I recently read a fascinating article in Zion’s Fire about The Ark of the Covenant by Kevin Howard. The climax of the article involves the prophet that I have been writing a series about, the prophet Jeremiah. The climax, of course, would be whatever happened to the ark of the covenant. There are stories that Jeremiah had a hand in hiding the ark before the Babylonians came and plundered the temple. Two different works describe Jeremiah hiding the ark of the covenant. In II Maccabees the prophet Jeremiah and others carry the ark of the covenant to a mountain where Moses saw the heritage of God (believed to be Mount Nebo). In the Mishnah, the rabbis asserted that Jeremiah hid the ark in a secret underground temple passageway.
While neither of these is contained in the Bible, why would two different sources both point to Jeremiah as the one responsible for the hiding place of the ark of the covenant? It truly makes one think. Jeremiah did prophesy concerning the ark of the covenant, Jeremiah 3:16-18. Jeremiah was a priest and therefore qualified to handle the ark of the covenant. Jeremiah was the last prophet in Jerusalem at the time of the destruction. If not he, then who? I can’t think of anyone else in the scriptures who could have been responsible for its whereabouts. The article in Zion’s Fire presents all the options, but obviously leans heavily toward the current location of the ark being directly under the temple mount.
In Jewish eschatology, Jeremiah was also thought to be one of the immortals which would accompany the Messiah when He comes. My question is, “Why? What was so special about Jeremiah to raise him to such a status?” At the online Jewish Encyclopedia, Jeremiah is listed as third in such status, only behind Elijah and then Moses. Why was his return of such importance to the Jewish people? In fact, in our scriptures, it is recorded that many people who witnessed the ministry of Jesus mistakenly thought that He was Jeremiah, see Matthew 16:14 (and cross reference Luke 9:8 to show that they most likely believed Jeremiah was risen again). Obviously Elijah was thought to return because of the prophecy in Malachi 4:5-6. John the Baptist was still fresh in the minds of the people, so many made that mistake as well. But here many contemporaries of Jesus thought Him to be the prophet Jeremiah. Why?
I am going to entertain you with a theory. Perhaps many Jews believed that Jeremiah would return and reveal the location of the ark of the covenant. There is a bit of a jump here, but consider the facts. The Jews believed that Jeremiah hid the ark of the covenant. The Jews also believed that Jeremiah would accompany the Messiah when He came in power and glory. Perhaps one of the signs in Jewish eschatology was that the ark of the covenant would be discovered in order to restore orthodox temple worship. Many prophecies show that the Messiah would build the temple, Zechariah 6:12, Amos 9:11, Exodus 15:17. If the prophet Jeremiah would be raised from the dead and reveal the secret location of the ark of the covenant, this would be miraculous to the nation of Israel.
Now let’s go one step further. What if this is one of the false signs of the antichrist? What if a religious leader in Israel begins to perform miracles in order to deceive the Jewish people? If a prophet claiming to be Jeremiah were to discover the location of the ark of the covenant, many Jews would be deceived. Also, what if that prophet were to call down fire from heaven at the first sacrifice after the ark of the covenant had been dis-covered? Supernatural fire accompanied the first sacrifice several places in scripture, see Leviticus 9 (esp. vs. 24) for the inauguration of the tabernacle sacrifices and II Chronicles 7:1 for the inauguration of the temple sacrifices. Let’s say this false prophet who claimed to be Jeremiah, who discovers the secret location of the ark, who calls down fire from heaven, let’s say he also points the people toward a ruler saying that this person is the messiah, the man-god, and is to be worshiped. Let’s say he commands everyone to erect a statue to this person to be worshiped. After all, if the person is “God”, it wouldn’t be a sin to make in image of him in order to worship him better. Then, what would happen if the false prophet miraculously had the power to bring the statue to life?
I believe that Jeremiah will reappear, but I believe he will appear when Jesus comes in power and glory along with the rest of the saints. This will be after a false prophet (Revelation 13) appears and performs many false signs and wonders. This will be after the time of the great tribulation against the nation of Israel and the church. As for the ark of the covenant, scripture is unclear as to whether the physical ark will ever be recovered. But if it were recovered, I would be pretty cautious about believing that it is a sign from the LORD. Remember that the devil can perform mighty miracles, he will perform lying wonders, and he will deceive many.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman