremiah 3:16). The context of this passage is the Millennial reign of Jesus, so it does not rule out the possibility of a discovery prior to that time. Conceivably, the Ark could be discovered, and Satan could use its discovery to incite the rebuilding of a Temple where an apostate sacrificial system would be re-instituted. We know that such a Temple will be built, but I doubt if its construction will be motivated by the discovery of the Ark.
The Non-Essential Ark
The important point to keep in mind here is that the rediscovery of the Ark is not essential to the rebuilding of the Temple. After all, the Temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel following the Babylonian captivity, and the Ark had already been lost by that time. There was no Ark in the Holy of Holies during the time when Jesus worshiped in the Temple.
Nor is the Ark needed for the Millennial Temple. Ezekiel describes the Temple in great detail (chapters 40-42), and he never mentions the Ark. There is a Holy of Holies (Ezekiel 41:4), but it is empty, and it is not separated from the Holy Place by a veil.
Jesus has already entered the heavenly Holy of Holies in our behalf (Hebrews 4:14-16, 8:1-6). He has torn away the veil that separated us from God, and He serves as our High Priest, having offered His own blood as the perfect sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 9:11-16). He serves as our Mediator before the Father’s throne (Hebrews 9:24-28).
Thus, during the Millennium, there will be no need for a human high priest or an Ark with a mercy seat. Jesus will serve as both king and high priest, and in that capacity, He will continue to serve as humanity’s mercy seat. (Zechariah 6:12-13).
The True Ark
With regard to this concept of Christ as our mercy seat, let me add a penetrating insight which I picked up from John MacArthur, one of this country’s greatest preachers. He pointed to a simple historical verse that contains a profound truth about Jesus being our mercy seat.
The verse is John 20:12. Speaking of Mary looking into the empty tomb of Jesus, the verse says, “she beheld two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying.” What Mary saw, MacArthur observed, was the new mercy seat, the perfect mercy seat.
Consider again what Mary saw. She witnessed two angels, one sitting at each end of the slab which had held the broken body of our Lord. That scene points us back to the Ark of the Covenant where two cherubim hovered over its blood splattered mercy seat!
There is no more need for the Ark. Jesus has fulfilled all that the Ark stood for. He was deity who took on flesh. He rendered complete obedience to the Law, being made perfect and becoming the source of our salvation (Hebrews 5:8-9). His blood was shed for our sins, and His victory is attested by the fact and the power of His resurrection.
Just as the Ark was designed to be a symbol of the presence of God in the midst of His people, Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love and care and presence. He is our Ark. He is our Law. He is our Manna. He is our Budded Rod. And, thank God, He is our Mercy Seat.