What happened to the Ark of the Covenant?


My question concerns the Ark of the Covenant. I once read and now finally have found a Bible chapter that says that the Ark of the Covenant was seen in the temple of God, in Heaven. This verse is Revelation 11:19. Many, many people are still searching for the ark, such as archaeologists. Why do they do this? Clearly, God intended that it never be found. Or so it seems to me, considering what Jeremiah 3:16 says. Doesn't Jeremiah 3:16 indicate that the ark will not be thought of, needed, nor would another be made?

Now, am I misunderstanding this? I realize that of course, something that is seen in God's Temple in Heaven most certainly is not of a material substance; however, why is it that some think it still exists? Also, is Jeremiah 3:16, telling us or giving us forewarning of the arrival of Jesus and His Church?

If the Ark of the Covenant should, by some chance, be still in existence, and found, to my mind, I would think that there would be those who would turn it into an 'idol' or even maybe a 'deity' of itself. But going by the Bible only, Jeremiah 3:16 would be the final word from God about the subject, wouldn't it?

OK, now that I have said that, I do realize that there are many who do not believe the words of the Bible, or that it is truly from God. But then they turn around and use it to 'search' for items, such as the ark. Very confusing!

I have more questions but will save them for another study. Thank you for your time, and your site. I use to study the Bible. It is Great!


The ark of the covenant served as a physical reminder to the Israelites of God's presence. It contained the two stone tablets Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, a golden pot of manna which never spoiled, and Aaron's staff which budded (Hebrews 9:4). The top of the ark was the mercy seat of God, overshadowed by the wings of two cherubim. It was from here that God's presence was felt (Exodus 25:17-22; Numbers 7:89).

As you realize, the book of Revelation is written in figurative or symbolic language. "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John" (Revelation 1:1). That is what "signified" means in this verse. Thus when Revelation 11:19 speaks of the ark of the covenant being in heaven, we cannot assume that it means this literally. Instead, Revelation is a series of "paintings" done with words, where the things that are seen represent ideas understandable to the early Christians. Since the ark represented God's presence, and it held witnesses to God's power and promise, it is natural to find the presence of God, His power, and the witness to His promise in heaven.

""Return, O backsliding children," says the LORD; "for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding. Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days," says the LORD, "that they will say no more, 'The ark of the covenant of the LORD.' It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore. At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of the LORD, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers" (Jeremiah 3:13-18).

Jeremiah is foreseeing a day when the divided nation of Israel (the north and the south) would be forged into one nation again when they came together out of captivity. They would rebuild, multiply in number, and re-establish their nation. Eventually, the need for the ark to remind the people of their covenant with God would no longer be needed. As you surmised, Jeremiah is alluding to the days of the Messiah. Recall the words of Jesus, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" (John 4:21-24). Jesus was telling the Samaritan woman that the nature of worship would drastically change under the new covenant. Instead of being physically based it would be spiritual.

Jeremiah had also said, "But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more" (Jeremiah 31:33-34). Everyone who is a part of the new covenant would know God's law; indeed, one cannot become a part of that covenant without knowing it. Instead of a law written on stone and stored in a box in a physical location, people would carry the law and God's presence with them. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (I Corinthians 3:16).

As a result, Jeremiah foresaw that the physical ark would disappear and no one would miss it. What happened to it? We have no idea. The articles of the temple were returned to the Israelites when they returned from captivity (Ezra 1:7), though the ark is not specifically mentioned. Interestingly, detailed lists of what Nebuchadnezzar removed from Jerusalem exist, but no mention of the ark has been found. The books of Maccabee mention the lampstand, the altar of incense, and the table of showbread (I Maccabee 4:49). One would assume that it remained in the temple through the days of Jesus. However, in 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed and the Temple was torn down. We know from the Arch of Triumph in Rome that the Romans carried off the lampstand. It is most likely that all other items were taken as well. Whether it was taken at the time of the Babylonian captivity or destroyed during the destruction of Jerusalem is a matter of conjecture.

But it doesn't matter, beyond historical significance. You are right that if it did exist that men have a tendency to make idols out of things. Look what happened to the bronze serpent that Moses made. "He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan" (II Kings 18:4).

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