This is a real question, I don't want anyone thinking that I am just trolling or something with this question.
What are the reasons that the Ethiopian church refuses to allow the faithful to venerate what they say is the Ark of the Covenant.
Selam to all
here comes another long one from me lol
The faithful have always been venerating the Ark and the Church has never refused to allow the veneration of the Ark, I have yet to see the kind of veneration that goes into the veneration of the ark both the original and those that are in every parish as replicas that are the Christianized version of the ark and the tablet, at present anywhere else in the world.
If we have cleared up this intentional or unintentional misunderstanding of terms, then perhaps we can speculate that the inquirer is asking why everyone cannot see and touch the ark, although it might be included in an act of veneration by definition veneration does not necessarily mean you have to see the person or the object nor does it require you to touch it to venerate it. Our Lord has thought us this by commending those people who have approached him with ‘Great Faith’ that often went counter logic and counter ego, that those that believe without seeing on the mercy and power of God often get their blessing from him because Holy is His Name, those that are pure of heart and perfect in their humility he is known to elevate to heights indescribable, yet the proud in the imagination of their hearts he scatters them away. Those that hope to receive His blessing by approaching in faithful humility and blessing him Who is able to do anything, saying in their hearts’ kulu tekaehul Adonay!’/ ‘All is possible with you Adonay’ and live in humble obedience to his Will get the blessing they hunger and thirst for. Speaking by making the eyes and ears of the Apostles ours, we say we have seen him and heard him and ate and drank with him, talked with him and walked with Him. So we do not demand that the Risen Christ we believe in to show himself to each of the faithful before they can worship him. His Blessed Mother, we know of her glory and lover her dearly, yet we do not demand that we see and touch her to believe that she is the most wondrous of God’s Creation and venerate her with all the love and reverence reserved uniquely to the Theotokos. So it continues with all the saints and angels, with all that manifests the regeneration revivification of Creation by the Creator, in their respective status and rank are revered and venerated by the faithful. As to the Seeing and touching, God will give to whom He wills, however to demand this or that thing, the created is in no position to do neither, although the merciful God sometimes grants some of our childish tantrums and requests along with a reprimand when our intentions are pure so we may be believers and not unbelievers, this is not the rule, rather it is the exception granted for those with pure intent yet young in their spiritual growth.
As mentioned above there are those whom He willed to see and touch, to serve him in that level of service and glory. It is not only the original Ark of the Covenant that is not seen by just anyone, but rather it is all the replicas that are in every parish, they are only touched by priests, and among priests only select few will be permitted to carry them out in the processions. Even then they are not displayed bare but covered in all the holy vestments we humans can offer from the best we have to be suitable for their glory that comes from the Divine Presence in them. The Ark of the Covenant is seen only by the guardian priest monk elected and assigned to Her. And those who wish to venerate Her will only need to turn in her direction and glorify God who dwells in her. Think of this for a moment, whether the Ark is in that church or not, your faithful veneration will not be wasted. Matthew 10:41 “He that receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.” Matthew 7:8 “For every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that knocks it shall be opened”
Now as I have been moved deeply by the humility and faith of the Orthodox faithful and the Called by The Spirit Catechumens in here, I thought for those who are genuinely fascinated in this matter as I am, I would like to converse in this matter of the secrecy and silence concerning the Ark, that is the Archetype of the Theotokos, and the Theotokos herself the Mercy Seat, the Covenant of Mercy! The Seat of Wisdom, the Holy of Holies, a bit more, although I would not dare to go farther than I should or can so many of my thoughts are questions to help me meditate and marvel upon this mystery.
The ark had guardians/ care takers/ from the start, if you would look in the scriptures beginning from the time of the great prophet of the Lord, Mosses to even when she was captured at the time of Samuel the Prophet , and she sat on top of Dagon turning the idol into a heap of rubble and striking its worshipers with terrifying tumor infested them with rats, she comes back triumphant to Israel, interestingly enough with guilt offering made to the God of Israel by each tribe of philistine, one is reminded of the offering of the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel each entering one leader a day and bringing an offering to the Altar of the LORD. However it is not only the philistines that were afraid of being examined by the Ark to dare approach her. So we read in the scriptures how the joy of those Israelites on whose field the Ark of the Lord chose to stay on for a while, turn into terror and could not wait for the Ark to be taken from their hands. For many were struck dead for daring to look at the Ark of the Lord. For a none believer this an astounding and scandalizing reason, but for those who have an iota of understanding of who the God of Israel, before whom the prophets and the cherubim and the Seraphim cover their faces is, then it is no mystery as to why those who looked died. As it is written: 1 Samuel 6:1-21 “ 1When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”
3They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it away empty, but by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”
4The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?”
