For more than 2,000 years, people around the world have been fascinated with the mystery of what happened to the Ark of the Covenant that served such a prominent spiritual role in Old Testament times. The mystery begins where the Bible's historical account ends, in the time of King Josiah of Judah (2 Chronicles 35:1-6; 2 Kings 23:21-23).
Where is the Ark of the Covenant? What happened to it?
Approximately 40 years later, the Babylonians overtook Jerusalem and its temple. 10 years later, the temple was burned along with the city. Yet nothing is mentioned of the Ark. The main options for what happened to the Ark could include that 1) it was destroyed, 2) it was taken by the Babylonians, or 3) it was hidden by the Jewish people before the destruction of the temple.
The apocryphal book of 2 Maccabees states in its second chapter that the prophet Jeremiah received a vision to hide the Ark and other items in a cave upon the mount where Moses climbed to see the land of Israel before his death (Deuteronomy 31:1-4). Those who later sought to find it could not, because God had chosen to hide it until the appointed time. It is unclear if this account is accurate, but it reveals what many Jews believed to be the fate of the Ark from those times.
Modern theories of the Ark's location include a wide array of options. Many stories note the possibility of the Ark travelling to Africa (either Ethiopia or Egypt) via Solomon to the Queen of Sheba. Another story claims the Ark is hidden below Jerusalem in a location inaccessible due to its proximity to the Muslim Dome of the Rock mosque. A third account suggests the Copper Scroll discovered in caves of Qumran along with the Dead Sea Scrolls describe the location of the Ark, yet cannot be deciphered well enough to determine its location. An Irish tale even claims the Ark is buried under Ireland's Hill of Tara. Some have even speculated the Ark is buried below Mount Calvary where Jesus was crucified. Though intriguing, none of these options has been substantiated. The Ark's fate and possible current location remain a mystery.
However, the Bible does at least mention an Ark of the Covenant that plays a role in the future. Revelation 11:19 mentions "the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple." This is apparently the same Ark of the Old Testament, meaning that it will appear again one day as part of God's end-time plan. If this interpretation is correct, it would suggest the Ark is at least still in existence and will be made public again at some time in the future. Until then, the Ark may remain a mystery to all but God Himself.
What is significant about the Ark of the Covenant? What is it?
What are the different covenants in the Bible?
Covenant Theology - What is it?
What is dispensationalism?
What is replacement theology?
Truth about Everything Else