Again, rather than draw a long series of comics with Moses talking to himself on the top of a smoky mountain, I’m obviously taking some artistic liberties.
God goes into scary detail describing how he wants the Ark of the Covenant to be constructed, in Exodus 25:10-22. The frame is made from shittim wood, at a size of about 1.3 × 0.8 × 0.8 meters, and then covered in pure gold both inside and out. Two rings on either side have a pole through them (also covered in gold) to carry it around, and a lid (also covered in gold) sits atop, and two cherub statues (also covered in gold) with their wings spread out on top of the lid. Funny, God repeatedly tells the Israelites not to make golden idols of anything on Earth or in Heaven, and here he is demanding that they make golden idols of cherubs. Cherubs, by the way, are actually horrible monsters with numerous wings and faces, not the cute chubby babies you see in art or the attractive ladies from Indiana Jones.
The purpose of this ark is to hold the “testament” that God will soon give Moses, even though, according to Exodus 24:4, Moses already wrote it down. Let’s hope the Israelites don’t plan on doing much traveling because a gold ark isn’t exactly mobile (those who know the story will do some giggling at this point!).
The lid, or possibly second lid, is referred to as the “mercy seat” in the KJV, but this is an improper translation due to the KJV translators not having access to the earliest Hebrew manuscripts—an improper translation that tradition has kept alive through most English translations of the bible, but the NIV uses the more accurate phrase “atonement cover”. It is to this cover that God is supposed to descend on and talk to the Israelites.
One more interesting (well, it’s not that interesting) thing to point out is how the underlying Biblical Hebrew word used for “ark” changes in the Torah. The word used for the Ark of the Covenant is ’arown. This same word is also used to refer to chest and coffin in other contexts. However, the word used for Noah’s ark, and the ark used to carry Moses down the river, is tebah, which has a completely different, and rather unknown, etymology. They both mean the same thing, but it's one of those weird quirks of having centuries of time and miles of distance between the various contributing authors of a single book.
Finally, why does God need a gold chest to store his law? Wouldn’t the famous Dead Sea Tupperware be just as good? And why does he need a gold box to come down if he’s everywhere at once? These passages don’t fit with the modern view of God.