Resurrection and the Mercy Seat

April 24, 2011

Sitting with my wife at the Baptist Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi, looking out the window on a beautiful sunshiny day, is not where we wanted to be this Resurrection morning.  We are consciously aware because of Romans 8:28 that we are never out from under God’s amazing love and care for us. Our Savior’s words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” come to mind. I was supposed to preach a sunrise service early this morning and a late morning service in my pulpit at Glendale Baptist Church.  Depressed and discouraged? Not really! Linda made a dandy audience and listened attentively as I preached my Resurrection sermon to her. It was my desire to receive and give just one fresh glimpse into the Resurrection. I found such a peek as I put a few passages together. One came from Matthew’s account of the Resurrection in Matthew 28:2, the second from Luke 24:4, and the third from John’s gospel in John 20:12.

Matthews begins his look at the Resurrection by saying that, accompanied by an earthquake, “an angel of the Lord ascended to the empty tomb of Jesus Christ and rolled back the stone from the door and sat on it.”  We know that the angel did not move the stone to let Jesus out. Our Lord had long been gone. The stone was rolled away to let the women in, followed by the disciples, and us. What a picture! “He is not here for He has risen as He said He would. Come see the place where the Lord lay,” confirm this truth. These precious words have echoed down through the ages to give hope to the hopeless and to signal that death has lost its fearful sting.

Now the glimpse! Matthew mentions one angel, Luke on the other hand, says that there were indeed, two angels. What I want us to focus in on just a moment is John’s positioning of the angels.  He placed one at the head of the place where Jesus had lain and one at the foot. This brought into my mind a mental picture of the mercy seat and the Day of Atonement. On that day the high priest would go into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat. This blood was a temporary shadow of what God required to hide the guilt of the people’s sin.

Remember the two cherubim located at each end of the mercy seat? Hebrews says that above it (the mercy seat) were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat (Hebrews 9:5).  In my opinion these angels were there to shed light (glory) upon the holiness of God, one symbolizing His righteousness and the other His justice. The first representing righteousness demanded that sin be paid for by the shedding of blood and the other to remind Israel, and us, that his justice must be satisfied in order for the sinners to approach God. However, this being a temporary shadow brought back into the people’s minds the consciousness of their guilt before God. This happened because the blood of animals could never satisfy God.

Then Christ came, suffered, died, and rose again. What the blood of the animals could never do, His did. As our forever High Priest, He made the ultimate sacrifice of Himself thereby satisfying forever God’s demand against our sin. He paid the debt in full.

Catch this!  I visualize through Matthew’s eyes the two angels at either end of the empty tomb signifying that God’s righteous, just demand against our sin has been forever met.  Christ’s resurrection guarantees that our God is forever satisfied with His offering for sin. The angels – like the cherubim at the mercy seat – witness to this fact. What an amazing glimpse into God’s truth! Oh what a Savior we have. Have a great resurrection day.