The Lost Ark
What was the most important and precious object ever made on Planet Earth? The answer is, ‘The Ark of the Covenant’, essentially a box of acacia wood overlaid with gold, and a flat gold cover with two gold cherubs on either end facing each other. The reason for its value was that it was above the Ark, on the golden cover lid called the Mercy Seat that God manifested Himself, as told in Exodus 25:22, for over eight hundred years to His people in Old Testament times. Inside the Ark was kept the two Tablets of Stone containing the Ten Commandments that Moses had received on Mt. Sinai. Other items such as the manna and Aaron’s rod were also in it as keepsakes.
Many people all over the world have heard about the Ark of the Covenant as a most sacred relic too holy to go near with penalty of death for anyone venturing to look into it, let alone touch it. The movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark popularized the Ark in recent times, though in Hollywood style. The movie has no element of truth except for the aura of mystery it generates for its viewers.
The holy Ark has been lost for 2,600 years which I shall explain late. Before its disappearance it had been kept in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, in the Holy of Holies or the Most Holy Place, a totally unlit cubical room at the very back entered only by the High Priest once a year, on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). On that day the High Priest sacrificed a goat and sprinkled its blood on the Mercy Seat as an atonement for the sins of Israel. This Ark was the same as the one built by Moses for the Tabernacle while in Mt. Sinai where God descended and gave the Law (see previous section, ‘Holy Places’ article 1). The command to build this Ark may be found in Exodus 25: 10-22. The plan of the Tabernacle and the placement of the Ark are shown below.
There are no drawings or pictures or other representations of the Ark that has come down to us. It was not meant to be viewed or copied in any manner! We have, however, some detailed description of its construction from which we can get some idea. Yet, there is uncertainty about some details such as how the Cherubim looked like and how they were positioned. Some illustrations of the Ark show the Cherubim with human form and stretched wings standing on top of the Mercy Seat. In other representations the Cherubim are like winged lions with human head and stretched out wings, again standing on top of the Mercy Seat. The Cherubim are first mentioned in the Bible in Gen. 3:24 as appointed by God to guard the gates of Eden after Adam and Eve were expelled. Other mysterious angelic Beings mentioned in Scripture include the Seraphim (Isa. 6:2) and the Living Creatures (Ezek. 1.5; Rev.4:6).
The Ark’s construction is detailed in Exod. 25:17-22 and 37:1-9. Its top was 2½ cubits long and 1½ cubits wide. Its height was also 1½ cubits. The two cherubim on opposite ends of the cover had their wings spread upward and they faced each other. The cherubim and the Ark cover were made of beaten gold, all one piece. The Ark itself was of acacia wood overlaid with gold.
This Ark, kept in the Tabernacle for five hundred years, was finally transferred to Solomon’s Temple. However, 2 Chr.3:10-13 describes two cherubim made of olive wood, overlaid with gold, each ten cubits high with wings stretching five cubits each way; the cherubim faced toward the front of the Temple, and one wing of each touched each other while overshadowing the Ark, while the other wings touched the wall of the inner sanctuary. In other words, these two cherubim were much larger than the cherubim Moses had built, and filled the Holy of Holies. We shall not confuse the cherubim on the cover of the Ark with the larger cherubim Solomon had built.
Let us continue with the story of the Ark. In King David’s time the Ark was brought to Jerusalem (1 Chr. 15-16). His son, King Solomon, built the Temple of larger size, twice the original size (2 Chr. 3:4-13). The Ark was transferred from the tabernacle to the temple where it stayed for 400 years until the Temple was burned by the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C. as described in 2 Kings 25. The Babylonians took whatever valuables they could find from the Temple. Forty years later Babylonia came under Persian rule, and the Persian ruler Cyrus, in his first year, issued an edict to rebuild the Temple and to return all the articles taken away by the Babylonian ruler. This was about 538 B.C. In the list of articles returned (Ezra 1:9-10) we do not read about the holy vessels in the Holy Place and of the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place. Apparently the Babylonians never got them.
