The Ark of the Covenant is the most sacred sanctity of the Old Testament. It consisted of a pure gold covered wooden chest with an elaborate lid called the Mercy seat. The Ark is described in the Book of Exodus as containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments. According to the New Testament Book of Hebrews, it also contained Aaron’s crosier (rod) and a golden urn full of manna.
Moses had the Ark of the Covenant built to hold the Ten Commandments at the command of God. Approximately one year after the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt, the Ark was created according to the pattern given to Moses by God when the Israelites were encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai. The Israelites carried the Ark with them during their 40 years spent wandering in the desert, and after the conquest of Canaan, it was brought to Shiloh. King David later took the Ark to Jerusalem, where his son and successor, Solomon, eventually installed it in the temple. Since its disappearance, some 2,000 years ago, numerous theories have arisen about its fate. One of the most well known holds that Levitical priests moved the Ark to Egypt just before the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 586 B.C. From there it was supposedly moved to Ethiopia, where it resides to this day in the town of Aksum, in the St Mary of Zion cathedral. Only one man, a monk known as “the Guardian,” is allowed to see the Ark, and church authorities have never allowed it to be studied to determine its authenticity.
The Christian Church is considered to be the prototype of the New Testament, that is, the Church of Christ (New Holy Church).
These two combined commemorations take place on the Saturday prior to the Feast of the Transfiguration. Celebrating the old and the new shows the perpetuity of the Church. God revealed Himself to humankind gradually through Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and the prophets. The church existed from the beginning, and that is why the Old Testament is accepted as part of the Holy Scriptures and recognised as a preamble to the New Testament. The hymn designated for this day proclaims, “Who from the beginning established your church with wisdom, O, Father of Wisdom, who revealed to Moses upon Sinai.”