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Will the Ark of the Covenant be in heaven, and is it still in existence today? Troy Lacey and Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S., explain.
I have read on the AiG website about the amazing discovery claims made by Ron Wyatt. My attention was caught by the Ark of the Covenant story. I have indeed read AiG’s take on this claim and how you believe the Ark of the Covenant was most likely destroyed by the Babylonians; however, Revelation 11:19 states that the Ark of the Covenant will be seen in heaven. Doesn’t this imply that the Ark was not destroyed and will eventually be found?
Hi Clint, thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis.
There are plenty of traditions concerning the Ark of the Covenant and what happened to it. While Hollywood may embellish these tales, certain historical records are more plausible. In the book of 2 Maccabees (which is not part of the Protestant Bible) the author records that the Prophet Jeremiah hid the Ark and the altar of incense in a cave. But his followers neglected to mark the cave, so its location was lost. According to this book, Jeremiah then prophesied that God would reveal its location at the proper time (2 Maccabees 2:1–8). Josephus wrote of a tradition among the Samaritans that states the Ark was hidden on Mount Gerizim.1 Finally, one of the more popular legends is that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church actually has the Ark in its possession. The evidence for these traditions is inconclusive, and we need to make sure we start our thinking on Scripture, rather than the traditions of men.
The Bible is silent on the Ark of the Covenant at the time of (and just prior to) the fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. The last Scriptural reference of the whereabouts of the Ark prior to Revelation 11:19 is from 2 Chronicles 35:3, which states that the Ark of the Covenant was still in the Holy of Holies during the 18th year of Josiah’s reign (622 B.C.). Ezekiel mentions that the Glory of the Lord departed from between the Cherubim (Ezekiel 10:4, (18)) during the sixth year of Jeconiah’s exile (593–592 B.C.). The next possible allusion to the Ark is Lamentations 2:1 (right after the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.) which says that His Footstool was not remembered in the day of His anger (the fall of Jerusalem). Some commentators, based on their interpretations of 1 Chronicles 28:2 and Psalm 132:7, think “His Footstool” refers to the Ark of the Covenant, which was subsequently lost, captured, or destroyed.
We would not be dogmatic concerning the Ark’s current location because Scripture does not specifically tell us.This could have happened only at and along with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.; and history testifies that the temple after the exile had no ark (as does Jeremiah 3:16, which stated that the Ark of the Covenant would not be remembered or rebuilt by post-exilic Jews). Therefore it may be that the Ark was destroyed by the Babylonians and Chaldeans during the fall of Jerusalem. Consequently, upon the rebuilding of the temple after the exile, the Ark was not restored, because the nucleus of it, the tables of the Law written by the finger of God (Deuteronomy 10:2–5), could not be constructed by the hand of man. It could also signify that the Ark was removed from earth by God and transported to heaven. The passage in Revelation 11:19 may lend credence to this idea.2 We would not be dogmatic concerning the Ark’s current location because Scripture does not specifically tell us.
Furthermore, while the Ark would be an incredible historical find, we must remember that it is merely wood and gold. It holds no supernatural powers in and of itself. God’s presence with the Ark is what gave it its significance.
We pray this helps, and God bless,
Troy Lacey and Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S.
Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.