The Lost Ark – Oops – Nevermind

Reuters is now reporting that the lost Ark of the Covenant will not be revealed by its purported keepers in Ethiopia after all.

Ethiopian Church Patriarch Abune Paulos indicated the Italian media had incorrectly reported that he would place the Ark in a museum in the country’s north.

Abune said,

I am deeply disappointed that the Italian media misquoted me and disseminated false information about me unveiling the Ark of the Covenant to the world,….  It is a fabrication, disinformation.

He went on to restate that his congregation has the Ark but that it will not be on public display.

Oops! – Nevermind.


The Lost Ark – Found

American culture was largely introduced to the biblical story of the Ark of the Covenant in 1981 by Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford in the epic tale “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” It now appears that the actual biblical artifact will be revealed for the first time in centuries.

Abuna Pauolos, the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia, has announced to the world the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world’s most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact. He says the Ark has been hidden away in a church in his country for over a millennia, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos.

In Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, Pauolos told the news agency, “Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries.”

The Bible describes the Ark as the sacred container designed to hold the 10 Commandments. (See biblical text below) God instructed Moses on how to build a chest overlaid with gold.  The lid of the Ark was more commonly referred to as the Mercy Seat (or atonement cover) and was constructed of pure gold. On the Day of Atonement, the High Priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the lid as a sacrifice to God on behalf of the entire nation.

The most recognized piece in the Tabernacle and perhaps best known for its remarkable powers, the Ark held a central place both physically and spiritually. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized God’s throne on the earth. God’s presence did not dwell inside the box, but remained over the Ark, in between the two Cherubim. Here God dwelt “in unapproachable light” (I Timothy 6:16 Psalm 104:2). The high priest had to shield his eyes, because “no man shall see Me and live” (Exodus 33:20). This was where God met with Moses (Exodus 25:21-22 Leviticus 16:14-15). The glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle on the day it was erected and anointed (Exodus 40:9,18,34-35).

Ark of the covenantOne striking aspect of the Ark is its size. It is relatively smaller than one typically imagines. At about 45 in. x  27 in. x 27 in., it is smaller than a typical office desk. While no one accurately reproduce the appearance of the Ark, the photo below is representative of what biblical scholars believe the Ark looks like.

Another question for scholars and historians is the position of the angels. We are not told in great detail exactly what the angels.  looked like. Some models show the Cherubim kneeling. Other models show the Cherubim standing. What we do know is that the wings of the Cherubim were stretched out, to cover the Mercy Seat. The wings of the two Cherubim possibly touched one another to form a complete covering.

Over last 2500 years, dozens of locations have been suggested for the location of the Ark. The History Channel, biblical and archeological magazines, and hundreds of universities and treasure hunters have searched the globe for the wonderous Ark.

My own personal belief has been that either the Ark was lost to history after being melted down for the gold or it was located in the high monastery in Ethiopia.

What does the revelation of the Ark of the Covenant mean?

  1. Perhaps nothing. It could be a fake.
  2. Additional archeological confirmation of the authenticity of the biblical message.
  3. Affirmation of the Exodus pilgrimage and God’s deliverance of Israel.
  4. Additional archeological support for the presence of Israel as a nation.

I am personally looking forward to pictures, information and details over the next few days as we learn more about this compelling piece of history.

Exodus 25:10-22 NIV

“Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.”

Rules of War According to Gaza

Faith and Facts Israel and GazaVictor Hanson, of the Hooer Institue wrote the following article, The Gaza Rules which captures my view of the conflict in Gaza.

For several prior weeks, Hamas terrorists had been launching rockets daily into Israeli towns that border Gaza. The recent volleys of missiles had insidiously become more frequent – up to 80 a day – and the payloads larger. Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists were reportedly supplying their own training and expertise.

These terrorists point to the Lebanon war of 2006 as the template for provoking an Israeli counter-response that will bog down the Israeli Defense Forces in the streets of urban Gaza and ensure that Palestinian civilians are harmed on global television.

Watching both this week’s war and the world’s predictable reaction to it, we can recall the Gaza rules. Most are reflections of our postmodern age, and completely at odds with the past protocols of war.

First is the Middle East doctrine of proportionality. Legitimate military action is strangely defined by the relative strength of the combatants. World opinion more vehemently condemns Israel’s countermeasures, apparently because its rockets are far more accurate and deadly than previous Hamas barrages.

If America had accepted such rules in, say, World War II, then by late 1944 we, not the Axis, would have been the culpable party, because by then once-aggressive German, Italian and Japanese forces were increasingly on the defensive and far less lethal than the Allies.

Second, intent in this war no longer matters. Every Hamas unguided rocket is launched in hopes of hitting an Israeli home and killing men, women and children. Every guided Israeli air-launched missile is targeted at Hamas operatives, who deliberately work in the closest vicinity to women and children.

