Where Is the Ark of the Covenant?
There has been much speculation over the location of the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark—whose design was given by God to Moses—was constructed of acacia wood plated with gold and contained the two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments inscribed on them. It was built during the Exodus and was in the holy place of the Tabernacle. Later it was placed in the Holy of Holies in the Temple Solomon built. Central to Temple worship, it would be sprinkled with blood once a year on Yom Kippur—the Day of Atonement—first for the sins of the high priest and then for the sins of the nation of Israel.
But where is it now, and when was it removed from the Temple? There have been many reports as to its location, including television specials and feature films. Some speculate it was taken to Ethiopia. Others say it was carried off to Rome. Still others claim it was stolen by Babylon and taken there. However, none of the people who claim to know where it went have ever seen it.
I have spoken with two rabbis and a Temple Mount expert who have gone on record as having been to the location of the Ark of the Covenant. Rabbi Yehuda Meir Getz was for decades the rabbi of the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Rabbi Shlomo Goren was the first head of the Military Rabbinate of the Israel Defense Forces and the first to offer prayer at the Western Wall following the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967. He also started a training center for future priests.
In 1982, both men went under the Temple Mount to an area where they claim the Ark of the Covenant now rests. When Gershon Salomon, founder of the Temple Mount Faithful, was asked to join these two rabbis on this quest, he was so excited he forgot to put on his shoes before rushing to the Temple Mount.
Though we have the testimony of these honorable and trustworthy men, the matter ultimately rests on God’s Word. Second Chronicles 35:3 reads, “Then he [King Josiah] said to the Levites who taught all Israel,…‘Put the holy ark in the house which Solomon the son of David, king of Israel, built. It shall no longer be a burden on your shoulders.’” The Hebrew word for “house” is bayith. It may also be translated “inner chambers,” “dungeon,” or “nethermost point.”
The text does not refer to placing the Ark in the Temple; it had been in the Temple’s Holy of Holies for many years (1 Ki. 8; 2 Chr. 5). Rather, Josiah recognized the threat posed by the Babylonians and Egyptians. These two empires were battling each other at the time, and Israel was caught in the middle. To protect the Ark from being stolen by either nation, King Josiah—a man ahead of his time—ordered the Levites to put the Ark in a secret, secluded hiding place underneath what is now the Dome of the Rock.
Second Chronicles 35:3 is the last mention of the Ark of the Covenant in the historical books. Jeremiah 3:16 refers to it saying that, when the Messiah comes, no one will mention the Ark anymore. The Ark is a type or picture of the promised Messiah. When the real thing arrives, the type is unnecessary. The final passage referring to the Ark is Revelation 11:19, which mentions the original Temple in heaven as having its own, original Ark of the Testimony.
The Ark of the Covenant has never left Jerusalem. I believe it now sits in a safe, secret, secluded hiding place prepared by God through King Solomon to protect it for when it will be needed in the last days in the next Temple—the Third Temple, the Tribulation Temple—that will be built shortly after the Rapture of the church. But it won’t be needed for the Messiah’s Temple—the one Jesus Christ Himself will build after the Tribulation, and the one from which He will rule and reign for 1,000 years in the Kingdom to come.