They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. 5Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and pay honor to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. 6Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When he treated them harshly, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way?
7“Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. 8Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, 9but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us and that it happened to us by chance.”
10So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. 11They placed the ark of the Lord on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 12Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.
13Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 16The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron.
17These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock, on which they set the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh.
19But God struck down some of the men of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them, 20and the men of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”
21Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your place.”
So we read that they consecrated Eleazar, son of Aminadab as the guardian of the Ark of the Lord that stayed in the House of Aminadab for 20 years. Then the people of God wanted to be like the people of the world, they wanted a king! They were warned what this would bring but they refused to listen, so the Lord gave them a king, but in His mercy, he did not abandon them even when they turned from His Kingship to the kingship of men. They did not want God to be their king, they wanted a man to be their king, a king after the likeness of the kings of the world. This sinful Evil choice is one of the main reasons why the majority of the Jews still look for the messiah, an earthly king, even when the Lord in his mercy has become Man and made them share the eternal kingdom, they fail to see Him as king. I see the parallel where the first Adam wanted to become lord and king of the universe and in the incarnations that wish was granted by God in a manner Adam did not anticipate. For the New Adam is the Lord and King of the Universe! Going back to our initial subject, when David the second king of Israel returned triumphant to the city of Jerusalem he thought of bringing the Ark to the city from the house of Aminadab, and here is what happened along the way to one of the guardians who took it upon himself to sustain the sustainer of the universe that was making the cows leap and jump in joy as they pulled the chariot that the Ark was on and shaking the Ark. ( the English translation calls it stumbling, and IMHO loses its meaning in here, those that have seen young calves leap in joy will know what I mean). 2 Samuel 6:1-11 “David again brought together out of Israel chosen men, thirty thousand in all. 2He and all his men set out from Baalah of Judaha to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim that are on the ark. 3They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart 4with the ark of God on it and Ahio was walking in front of it. 5David and the whole house of Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with songs and with harps, lyres, tambourines, sistrums and cymbals.
6When they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. 7The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down and he died there beside the ark of God.
8Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.
9David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, “How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?” 10He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it aside to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.”
We see the terror that struck David, so another guardian was consecrated for the Lord and the Ark remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months. In these two examples we see the Lord striking those who looked at and those who touched the Ark of the Covenant, but there is another punishment of which for all practical purposes is equal to or may be even worse than death as punishments go and this time it is given for one that “spoke in contempt disdain and ridicule against those that revere the Ark with all they have got, as what we say does come from our heart, hear we see the reward of the Lord for such heart” here is what happened 2 Samuel 6:12-23 “12Now King David was told, “The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.” So David went down and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14David, wearing a linen ephod, danced before the Lord with all his might, 15while he and the entire house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.
16As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.
17They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord. 18After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.
20When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, “How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, disrobing in the sight of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!”
21David said to Michal, “It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel—I will celebrate before the Lord. 22I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”
23And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.”
So when we look at all these we might imagine that the whole of Israel has lived in total reverence and obedience to God, but that is not true, David sinned, and His son Solomon after the Lord has given him Wisdom, he turned away from God, and the Lord declared that it is over for the line of Solomon in Israel. Yet before his fall a woman from the South of Israel came in search of the Wisdom of the Lord that was given to Solomon, she traveled far and long in her hunger for the revealed wisdom. In one of the Lord’s providence work as seen on Rahab and Ruth the Moabite, the Queen of the South, Queen Makeda, whose Empire ruled from the present day Axum over all Ethiopia , Nubia, and borders of Misir and present day Yemen, via the trade her empire engaged with Jerusalem, Arabia misir/Egypt and India she heard of Solomon’s wisdom from a merchant named Tamrin, who travels from Ethiopia to Jerusalem for trade came to learn from the revealed wisdom from Solomon and thus at least according to the Ethiopian history and tradition, starts one of the mysterious journey of the Ark away from Solomon who will eventually turn away from the Lord.