Killing Palestinian civilians is incidental to Israeli military operations and proves counterproductive to its objectives. Blowing up Israeli noncombatants is the aim of Hamas’ barrages: the more children, aged and women who die, the more it expects political concessions from Tel Aviv.

By this logic, the 1999 American bombing of Belgrade – aimed at stopping the genocide of Slobodan Milosevic – was, because of collateral damage, the moral equivalent of the carefully planned Serbian massacres of Muslim civilians at Srebrenica in 1995.

Third, culpability is irrelevant. The “truce” between Israel and Hamas was broken once Hamas got its hands on new stockpiles of longer-range mobile rockets.

Yet, according to the Gaza rules, both sides always deserve equal blame. According to such morally equivalent reasoning, World War II was only a tragedy, not a result of German aggression. Once the dead mounted, it mattered little what were the catalysts of the outbreak of fighting.

Fourth, with instantaneous streaming video from the impact sites in Gaza, context becomes meaningless. Our attention is glued to the violence of the last hour, not that of the last month that incited the war.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 to great expectations that the Palestinians there would combine their new autonomy, some existing infrastructure left behind by the Israelis, Middle East oil money and American pressure for free and open elections to craft a peaceful, prosperous democracy.

The world hoped that Gaza might thrive first, and then later adjudicate its disputes with Israel through diplomacy. Instead, the withdrawal was seen not as a welcome Israeli concession, but as a sign of newfound Jewish weakness – and that the intifada tactics that had liberated Gaza could be amplified into a new war to end the Zionist entity itself.

Fifth and finally, victimization is crucial. Hamas daily sends barrages into Israel, as its hooded thugs thump their chests and brag of their radical Islamic militancy. But when the payback comes, suddenly warriors are transmogrified into weeping victims, posing teary-eyed for the news camera as they deplore “genocide” and “the Palestinian Holocaust.” At least the Japanese militarists did not cry out to the League of Nations for help once mean Marines landed on Iwo Jima.

By now, these Gaza asymmetrical rules are old hat. We know why they persist – worldwide fear of Islamic terrorism, easy anti-Westernism, the old anti-Semitism, and global strategic calculations about Middle East oil – but it still doesn’t make them right.

Denying The Holocaust

When the Allied Forces, under the direction of Supreme Commander, Gen. D. Eisenhower, found the Nazi death camps, the General ordered photos be taken from every possible angle. He also ordered that local villagers be led through the camps so they might see the horror first-hand.  While his reason is variously quoted, it was essentially, “Get it all on record now – get the films – get the witnesses -because somewhere down the road of history some bastard will get up and say that this never happened”.

Our short-term memory is suffering on a global scale. Perhaps this is the natural result of post-modern thinking:  “Everyone has a right to create their own truth.”

This “personal truth” eliminates the historical fact that 5 million Jews, 20 million Russians, 10 million Christians and thousands of priests were “victims of ethnic cleansing” under the most brutal and barbaric circumstances imaginable.

They were murdered, beaten, gassed, shot, killed.  In modern political speech, they were victimized.

Recently, Britain removed teaching the historical details of the Holocaust because it offended Muslims. This despite the fact that denying the Holocaust is actually illegal in most European countries.

Brian Cuban, a new blogging friend, has an article that prompted my writing. He accurately points out the impact of social media, like Facebook, on defining truth. In his article, The Face(book) of Holocaust Denial, he writes

A British judge has dismissed a case against a South Australian man who is wanted in Germany for Holocaust denial. Fredrick Toben was arrested at Heathrow airport earlier this month while he was in transit from America to Dubai. He is wanted in Germany on charges that he is a Holocaust denier, after his Adelaide Institute website published claims that there was no mass murder of Jews by the Nazis.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has recently described the Holocaust as a “myth”  He has stated:

“They (Israel) have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets,”

The ugly face of Holocaust Denial is still smiling across the globe over 63 years after the last concentration camp was liberated at the end of World War II.  It has become especially virulent in the area of social media where anonymity protects deniers like a white sheet.  Facebook is a prime example. The following groups promoting Holocaust Denial are currently active on Facebook (as of the writing of this article).

Conspiracy theorists claim the destruction of the Twin Towers on 9/11 was an inside job. I wonder how long will it be until Muslims begin to deny that the Towers fell. Until they say of that day, like the Holocaust, “It Never Happened.

Hope in the Holy Land

Perhaps there will be peace in the Middle East. Mahmoud Abbas, a moderate, along with the militant Hamas, told a UN Ministers meeting their planned unity government will recognize Israel and renounce violence.

Many are scoffing at the possibility. I am rejoicing with hope and praying for the peace of Israel.

Perhaps this idea will collapse. Maybe it will never get off the ground. The discussions may fail before they even begin. Unless both sides at least try to reconcile, however, the world will remain in peril.

Pray for peace in the Holy Land.