What Happened to the Ark?
For the last 2,600 years there have been one speculation after another where the Ark could be, assuming it was not destroyed. Was the Ark secretly smuggled out of Jerusalem to some other country? You have heard of such speculations that the Ark is in Ethiopia, in Egypt, in Scotland, and so on. The Ethiopian version is that the True Ark was secretly taken there in Solomon’s time and a replica Ark was placed in the Temple. These speculations are absurd! Can you imagine mortal men stealing the Ark? Would God have manifested on the Ark if it had been a fake? Since only the High Priest could go into the Holy of Holies, how would anyone take it out?
So where is the Ark? Did God allow it to be destroyed? There is no scriptural indication of the Ark being destroyed. However, there is reference to the Ark being forgotten. Jer. 3:16 says,
- "And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the Covenant of the LORD; neither shall it come to mind; neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more"(KJV).
This revelation was given to Jeremiah while the Ark was still in the Temple. In Jeremiah’s time, the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem took place as he had foretold. So Jeremiah knew well before they came to Jerusalem, but he, like others, were trapped inside the city walls. No one could take anything in or out of the city. But we know the Babylonians did not take the Ark with them. If the Ark had been in the Temple, they would have known where it was. Did they go and look for it before they burned the Temple? One could argue that God did not allow them to enter the Holy of Holies but let the Ark destroy itself in the fire. But none has ever seen a speck of gold from the Ark which should have survived the fire. The Tablets of stone would also have survived, but could not be found either. So this is the mystery of the disappearance of the Ark. Finding the Ark has become an obsession with some people, particularly the Orthodox Jews of Israel who want to rebuild the Temple.Is the Ark in Jerusalem?
If the Ark has not been destroyed and could not be taken out of Jerusalem, it must be somewhere in Jerusalem, so goes the argument. However, there is no specific ancient record of it being in Jerusalem. The Second Book of Maccabees, part of the Apocrypha, mentions in chapter 2 (verses 4-8) that Jeremiah the prophet by divine revelation secretly removed the Ark and other valuable items from the Temple before its destruction to the mountain which Moses had climbed on before his death. He then sealed the passageway so that nobody could find it till the end times. It would appear from this passage that the Ark and other items are hidden under Mt. Nebo. Ron Wyatt thinks there is a translation error here. The mountain referred must be the mountain Moses saw from where he stood, and this must be Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem. The Apocalypse of Baruch has an account of an angel removing the Ark and putting it away in a secret place underground.
In his book, ‘Temple Treasures‘ (Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 1994), Bible scholar and explorer Dr. Randall Price states that at least three rabbis in Jerusalem have claimed they have seen the Ark or have been very close to it. Their accounts(not identical) indicate the Ark is kept in a room or cave deep underneath the Temple Mount, but directly beneath the Holy of Holies. A secret excavation was under way in 1981 to close in on the Ark when the Moslems heard of it and sealed the tunnel entrance with concrete with the blessing of the Israeli government. During my Israel trip in December 1998 our tour group passed through the ‘Rabbi’s tunnel’, the passage way between the hidden part of the Western Wall to the north and the Jewish buildings. At one point we were shown by our Israeli guide the closed entrance way at right angles to the tunnel we were in, pointing to the direction of the Holy of Holies. Upon subsequent interviews with these rabbis the interviewers found that the claims of seeing the Arks were not reliable.
Ron Wyatt’s Claim of the Discovery of the Ark
I have introduced Ron Wyatt several times in my previous articles. He founded the Wyatt Archaeological Research (W.A.R.), which is based in Tennessee. During his spare time after work in a local hospital he visited eastern Turkey, Mt. Sinai, Red Sea Crossing, and other places with biblical history and events. Ron was a devout Christian who carried out his exploration from own savings and with contributions from others without trying to cash on his discoveries. My wife and I joined a tour with him in Israel, Jordan and eastern border of Sinai, Through his newsletters (published since September 1992), his videos and booklets I had gathered much information of his discoveries. Ron departed this life at God’s appointed time on August 4, 1999 at the age of 66 after a period of illness. The trip he made to Israel in December 98 which I had joined was his last.
