Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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November 29 – Meeting God At The Mercy Seat

“The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubim be.  And you shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you.  There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”  Exodus 25:20-22

Devotional Thought For The Day

I’m not certain of all the reasons that we tend to forget about the gracious mercy, forgiveness, and love of God when we take a look at His commandments.  For many, when they read the Old Testament accounts, the Ten Commandments and the many practical applications of these principals for everyday life found in Holy Scripture, any thoughts of God’s gracious goodness and blessing, of His compassion and love, seem to immediately fly out of mind.  I’ve often heard people compare and contrast “the God of the Old Testament,” as harsh, vindictive, and even bloodthirsty, with “the God of Jesus Christ,” Who is love.  Yet in these verses, the first regarding the construction and the role of the Ark of the Covenant in the life of God’s ancient people, we see that the central focal point is “the mercy seat” – where on the Day of Atonement God promised that all sin and guilt was forgiven to the repentant and believing.

All aspects of the “old covenant,” the conditional dynamics of God’s covenant regarding the nation of Israel, were predicated upon His gracious mercy, love, and goodness.  The children of Israel were rescued from slavery in Egypt because of God’s promise to Abraham and the patriarchs, not because of “conditions” that the children of Israel had satisfied.  His powerful deliverance and all the blessings of manna and quail were all given to these people as gifts, free and gracious gifts of God – in spite of their arrogant and unbelieving criticisms.  Their success at conquering and displacing the other nations was accomplished by God, and the land “flowing with milk and honey” was His gift to them, already prepared and blessed by Him before it was given to them. So all of the commandments and God’s “speaking” to the children of Israel through Moses occurs within this context of God’s gracious love and blessing.  The reasonable presumption then is that the instructions were given to the children of Israel out of God’s love for them, His desire to bless them with wisdom and goodness, and not some desire for their condemnation and destruction.

So the cherubim on the mercy seat were to be facing inward, to the center of the mercy seat.  In this earthly “copy” of the heavenly realities [see Heb. 9:23], of course the cherubim would be intently interested in and focused on the “mercy seat,” the place where God’s gracious forgiveness and cleansing were bestowed upon His people [see Jesus’ comment in Luke 15:7 and also 1 Pet. 1:10-12].  And so should we be focused on God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness, which in view of the dire darkness of our sin and guilt is marvelous and wondrous indeed!  So also God promised:  “There I will meet with you.”  It is always at the place of His gracious mercy and forgiveness that God has promised to be with us, to fellowship with us, to meet us, and to bless us.  Likewise, it is from this place of grace and mercy that God speaks to His people – even when He is giving them His commandments and instructions for life:  “from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”  So His law actually flows from the place of His mercy and forgiveness – and is to be received in this context.

God has provided us with even greater promises and blessings of His gracious mercy and forgiveness, His love and goodwill toward us, in the gift of His Son Jesus Christ, our dear Savior.  He is described in Holy Scripture as both the “mercy seat” [hilasterion] and as the blood of atonement [hilasmos] sprinkled on the mercy seat.  And He has promised: “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” [Matt. 28:20]  Of the supper which He bids us to participate in “often” in remembrance of Him, He asserts: “this is My body . . . this cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” [Matt. 26:26-28] This is where He has promised to “meet” with us, to forgive our sins, to renew us inwardly and transform us with the glorious vision and experience of His love for us.  So also His Word, all of it given to us out of His great love and compassion for us, is to be received in this context of His gracious love and mercy.  Without this foundation, the knowledge of His gracious love and His free gift of forgiveness and salvation in Christ Jesus, our minds will corrupt His Word – just as the children of Israel so often did.

There is no question that we should have a proper respect and reverence for God – He is awesome and majestic beyond our wildest imagination.  Even more so, we should have reverence and fear of God because of His wondrous love, His gracious mercy and forgiveness, His commitment in all things to our great good and welfare.  We cannot forget this – the only place where we can meet Him and fellowship with Him is in Christ Jesus, where His mercy and love continually cover and cleanse away our sin and guilt.  The most poignant place where this occurs, according to the promises of Christ, is in His sacramental meal.  This is the foundation, and must constantly permeate all of our thoughts about God, including our ongoing commitment to His Word of commandment and instruction – which is also expression of His love for us.

Scripture Cited

 

Heb. 9:23  “Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.”

 

Luke 15:7  “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

 

1 Pet. 1:10-12  “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.  It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”

Prayer For The Day

Dear Lord Jesus, our minds are hardened and corrupt so that we quickly forget the most basic reality – Your gracious love, mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.  You assure us of Your forgiveness, the cleansing away of all our sins in Your precious blood; keep us mindful of Your grace and love, so that we may receive Your Word as Your gift of love to us as well. Remind us also of Your promise, that You are working all things together for our good, so that regardless of our experiences in life we receive everything as part of Your love for us and give thanks to You for everything.  Amen.