SCROLL DOWN for Friday afternoon updates
It should have happened an hour ago. Not clear yet what’s going on, but I’ll update this post as often as I can throughout the day. Nothing scheduled on Vatican TV.
WND, at least, is picking up the story, beginning Wednesday as well as in this extensive top-story article they posted last night. It quotes Bob Cornuke at length, along with other scholars and investigators:
Bob Cornuke, biblical investigator, international explorer and best-selling author, has participated in more than 27 expeditions around the world searching for lost locations described in the Bible… Next week, Cornuke will travel to Ethiopia for the 13th time since he began his search for the Ark. He told WND he believes this artifact may be authentic.
“They either have the Ark of the Covenant or they have a replica that they have believed to be the Ark of the Covenant for 2,000 years,” he said.
“The Ark could have been taken out of the temple during the time of the atrocities of Manasseh,” he said. [link added] “We have kind of a bread crumb trail that appears to go to Egypt, and it stayed on an island there for a couple hundred years called Elephantine Island. The Ark then was transferred over to Lake Tana in Ethiopia where it stayed on Tana Qirqos Island for 800 years. Then it was taken to Axum, where it is enshrined in a temple today where they don’t let anybody see it.”
Cornuke said he traveled to Tana Qirqos Island and lived with monks who remain there today.
“They unlocked this big, four-inch thick wood door,” he said. “It opened up to a treasure room, and they showed me meat forks and bowls and things that they say are from Solomon’s temple. When the History Channel did this show, they said it was one of the largest viewed shows. People were fascinated.”
He said Ethiopians consider the Ark to be the ultimate holy object, and the church guards the suspected artifact from the “eyes and pollution of man.”
“In Ethiopia, their whole culture is centered around worshipping this object,” Cornuke said. “Could they have the actual Ark? I think I could make a case that they actually could.”
However, he said reports about Friday’s unveiling are somewhat perplexing because Ethiopia has traditionally shielded it from public view.
“That’s the surprise for me,” Cornuke said. “I have always thought that they would keep it under wraps.”
He explained that a special guardian lives inside the church [Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion in Ethiopia] and never leaves. Once a guardian is appointed, he stays until he dies and another man replaces him.
“We know for a fact that there have been 30 guardians in history who have never left that enclosure,” Cornuke said. “I know the guardian. When CNN and BBC went over there, he wouldn’t see anybody but me. So I went and talked to him, and he’s getting very aged. He told me they have the real Ark and he worships 13 hours a day in front of it. When he gets through, he is covered in sweat and he’s exhausted.”
He said he met a 105-year-old man who claimed to have seen the Ark 50 years ago when he was training a replacement guardian.
“It frightened him to death when he got a glimpse of it.”
Cornuke is also featured on the Koinonia House podcast series I linked on Tuesday. Although he doesn’t say a lot more in it than is outlined above in terms of the evidence itself, the podcast provides more Biblical context. I found it useful.
As several of our Ethiopian brothers have pointed out here, the unveiling is not without controversy, skepticism, disgust and fears of cascading consequences as a result of its unveiling. The Ethiopian Review writes, in a Thursday article that:
Abuna Pauolos Aba Gebremedhin (aka Aba Diabilos), the illegitimate Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, was in Rome this week to meet with Pope Benedict XVI.
The claim that the Biblical Holy Ark has been kept at the Church, in the city of Axum, is an old one, but this is the first time that the Church plans to actually reveal the actual container, or news of it. It is not known whether the Church claims that the actual Tablets of the Law are inside it.
Copies of the alleged Ark are kept in many other churches in Ethiopia.
This clip, out of Belgium, translated from the Dutch by Google doesn’t break any new ground, however it does give a glimpse as to how the world is likely to view this. In perhaps one of the greatest understatements of all time, they write: “the relic has major cultural-historical value”. And that’s all, in their view. The secular world insists on putting God (and His box) in their box. He won’t fit.
Other sites are already openly satirizing and mocking the event. In a classic case of psychological projection, one notes:
…the Ethiopian Orthodox Church boasts that it sits under lock and key in the Chapel of the Tablet, near the Church of Our Lady Mary of Zion. It is only used occasionally in ritual processions, but almost no one has seen it, let alone gotten photographic evidence.
Another Worldnut Daily exclusive… It’s like an Elvis commemorative plate from the Franklin Mint, only a certain amount are made…. 3000 year old manna? That stuff has a longer shelflife than a Twinkie.
If they had any idea what they are (probably) dealing with, they would be on their knees. That site purports to be driven by science; but since science has already proven the dates for the Hebraic structures on Tana Qirqos Island, it’s hard to tell how science (as opposed to prejudice) is informing his blanket dismissal of it.
Another mocker, sitting on the throne of science rather than exploring the science. (Science and scientists used to be even-handed… I think… long ago.)
But since he brought it up, it’s interesting that they should mention Elvis. Of all the hypothetical headline-dominating stories you might have been able to imagine say, on Wednesday, what would have had enough ‘oompf’ to punch through even the economy, North Korea and Iran? The untimely death of MJ. A blind world is blinded further still to the stories that will really rock the world and not just ‘beat it’.
