Understanding The Bible
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W. W. Rugh,
Bible Institute of Philadelphia
40 Page Printed Devotional Guide
1st Edition 1912
Exodus 25:17, 21,
22. The Mercy-seat was a lid of pure gold made to cover the Ark, and thus to
cover the law within. Exodus 26:34; 30:6; Leviticus 16:13.
The blood of the bullock and goat was sprinkled upon the Mercy-seat by the high priest, once a year, on the great day of atonement. Leviticus 16:14, 15.
Above the Mercy-seat, between the Cherubim, Jehovah manifested His presence in the Most Holy Place. The Mercy-seat was thus His Throne, "the throne of grace." Hebrews 4:16.
For us, the Holy Spirit has given the key to the typical meaning of the Mercy-seat in Hebrews 9:5 and Romans 3:25. The same Greek word translated "Mercy-seat" in Hebrews 9:5, is translated "propitiation" in Romans 3:25. Therefore, Christ is the One whom God has set forth as a Mercy-seat.
Christ, as the Mercy-seat, is the One who has covered the law, or satisfied all of its claims. The law demanded of every man perfect obedience, or death.
First, as the covering of pure gold, He satisfied all of the claims of the law against Himself, as a man under the law, by perfectly obeying it. Galatians 4:4.
Second, the blood on the Mercy-seat tells us that Christ by His death satisfied the demand of the law against every sinner who will believe God's word. Ezekiel 18:4; Romans 6:23, 5:6.
For Israel, their sins were "passed over," as well as the sins of every believer previous to the death of Christ, because of the blood-sprinkled Mercy-seat; but they were actually forgiven when laid upon Christ. His death was the anti-type, the fulfillment of all the Old Testament types of atonement for sin.
It was of the utmost importance for Israel to have the law covered by the Mercy-seat, for if uncovered, the wrath of the law was visited upon a sinful people. An illustration of such an awful visitation of wrath, because of the uncovered law, is when the men of Beth-shemesh lifted up the Mercy-seat and looked into the Ark upon the holy law, which could only bring death to the sinner. I Samuel 6:19, 20; Romans 4:15.
Oh what mercy toward us as sinners, that Christ has satisfied fully, freely, and forever every claim of the holy law of a holy God against us. Hebrews 10:1-17.
Because God has righteously judged all of our sins through the death of Christ, He can proclaim eternal forgiveness to all them that obey Him, for the kind of faith that saves is the kind that obeys. Hebrews 5:9; 9:11, 12; James 2:14-26.
"Grace reigns through righteousness," and Christ in the presence of God, as the One who died for us, is the One through whom God deals with every sinner who will believe His word. Romans 3:24.
God looked not upon weak, helpless, and sinful Israel, but His eyes were continually upon the blood-sprinkled Mercy-seat; therefore, He could commune with the high priest, and thus with Israel as a nation through their representative.
Through Christ, as the Mercy-seat, God can be a Just God and
a Savior, because every claim of His holy law against us is righteously satisfied. Isaiah 45:21; Romans 3:26.
The publican's prayer, "God be merciful to me, a sinner," is literally "Oh God! be propitiated (Mercy-seated) to me, the sinner."
What a prayer was this! In substance it was, "Oh God! do not look at me, the sinner, but look at the Mercy-seat; the blood is there atoning for my sin." There was confession, humiliation, repentance, faith, and "that man went down to his house justified." Luke 18:14.
By W. W. RUGH, Associate
Dean, Bible Institute of Pennsylvania
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