Adventist Artist Sculpts Visual Story

December 20, 2019 | Church | Heidi Baumgartner

Why is the ark of the covenant in Auburn, Wash.?

This is a question craftsman Jesse Ferguson hears frequently as he constructs a full-scale replica of the wilderness tabernacle.

This tabernacle was commissioned by Idaho's Meridian Church as an evangelistic outreach to their interested community. The exhibit is intended to be available for Pacific Northwest tours as well. The artistic project is expected to be completed in June 2020.

The ark of the covenant is the fourth tabernacle piece of furniture to be built after the laver (wash basin), the altar of incense and the table of showbread.

“This is where the Shekinah Glory dwelled between the angel wings,” Ferguson says. “God wanted to dwell with us, to be known and to know humankind.”

All the furnishings are sculpted by hand from wood and are based off a cubit measurement from Ferguson’s own arm. For the specific designs for the furnishing, Ferguson read Scripture passages and Jewish writings for a basis for creating original designs for the ark panels that depict Old Testament Bible stories. These artistically represented stories include the tree of life, creation, the Flood, the ram of Abraham and more.

“God gave few details other than the size and materials,” Ferguson notes. “I prayed and let the Holy Spirit guide my imagination.”

The angels on top represent Gabriel and Lucifer. Gabriel’s hands are equally placed on the surface while Lucifer’s hands are offset and pulled back to give a visual representation of the Great Controversy.

“There’s 100 hours of artistry represented with the ark and three weeks of work alone on the wings,” Ferguson says. “This gave me a lot of time for thinking, meditating and listening to the Holy Spirit. Quite literally, the ark is a hearing aid for listening to God better.”

Soon after finishing the embossing and gold leafing process, Ferguson used the ark of the covenant for his own sermon teaching aid.

“The ark had two main functions: to move and to sit,” Ferguson explains. “It proceeded journeys, scared enemies, won battles, parted rivers and had many stationary times."

Ferguson shares, “We learned something wrong about God in Eden. When we begin to unlearn what Satan taught us, we discover a new and better picture of God, who is patient, gracious and loving. The lesson for us today is that we are God’s temple. He wants to live in and through us. The ark shows us God is good all the time and is pulling us out of our mess.”