CONSTRUCTING THE MERCY SEAT
In Exodus 26:34 God told Moses to put the atonement cover on the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place. This was The Mercy Seat.
The Mercy Seat, represented God’s presence among the people. God’s Throne on this earth was to be made of solid gold with two cherubim formed over it. These two holy angels would be looking down and covering the ark with their wings. They faced one another and the cover of their wings was spread in order to enclose the cover. The gold covering was formed of one solid piece of gold, and the angels that covered were molded and formed from that same one piece of gold too.
The book of Samuel speaks of how the cherubim together formed a seat for Yahweh. (1 Samuel 4:4)
MEASUREMENTS AND PLACEMENT OF THE ARK
The measurements of this “lid” over the width and breadth of the Ark were 2.5 cubits long and 1.5 cubits wide.
This area where the Ark and its contents were placed was considered to be the most sacred place on the earth.
The articles inside the ark; the two tablets of the law and the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded were considered to be the most sacred articles of the earth.
THE ANCIENT RITUAL OF ATONEMENT
This was to be a place that the high priest could enter only once a year on The Day of Atonement when he brought the blood that atoned for the sins of the people and sprinkled it over the Mercy Seat.
Everyone knew this was the place where God dwelled, and it was from here that He dispensed mercy to men when the blood of the atoning sacrifice was sprinkled over the Mercy Seat.
It was only through the offering of this blood that the condemnation of the law could be taken away.
In Hebrew the words “Mercy Seat” translate to “Kapporeth” which means “to cover” or “to wipe out.” This term occurs 27 times in the Masoretic Text of the Hebrew Bible.
This same symbolic ritual was used, year after year on The Day of Atonement; until God sent Jesus as a once for all atonement that covered all of our sins forever.
A MORE PERFECT COVERING
Once Christ came there was no more need for animal sacrifice at the Mercy Seat. The temporary sacrifices that did not last were no longer required. The permanent covering for the Mercy Seat of Heaven had been provided by Christ when He died on the cross. No other sacrifice was needed from that point forward.
But the people of Israel of which we speak had not yet seen or known the Messiah. They still needed to carry out the yearly ritual sacrifices on The Day of Atonement. They must confess their sins, place their hands over a sacrifice whose blood would be applied for atonement by the high priest. He would sprinkle it upon the Mercy Seat within The Holy of Holies.
SHOULD WE STILL OBSERVE THE DAY OF ATONEMENT?
Today; we HAVE seen and known The Messiah. Does this mean we should not be observing a Day of Atonement?
Yes, our sins have been covered for all eternity by the perfect blood of Jesus, and we can come to God the Father through the atoning blood of Christ. No question about that; it is very clear. Today we are under a more perfect covenant; one where the laws of God are not carved in stone inside a box; but carved into our hearts, minds and souls.
At first glance, one would think it might be no longer necessary to observe this day; but let’s think through that further. When does the blood of Christ cover our sins; isn’t it whenever they are confessed?
Do you have any un-confessed sin in your life right now?
HUMANS ARE SO IMPERFECT WITHOUT JESUS THAT THEY CANNOT EVEN CONFESS COMPLETELY
No matter how many times you are faithful to pray or confess; no one is ever perfect enough to confess all of their sins.
It was actually the same for Israel; when you stop and think about it. They could not go running to the tabernacle and confess every little sin they knew of all the time exactly when it was committed. They took the sacrifices as often as possible; and they confessed as best they could; but lots of the time, things were still out there and left undone; even though their hearts were in the right place. They; like we, needed a special time of examination, a set aside time of prayer with God and confession of sins; an annual time of coming completely clean.
WE ALL HAVE SINS OF OMISSION
Perhaps people committed sins they were unaware of.
Sometimes they would simply forget to confess.
How many times have you caught yourself forgetting to admit to God that you have sinned and the chance to receive forgiveness goes by the way side; and you simply do not remember it anymore?
CONFESSION IS A CRITICAL PART OF ATONEMENT
Even though Jesus offered atonement once for all; the sins that are being atoned for must STILL be confessed.
So what happens to those unrealized or forgotten or overlooked sins?
If your heart is intent on being forgiven by God you ask Him to cover all of the sins you have omitted asking forgiveness for. You might even ask God to bring them to your mind so that you CAN confess them.
THE CONTINUED PURPOSE OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT
This is what The Day of Atonement is all about today; and actually in the days of the wilderness tabernacle the theory was the same.
The day was for the priest to seek atonement from the un-confessed sins of the people as well as sins that had been accidentally committed within the place of worship inside the tabernacle.
The tabernacle was to be cleansed and the people were to be cleansed by the blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat.
The purpose was to cleanse the WHOLE sanctuary.
Are we not all living stones in the tabernacle of God today?
Sometimes we just need a little housekeeping. We need to clean up those crumbs that have been swept under the rug when no one was paying attention.
JESUS PROVIDED TOTAL FORGIVENESS AND ATONEMENT; BUT WE MUST STILL CONFESS OUR SINS
I’ll bet you haven’t heard that explanation before. This fact bothers people sometimes because they cannot conceive of not being totally forgiven. They don’t realize that God HAS forgiven them; but once a year atonement must still be considered. This is simply a set aside time to examine our hearts and thoroughly cleanse the House of God.
GRACE AND MERCY CANNOT BE OBTAINED WITHOUT REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION
Our churches have been so completely consumed with grace and mercy that we have often forgotten repentance and confession. The first thing is only possible if you have the last thing.
I’m sorry to be the bearer of such news; but all of your sins still need to be confessed.
Confession comes before atonement.
God gave us this day to help the ancient people play out the need for atonement, and for us today to also remember this fact. Today this commanded holy day (the most sacred day of the year) is simply a time of serious, humble examination; both of our individual hearts and of the work of the Church of Christ as a corporate body.
