11 Minute Read

TODAY’S BIBLE READING:

Exodus 23:14–25:40
Matthew 24:29-51
Psalm 30:1-12
Proverbs 7:24-27

TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

Exodus 25:21–22 (CSB): “Set the mercy seat on top of the ark and put the tablets of the testimony that I will give you into the ark. I will meet with you there above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony; I will speak with you from there about all that I command you regarding the Israelites.”

REFLECTIONS ON TODAY’S BIBLE VERSE(S):

On its face, our Verses for Today may not seem significant. But if we dig a little bit, we will find that these verses comes alive! In fact, they illustrate for us how God, who is holy and must punish sin, is able to be gracious and invite us (sinners) into relationship with Him.

What was in the Ark?

Exodus 25:21 (CSB): “Place inside the Ark the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, which I will give to you. Then put the atonement cover on top of the Ark.”

Note the contents that were mentioned – “the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant.”

Do you know what those stone tablets were? They were the 10 Commandments. It’s what Moses held in his hands as he came down from Mt. Sinai. He threw the first set against the rocks in his anger (see Exodus 32:19). The tablets in the Ark were the second set of tablets with the same contents engraved on them – The Law of God!

Friend, while God’s Law is good because it calls for nothing short of holiness and perfection, it also shows every one of us how utterly sinful we are. We break God’s laws regularly.

Have you ever lied? Then, you’ve broken the 9th Commandment. You, friend, are a lawbreaker.

Have you ever dishonored your parents in any way? Then, you’ve broken the 5th Commandment. You are a lawbreaker.

Have you ever been angry at someone? Then you’ve broken the 6th Commandment (see Matthew 5:21-22). You are a lawbreaker.

Have you ever looked at someone while entertaining lustful thoughts? Then you’ve broken the 7th Commandment (see Matthew 5:27-28). You are a lawbreaker.

We see that while the Law is good, it condemns each and every one of us because we have all broken most (if not all) of the laws many, many times. So, in God’s eyes, not one single person is considered righteous (see Romans 3:10).

The problem is compounded when we realize that a holy God cannot be indifferent to lawbreakers. A good judge cannot let guilty criminals go free. He must demand that the one who does the crime does the time (see Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18; Nahum 1:3; etc.).

So, condemned by the Law as a lawbreaker, we stand before God, our Judge, awaiting our punishment.

What resided above the Ark?

Exodus 25:22 (CSB): “I will meet with you there above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony; I will speak with you from there about all that I command you regarding the Israelites.”

God’s visible presence appeared above the Ark of the Covenant. The Law was inside the Ark as God’s presence hovered above it.

This presents a powerful picture! God hovered over the Law that stood against us. As He looked into the Ark, at His perfect law, it testified loud and clear that we were lawbreakers deserving of whatever punishment He deemed fitting.

Let’s not forget that God is a holy God who cannot tolerate sin and must punish sinners anywhere he sees them.

What separated God from the Law in the Ark?

This question is answered in the verse given above. Exodus 25:22 tells us that God’s presence was above the Atonement Cover. This Cover is what rested on top of the Ark.

Exodus 26:34 (CSB): “Put the mercy seat on the ark of the testimony in the most holy place.”

So, the Law that condemned everyone was inside the Ark, God’s presence hovered above the Ark, and these two were separated by the lid on top of the Ark, “the mercy seat.”

How did the Mercy Seat spare us from an angry, just God?

Leviticus 16 is a chapter that is dedicated solely to the Day of Atonement. It describes in detail what happened on that special day on the Jewish calendar.

The greatest act that occurred on that day was when the High Priest took innocent animals, killed them, and entered the Holy of Holies with their blood. Leviticus 16:14-16 tells us that he sprinkled their blood around and on the Mercy Seat.

Leviticus 16:14-16 (CSB): “He is to take some of the bull’s blood and sprinkle it with his finger against the east side of the mercy seat; then he will sprinkle some of the blood with his finger before the mercy seat seven times. When he slaughters the male goat for the people’s sin offering and brings its blood inside the curtain, he will do the same with its blood as he did with the bull’s blood: He is to sprinkle it against the mercy seat and in front of it. He will make atonement for the most holy place in this way for all their sins because of the Israelites’ impurities and rebellious acts. He will do the same for the tent of meeting that remains among them, because it is surrounded by their impurities.”

Yes, this was gory! Yes, this was vile. Yes, it was messy. A bloody sacrifice was never meant to be a thing that warmed the heart.

It was intended to show how offensive our sin was to a holy God. It was intended to show us that in order for our sin to be forgiven, something must die. To be acquitted, capital punishment must be administered. But, the animal in the Old Testament could serve as a substitute for the lawbreaking worshiper.

So, (get this!), when God (who was hovering over the Mercy Seat) looked into the Ark of the Covenant and saw the Law that convicted us, He had to look through the Mercy Seat and the blood to see it. The blood changed the way He saw the Law. Instead of the Law condemning us, the blood showed that the demands of the Law were met, something died for the sins of the people, and God’s justice was satisfied.

As if that isn’t enough, it gets better! The New Testament tells us that Jesus is the One Who Ultimately and Finally Remedied Our Sin Problem.

In Hebrews 9, it tells us that the Old Testament sacrifices could not permanently remedy the worshipers’ legal guilt. It only pushed their sins forward. It was like a snowball that was rolled on the ground. It gets pushed forward … as it gets bigger and bigger.

The Old Testament sacrifices only temporarily remedied the sin problem by pushing it forward. But in reality, the worshiper’s sin debt only got bigger and bigger. It was an inferior, temporary fix.

In Hebrews 9, we realize that those massive “snowballs” of sin were rolled to the cross. At that place, they were once and forever dealt with!

When Jesus died on the cross, we are told that He took His blood into the heavenly Holy of Holies and offered His own blood on the Mercy Seat.

Hebrews 9:11-12 (CSB): “But Christ has appeared as a 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 most holy place once for all time, not by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption.”

Did you get that? Jesus offered His own blood on our behalf. He sprinkled His own blood on the heavenly Mercy Seat. So, when God looks into the Ark and sees the Law that condemns us, He has to look through Jesus’ blood before He sees the Law.

If you have reached a point in your life when you have turned from your sin and trusted wholly in Jesus and His work on the cross on your behalf, then He has forgiven you and saved you. His death on the cross became the payment for your sin debt. His death is the capital punishment that you deserved. And when God looks at the Law that once condemned you, it is Jesus’ blood that makes it clear that you have been permanently cleaned and cleared of all guilt. Your fine was paid on the cross. The Law no longer hangs over your heads. Jesus paid it all!

As I have mentioned before, the Old Testament is all about Jesus. When you look at the pages of the Old Testament, look for Jesus.

Most certainly, the words of our Verses for Today point to Him. Praise His Name!

Exodus 25:21–22 (CSB): “Set the mercy seat on top of the ark and put the tablets of the testimony that I will give you into the ark. I will meet with you there above the mercy seat, between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the testimony; I will speak with you from there about all that I command you regarding the Israelites.”