Much has been speculated over the fate of the ark of the covenant. There are a number of theories as to where it lies. This is the list of the most popular theories.
It lies hidden in a cave in the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Temple Institute, which is an ultra-orthodox group who have been working on preparations to rebuild the Temple, along with many orthodox Jews, say that this is the location of the ark. There was an excavation attempted in 1982 under Rabbi Yehuda Getz, but is was halted due to the riots that began when the Arabs discovered there was digging going on under the Dome of the Rock. “Witnesses” have said that they saw it, before they were blocked from further excavation.
It lies in a hidden room at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres in France. It is suggested by Louis Charpentier in his book Mysteries of Chartres Cathedral that the Templars found the ark during the Crusades and hid it in the cathedral for safety. The current clergy and caretakers at the cathedral deny this theory.
It lies in an unmarked cave in modern Jordan, along with other key artifacts, having been hidden there by the prophet Jeremiah prior to the siege by Babylon.
It lies in one of sixty-four different locations designated as treasure sites in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
It is held by the Lemba Tribe in southern Africa, specifically Zimbabwe. This tribe claims to be one of the “lost” tribes of Israel. A DNA survey done in 1999 does link the Lemba tribe to the priestly families in Israel. They treat their “ark” with the appropriate rules as prescribed in the Scriptures. There is a 700 year-old replica held at the Museum of Human Science in Zimbabwe which the Lemba claim was created from the core of the original ark. As this “ark” is bowl shaped, one has to wonder if they were so meticulous about keeping the prescribed rules for how to treat the ark, how they missed reading the description of it, which clearly is a box shape.
It lies in the Chapel of the Tablet at the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Axum, Ethiopia. Supposedly Solomon's and the Queen of Sheba's son, Menelik, stole the ark and replaced it with a fake, taking the real one back to Ethiopia with him. Nobody is allowed in to see this ark, but supposedly replicas of it are placed in every affiliate church. In looking for pictures of the replicas, I could only find someone carrying a small red rectangular trunk (no cherubim) with either gold or silver star-shaped designs on it. Again, this does not fit the description in the Bible.
It lies on the bottom of Lake Tiberias (aka the Sea of Galilee) according to some Shia Muslims who credit this knowledge to the Hadith (sayings attributed to Mohammed or commentary thereof). According to their prophecies, this ark will rise from the lake after the rise of the Mahdi (their Messiah), whom their prophecies also say will rule the Earth for seven or so years before the Day of Judgement.
It lies under the hill of Golgotha, according to Ron Wyatt, a hobbiest archaeologist. Wyatt made claims of finding other Biblical artifacts, such as Noah's ark. He said that the ark of the covenant was positioned there, so that Christ's blood could drip on it through the fissure in the rock during the crucifixion. He even claims to have scraped dried blood off the ark casing and to have subjected it to DNA testing. He said the lab reported the fascinating result of half the chromosomes normal humans have, consistent with having only one human parent (Mary). My problem with this is, how did Wyatt avoid being struck dead, as Uzzah was when he touched the ark, when he scraped this blood sample off the ark? That does beg some questions, does it not?
It is said by some to reside in heaven, based upon Revelation 11:19 “And the temple of God was opened in heaven, and there was seen in his temple the ark of his testament: and there were lightnings, and voices, and thunderings, and an earthquake, and great hail.” This can be dismissed right away, as there has always been an ark in heaven, long before the replica of it was made for the tabernacle. We know this because God told Moses that he was making the tabernacle and its accoutrements as replicas of the heavenly temple, and that is why the measurements and arrangement of all things had to be so precise. Exodus 25:9, 40 “According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it........And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” Hebrews 8:5 “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.”
Lastly the movie Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark along with the television show Warehouse 13 has left us with the theory that the ark is boxed up in an unmarked crate and stored along with other missing artifacts of importance in an undesignated (or possibly the basement of the Smithsonian) government location where it can be protected from either being used for nefarious purposes by unsavory characters, or possibly proving the Bible true. One can almost believe this is the most logical possibility, knowing our government.
The truth of the matter is, nobody knows what happened to it except God. Is it necessary that it make a reappearance for the time of Daniel's 70th week? Not really. We know that it was not in the Second Temple, and that did not stop them from sacrificing. We know that God left the Temple and will not return to it until He returns in the person of Jesus Christ or Yeshua ha Mashiach, so He does not need the mercy seat as a throne. We know that Christ was the ultimate sacrifice and that the Yom Kippur sacrifice or atonement has been permanently made once and for all. So the ark would seem to be unnecessary for the Tribulation Temple, for lack of a better title. The only real prophecies that say it will make a reappearance come not from the Bible, but from the prophecies of Islam. These prophecies come from Satan, so does he plan to bring it back? Or at least a facsimile of it? Possibly.
The question then would seem to be, is it a necessary part of the Millennial Temple, for if it is, then one might think that it is necessary that it makes its reappearance. For that answer we can turn to the Scriptures.
Jeremiah 3:16 “And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the LORD, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the LORD: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more.”
This Scripture tells us that during the millennium (which this passage of Scripture is describing) the ark will not come to mind, nor be remembered, nor visited (it could only be visited by priests once a year on Yom Kippur), nor shall what was done on the day of Yom Kippur (the sacrifice covering the sins of the people for the past year) be done anymore. If it is not visited by the priests on Yom Kippur, then it is not being used. If it is not being used it is unnecessary. If it is not remembered or does not even come to mind, it probably doesn't exist, for even if it existed, but was not visited, people would know it was there and think about it. Why is it not there? It is not needed. God will dwell among people in the person of Jesus Christ. He will be on a different kind of throne. Not a mercy seat where sacrifices need be offered, but on a throne where a king reigns. The people who are born in the millennium will only know the world that is, at that time, not remember the world that was. It will be irrelevant to them. The temple worship will be similar, in that sacrifices will be made, but not for all the same purposes. In Old Testament times, besides being sacrifices of blood to barely temporarily cover their sins, the sacrifices were the source of food for the priests and Levites. Without land to till and raise animals, they would be without food to eat. These sacrifices provided, along with the tithes every third year, the needed supplies of food, oil, wood, wine, etc. that was needed for the temple priests/Levites as well as their families and the running of the temple itself.
While many people have a problem with sacrifices being re-instituted during the millennium, that is exactly what Ezekiel teaches us in the last ten or so chapters of that book. As most people do not understand the sacrificial system at all, and only think it was to cover sins (which it never really did – Hebrews 10:4 “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”), they do not understand why it would be re-instituted given that Christ died for our sins once and for all. Yes, He did. But looking at the Church these days and the sin that pervades it, would it not be a good reminder every time you committed a sin, if you had to go sacrifice an animal? I know it would certainly be a greater tangible deterrent for me than just my conscience, which although it accuses me, makes me feel guilty, and causes me to repent, does not cause as much anguish in my repentance (shame on me) as if I had to also slaughter one of my animals (and being an animal lover, this would bother me greatly). Then there is the absolute necessity of providing food for the priests and Levites. This will not change. This is the means by which it will be done, as this is how God set up His government. The sacrifices always served a double duty.
So, while the temple will be built again (see Ezekiel for the description) during the millennium (this will be the fourth temple, actually) it will not have an ark of the covenant according to the Scripture in Jeremiah. As it is not needed, chances are, it will not be discovered for the time of Daniel's 70th week. But who knows. Maybe Satan has something up his sleeve, given what he has told others.