His first article on the Ark of the Covenant appeared in the fourth issue, July 1993 with a sketch of the Ark and a mention of the dried blood he collected from the Mercy Seat. This was more than eleven years after his ‘discovery’ of the Ark. The next major article appeared in July 1995 (#12) which is available as a booklet. This article detailed his explorations and initial sighting of the Ark on January 6, 1982. However, Ron had to find another way to enter the cave in which the Ark is kept. This took apparently another ten years, hence the delay in reporting about the Ark. His reluctance to reveal more details is due to confidentiality agreements with the Israeli authorities who are aware of his findings.
The articles Ron specifically mentioned as found in the Chamber or nearby include: the stalactite blocking his entrance in January 1982 when he entered the top space of the chamber; an ivory pomegranate, partly broken and an oil lamp with drawing of a ram or a goat standing on its hind legs (reminds us of the ram in the thicket in the story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac). The whereabouts of this pomegranate is not known. Interestingly, an ivory pomegranate with inscriptions in ancient Hebrew (‘Holy to the priests, belonging to the house of Yahweh’) came to the possession of the Israeli museum in 1988 (which the authorities now disclaim as fraud without convincing reason) The museum piece was exhibited as the only relic from Solomon’s Temple at a special exhibit in Washington, DC November 1993 with detailed pictures and description. That this is not the same item Ron described is obvious from the fact that Andre Lemaire the famous French scholar had published articles about it in 1979 and 1984 with pictures, the second one in BAR January 1984 issue. The picture of the pomegranate in the picture collage below is of the Israeli museum piece. The oil lamp mentioned above was against the original entrance at the bottom of the chamber. The soot on one side indicated the wind pattern, and from this Ron traced the original entrance. Those who brought the Ark items used oil lamps, and there were several found left in the chamber. A collage of these items, made from pictures published in Anchor Stone Insider, February 2002 issue by Bill Fry is shown below with permission. The stalactite piece and the oil lamp are in the custody of Ron’s group.
In my recent trip to Israel, Ron took our tour group to an underground quarry known as Zedekiah’s Cave which I have mentioned in a previous article. The passageway he found to enter the Cave was through a tunnel of about 400 ft long out of Zedekiah’s Cave (actually quarry), but he did not show us the entrance. So far he has visited the Cave where the Ark is about twenty times. He told us that people who tried to find their way, sixteen of them so far at various times, never made it; they all died.
Ron had divine permission to see the Ark, he believes. His first sighting of the Ark in 1982 was through a narrow opening through which he had to crawl, and he found he had entered the top clearance of a nearly filled up cave. He recognized golden items through animal skins covering everything, and then a stone box with a lid that had separated a bit to allow him to shine a light through. He recognized the Ark was in that stone box. There was nothing much he could do. Later on, miraculously, the Ark was found to have been taken out of the stone box, and Ron was allowed by a guarding angel to examine its contents. The entire cave chamber had been cleaned up, and the Ark and the Temple objects placed on the floor in their proper positions in the Temple. There was a mysterious illumination in the chamber. The closed passageway Ron was looking for was found open, and he could exit from the cave that way to Zedekiah’s Cave. For more details, see Bill Fry’s web site, www.anchorstone.com/wyatt, Research update May 16, 2000 on the Ark of the Covenant. He found the Cave was protected by God’s angels, at least four of them. They helped him to examine the Ark and its contents. The two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, a large sword, an ephod (the High Priest’s outer garment) and four of the five scrolls of the Books of Moses in original language were all inside.
Although Ron took a video with permission from the angel speaking to him, he decided not to take it with him home because he was told not to release it until God’s time has come. Ron did take the video to his hotel, watched it and then returned to the chamber where the angel placed it in a niche in the wall.