Now let us see the parallel between the silence and secrecy with which the Ark lived, both the archetype and the Theotokos.From Adam to Noah to Abraham to David then to Christ, there was a battle raging between our kind and the one ancient enemy who has heard of the promise and the reason of our salvation, the birth of the living Ark from the seed of Adam, who will be the Mother of God the Savior and Redeemer of the World. To stop this from ever happening his solution was in his murderous mind simple, since he cannot kill those who are under God’s protection, make men reject God, and then when they stand alone the natural consequence of their sin will be enough to destroy men. Thus the Enemy sawed tares in the harvest of the Lord and ‘demanded justice’ from the just God, in his mockery, he claimed that those the Lord created have become his willing slaves, and those that are his he will use to blaspheme God with. So in this battle there was a secret kept from the eyes of the enemy, protection of that promise , from Adam to her that gave birth to the one who gave birth to God, all the protection of men was to preserve and protect this seed so the hope of mankind would not be lost. She was born in an ordinary time in an ordinary place in this world, hidden in her simplicity, yet her purity triggering a suspicious look from the enemy yet in her silence and humility he found no entrance to examine her heart so though he tried to make her life difficult before she conceived the Lord, she walked in purity protected by her obedience to God. The Prophet Isaiah sums up the gravity of the spiritual battle before the birth of Christ in few yet aptly descriptive words (again because I read the Geez translation which kept the correct translation from the LXX, the English versions of king James, NIV etc. greatly distort the translation and meaning of Isaiah’s words saying where the prophet says “zer”/ a seed, a remnant, the English translation says, a very small remnant, few survivors etc. This is grave error truly so I will boldly substitute the correct word so it reads thus Isaiah 1:9 “Unless the Lord of hosts had left unto us a seed, we would have become like Sodom, we would have been like Gomorrah.”
So in the fullness of time this one seed among us was found worthy to be the Mother to the Almighty God! And with her ‘yikunani!’/ let it be done! The Eternal entered time, summoned by his love, for our salivation, by His Will, and by the Will of His Father, and the Will of the Holy Spirit, he became like us in all things except sin. When the uncontainable glory is contained in a womb of a young virgin in Nazareth Galilee, the LORD consecrates a guardian for her, a pure man of righteousness and humility, as well as courage to do the will of the Lord: St. Joseph. An Exalted glory given to him only to guard the Living Ark of the New and Everlasting Covenant as well as to guard and raise the Christ Child the Sustainer of the Universe.
If this wonder is not enough to baffle many then we will be further baffled by the silence of this holy guardian. Some young in the faith might ask, why he didn’t proclaim from the roof tops that he now has living with him in his humble abode the Ark of the New Covenant, and the LORD Himself that was born of her. Why didn’t he became the first one to tell the world about all that Christ is? Surely the Ark can be protected by God so when Herod wanted to kill the Christ Child why not stay in Bethlehem and demonstrate God’s power by giving the Child to Herod and see what happens?! The young ones might consider this to be of a valuable experiment with a very logical hypothesis. The question might not stop there, why did the seat of wisdom, the Mother of God kept quite? Why didn’t she go around the world declaring that now she is the mother of the Creator of All? Why the silence? Why did she live among the poor when she could command all the reaches of the world? Why suffer exile and travel on the dusty roads of Jerusalem and the scorching sand of Egypt when she could have been living in any palace of her liking? Why were the Apostles mostly silent about her, knowing who and what she is? Why the secrecy? Why the silence?
We hear of the miraculous deeds that the Lord does among the multitude and we marvel. But how about His becoming a babe in her womb? Who can speak before this mystery? Human words become feeble and empty even meaningless in their capacity to describe this Wonder, this mystery! Who can describe with finite words that which is broader than the universe? Now see the glory of St. Joseph my brothers and sisters! For Whom the Lord wills indescribable unspeakable secrets are revealed, to those who acquire the purity of heart a great gift of sight is given, the curtain is lifted and what they have seen have lead them into Silence! Mor Isaac the Syrian says” I tremble even before the glory of the walls of Joseph’s home!”
he, who has ears to hear, let him hear!
Although the secret has been revealed yet men remain blind, behold thy Mother! To the one who walked even to Golgotha in silence? As the apostles found it, it is not fit to talk of this part of the mystery with the young, for it will only scandalize them and the deceiver, ever attacking the incarnation would use it to spread doubt, however those children who have learned to love will taste the sweetness and delight of the mystery so filled with the Spirit, that will forever be the first witness of her glory, their mouth will cry out ‘ Rejoice thou, O Mary, Mother and Maid, for unto Him who is in thy bosom the angels bring praises, and the Cherubim bow down and worship Him in fear, and the Seraphim spread out their wings, and say concerning him ceaselessly,” This is the KING of GLORY.” He came to forgive the sins of the world in the greatness of His compassion. We beseech thee and lift our eyes to thee, so that we may find mercy and compassion with the lover of men.’
So the exalted nature of her mystery is reserved and reveled for those who are already insiders and as such who truly know and Love Her Son! Giving her due love and veneration in imitation of the love, and honor her Son has for her, we can only pray for such grace to fill our hearts to imitate him in his love for his mother!
In its arrogance and empty pride the world is blind to its visitation for the Theotokos and her Son dwelt in plain sight in Nazareth in poverty within the least respected town of Israel. As to the Archetype of the Theotokos deserving of due honor and glory, for reasons only He knows of, He has honored us with it, and in the service of His Will, Ethiopia carrying her cross will hasten to stretch her arms perpetually in faith and humility towards God!
Selam to you all.