Archive for mercy seat

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?

For a more detailed look at Propitiation, go to the article on our web page.

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.