If someone asked you:
... what would your answer be?
Would your answer be ... the Ark could possibly represent or picture Jesus Christ, the "Messiah."
Or would you say, it represents namely, "Jehovah’s Holy "Presence" with the nation of Israel?
Many, including Jehovah's Witnesses would respond that way, of course.
Or, do you believe it could possibly represent Almighty God's Universal Power & His Visible Rulership over mankind, through the nation of Israel?
To be sure, these are all excellent answers to such a question, we [YORWW] would readily agree. However, at the end of this article, we will ask this very same question of you again, to see if your answer changes any.
A CLOSER LOOK AT THE "ARK OF THE COVENANT"
First it must be acknowledged, these are all very interesting responses to such a question. However, we at the YORWW Congregation actually would respond to this particular question in a very different manner. We would say, the "Ark of the Covenant" actually pictures something very different, something very unique in God's Hidden Purposes, ever since mankind's creation. (See Genesis 3:15.) Yes, we would say the "Ark" becomes a very special "paradigm" of sorts, for the fulfillment of a 6,000-year Great "Mystery" [Greek: mysterion] or "Sacred Secret" of God, as revealed through the book of Revelation, as well as all of the other prophetic books of the bible. -- See Revelation 10:7; Revelation 11:19; Revelation 22:6.
Let us explain.
In the past we know, the "Ark of the Covenant" was closely associated with Jehovah God’s Unique "Presence" & "Blessings," all throughout history, with the nation of Israel. But that does fact itself, necessarily mean that the "Ark of the Covenant" itself, can be said to actually represent Jehovah's Holy Presence, per say. Well, let's take a closer look.
Inside the "ark" itself, we recall it was said to have contained the two tablets of testimony or the Ten Commandments, also the “golden jar” of manna and the rod of Aaron. Also there was a book of instructions written by Moses for the priests as to the handling of the Ark. These were keep along side of the Ark. Touching the Ark was never permitted by anyone in Israel. In fact, for the nation of Israel even to look upon the "ark", would bring about death. -- Deut. 4:17-20; 2 Samuel 6:4-8
The lid of the Ark of the Covenant was solid gold with two cherubs facing each other on top. And only the High Priest could enter the Most Holy compartment once a year on Atonement Day to apply the sacrificial blood to the lid of the Ark. -- Lev 16:15; Heb 9:11-14, 24-28
This is what the Watchtower Society publication called, Insight On The Scriptures has to say about the cover:
*** it-2 p. 699 Propitiatory Cover ***
On the Day of Atonement (yohm hak·kip·pu·rim´, meaning “day of the coverings or propitiations” [Le 23:27, 28]), the high priest entered the Most Holy and spattered some of the bull’s blood before the cover (at its front, or east side) and then did the same with the blood of the goat. (Le 16:14, 15) Thus the gold cover of the Ark played a special role in the typical propitiation (covering) of sins.
Indeed highlighting its great importance, we remember the "ark of the covenant" was the VERY FIRST PIECE OF FURNITURE that God directed Moses to make for the Tabernacle of worship for the Israelites in the wilderness. Also, it appears the "Ark of the Covenant" was the only piece of furniture that was retained for actual use in Solomon's Magnificent Temple, from the original Tabernacle used by Israel.
Again, the publication Insight On The Scriptures makes the following comment on what finally became of the "Ark of the Covenant" after Solomon's Temple was destroyed. It states:
"There is no mention of the Ark's being taken to Babylon. The Ark is not enumerated among the temple articles carried off. Likewise, there is no mention of its being returned and placed in Zerubbabel's rebuilt temple; neither was a replacement made for it. When and under what circumstances the Ark disappeared is unknown. -- 2 Kings 25:13-17; 2 Chronicles 36:18; Ezra 1:7-11; 7:12-19 -- See Insight On The Scriptures Volume I. pages 167, 168[/i]
To be sure, the removal of the "Ark of the Covenant" from the nation of Israel has proved to be a great mystery over the years. No one knows exactly what happened to it. Curiously, neither did Jehovah give instructions as to making another "Ark of the Covenant" either for the nation after its disappearance from Israel. Nevertheless, its great significance and importance in worship for the nation of Israel can be attested to even by our consideration of the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation again mentions the "Ark" being found, once again. In Revelation 11:19, the "Ark" is shown as being one day, finally found by the spiritual nation of Israel. It is seen again, in the last days, by God's nation of people to be "in the Temple of God," just where it is supposed to be. So the mystery of the "Ark" is one day finally solved for us.
