The Egyptians carried their gods on arks. Moses did not borrow their idea to communicate the true God, but Yahweh himself would reveal himself on a seat, in a covenant, moving about with his people. When Israel came out of Egypt, the true God was ultimately found to travel with them in the same way that they understood the movement of the gods, on an ark. And this we find when we look at the parody (the devilish derivative) which was the Egyptian mocking version:
Satan mocks god, and imitates him, and always has. The Egyptian gods were visible, and moved about on covenantal arks. Gazing upon the seat of Yahweh, however, was different, for looking at the ark of Yahweh, one would not see Yahweh, just his seat. Yahweh rarely makes himself visible. It wasn’t until Jesus that God was on display for all to see. And Jesus, in his flesh, was God tabernacling in our midst.
When the tomb of Tutankamen was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter, the dead Pharaoh was found to have taken an ark into his tomb. It was the ark shown above, the Seat of Anubius, the jackal headed god (the god of mummification and the afterlife):
Tutankamen (whose name means “image of the living god Amen”) was so named as to indicate that he was the son of god on earth — the one who was the image of the real god (though, of course, the Egyptian gods were not real). And in his death chamber, he took a dead god to sit beside him on an ark-throne.
Ark theology was co-opted by Egyptians, just as the idea of the king was co-opted. Tutankhamen was not the image of the living god, nor was Anubius the rightful rider on the throne of the gods.
Only Yahweh can sit on the true throne — the Ark — and only his chosen king is the image of the living God. The king of Israel was the representative of God on earth (see Psalm 2), and it is not until we see Jesus that we discover the true King — the Great King who rightfully sits on the Ark-Throne of Glory (the same King who is the consummate image of the living God).
Jesus is the Exodus King riding on his death-won throne. He is the image of the living God. And where there is this reality, there is a devilish mockery, and so Satan sets up rival versions. He establishes rival rulers and rival thrones. The difference is that Satan’s rule is visible in the principles and tyrannies of great personages. Jesus rules invisibly, and his power is perceived not by sight, but by faith. Satan’s presence is made visible with false words embodied in gods and princes, and in the case of ancient Egypt, in the form of Anubius.
Against all of this, Jesus rules on the Eschatological Ark, and only kingdom-sensitized eyes lay hold of the reality which governs all things. He is king of kings and lord of lords.
David, a precursor and Kingly representation of Jesus, once danced before the ark of Yahweh. This was not a show of proto-Charismatic worship, but this was a show of earthly deference to the heavenly realities that governed his kingship. The Egyptians had the same practice, and the Pharaoh would dance before the gods when the gods were taken out on royal processionals. The Pharaoh would indicate that he was not his own, but that he stood for the divine realities from above. The king was thought to be divinity on Earth, in the flesh, the very son of the gods. Defender of the gods, the Pharaoh would show the people the proper order, and he would dance in a display of submission. The gods did not dance for the Pharaoh. Again, this was the parody, while David’s dance before Yahweh was, indeed, the dance of the representative king in submission to God.
Yahweh’s king on earth was installed to execute the decrees of heaven; the man on earth was to be the image bearing agent of God. King David was in the line of these kings. But David was not up to the calling, and he sinned greatly. It was not until Jesus that there was one who would display total submission. Jesus was the only rightful king of the Jews, but the show of his strength was a lonely and a deadly dance. Jesus, the Royal King, did more than dance for God’s glory, he died for God’s glory. And when he was raised from the dead, the first eyewitnesses went into his tomb and saw two angels, stationed as cherubim on either side of the place where he first sat up. The place of his sitting up from the dead was as a throne of victory even though it was an ark in a tomb.
The Egyptian theology of gods and arks may have been a rip-off of Biblical concepts, but in them we find stored up (however imperfectly), hints and clues about the true and heavenly temple which came down, in Christ, and expands with the expansion of the church.