I have to confess to being a fan of Raiders of the Lost Ark. And when the movie came out, many articles were published about what happened to the Ark of the Covenant?
The most popular theory was that some priests or Jeremiah the prophet had hidden the Ark in caves in Edom, across the Jordan River from Jerusalem. There are countless caves in the area, most are unexplored, and many are accessible only by rock climbers.
There are various Christian cults in that part of the world that claim to have the Ark — too holy to actually let anyone see, of course. And then I read this article at the Logos website.
The author concludes,
Other theories grew out of specific passages in ancient texts. Second Maccabees 2:5 records Jeremiah hiding the ark in a cave before Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion. Second Baruch 6:1–9 describes the ark being supernaturally swallowed up by the earth before the invasion, tucked away until the time of Israel’s restoration.
Jeremiah 3:16–17 makes all these hypotheses difficult to believe:
And when you have multiplied and been fruitful in the land, in those days, declares the Lord, they shall no more say, ‘The ark of the covenant of the Lord.’ It shall not come to mind or be remembered or missed; it shall not be made again. At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem . . .
The passage plainly shows that the ark would be absent because of the exile. Jeremiah 3:16 also insists that “it shall not be made again”—wording that strongly suggests the ark would be destroyed in the impending disaster; if the ark weren’t destined for destruction, talk of rebuilding it would make no sense at all. Jeremiah 3:17 reinforces this point—the ark was God’s throne. He sat “between the cherubim” of the lid known as the “mercy seat” (Exod 25:18–22; Num 7:89).
But the passage speaks of a day when Jerusalem itself will be called God’s throne. We read about this in Revelation 21:2–3: “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’ ” A recovered ark of the covenant doesn’t fit this picture—it would be a disappointment.
Therefore, it would seem that those devout Christians who long for the reconstruction of the Temple as a sign of the return of Jesus must have misunderstood something — because the Temple needs God to be in it above the mercy seat above the Ark to be the real Temple. And Jeremiah says that’s not how it’s going to happen.
But I still think it would be just so cool for the Ark to be stored in a government warehouse somewhere, to one day be discovered. Oh, well ….