The Adventist Adventurer Who Claimed He Found the Ark of the Covenant
One of the greatest mysteries for believers of the Judeo-Christian religions is the present location of the Ark of the Covenant, a chest said to contain the two stone tablets of the original Ten Commandments. While age-old lore cautions that gazing upon this hallowed relic exacts tremendous consequences, there are many theories as to its whereabouts. In the 1980s, one man claimed to have not only found the Ark of the Covenant, but to have seen it with his own eyes.
The Ark of the Covenant passing over Jordan, by James Tissot. (Public domain)
Possible Locations of the Ark of the Covenant
The Bible says that the Commandments were preserved by the Israelites in a wooden chest covered with gold. Known as the Ark of the Covenant, the chest may also contain the rod of Aaron—which famously turned into a snake before the Pharaoh’s eyes—and a pot of manna—believed to be food provided by heaven for the Israelites to survive on while wandering around in the desert.
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One of the strongest claims to possessing the Ark of the Covenant was made by the Ethiopian Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion, which maintains that the Ark was carried to Axum by the son of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon for protection. Many other churches put forward claims as well. Possible locations of the Ark of the Covenant include Jordan, Egypt, Israel, South Africa, France, Italy, Ireland and the United States.
On January 6, 1982, Ron Wyatt—an amateur researcher, adventurer and Seventh Day Adventist—claimed he had found the Ark of the Covenant and its Ten Commandments buried under the remains of the old city of Jerusalem. Indeed, his version says that the Ark of the Covenant was situated exactly beneath the spot where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified and that the event was foretold by prophecy.
‘The transfer of the ark by the singing and dancing King David,’ an oil on wood panel from the Italo-Flemish school circa 1600. (Public domain)
Ark of the Covenant Found Hidden in an Underground Chamber
Since escaping Egypt and settling in the promised land, the Ark of the Covenant was supposedly kept in the Holy Temple, also known as Solomon’s Temple. 600 years before Jesus’ death, the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar invaded and destroyed much of Jerusalem, including the Temple. It is at this moment in time that the Ark of the Covenant became lost to history.
When the Babylonians began their attack, they built a huge siege wall around the city so that nobody could get in or out. In response, the Israelites built many tunnels so that they could move about the city without causing alarm. Many of these tunnels still exist today and ancient artifacts have been found in some of them before. Wyatt argued that the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred Jewish artifact, was hidden in an underground chamber, which was then sealed and forgotten.
Conceptual representation of Solomon's Temple from biblical stories. (Kaleb / Adobe Stock)
Prophecy of the Ark of the Covenant – Commandments to be Revealed
In 1901, a woman by the name of Ellen G. White made the following prophecy:
“And He [Christ] gave unto Moses, when He had made an end of communing with him upon Mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. Nothing written on those tables could be blotted out. The precious record of the law was placed in the ark of the testament and is still there, safely hidden from the human family. But in God’s appointed time He will bring forth these tables of† stone to be a testimony to all the world against the disregard of His commandments and against the idolatrous worship of a counterfeit Sabbath.” (White quoted in Covenant Keepers, 2016).
Students of the Bible, such as Mr. Wyatt, believe that “the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). Ms. White’s prophecy, made 81 years before Wyatt’s alleged discovery in 1982, was thus believed by Wyatt to be the foretelling of the miraculous unearthing of the Ark of the Covenant.
Moses holding the tablets of the law (1659) by Rembrandt. (Public domain)
Wyatt’s Excavations and Searching for the Ark of the Covenant
Ron Wyatt reported that the first find of the excavation was an altar stone protruding from the cliff face, which was believed to be the remnants of an early Christian Church, constructed perhaps in the first century AD. Wyatt said that this suggested “that the early Christians knew that this was a place of significance” (Covenant Keepers, 2016).
Further exploration of the area unveiled four holes cut out of the stone. These were believed to the have been the stand posts of the wooden crosses used for Roman crucifixion. (The site where Jesus was crucified witnessed many other deaths, both before and after his.)
One hole was slightly more elevated than the others. This would be the location of the day’s featured criminal, an honor most certainly given to Jesus on the day of his crucifixion beside two common robbers.
“A square cut stone had been placed in the cross hole, acting as a plug. It had finger grips on each side, and when Ron Wyatt removed it he noticed a large crack in the bedrock, extending from the cross hole” (Covenant Keepers, 2016). According to Wyatt, this was the exact spot that Matthew spoke of when he said that the rocks did rent with sorrow over Jesus’ death.
