The ark of the Covenant is the primary channel through which the Levites of Israel communicate with God. Therefore, one cannot have the restoration of the Israelites without their means of communication with the Almighty. That would be a farce.
God commanded Moses to construct the Ark while the Hebrews were still camped at Sinai (Ex. 25:10-22; 37:1-9). The Ark was a box with the dimensions of two-and-a-half cubits in length, by one-and-a-half cubits in heights, by one-and-a-half cubits in width (a cubit is about 18 inches). The Hebrews constructed it with acacia wood, and plated it with pure gold, inside and out. On the bottom of the box, were four gold rings, through which were put two poles, also made of acacia and coated in gold. The family of Aaron's aka Kohath, of the tribe of Levi, carried the Ark on their shoulders using these poles.
Covering the box was a pure gold covering that was two-and-a-half by one-and-a-half cubits. Attached to the covering were two sculpted Cherubs, also made of pure gold. The two Cherubs faced one another, and their wings, which wrapped around their bodies, touched between them.
During the conquest of the land of Canaan, the resting place for the Ark was the Tabernacle - the portable Temple used in the desert. The Tabernacle contained other vessels also used in the physical worship of God.
The Ark of the Covenant's Whereabouts
Please remember that the Hebrews built the Ark of the Covenant. Therefore, upon identifying and bringing the Hebrews together as Israel, they can easily rebuild for themselves a new Ark of the Covenant. Thus what is important is to find the Hebrews in Africa and elsewhere in the world and then gather them back as a nation. After which, they can rebuild the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant.Then onwards, the Levites aka the priest-line through whom the Ark of the covenant comes alive can begin to use it for spiritual and pragmatic purposes. For example, to communicate with God just as their ancestors did in ancient Israel. We had to remember that the Ark of the Covenant only works when under the control of the Levites. The holiness of the Ark makes it dangerous to those who came in contact with it. Therefore, under anybody else's possession apart from Levites, the Ark of the Covenant is lethal.
In the book of Samuel in the Bible, we read, when the Ark was lost in war with the Philistines, and the enemy took possession of the Ark. Instead of being a blessing it turned out to be a vessel of suffering to them. In fact, many people, including some who merely looked at the Ark, were killed by its power. In desperation to rid themselves of the holy relic, the Philistines sought out the Hebrews and restored it back to them. What we learn from reading this experience of the Philistines with the Ark is that it is useless to anyone apart from the true Israelites aka the Hebrews. Apart from these, the ark only brings curses and suffering to any non-Hebrews that come near it or take possession of it. (1 Samuel chapters 4, 5 and 6)
Even among the Israelites, God only allowed the Levites to interact with the Ark. Even so, God warned the Priests, who served in the Tabernacle and Temple that viewing the Ark at an improper time would result in immediate death (Num. 4:20). Again, we read in the Bible when a non-Levi touched the ark, God struck him dead immediately. (1 Chronicles 13:9 and 1 Chronicles 15:1) What we learn from those scriptures is only the Levites can touch the Ark of the Covenant. Uzzah was clearly not a Levite from reading 1 Chronicles 15:1. Because we can see that David had learned the lesson of what happened to Uzzah in the sense that a Levi in a similar position Uzzah found himself would have known what was the best action to take. Clearly, Uzzah was deficient in this regard thus the scripture shows he was not a Levite. King David clearly having learnt from his mistake on who was to attend the ark and thus commanded only the Levites are allowed near the it.
With these stories in mind we can say for certain that the Ark of the Covenant is not in anyone's possession on this Earth. Therefore, when people talk of the ark of covenant being in a particular location, what they fail to take on board is the unique quality that the Ark of the Covenant is lethal in anyone's possession apart from the Levites. This being the case, I am sure you will agree, what comes first is not what happened to the Ark of the Covenant. The important first step is to restore the Hebrews as a nation. After which, they can rebuild the Ark of the Covenant, because they only have the right to do so.
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