Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Lost Ark

Continuing Scott Hahn's Build up of the Lost Arc in Hail, Holy Queen: The Mother of God in the Word of God

If you did your homework yesterday then you know the prophet Jeremiah hid the ark of the covenant to protect it from the Babylonian raiders! He did a pretty good job of it as other than Harrison Ford, no one has seen it since!

On pages 52 and 53 Professor Hahn tells us about the ark in depth. It's pretty fascinating stuff.

Yet the first Jewish readers of the Apocalypse knew the details only from history and tradition. Since Jeremiah's hiding place had never been found, the rebuilt temple had no ark in its holies, no shekinah, no manna in the ark, and no cherubim or mercy seat. Then along came John claiming to have seen the shekinah (the "glory of God," Rev 21:10-11, 23) and most remarkable of all, the ark of the covenant.

John prepares his reader in many ways for the appearance of the ark and Professor Hahn goes through them:
* after the blare of the seventh trumpet of the seventh avenging angel
*echoes of the battle of Jericho in Rev 11:15.
* thunder and lightening, an earthquake and a heavy hail (Rev 11:19)

Imagine that you are a first-century reader, raised as a Jew. You have never seen the ark, but all of your religious and cultural upbringing has taught you to long for its restoration in the temple. John builds the anticipation so that he almost seems to be teasing such readers by describing the sound and the fury accompanying the arc. The dramatic tension becomes nearly unbearable. The reader wants to see the ark as John sees it.

What fallows then is jarring. In our contemporary Bibles, after all that buildup, the passage suddenly comes to a screeching halt as chapter 11 concludes.

and then chapter 12

"Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of His convenant was seen...A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery (Rev 11: 19-12:2) John has shown us the ark of the covenant - and it is a woman!

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