Today this Day of Atonement of the blood of Christ by the approaching of the Mercy Seat is still a vital part of being a Christian. It is a good time to read through the Book of Hebrews and consider how Christ’s death surpassed the sacrifices and ministry of the Aaronic priesthood.
Hebrews 10:22 admonishes us to do this: “Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith.” We come before God with the faith of that high priest who entered the sacred place with the blood of the sacrifice. Christ has covered us with His mercy and forgiveness; so we can now go boldly before the throne of God and confess our sins. They need to be confessed so that atonement can be applied.
THE CLEANSING FROM HIDDEN SINS
The Day of Atonement today is a good time to pray the prayers of the Psalmist concerning hidden sins. These sins must be atoned in order for the living body of Christ to be completely clean and pure.
The aim of this continued symbolic observance is to make possible God’s continued presence among His people. We do not offer any more sacrifice; we simply humble our souls before God.
HAS THE CHURCH FORGOTTEN HOW TO BE HUMBLE?
Today, as the Church that honors Christ, we must look at God’s ways and conform to them with humble hearts instead of looking at the ways of men and the world.
HAS THE CHURCH FORGOTTEN TO FIGHT AGAINST EVIL?
To become sensitive to the evils of our age is to become sensitive to the evils which press upon us and tempt us. True submission is seeking the best interest of the other, rather than our own interest.
We must sincerely remove the evil from our places of worship and come before God corporately and individually as pure and atoned by the blood of Christ.
This act requires dealing with “unknown” and “unnoticed” sin in our lives.
It was not for those sins which atonement had already been made that the Day of Atonement was given; but for those sins which had not yet been recognized and those for which a sacrifice had not yet been offered. Each and every sin must be atoned.
In the keeping of the Day of Atonement we recognize that the sacrificial system God established assumed that some sins which were not recognized as such at the time they were committed would come to the attention of the individual at a later time.
The Day of Atonement was based on the fact that we can confess and be forgiven for even these unknown and unrecognized sins.
God’s mercy and kindness has covered all the bases. There is nothing that He has left undone or not provided a way for us to be saved from our own foolishness.
THE GOAL IS TO DO ALL THAT WE CAN TO KEEP GOD WITHIN OUR CAMP
On the Day of Atonement we must keep in mind that the issue at stake was whether or not God would continue to abide within the camp. This all depended upon the cleanliness of the camp, the tabernacle and the people who came to worship there.
If the uncleanness of the people continued to contaminate the dwelling place of God, even when the Day of Atonement had been provided to remove their sins; then God will turn His back away. God is holy. He cannot dwell among sin.
Much of this significance of this fact is seen in the study of the sacrifice of The Red Heifer. I will not go into that today; but that too was a type of cleansing for the tabernacle and the people who came to worship there.
SO; SHOULD CHURCHES STILL OBSERVE THE DAY OF ATONEMENT?
All of the above information is why I think it is a critical time in America for every church across the nation to observe and keep the Day of Atonement that is presented in God’s Holy Day Calendar found in Leviticus, Chapter 23.
It is very apparent from studying the wilderness tabernacle and the ancient rituals; though they are now symbolic; that we must not continue sinning in plain sight while worshiping God and expect Him to honor our salvation.
The church must rise up and keep God’s ways; in spite of our culture’s opinions and beliefs.
NOTHING COULD BE WORSE THAN THE ABSENCE OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD
The most dreaded evil for Israel was the absence of God’s presence in the midst of the people. This should also hold true to the church of today.
Look around and try to wake up! We are a nation in apostasy and many of us have gone out to worship the golden calf.
We must turn back to the ways of God and we must be true to the days He gave us in which to remember His ways.
It is as simple as confession and turning around. Those of us willing to do this will always have access to God’s Mercy Seat through the atoning blood of Christ.
FOLLOWING THE HIGH PRIEST OF THE GOOD THINGS THAT HAVE COME
It is clearly stated in Hebrews 9:11-14:
“Now the Messiah has appeared, the high priest of the good things that have come. In the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands (that is, not of this creation.) He entered the Holy of Holies once for all, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who are defiled sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?”
Let us cleanse ourselves from dead works and serve the living God!
Let us always remember to come before the Mercy Seat!
THE MERCY SEAT PREFIGURES THE PASSION OF CHRIST
Let us all come to realize and remember how the role of the Mercy Seat on the Day of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) prefigures the passion of Christ, who brought the GREATER atonement.
Let us remember how this ancient ritual foreshadowed this the truth that brought the fruit of the new covenant.
THERE IS A CALM, A SURE RETREAT TIS FOUND BENEATH THE MERCY SEAT
When I carefully consider how it was that Moses was instructed to have Bezalel and Oholiab oversee and supervise the skilled craftsmen who worked so very carefully and skillfully to create the Mercy Seat; and when I try to visualize just how these angels on top of the Mercy Seat guarded and protected the Divine Presence of God among His people long enough for God to come amongst the camp and declare COMPLETE mercy and forgiveness for the nation; an old, old song comes to mind. It was penned by Hugh Stowell back in 1828 in a song called “At Your Mercy Seat” ;
From every stormy wind that blows; From every swelling tide of woes,
There is a calm, a sure retreat; ‘Tis found beneath The Mercy Seat.
There is a place where Jesus sheds the oil of gladness on our heads.
A place than all besides more sweet; it is the blood bought Mercy Seat.
My prayer for you today dear friend; is that God’s mercy and forgiveness fill your heart with joy and the oil of gladness throughout the coming week; and that we inside God’s church may all forever be aware of where that mercy and forgiveness comes from; that precious Mercy Seat where God dwells within the deep chambers of our hearts.