Propitiation: The Final Forever Sacrifice

October 21, 2015

Paul’s instruction for us to look not upon “things that are seen” but rather upon “things that are not seen” has been the anchor truth for many of the glimpses I have received into God’s grace. How can one actually see things that are not seeable? Jesus said, “Let those who have eyes to see, see.” It is obvious that He was not speaking of physical eyesight. There is one invisible truth that, in this writer’s mind, stands above all others. It has everything to do with the interesting words found in Exodus 25:40. God told Moses to make sure that he built the tabernacle according to the special pattern that had been given to him on the mountain (Sinai). Why was this the case?

A very familiar and dramatic moment in ancient Israel was when the high priest entered a small room in the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies. He did this once every year carrying blood to sprinkle on the solid gold plate on top which was called “the mercy seat” (Heb. 9:7). Under the mercy seat inside the ark were three seemingly insignificant articles: a pot containing fragments of manna, Aaron’s rod that had budded, and shards of broken tablets of the Ten Commandments. These objects represented Israel’s rebellion against God. Shortly after the Exodus, the Jews revolted against God’s provision of food (the manna), against God’s leadership (the rod), and against God’s law (the Ten Commandments). The people had sinned against God.

Replicas of two cherubim were positioned at either end of the ark representing God’s righteousness and His justice. They symbolically looked down upon the mercy seat and at the objects revealing the sin. The wages of sin before a holy God was death. But the blood carried by the high priest was spread upon the mercy seat, satisfying God’s righteous demand against the sin of the people for one year. It is very important to realize that the High Priest entered that little room alone, out of all human sight. (Heb. 9:7).

Enter Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who appeared in the presence of God in heaven, far away from the probing eyes of all human creation. Christ came as High Priest of a tabernacle not made with human hands (Heb. 9:11-12). This was the real tabernacle in heaven from which the earthly pattern was taken (Ex. 25:40). It was into this heavenly tabernacle that Christ entered the Most Holy Place once for all, obtaining eternal redemption.

Christ never once entered the physical earthly tabernacle made with hands, but He went into heaven itself to appear in the presence of God for us. After He made one (heavenly) sacrifice for sins, forever, He sat down at the right hand of the Father. It is from this vantage point that He is waiting for His enemies to become His footstool.

It is fascinating that at the foot of the cross upon Mt. Calvary many eyes were looking intently at a man dying there. It is here that Paul’s unseen truth comes into crystal clear focus. In heaven, out of the sight of any human eye, our High Priest was Himself becoming sin for us. He was performing His work before the real mercy seat of God. The word that sums this all up is the word propitiation. It means “satisfactory sacrifice.” Jesus Christ and His heavenly service was indeed the final forever sacrifice for our sin. What can we add to that?

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