As I’ve talked to friends about this, one of the most common questions I get is, “Why haven’t we heard about this before?” And, from several commenters here, “When is this going to ‘break’?” To which my response is: What do you expect from the world? Or to put it another way: Why would you imagine that God would reveal himself on the front page of the New York Times? Or that they’d take the story, even if He walked into the newsroom and showed them the nail scars in his hands and feet? They still wouldn’t write it, even then.
It’s the same dilemma the disciples faced with Jesus himself. Fear of being accused of credulity mixed in them with a deep inner sense that they could not explain of the utter credibility of what they were seeing and hearing. The small signs the world mocks; the still, small voice that comes through in unexpected ways and says, quiet clearly: it’s true; stay the course; keep seeking Me and I will show you and guide you though the whole world goes mad. God doesn’t work the way the world expects him to. Never has. Though he will, as we read in Isaiah 45:23
“By myself I have sworn [says the Lord]; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’“
Paul reiterates it in Romans 14:11. We are told in so many places in scripture that God has a different set of lenses for looking at things… that God’s ways are not man’s ways.
UPDATE I (Noonish): This may seem like a tangent, but perhaps its not. In fact, MJ provides a stark illustration and warning of where we all may go without God. Amidst all the tabloid shock, I’m struck by the powerful, direct way in which Rabbi Shmuley Boteach explores the last few years of Michael Jackon’s sad inner life in this piece in today’s JPost and the spiritual lessons we can all draw from it. As you read it, try and set aside any judgmental pigeonhole into which you (like me) may have put the man. He, like the rest of us, was simply… a sinner.
My fear was that Michael’s life would be cut short. When you have no ingredients of a healthy life, when you are totally detached from that which is normal, and when you are a super-celebrity you, God forbid, end up like Janis Joplin like Elvis… I am no prophet and it did not take a rocket scientist to see the impending doom. Michael was a man in tremendous pain and his tragedy was to medicate his pain away rather than addressing its root cause…
By the time I met Michael in the summer of 1999, he was already one of the most famous people in the world, but he seemed lethargic, burned-out, and purposeless. He wanted to consecrate his great fame to helping children but knew he could not due to the 1993 child molestation allegations against him. He was cut off from family and was alienated from the Jehovah’s Witnesses Church which had nurtured him. He could barely muster the energy to complete the album he was working on. The only thing that seemed to motivate him was his children, to whom he was exceptionally devoted.
As we grew closer, I tried to impress on Michael that his salvation would come not from further concerts or album sales, but from reconnecting with loved ones, finding a spiritual anchor, replacing his desire for attention with a hunger for righteous action, and surrounding himself with serious and wise friends… Alas, Michael could not sustain the spiritual effort.
What the clearly wise and well-meaning Rabbi misses, of course, is that it is not about human effort. We cannot fix ourselves. Christ must do it for us and to enable that, we must accept him both as Savior and LORD. As Master. He won’t insist. That would be slavery. I know it’s become a common church caricature cliche, but it’s true.
It’s obviously tragic if MJ didn’t reach out to Jesus (one never knows what happens in the final moments; it would be cool to hear him sing in eternity). But shame on the American church for not being able to scoop up someone like MJ (or the many many millions who have fewer million$ but are in just as much internal anguish) out of the pit of sin and despair that is the universal human condition without Christ.
UPDATE II (3:30PM EDT):
Traffic swarm (400+ hits per hour & climbing). Apologies for slow response on comment approvals & e-mails.
More mockers doing what a group facilitation mentor of mine used to call ‘hydro-planing’ — skimming the surface and not thinking deeply. Because nuts pick up a story does not ipso facto prove that the story is nutty. Because what seem like corrupt men reveal the Ark does not mean the Ark itself is a fake.
No new angles, and not quite mainstream media, but the story is finally making it beyond WND and a few wild, untamed corners of the blogosphere to an outlet with more than one physical office and more than one guy in a polo shirt and jeans juggling this with client conference calls.
Other thoughts (thank you, Archangel, DM and many other commenters):
- It’s about Jesus, not the Ark. Always has been. Always will be. The physical Ark has always been a copy of the one in heaven, made by God who, in the Trinitarian mystery is simultaneously Father and Son and Holy Spirit. To the degree that the Ark has grabbed folks’ attention and accelerated things towards the end He has planned and known from the beginning, it is all… Good.
- The Jewish people will want the Ark back. And they should. It is theirs. That means Israel. And that means yet another tussle between Israel and well, everyone else who is against them. This will continue the separation process that has been going on for a very long time. For God’s Chosen People or against them? And that means momentum towards re-building the Temple on the Temple Mount. And that means… more tension, but also, that… Jesus is coming back. Soon.
- The silence on this is weird. Especially from the Vatican. Why on earth would they have participated in a charade alongside this guy? Did they know who he was? Would they ever have allowed the Ark to go into a museum? Many, many unanswered questions.
UPDATE III (Friday, 5:15PM): Looks like the whole thing about the Ark being revealed may have been the result of a bad translation (H/T: Anchoress & AndrewJ). I need to go have a talk with Sunny’s Italian professor. Must keep in mind that, in a real sense, whether we saw it or not, it’s location has been… ‘outed’. And that sets a great deal in motion.