While finishing Exodus, I have become fascinated with The Ark of the Covenant. Yes, we all remember Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom from way back in the day... (if you are my age at least). But the adventures portrayed in the movie are more than mere fiction, they are inspired from the Old Testament. Looking over the Book of Exodus we can learn all about how the Ark was constructed and how Holy it is. For the Israelites in Exile, it was God's dwelling place on this earth and displayed a physical sign of his presence, or Shekinah, to lead His Chosen People into the Promised Land.
The Ark is a wooden chest made out of Acacia Wood and covered entirely in gold. Inside the Ark rests the two stone tablets which God inscribed with the Ten Commandments and gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai. The Ark also contains Aaron's Rod which "blossomed". (Imagine a dead piece of wood sprouting flowers?) This is a symbol of the Levitical Priesthood, ordained by Almighty God. Finally, the Ark contains a jar of Manna, which is a sampling of what fed the Israelites for 40 years in the desert.
Reading about the Ark of the Covenant, as a Catholic, we see can see parallels to our Tabernacle today. Just as the sanctuary lamp is always lit in Church to remind us of The Real Presence of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior in the Blessed Sacrament which resides in the Tabernacle, The Ark housed God's earthly presence, his Shekinah glory, that could actually be visibly seen in a cloud by day and a light by night. The Ark was so holy, that nobody could touch it directly, or they would die! It had to be carried on poles. (Just a thought: This brings a whole new meaning to the word liturgical abuse! In those days there were no Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion... every temple object, incense and sacrifice had to be handled by a consecrated priest, no exceptions.)