The ark of the covenant was a symbol of God?s presence among the Israelites?a
visual reminder that the one true God had made a covenant with them. It was so
important to God that he described the ark?s construction before describing any
other sacred object (Ex. 25:10—22).
God revealed himself to his people at the ark of the covenant. It was
often the place where God would meet with Moses and give commandments to his
people. Each year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would enter the Holy
of Holies, where the ark was kept. There, God would appear in a cloud over the
Inside the ark, the Israelites kept the Ten Commandments tablets.
Although Christians have traditionally assumed that each tablet held a portion
of the commandments, nothing in Scripture supports the idea of two partial
tablets. From what we know about ancient covenants, it is more likely that all
ten commandments were written on each tablet.
According to ancient custom, each covenant party would take a copy of their
terms and store them in their most sacred place. By giving his copy of the
commandments to Moses, God symbolically told his people that their most sacred
place would also be his most sacred place: the ark of the covenant.
Today, God chooses to reveal himself through the work of the Holy
Spirit in each believer. His most sacred place is now our very own hearts and
minds. Our thoughts, actions, and words should show others that the one true God
is present among us.
Interesting details about the ark of the covenant:
- It was made of acacia wood, an extremely hard wood common to the Sinai
- It was three feet nine inches long, two feet three inches wide,
and two feet three inches tall.
- It was gold plated and had a gold rim
around the top.
- It stood on four legs, and on each side were two gold rings
in which poles could be inserted so the ark could be carried.
- It had a
cover, called the mercy seat or atonement seat, that was made of pure gold. On
this cover were two cherubim whose wings stretched over the lid. The cherubim
expressed the people?s longing to feel safe in God?s sheltering arms.