The Mercy Seat—Exodus 25:21–22

“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you. There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel” (Exodus 25:21–22, NASB).

“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14–16, NASB).

 holman_the_mercy_seatThe “mercy seat” was basically the “lid” on the Ark of the Covenant in ancient Israel’s tabernacle and the temple in Jerusalem. For brevity’s sake, I will not address all of the details about the tabernacle; if you are interested in getting a big-picture view, you may review this article on Wikipedia.

However, I would like to focus on the importance that it is the mercy seat. It is interesting that mercy was seated at the center of Old Testament worship. When the children of Israel came into God’s presence seeking forgiveness, they sought His mercy. When they sought any opportunity to worship and praise God, it was because of His mercy. The two tablets of the Ten Commandments were placed inside the Ark of the Covenant: Thus, the very laws of God were given under His mercy. When God spoke to Moses, it was from the seat of mercy.

Jesus came down from His throne in heaven, took on human flesh, encountered every temptation that is common to mankind (without sin), died for our sins, and rose again. Because of this, we have the privilege to boldly approach the throne of grace. Since a “throne” is a special kind of seat, and “grace” is another aspect of God’s love (similar to mercy), I do not find it unreasonable to propose that the “throne of grace” is the Christian’s spiritual mercy seat.

While we no longer speak of a physical seat, placed upon a physical Ark of the Covenant and hidden in an exclusive Holy of Holies in an earthly temple, this throne of grace—this mercy seat—is available to all who have entered into a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ. His mercy remains at the center of our worship and faith. We enter God’s presence through mercy. We receive forgiveness through mercy. God’s grace and mercy should inspire our worship and praise. Our obedience to God’s Word and will is an outgrowth of His mercy. Even when His word tells us to avoid sin, it is not out of a legalistic control-freak attempt to spoil our fun: It is because God is guiding us by His mercy.

Come to Jesus as a recipient of His mercy and grace. None of us deserves to come to Him, but He offers us salvation as a free gift. We cannot earn it, but we can receive it boldly by faith.

This post was written as part of the Scripture Sabbath Challenge.

This post copyright © 2016 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

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