The Golden Ark Of The Covenant

The Golden Ark Of The Covenant

The most holy place contained the golden ark with the mercy seat as a lid on it. The ark of the covenant, the mercy-seat and the content of the ark were together a picture of God the Father, Christ, and Mary.

God and the Mercy Seat:

Gods Mercy is revealed to us through the Mercy seat.

But to understand this word Mercy, We need to understand the word propitiation. Propitiation means turning away anger. In the Bible, propitiation is an act by which God’s wrath is turned away from us. The imagery is expressed in Psalm 85, which says,

Lord, thou hast blessed thy land: thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people: thou hast covered all their sins. Thou hast alleviated all thy anger: thou best turned away from the wrath of thy indignation. (vv. 1–3)

Toward this end, God gave a distinct set of instructions for the ark’s lid (Exodus 25:17–22), called the kapporet in Hebrew. When the Old Testament was translated into Latin, this word was translated as propitiatorium, which means “the place of propitiation.” The Douay Rheims, in the Old Testament translates it as the “the oracle”. And in the New Testament it called the "propitiatory". Most other versions of the Bible call it the Mercy Seat.

This lid, then, was the place of propitiation, the place where the wrath of God was turned away from His people.

There was only one day a year when sacrificial blood was offered on the kapporet to propitiate the wrath of almighty God. As Leviticus 16 describes in great detail, on the annual Day of Atonement, propitiation was made by means of a sacrifice.

As new-covenant believers, we know that these annual sacrifices were only pictures of the propitiation of God’s wrath. We see the powerlessness of the animal sacrifices in Hebrews 9:13–14, which says: “

For if the blood of goats and of oxen, and the ashes of an heifer being sprinkled, sanctify such as are defiled, to the cleansing of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who by the Holy Ghost offered himself unspotted unto God, cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God?” Just as Jesus alone can cleanse the soul and conscience, He alone can turn away the wrath of God, since He is our propitiation.

Romans 3:25

Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in his blood, to the shewing of his justice, for the remission of former sins, through the forbearance of God.

1 John 2:2

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.

I John 4:10

In this is charity: not as though we had loved God, but because he hath first loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins.

Mary And The Ark Of The Covenant

 The Hebrew word translated here as "ark" is the Hebrew word aron (it is not the same word used for the "ark" of the great Flood or the "ark" into which baby Moses was saved in the waters of the Nile). In addition to the Hebrew word aron referring to the sacred Ark of the Covenant, the same word is found in reference to a collection box in the Temple (2 King 12:10-11; 2 Chronicle 24:8, 10-11) and the coffin of Joseph (Genesis 50:26).

The sacred Ark is known in Scripture by three titles:

  1. Ark of the Covenant: This designation appears 40 times, 30 times in association with the Divine Name, and associates the ark with it function as the keeper of the covenant documents.
  2. Ark of God/YHWH: The ark is mentioned 82 times in association with God (i.e. "Ark of God," "Ark of Yahweh," "Ark of the God of Israel," "Ark of the Lord of the earth," etc.), associating the ark with its other function as the base of the Mercy-seat which is the meeting place between God and His covenant people.
  3. Ark of the Testimony: This designation also appears 40 times and associates the ark with its covenant document. This title for the ark is not found outside the books of the Pentateuch.

(Anchor Bible Dictionary, vol. I, "Ark of the Covenant" page 386-7).

Moses was commanded to make the Ark of the Covenant of acacia wood, shittim in Hebrew. In Scripture the word shittim is always mentioned in association with the timbers used in the construction of the Tabernacle and its various parts with the exception of Isaiah 41:19 where, in Yahweh's beautiful poem prophesying Israel's liberation and restoration after the exile, God promises to restore the wastelands with various trees including shittim trees. Most scholars have identified this wood as coming from the acacia tree. There are about eight hundred different species of acacia, but only a few have upright trunks suitable for cutting boards for construction. Those species of acacia wood provide very hard, insect resistant boards (Anchor Bible Commentary, vol. II, "flora /acacia," page 804).

The "cubit" ( ammah, literally "forearm") is the designated biblical measurement. In ancient times the cubit was normally understood to be the distance from a man's elbow to his middle fingertip and was referred to in Scripture as "the cubit of a man" (Deuteronomy 3:11).

In the Old Covenant the Holy Ark of the Covenant was God's presence with His Covenant people.  In Mary's "yes" in humbly submitting herself to God's plan she became the Ark of the New Covenant (see the Chart below), her womb became the first Eucharistic tabernacle, and her travels to visit Elizabeth her cousin and her journey to Bethlehem, became the first Eucharistic processions.  This dimension of Mary's meekness in her submission to God has been expressed in this way: "In a certain way, we can say that her journey was and we are pleased to highlight this in the Year of the Eucharist, the first Eucharistic procession of history.  Living tabernacle of God-made-flesh, Mary is the Ark of the Covenant in whom the Lord has visited and redeemed His people.  Jesus' presence fills her with the Holy Spirit....Is not this too the joy of the Church, that incessantly welcomes Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and carries Him to the world with the testimony of assiduous charity permeated by faith and hope?  Yes, to welcome Christ and to take Him to others is the true joy of Christians!  Dear brothers and sisters let us carry on and imitate Mary, a deeply Eucharistic soul, and all our lives will become a Magnificat."


