MARY : ARK OF THE COVENANT
In this article I hope to relate to you the Biblical texts that show Mary, our Blessed Mother to be theArk of the New Covenant, and all that that teaches us about her role in the Church today.
At the annuciation the angel Gabriel declares to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.(Luke 1:35)"Compare this with Exodus 40:34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. The language obviously is not the same, but the meaning certainly is. If you can picture what is happening in both scenes, the imagery is identical. Just as the glory of the Lord overshadowed and dwelt in the Ark, so does the glory of the Lord overshadow and dwell in the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The second set of texts to look at are Luke 1:43 and 2 Sam 6:9:
And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, "How can the ark of the LORD come to me?" 2 Sam 6:9 (RSV)
And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Luke 1:43 (RSV)
The similarities here are obvious. both passages repeat the same message, i.e. "How can I be so graced as to be the presence of Holiness". David is referring to the Ark, and Elizabeth to Mary. The Ark was the holiest created thing in the Old Testament, likewise Mary is the holiest created being of the New Testament!
Now, let's look at the next two texts:
And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Ba'ale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, 2 Sam 6:2 (RSV)
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, Luke 1:39 (RSV)
Note the same terminolgy is used here 'arose and went'! In both cases it is a journey to the hill country. These passages by themselves show little, but coupled with all the others, definitely show a connection. Try these two:
And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of O'bed-e'dom the Gittite three months; and the LORD blessed O'bed-e'dom and all his household. 2 Sam 6:11
And Mary remained with her about three months, and returned to her home. Luke 1:56
Again you see unmistakable parallels drawn. Both the Ark and Mary stayed in the hill country for three months. You could also say that just as O'bed-e'dom and all his household was blessed by the presence of the Ark, so too, was Elizabeth and her household blessed by the presence of 'the mother of the Lord'.
Our final two texts:
15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting, and with the sound of the horn. 2 Sam 6:15
44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. Luke 1:44
According to respected scholar James Akin, the greek word used here is "anafametzen" which means 'shouts of joy'. The word is rarely used, and only in connection with a liturgical celebration, and then only when the Ark of the Covenant is present. It literally means "to cry aloud, to proclaim, or to intone" This is a very powerful witness then, to Luke use of this word. If it is only used in liturgy, and only when the Ark is present, then what else could it mean except that Mary truly is the Ark of the New Covenant!!
To understand the repercussions of this Bible truth, we must first understand what the function of the old Ark was. A cursory study of the Old Testament reveals a number of things about the Ark. First, it, as I stated before, was the holiest object created. This is evidenced by the death of the Israelite who touched the Ark, to keep it from falling, and was struck dead. Second, whenever the Ark was present, blessings were also present (2 Sam 6:11). Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the Israelites carried the Ark with them into battle. And lastly, what was contained in the Ark? The rod of Aaron (shepherds staff), the tablets of the Law, and Manna(the bread from Heaven).
Therefore, with Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant we can draw some interesting conclusions from the truths of the old Ark in the previous paragraph.
First, Mary is the holiest created being in the New Covenant! Second, when the new 'Ark' is present, so too will the blessings be present! Third, I'd say that as the Israelites had the old Ark lead them into thier battles, so too, are we to have the new 'Ark' lead us into all our spiritual battles. And lastly, when for nine months Mary carries Jesus in womb, what did she carry but the true Shepherd, "who will rule the nations with a rod of iron"(Rev 12:5), the True Law of God, and the real Bread from Heaven of which "if a man eats he will not die, but live forever(John 6:58).
Yes, Mary is indeed the "Ark of the New Covenant"!! And because she is explains some of the Marian doctrines. Just as the old Ark was made perfect as a dwelling place for the Most High, so too, was the new Ark made perfect (Immaculate Conception) as a dwelling place for God.
As we see in Rev 11:19-12:1 "Then God's temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, voices, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail. 1 And 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; " That's right, the ark of the New Covenant in all her splendor in Heaven (the Assumption)!!