Ethiopia throbs with religious fervor. On Sundays in Lalibela, Aksum and Gondar, I was alone in thousand-strong crowds of monks and nuns, hermits and business owners, energetic children and bent-double grandmothers. They wrapped themselves in white or burnt orange and poured into the churches that dot the landscape.
It is a society with a more profound spirituality than anywhere else I have been toâ€”one where worship is woven into nearly every aspect of life. And during my trip, it became clear that this veneration of the church was born from a belief that Ethiopia has been chosen by God as the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant.
There is only one man alive who has seen the alleged Ark in all its biblical glory. It is, according to Ethiopian lore, hidden in a church in Aksumâ€”a small city in the northern highlandsâ€”and guarded by a single monk. Nobody else enters the room and only after...
"Never was there an age since the name of Christians was known upon the earth, wherein there was such a direct opposition made unto the Person and glory of Christ, as there is in that wherein we live. There were, indeed, in the first times of the church, sums of proud, doting, brain-sick persons, who vented many foolish imaginations about him, which issued at length in Arianism, in whose ruins they were buried. The gates of hell in them prevailed not against the rock on which the church is built. But as it was said of Caesar, â€śSolus accesit sobrius, ad perdendam rempublicamâ€ť, â€“ â€śHe alone went soberly about the destruction of the commonwealth;â€ť so we now have great numbers who oppose the Person and glory of Christ, under a pretence of sobriety of reason, as they vainly plead. Yea, the disbelief of the mysteries of the Trinity, and the incarnation of the Son of God, â€“ the sole foundation of Christian religion, â€“ is so diffused in the world, as that it has almost devoured the power and vitals of it. And not a few, who dare not yet express their minds, do give broad intimations of their intentions and good-will towards him, in making them the object of their scorn and reproach who desire to know nothing but him, and him crucified." (John Owen. 17th century)
Well said, '2 Cents' and a reminder about all those trips to Israel that many ministries and churches like to promote. After 2000 yrs, what you are seeing might not be anything like what it was back then. Even the US has undergone big changes in the last 200 yrs, which can be seen in Vermont, which had its forests cut down nearly completely. I have never heard that Ethiopia was full of religious fervor, and being that this story comes from a secular website, I wonder how accurate they can be. For example, they probably didn't ask the Muslims there if they practice FGM--like a circumcision of young girls. If so, they would have been horrified, since it scars them for life.
I donâ€™t have any concrete thoughts about if the Ark is present somewhere today. I do know that if it is, then it would be worshiped as an idol. If someone visits the myriad of catholic cathedrals in Europe, they will instantly realize how relics have always been worshiped. Just looking at one can buy purgatory time for these disillusioned folks.
But, if I were to guess, I would say it is somewhere on this earth, but I truly donâ€™t care in the slightest.