The Ark of the Covenant The Virgin Mary
The Ark of the New Covenant
God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled the Ark. The Ark became the dwelling place of the presence of God [Exodus 40:34-35] God the Holy Spirit overshadowed and then indwelled Mary. At that time Mary's womb became the dwelling place of the presence of God [Luke 1:35].
The Ark contained the Ten Commandments [the words of God in stone], a pot of manna, and Aaron's rod that came back to life [Deuteronomy 10:3-5; Hebrews 9:4]. The womb of the Virgin contained Jesus: the living Word of God enfleshed, the living bread from heaven, "the Branch" (Messianic title) who would die but come back to life [Luke 1:35].
The Ark traveled to the hill country of Judah to rest in the house of Obed-edom [2 Samuel 6:1-11] Mary traveled to the hill country of Judah (Judea) to the home of Elizabeth [Luke 1:39]
Dressed in a priestly ephod, King David approached the Ark and danced and leapt for joy [2 Samuel 6:14] John the Baptist, son of a priest who would himself becomes a priest, leapt for joy in Elizabeth's womb at the approach of Mary [Luke 1:43]
David shouted for joy in the presence of God and the holy Ark [2 Samuel 6:15] Elizabeth exclaimed with a loud cry of joy in the presence God within Mary [Luke 1:42]
David asked, "How is it that the Ark of the Lord comes to me?" [2 Samuel 6:9] Elizabeth asks, "Why is this granted unto me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" [Luke 1:43]
The Ark remained in the house of Obed-edom for 3 months [2 Samuel 6:11] Mary remained in the house of her cousin Elizabeth for 3 months [Luke 1:56].
The house of Obed-edom was blessed by the presence of the Ark [2 Samuel 6:11] The word "blessed" is used 3 times in Luke 1:39-45 concerning Mary at Elizabeth's house.
The Ark returned to its sanctuary and eventually ends up in Jerusalem where the presence and glory of God is revealed in the newly built Temple [2 Samuel 6:12; 1 Kings 8:9-11] Mary returned home from visiting Elizabeth and eventually comes to Jerusalem, where she presents God the Son in the Temple [Luke 1:56; 2:21-22]
God made Aaron's rod (which would be kept in the Ark) return to life and budded to prove he was the legitimate High Priest [Numbers 17:8]. God would resurrect His Son, who had become enfleshed in Mary's womb and born to bring salvation to all mankind, to prove He is the eternal High Priest [Hebrews 4:14].
When the Ark was outside the Holy of Holies [when it was being transported] it was to be covered with a blue veil [Numbers 4:4-6] In Mary's appearances outside of heaven visionaries testify that she wears a blue veil.
In Revelation 11:19 John sees the Ark of the Covenant in heaven [this is the last verse of chapter 11] In Revelation 12:1 John sees Mary in heaven. It is the same vision Juan Diego saw of Mary in 1531 — the Woman clothed with the sun and standing on the moon.


Jesus And The Content Of The Ark Of The Covenant

The manna in the golden bowl represented the life-sustaining food that God gives His people in Christ. When Israel was in the wilderness, the Lord sustained them with this mysterious bread. Not knowing what it was they called it “Manna” (lit. ‘What is it?’). When Jesus fed the five thousand He said, Amen, amen I say to you; Moses gave you not bread from heaven, but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life to the world. They said therefore unto him: Lord, give us always this bread. And Jesus said to them: I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall not hunger: and he that believeth in me shall never thirst. (John 6:33-35). The flesh and blood of Christ is life-sustaining food for the believer that is found in the Eucharist.

The significance of Aaron’s rod is found in Numbers 16-17. Certain jealous men had called Aaron’s Priesthood into question. God commanded that the rebels take their rods and lay them out next to Aaron’s. The Lord made the rod of the man He had chosen to bud. Jesus is the great High Priest, chosen by His Father from all eternity. The rod was placed in the ark to show that Christ was the LORD’s chosen and anointed Priest. "For every high priest taken from among men, is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins...Neither doth any man take the honour to himself, but he that is called by God, as Aaron was. So Christ also did not glorify himself, that he might be made a high priest."

(Hebrews 5:1,4-5).

The Ten Commandments were also placed in the ark. This showed that the moral Law of God would forever stand before the presence of God. It also represented that the Law would be kept in Christ. He would fully obey all the commands of God for His people. "Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17)