Exodus 25:10-11. And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof. And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and without shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.
The ark of the covenant was the most sacred object in the tabernacle in the wilderness. It stood at the extreme end of the holy of holies. It was the place over which the bright shining light, called the Shekinah, which was the token of the presence of God, shone forth. The ark was, doubtless, typical of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a sacred chest made to contain the law. Blessed are they who know the law in Christ. Out of Christ, the law condemns. In Christ, it becomes a blessed guide to us. This ark was made of wood, perhaps to typify the human nature of our blessed Lord; but it was of unrotting wood, acacia, which resists the worm; and, truly, in him there was no corruption in life by way of sin, and no corruption sullied him in death when he slept for a while in the grave. Wood is a thing that grows out of the earth, even as Jesus sprang up like a root out of a dry ground.
But the ark must be made of the best kind of wood, — unrotting and untainted. Yet the ark, though made of wood, did not appear to be so, for it was completely overlaid with pure gold, so, everywhere, the Deity, or, if you will, the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ could be seen. The ark was of shittim wood, yet it was an ark of gold; and he, who was truly man was just as truly God, blessed be his holy name. Round about the top of this ark there was a crown of gold. How glorious is Christ, in his mediation, as covering the law, and preserving it within himself! He is King, glorious in holiness, and honoured in the midst of his people.
Exodus 25:12-14. And thou shalt cast four rings of gold for it, and put them in the four corners thereof; and two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it, and thou shalt make staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold. And thou shalt put the staves into the ring by the sides of the ark, that the ark may be borne with them.
The rings were, of course, for the staves to pass through, and the staves were for the priests to carry the ark as it moved from place to place. It went with the children of Israel in all their journeys; and our Lord Jesus is always with us. He goes with us wherever we go, and tarries with us wherever we abide. Though his glorified person is in heaven, yet his presence is not restricted to any one place, as he said to his disciples, “Lo, I am with you away, even unto the end of the world.”
Exodus 25:15. The staves shall be in the rings of the ark: they shall not be taken from it.
So that it was always ready to be moved.
Exodus 25:16. And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.
That is to say, the two tables of stone were to be put into the ark of the covenant.
Exodus 25:17. And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.
It exactly fitted upon the top of the ark, and so completely covered whatever was put within. It was of pure gold. This, perhaps, was the most important part of this very important article of the tabernacle furniture. It was the mercy-seat, the cover that hid the law, the place where God promised to meet with his people.
Exodus 25:18-20. And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat. And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof, and the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.
They were part and parcel of the mercy-seat; they were made of the same precious metal, and all formed one piece. They may represent the angels, who stand desiring to look into the mysteries of God, and they may also represent the Church, which is all of a piece with Christ, for ever one with him.
Exodus 25:21-22. And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee. And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.
It was the meeting place of God and men, where the law was covered with a solid plate of gold, so is Jesus the meeting place between God and sinners, where the law is covered with his perfect righteousness.