The Mercy Seat

Text: Psalm 103:8-17

From every stormy wind that blows, from every swelling tide of woes, there is a calm, a sure retreat. It is found beneath the Mercy Seat.

A Little Biblical History…

According to the Old Testament, the Mercy Seat  was the gold lid with two cherubim beaten out of the ends of it to form a covering over this gold lid and placed on the Ark of Covenant. This was connected with the rituals of the Day of Atonement; where God did appear.

How could a Holy God dwell in the midst of a sinful people? Further, how could a sinful people ever hope to approach a holy God and not be destroyed? Simple; sacrifices called Propitiation.

Propitiation In Simple Terms For You And I

Think about how a mother and father become angry when a child sins. How does the child persuade his parents to cease to be angry and become happy with him? In some homes for example, the children have to sit in a timeout, then tell the parent what they did wrong, and finally ask for forgiveness. Then they give big hugs and kisses. That’s propitiation. It means turning away anger. In the Bible, propitiation is an act by which God’s wrath is turned away from us. The imagery is expressed in Psalm 85:1-3, which says, “Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob. You forgave the iniquity of your people; you covered all their sin. You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger.”

The Mercy Seat was the golden lid placed on top of the Ark of the Covenant, in the Holy of Holies. It was here that the High Priest would once a year enter and sprinkle blood on the Mercy Seat, thereby appeasing the wrath of God for that year.

These annual sacrifices were only pictures of the propitiation of God’s wrath. We see the powerlessness of the animal sacrifices in Heb 9:13-14, which says: “For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.”

The New Covenant

Just as Jesus alone can cleanse the soul and conscience, He alone can turn away the wrath of God, since He is our propitiation (1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins)

The Lord is present in our midst in public worship just as He was in the tabernacle, but is He present to judge or to save? In a more personal way, will He look on our sins or will He look on Jesus Christ in our place? The Lord provided the Israelites a place of propitiation on the ark’s lid, and He still provides a place today. That “place” is Jesus Christ. He offers Himself to us. He turns away the wrath of God from us. He cleanses us of our sins. He cancels them out. He nullifies their power. He brings us into the presence of God blameless and acceptable. Confess your sins to Him and believe that Jesus Christ will propitiate God’s wrath against you. In this way, you shall be saved.

Jesus is the place where God’s mercy meets the madness of our souls and brings us peace, cleans us out and brings us without blemish to converse with Our Father.

PrayerLord Jesus, I thank you for being the propitiation for my sins, for being my Mercy Seat that I might appear Holy and blameless before God; please help me to always and at all times acknowledge you as my mediator, to be able to come before you in with boldness, that I might obtain mercy in time of need.

Confession: I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus.

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