What a great question!  The word ‘ark’ literally means ‘a box’.  We are all familiar with the account of Noah’s ark.  We’re told in Exodus 3:2 that the baby Moses was hid in an “ark of bulrushes.”  The first mention of the Ark of the Covenant is found in Exodus 25, where the Lord is giving instructions to Moses concerning the building of the tabernacle.  The Ark is the first piece of furniture for the tabernacle that the Lord speaks of and it was to be placed in the Holy of Holies, where God promised to dwell.  Over and over again, we can see that the Ark is a type, or picture, of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Space prohibits us from reading the entire text of the specifications and purpose of the ark, but I encourage you to read Exodus 25:10-22 to learn about this.  Let’s look at a few details concerning the Ark of the Covenant.

Verses 10-12 show us that the Ark was to be made of shittim wood covered in gold.  This speaks of both the humanity and deity of the Lord Jesus.  What a blessed mysterious thing, that Jesus is both 100% man and 100% God.  1 Timothy 3:16, speaking of Jesus says that, “God was manifest in the flesh.”  Now, that One who came in the ‘form of a servant’ is now eternally ‘the man Christ Jesus’ seated in the Glory.

Verse 16 says that the ‘testimony’ or the tablets with the 10 Commandments were to be placed inside the Ark.  Most of us will remember how that the children of Israel built an idol of gold while Moses was receiving the first set of tablets containing the 10 commandments in Exodus 32.  When Moses returned from the mountain and saw the idolatry going on, he smashed the tablets.   In Deuteronomy 10, we have Moses receiving the 2nd set of tablets.  In verse 1, we read how the Lord told Moses to take these new tablets and place them in the ark.  We then read in verse 5, “And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.”  Again, we learn of Christ in this.  Obviously the tablets of the commandments could easily be broken, so the Lord instructed Moses to put them inside the Ark of the Covenant where they would be safe.  Christ is the only one who never broke the Lord’s commandments.  Matthew 5:17 tells us that Christ came to fulfill the law, and we learn in Romans 8:2 that, “…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”  It is Christ who fulfilled the law and it is ‘in Christ’ that we are free from the law of sin and death.

Verses 17 and 21 tell us of the mercy seat that was to be built and placed on top of the Ark.  In Romans 3:25, 1 John 2:2, and 1 John 4:10 we have Christ referred to as our ‘propitiation’.  This word ‘propitiation’ is also translated ‘mercy seat’ in Hebrews 9:5 concerning the tabernacle.  That says, “And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat…”  Of course, Christ is our mercy seat.  It is on the basis of the finished work of Christ on the cross that we receive the mercy of God.  Galatians 3:13 tells us that, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.”  The mercy seat was made of pure gold, which indicates that salvation is purely the work of God.  Man cannot work for salvation.  It is God that provides salvation to all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Verse 22 is where God tells Moses that He will meet and commune with His people above the mercy seat.  We might say that this is the reason for the Ark.  The Lord desired to be with His people and this Ark symbolized perfectly the person and work of His dear Son, which is the basis on which we can have fellowship with the Lord.  What about today?  Where can we go to so we can be in the Lord’s presence?  We have the Lord’s words in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”  Gathered simply to Himself, the Lord has promised to meet with us.  There is so much more that could be said, but I hope this will encourage you to study more about the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant.  (185.9)