THE HIDDEN SIGNIFICANCE OF THE "DAY OF ATONEMENT"
Now, going back, let's enlarge on the hidden significance of the “Day of Atonement” and some of its features, to help us understand more about the mysterious "Ark of the Covenant" and what it means for us today. -- See Leviticus 16th chapter.
In our study of the scriptures, we begin to see one important factor, that the Mosaic Law really pictured or foreshadowed for us an eternal “earthly rulership” that was embodied in the nation of Israel, starting with the leadership of Moses after receiving the Law of God at Mt. Horeb. At that time, the nation of "Israel" became an earthly government to God, and was promised to stay so forevermore with God, as long as they obeyed Him. To ensure such a situation for earthly Israel, many prophetic promises were made to this effect. One of them had to do with the coming of a "king" who would lead the nation and its righteous government, forevermore. Ezekiel 37:24, 25 says:
"And my servant David will be king over them, and one shepherd is what they will all come to have; and in my judicial decisions they will walk, and my statutes they will keep, and they will certainly carry them out. And they will actually dwell upon the land that I gave to my servant, to Jacob, in which your forefathers dwelt, and they will actually dwell upon it, they and their sons and their sons sons to time indefinte, and David my servant will be their chieftain to time indefinite."
And so we can see this grand promise of God to the nation of Israel to have an eternal earthly government and king, was a big part of the Jewish faith for many, many years. Jehovah's specific promise of eternal rulership upon earth, is shown again for us at Isaiah 9:6, 7, where it states,
"For there has been a child born to us, there has been a son given to us; and the princely rule [government KJV] will come to be upon his shoulder. And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. To the abundance of the princely rule and to peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and upon his kingdom in order to establish it firmly and to sustain it by means of justice and by means of righteousness, from now on and to time indefinite. The very zeal of Jehovah of armies will do this."
We begin to notice something important from comparing the promises of the old Mosaic Law Covenant and the newer Christian Law Covenant, given by Jesus. Whereas the emphasis in the Mosaic Law was upon a eternal earthly rulership and government, complete with Chief Ruler and King. Whereas, the Christian Law pictures or foreshadows things having to do with a “heavenly rulership” with Jesus as King in the heavens. (Matthew 28:18) There can be no question, but the Greek scriptures clearly places its emphasis upon a heavenly rulership up above, in the presence of God.
(For more information on this subject see article entitled: "2-Kingdom Concept Examined")
Revelation 15:3 gives us a clue as to how we can better understand why this is so. It speaks of the ‘song of Moses’ as being "sung" or explained to others, during our time of the end. This "song of Moses" does connects back to the promise made in Exodus 19:5, 6, about a future earthly government for God. This thus becomes God's original promise to Moses of what He ultimately wanted Israel to become for him.
Exodus 19:5, 6 states:
And now if YOU will strictly obey my voice and will indeed keep my covenant, then YOU will certainly become my special property out of all [other] peoples, because the whole earth belongs to me. And YOU yourselves will become to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’
These are the words that you are to say to the sons of Israel.”
Revelation 15:3 says:
"And they are singing the song of Moses the slave of God and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and wonderful are your works, Jehovah God, the Almighty. Righteous and true are your ways, King of eternity."
And so we can see a connection that shows, even in our day, many things about what Moses taught, as in his law covenant, must come back to us again, in the last days. To further this point, Malachi 4:4 points out when this promised ‘Elijah’ comes, we will again have to remember the “Law of Moses” for our benefit.