Ron did take some sample of the blood from the crack above the chamber (also perhaps from the top of the lid) and I understand that this is the sample he took to the Israeli lab for chromosome analysis. Another sample taken from the crack near the Cross hole was brought back home where some ultramicroscopic inspection was done that showed ‘live’ sub-micron size particles (‘somatids’) in it (as shown in the Wyatt video on the Ark of the Covenant, Part I). However, this sample did not show any evidence of chromosomes.
What did the Ark look like? Ron got an artist to draw a sketch of the Ark, and that is all we have now to get an idea of how the Ark looks like. The representation of the Ark shown below (Courtesy: www.wyattmuseum.com) may be found in the Wyatt museum in Cornersville, TN.
Contrary to popular representations of the Ark, the two golden Cherubim are standing on the ground facing each other and seem to hold the Ark’s lid which fits on the box when lowered. The edges of the top lid have pomegranate and bells moulded on to it. The Ark is 4 ft and 3½ in. long and its height is 2 ft and 7 in. The Ark is described in Exod. 25:17-21. Upon the golden Mercy Seat was found puddles of dried blood on the right and left sides.
The Ark and The Cross
We know the High Priest sprinkled animal blood once every year on the Mercy Seat after entering the dark Holy of Holies. There must have been the light shining there from the Presence of God, the Shekinah Glory. That is why there was no need of artificial light inside.
The New Testament declared that Christ’s shedding of blood on the Cross was the real culmination of the animal blood sacrifices which merely pointed to the shedding of the Precious blood of the Savior. Only Christ’s blood could really atone for mankind’s sin.
The Jewish High Priests continued the blood sacrifices even when Jesus was on earth. They did not recognize Him as the Son of God, the Supreme Sacrifice. They continued the sacrifices till AD 70 when the Romans destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem City. But the apostles preached salvation through the atoning death of Christ after His resurrection. The Book of Hebrews in the New Testament elaborates and establishes the Sacrifice of Christ which made it unnecessary to continue animal sacrifices.
Christ’s Blood Literally Fell on the Mercy Seat
I have kept the best part for the last purposely. So far the Ark was presented in isolation, having no connection with the Cross except for the symbolic death of Christ and the shedding of His blood. But can you believe that God wanted a literal fulfillment of Christ’s atonement for mankind? This fulfillment would involve Christ’s blood literally falling on the Mercy Seat of the Ark.
For a short video clip of Ron’s talk of the analysis of the blood in an Israeli lab, click here.
Let me take you back to the Crucifixion scene. You may want to go back to the article, ‘The Real Calvary and the Real Holy Sepulcher‘ under ‘Holy Places‘ on this website. The very last picture there showed the site Ron Wyatt discovered of the Crucifixion in front of the Calvary escarpment. The present ground level is 10-14 ft above the Roman level. The Cross was erected on the bedrock which had a square hole cut into it. Ron found this rock had a crack in it and the crack extended 25 ft down.
Now I can tell you the rest of the story. When Ron found his way to the upper part of the cave in which the Ark is kept, he noticed dried blood above through a crack. This was verified to be the same crack he had seen on the bedrock. Then he found that the stone box in which the Ark was resting had its lid broken into two and separated. The implication is obvious. When the soldier pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, his blood flowed down through the crack and drops of blood fell on the Mercy Seat! Later on, when Ron was able to go into the cave and inspect the Ark, he found dried blood on the Mercy Seat, with animal blood on one side and human blood on the other. This was verified by blood analysis on samples he brought back to America. In a two page leaflet Ron issued in mid-1993 and on his video, ‘Presentation of Discoveries’, based on a live presentation a few years back, the blood work results are mentioned. Essentially, it was human blood of a male; there were only 24 chromosomes in the white blood cells (the red cells do not have genetic information). What this implies is that Christ had only half the number of chromosomes normal humans have, half of 46, plus a Y chromosome which had to come from a non-human source, and that source has to be the Heavenly Father! It is possible that further blood analysis will be done in the future, but Ron would prefer the scientific world confirm that the sample he brought is from the Ark, and presently there is no way to do that. So any further blood analysis results would be subject to the same kind of skepticism that Ron’s critics have raised. I shall mention another blood analysis on Christ’s blood in the next article on the Shroud.
