Will the Ten Commandment ark be found?
This question comes up fairly frequently, so some years ago the White Estate began distributing a paper—“The Ark of the Covenant, Will It Be Found?”—by Elder Odom to those who ask about it. The specific question you have asked is dealt with toward the end of the paper. (See below. You can read the whole paper on the White Estate Web site, and you’ll find in it numerous statements from Ellen White on the subject.) After reading it, you may decide, as I have, that the case is not so clear that the ark of the testimony—that is the one you were asking about, isn’t it?—will be found here on earth.
In examining the teachings of the Spirit of Prophecy . . . concerning the hidden ark of the covenant and the tables of the law of God, it is essential that we keep in mind the fact that there have existed two arks of the covenant—one in the earthly sanctuary, and one in the heavenly sanctuary—and that in each of them there has been kept a set of tables of stone on which the Decalogue has been inscribed. Both of these arks and both of these sets of the divine law have been hidden from the gaze of men. Therefore, it is necessary to find out which of the two sets of the tables of the Ten Commandments will be brought forth to the view of the inhabitants of the earth in the future. . . .
The set of tables of the Decalogue which was kept in the earthly sanctuary was in the ark when it was hidden by righteous men in a cave shortly before the destruction of the temple by the Babylonians. . . .
“Among the righteous still in Jerusalem . . . were some who determined to place beyond the reach of ruthless hands the sacred ark containing the tables of stone on which had been traced the precepts of the Decalogue. This they did. With mourning and sadness they secreted the ark in a cave, where it was to be hidden from the people of Israel and Judah because of their sins, and was to be no more restored to them. That sacred ark is yet hidden. It has never been disturbed since it was secreted.”—PK 453 (published in 1917); emphasis supplied.
According to the Spirit of Prophecy, the time is coming when the tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments are written will be brought forth to the view of the inhabitants of earth. . . .
“When God’s temple in heaven is opened, what a triumphant time that will be for all who have been faithful and true! In the temple will be seen the ark of the testament in which were placed the two tables of stone, on which are written God’s law. These tables of stone will be brought forth from their hiding place, and on them will be seen the ten commandments engraved by the finger of God. These tables of stone now lying in the ark of the testament will be a convincing testimony to the truth and binding claims of God’s law.”—Letter 47, 1902 (7BC 972). . . .
“At the judgment this covenant will be brought forth, plainly written with the finger of God, and the world will be arraigned before the bar of Infinite Justice to receive sentence.”—PK 187. (From Ms 82, 1899; see RH November 20, 1913.)
Several things should be noted in these statements quoted above. Nowhere is it said that the tables of the law will be brought forth by men as a result of finding them hidden in a cave. In fact, it is clearly stated that God Himself will bring forth the tables of the law to the view of men [Manuscript 122, 1901 (Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 1:1109)], and in one statement Ellen White specifies that “these tables of stone are in the heavens” [Manuscript 20, 1906 (Manuscript Releases, 20:68)]. Moreover, the time when He will do this is said specifically to be “at the judgment.”
Odom concludes his paper by saying that elsewhere in her writings Ellen White describes two occasions when the tables of stone will be exhibited, each of which could be interpreted as fulfilling the prediction of the revealing of the hidden tables of stone. However, she doesn’t say which of these two sets of tables is involved. The first occasion is just before the Second Advent; see The Spirit of Prophecy, 4:456, 457; The Great Controversy, 639. “Here, again,” Odom points out, “it is clear that God, and not man, is the one who will bring the tables to view. The tables of the law will then be exhibited ‘as the rule of judgment.’ This will be done after probation has closed for all men.” And the second is at the final coronation of Christ; see The Spirit of Prophecy, 4:484; The Great Controversy, 668, 669.