Moses and Joshua bowing before the Ark of the Covenant, by James Tissot circa 1900. (Public domain)
Ark of the Covenant Found?
Wyatt and his team dug on, eventually stumbling upon a network of ancient caves. It is in one of these that he said he discovered the Ark of the Covenant. He described his discovery in a 1999 interview with AnchorStone International, made shortly before his death from cancer.
“Once we found that place, I knew that, well basically, that I needed to get inside that escarpment, because there were several indications that it was just a system of tunnels and chambers, and that I needed to, basically, just go chamber by chamber, tunnel by tunnel, and whatever, systematically go through there, until I found the Ark of the Covenant, or until I didn’t find it. And so, anyway, we found it on January 6th, 1982 at approximately 2 o’clock in the afternoon. And so, when I found it, it was in a situation that I had not anticipated or expected, that was that it was in a chamber that was totally filled with what appeared to be debris. And what turned out to be a bunch of materials of furnishings of the first temple, covered first by animal skins, then that covered by boards, and then these covered by stone, just whatever they could get their hands on, looked like. It looked like it had been done in a hurry, looked like they just grabbed everything, whatever they could get to fill the place, and I was still a little fuzzy on why that would be done, but I don’t see that I need to know everything. When God does something I just know it’s done perfectly, so.” (Wyatt Interview, 1999).
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While examining the cavern, Wyatt noticed a strange black substance dried in a crack in the chamber’s ceiling. The crack was situated right above the Ark of the Covenant and it seemed like some of the black substance had even dripped onto the chest’s outer stone casing.
“When Christ died, the earth quaked. The rock was split right below His cross and this crevice extended right down into the hidden chamber which contained the undefiled ‘earthly’ Throne of God — the Ark with its Mercy Seat,” wrote Wyatt in one of his research letters.
“After He was dead, when the centurion stuck his spear into Christ’s side and pierced His spleen, the blood and water came out, falling down through that crack and was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat.” (The Pulpit, 2008). If this was true, the act of dripping blood and water onto the Ark of the Covenant would have paralleled the blood and water sprinkled onto the Commandments by Moses to sanctify God’s covenant with Israelites (Hebrew 9:19).
Wyatt claimed that divine interference prevented any of the pictures or videos he took of the Ark of the Covenant to show. Upon returning to the site to gather further evidence it is said that, “Four angels stood before him and he was told that the time is not yet for the world to see this discovery with their own eyes, but the time is coming when the inhabitants of the world will have a universal, religious law enforced upon them” (Covenant Keepers, 2016).
Apart from finding the Art of the Covenant, Ron Wyatt also claimed he had made other Biblical discoveries, including Noah’s Ark! Noah's Ark on the Mount Ararat, by Simon de Myle. (Public domain)
Wyatt’s Claims Regarding the Art of the Covenant
The Ark of the Covenant is not the only startling discovery that Ron Wyatt claimed to have made. Among more than 100 Biblical-related discoveries, Wyatt said he found Noah’s Ark, anchor stones used by Noah, his post-flood house, tombs of Noah and his wife, the Tower of Babel site, the site of the Crucifixion of Jesus, and the blood of Jesus in an earthquake crack, which he said had 24 chromosomes instead of 46.
His discoveries have been dismissed by scientists, historians, biblical scholars, other Creationists and by leaders in his own Seventh-day Adventist Church. Nevertheless, but his work continues to have a following and has been preserved by Wyatt Archaeological Research (W.A.R.).
Top image: Representational image of the Ark of the Covenant. Source: pamela_d_mcadams / Adobe Stock
Perkins, P. et. al. 2010. New Oxford Annotated Bible. Fourth Edition. Oxford: Oxford UP.
The Pulpit. 22 October 2008. “Deathbed Confession of Ron Wyatt, Discoverer of the Ark of the Covenant” in Guerilla Christianity (The Pulpit). Available at: https://jonah135588.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/deathbed-confession-of-ron-wyatt-discoverer-of-the-ark-of-the-covenant/
Wyatt, R. "Ron Wyatt's Last Interview - June 1999." Interview by Bill Fry. Covenant Keepers . Covenant Keepers, June 1999.
TheTruthAlwaysAddsUp. 21 September 2012. “Ron Wyatt's Death Bed Confession Confirms He's Telling The Truth About The Ark of The Covenant” in YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQKCRvzTJyc&t=41s
Wyatt Archaeological Research. Available at: http://wyattmuseum.com/