A representation of the Cross – Ark Connection is shown in the sketch below. Ron’s Museum in Cornersville, Tennessee has a display of his sketch. The following sketch is my own drawing based on Wyatt’s concept of the flow of blood from the Cross to the Mercy Seat.
THE ARK AND THE CROSS
When the Romans erected the Cross on Calvary, they had no idea of the significance of the location. When the earth shook and the rocks split when Christ died, no one realized the ultimate purpose of it. When Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylonian army destroyed the Temple in 586 B.C. they had no idea what happened to the Ark. But God had a Master Plan. The Ark signified God’s presence, but when Jesus walked on the earth, God’s bodily presence was with man, hence the Ark was not needed in the Temple. Furthermore, Christ;s blood had to literally fall on the Mercy Seat. All these were wonderfully fulfilled when Christ died on Calvary!
Would the Ark be Reinstalled?
In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel there is a detailed description of a future Temple (Ezek. 40-48), considered to be the Millennial Temple in Jerusalem built after Christ defeats the Antichrist and establishes His kingdom on earth and restores the Chosen People fully. There is no mention of the Ark in this description. There is no need for blood sacrifices. If the Ark is restored, it could be kept as a memorial. If the glory of God is to be manifested again on it, it would simply mean that God’s presence would be in the Temple all the time. The Temple Scroll discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls does indicate that all the holy vessels lost from the First Temple will be recovered in the end times. There is the possibility of the Jewish people building a Temple in Jerusalem before Antichrist appears as inferred from Revelation Chapter 11.
The World Net Daily Internet newspaper published a cover story on the Ark of the Covenant on August 9, 1999, just a few days after Ron’s death. WND had done a telephone interview with Ron whose last days were far approaching. Even at his deathbed he affirmed his statements on the Ark of the Covenant.
Ron Wyatt Speaking in Zedekiah’s Cave on the Ark of the Covenant, December 1998
UPDATE October 2004
A new book, The Blood of Jesus on the Ark of the Covenant by J. L. Harris (Publish America, 2003) narrates the author’s journey from near ignorance to full understanding of God’s plan for the blood of Jesus, that it should literally fall on the Mercy Seat. The final revelation to him came when he found Ron Wyatt’s name associated with the rediscovery of the Ark in a cave and Ron’s further discovery of the blood of Jesus having fallen on the Mercy Seat. Harris recognized Ron Wyatt as an ‘apostle’ of Christ in these last days. Harris has never met Ron. He was led to conduct a Bible code search on Ron, and sure enough, he found RONWYATT coded (both in the English and the Hebrew texts) in several places in the Bible. He found also ‘Arkcave’ and ‘Arkfound’ encoded in the Bible. Harris considers these findings reinforce his belief of the divine nature of the revelations received by Ron Wyatt.
UPDATE: January 30, 2006: Ron Wyatt Bible Code ties to Ark of the Covenant
Ron Wyatt who is featured on this site for his discoveries is a target of the skeptics for his astonishing claims, especially regarding the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant. Yet he has withstood the assaults time and again. It is only a matter of time before his discovery of the Ark of the Covenant in Jeruslalem in a cave chamber beneath the Crucifixion site will be fully vindicated. Bible Codes have been used to strengthen the credibility of important past events and personalities. Recently Friedhelm Turnwald from Germany has found several RONWYATT codes in the KJV OT: Words and word combinations found associated with the RONWYATT name include ARK OF THE COVENANT, BLOOD, and JERUSALEM. See examples below.
Special Presentation on the Ark of the Covenant
A special slide show is available on the Ark of the Covenant which examines its history, reperesentations, significance and discovery in recent times. This show may be conducted separately or in association with a show on Bible Discoveries (see Flyer on Home Page). Please contact the author.