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Bible Dictionaries

Morrish Bible Dictionary

Ark of God

This is also called 'ARK OF THE COVENANT,' 'ARK OF THE TESTIMONY,' 'ARK OF JEHOVAH.'The sacred chest belonging to the Tabernacle and the Temple. It was made of shittim wood, overlaid within and without with pure gold. It was 2-1/2 cubits long, 1-1/2 cubits in breadth, and the same in height, with a crownor cornice of gold. On each side were rings of gold in which were inserted the staves by which it was carried. Its lid, on which were the twocherubim made wholly of gold, was called the MERCY-SEAT, q.v. The ark was typical of Christ, in that it figured the manifestation of divine righteousness (gold) in man; the mercy-seat was Jehovah's throne, the place of His dwelling on earth. In the ark were placed the two tables of stone (the righteousness demanded by God from man), and afterwards the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded. For the place of the ark and the manner of its being moved see the TABERNACLE.

In thefirst journey of the children of Israel from Mount Sinai the ark of the covenant went before them to "search out a resting place for them," type of God's tender care for them. When the ark set forward Moses said, "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered;" and when it rested he said, "Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel." Numbers 10:33-36 . When they arrived at Jordan, the ark was carried by the priests 2000 cubits in front of the host that they might know the way they must go, Joshua 3:3,4 , and the ark remained on the shoulders of the priests in the bed of the river, until all had passed over. Joshua 3:17 . This typifies association with Christ's death and resurrection.

The ark accompanied them in their first victory: it was carried by the priests around Jericho. It is only in the power of Christ in resurrection that the saint can be victorious. The tabernacle was set up at Shiloh, and doubtless the ark was placed therein, Joshua 18:1 , though it may have been carried elsewhere. In Eli's days when Israel was defeated they fetched the ark from Shiloh that it might save them, but they were again defeated, and the ark, in which they had placed their confidence instead of in Jehovah, was seized by the Philistines. 1 Samuel 5:1 . When put into the house of their god Dagon the idol fell down before it on two occasions, and on the second was broken to pieces. Subsequently it was taken from Ashdod to Gath, and from Gath to Ekron, and the people were smitten by the hand of God in each city.

After seven months a new cart was made, to which two milch kine were yoked, and the ark sent back to the Israelites with a trespass offering to the God of Israel. The kine, contrary to nature, went away from their calves, and went direct to Beth-shemesh, for it was God who restored the ark. There God smote the men of the place for looking into the ark. It was then taken to Kirjath-jearim and placed in the house of Abinadab. 1 Samuel 6; 1 Samuel 7:1,2 . See ABINADAB.

In after years David fetched the ark from thence on a new cart, but the ark being shaken, Uzzah put forth his hand to steady it, and was smitten of God. This frightened David and the ark was carried aside to the house of Obed-edom. The law had directed how the ark was to be carried, and the new cart was following the example of the Philistines: Uzzah disregarded God's plain direction and heeded not the sacredness of that which represented the presence of God. David however, hearing that God had blessed the house of Obed-edom, again went for the ark, and now it was carried by the Levites according to divine order, and with sacrifices and rejoicing it was placed in the tabernacle or tent that David had pitched for it. 2 Samuel 6 .

When Solomon had built the temple, the ark was removed thither, and the staves by which it had been carried were taken out: the ark had now found its resting place in the kingdom of Solomon, whose reign is typical of the millennium. It is significant too that now there were only the two tables of stone in the ark, 1 Kings 8:1-11 : the manna had ceased when they ate of the old corn of the land, which is typical of a heavenly Christ; and the witness of Aaron's rod was no longer needed now they were in the kingdom. The wilderness circumstances, in which the manna and the priesthood of Christ were so necessary, were now passed. These are both mentioned in Hebrews 9:4 , for there the tabernacle, and not the temple is in contemplation.

No further mention is made of the ark: it is supposed to have been carried away with the sacred vessels to Babylon, and to have never been returned: if so there was no ark in the second temple nor in the temple built by Herod, nor do we read of the ark in connection with the temple described by Ezekiel. In Revelation 11:19 the ark of God's covenant is seen in the temple of God in heaven: symbol here of the resumption of God's dealings with His earthly people Israel.

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Bibliography Information
Morrish, George. Entry for 'Ark of God'. Morrish Bible Dictionary. 1897.

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