Now as previously stated, we remember the fact that some of the blood from the sacrifice of the first goat of Leviticus 16, was actually placed on the Ark of the Covenant itself. Now if we think of this in terms of Jesus’ sacrifice of blood, it would have to be his blood that was picture to have been placed on the "Ark of the Covenant," wouldn't you agree?
Commenting on this viewpoint, the "Insight" Book volume I, page 965 states:
On the Day of Atonement, two goats were used. One was sacrificed as a sin offering for the 12 non-Levite tribes, and the other was designated for “Azazel” and was sent away into the wilderness. (Le 16:1-27; see ATONEMENT DAY) Of course, those goats that were offered in sacrifice could not actually take away sins, but they merely pictured the real sin-atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. — Heb 9:11-14; 10:3, 4.
So as many currently understand things, the blood of the first goat [which pictured Jesus' blood] was taken behind the inner most part of the temple, behind the curtain and applied to the Ark of the Covenant. What could this mean? Well, if we think about this, we realize that Jehovah was doing this to picture something very important. Yes, couldn't we say the "Ark of the Covenant" itself was being "atoned for," as the most holiest piece of furniture in the Temple? Isn't that so? So then, we come to realize, the Ark itself, yes, had to be “cleansed” before Jehovah. That is why blood itself was used, to cleanse of it of sin or wipe it clean, as a most holy instrument of God. So based upon this special viewpoint, isn't it true the Ark would have to picture something NOT PERFECT or NOT SIN-FREE in God's eyes? And again, it certainly could not picture Jesus himself, since as many believe, it was his blood itself that was used for actual "atonement," in this particular case.
So in conclusion, we [YORWW Congregation] believe, yes the "Ark of the Covenant" actually pictures in our modern-day times, a A SINFUL DESCENDANT OF ADAM, A SPECIAL PROPHET OF GOD, INDEED ONE SENT BY GOD to make full restoration of His people, as His "Servant" with a "covenant." -- Isaiah 42:6; 49:5, 6, 8; Matthew 17:10, 11; Acts 3:20-23
Additionally, inside of the "Ark of the Covenant" we remember, was the Mosaic Law itself or 10 Commandments, yes God’s Personal "Law" passed down to Moses. So then, this imperfect, sinful person would picture the revealed, "sacred secret" or "mystery of God," that would be "sent" by both Jehovah God and Jesus Christ, to guide mankind into ALL TRUTH. (John 14:26; John 15:26; John 16:13) This person, as a descendant of Adam & Eve, then must also have God’s Law inside of him, specifically God's Mosaic Law, as Malachi 4:4 clearly aludes. We should expect this. And as the promised "Spirit of Truth," who was to come into the world, he would thus have been appointed to do such by Jehovah God & Jesus Christ, some time after Jesus would have been glorified by his father. This is why Jesus made the following statement:
(John 7:38-39) 38 He that puts faith in me, just as the Scripture has said, ‘Out from his inmost part streams of living water will flow.’” 39 However, he said this concerning the spirit which those who put faith in him were about to receive; for as yet there was no spirit, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
These "living, healing waters," are again spoken of in Ezekiel 47th chapter, where they bring refreshing, healing spiritual restoration to mankind, by way of miraculous "trees" that "spring up" during such a time. -- Ezekiel 47:1-12; Isaiah 41:18-20; Isaiah 43:19-21; Isaiah 44th chapter.
Again, even the prophet Zechariah spoke of these “living waters” spreading over the earth in these times, the "end times" of our day by saying:
(Zechariah 14:8) 8 And it must occur in that day [that] living waters will go forth from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. In summer and in winter it will occur.
So now we would like to ask you again the same question we asked above ... namely, “what does the Ark of the Covenant represent or mean to you, now?"
Indeed, we hope after reading this article that you have a much better understanding of the Grand Promises that Jehovah has in store for His Name People today. (Number 6:27; Acts 15:14) And how He intends to see those promises through, yes, using the modern day "Ark of the Covenant," or Scapegoat Arrangement of Leviticus 16th chapter.
... Think about it!