“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width.” (Exodus 25:17, NKJV)
The first time I read through the entire Bible I recall being quite bored with all the instructions given to Moses concerning the construction of the tabernacle. All the cubits, curtains, skins, gold, silver and bronze…but I didn’t see how it applied to my life.
It wasn’t until many years later when I took a class on the tabernacle that I discovered buried treasure. Everything pointed to Jesus and His work on the cross for us!
The Ark of the Covenant was where God would dwell among His people. It was a wooden box covered with gold. The Ten Commandments engraved on two stone tablets would be placed inside. It was God’s testimony of the covenant He made with Israel. They would keep His covenant, and He would make them a special treasure above all nations. Through Israel the Messiah would be born who would bless the entire world.
The Ark had a lid that God called a seat, for it is where He would “sit” among His people. But why did He call it the mercy seat?
As God appeared over the Ark, He was perpetually reminded of the covenant Israel made with Him to keep His commandments. But it didn’t take them long to violate the covenant. In fact, the tablets that would be in the Ark were the second edition. Before Moses could bring down the first edition from Mount Sinai the people had already broken the covenant they had sworn to keep. So Moses broke the tablets.
Later as God would look down upon the Ark and see the covenant, He would be reminded of the people’s sins. The law demanded justice. So God covered over the law with mercy. On the Day of Atonement the high priest would sacrifice the sin offerings, first for his own sins and then for the sins of the people. He would sprinkle the blood upon the mercy seat, and atonement would be made for the people. The blood covered over their sins; mercy covered over the law.
Do you see Jesus hidden in this? Like Israel, we have broken God’s commandments. His law calls for justice, but He has provided the atoning blood of Jesus sprinkled on our hearts. God’s mercy covers us, triumphing over justice. Instead of seeing our sins, God sees the precious blood of His Son, satisfying His justice and making us the blessed recipients of His unending love and grace.
Funny, isn’t it, how much can be found in a few instructions about a box? So many wonderful treasures exist in God’s word if we will simply dig them out!
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