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Beyond the Veil:  The Mercy Seat

Exodus 25:17-22



Every box needs a lid...but this is no ordinary box...and atop it is much more than a ‘lid’.  As a matter of fact, no furnishing in history has had a final, finishing touch as exquisite as this mercy seat.


Capping off the Ark of the Covenant is a solid slab of gold with cherubim from the same piece, and we cannot begin to estimate its value, especially today.  But even more beautiful than the artistry of it all is what happens upon it.  In the ark we saw the person of Christ, but in the mercy seat we see the work of Christ.


The Bible says that God anointed men to build the tabernacle and its furnishings, and it’s obvious that they must have had much more than talent...they had the touch of God on them.  There’s a difference!  And it never ceases to amaze me how God will give us an anointing for a special task.  I’m doing things today I never thought possible, and only God can be credited with it.  Our nation needs an anointed leader at this time, and only God can make that happen.  The church needs anointed servants, and you should trust that God can use YOU!


Hebrews 9:5
And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat...


1.     A place of enthronement.

In that day it was God’s throne on earth...the place where God chose to rest in His presence.

v. 22        ‘there I will meet with thee...’

Psalms 99:1
The LORD reigneth; let the people tremble: he sitteth between the cherubims; let the earth be moved.

‘Reigneth’ = is on the throne

Ultimately it doesn’t matter who is president or how the economy is doing...God is still on the throne and the one we trust!


Psalms 97:1-2   [slide]
1 The LORD reigneth; ...righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.

These are His characteristics.  Righteousness is God’s laws, judgment is God’s punishments for violations of them.  ‘Habitation’ = standards.  In other words, if ever He were to not have these standards, His throne would topple.


So, how can God save us sinners and not drop His standards?  That’s where the mercy seat comes in!  This is the place where the integrity and the certainty of God’s standards are seated...that’s why there are cherubim there...they are always associated with God’s holiness.  These are the angels w/ flaming swords who kept man out of the garden after the fall.

Genesis 3:24
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

If Adam and Eve had taken of that tree now that they were sinners they would have lived forever in their sinful condition, and never been redeemed, and thus, never someday glorified!


God’s holiness cannot have sin in its presence.  And because He loves us He hates the sin that will destroy us.




2.     A place of atonement.

The word atonement means ‘paid for.’  This is the place where payment was made for sin.

The cherubim face one another, but they don’t look at one another.  They are looking down upon the mercy what?

Leviticus 16:12-13    [slide]
12 And he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: 13 And he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may cover the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not:

Aaron is about to do something so profound that even he himself cannot look upon his own actions, and so the cloud conceals his vision...

Leviticus 16:14-15   [slide]
14 And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. 15 Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat:

2,000 years ago something happened in the dark and man cannot begin to gaze upon what was truly happening as the wrath of God was poured out upon His own Son, dying there w/ our sins upon Him.  And God’s righteousness and judgment were satisfied.


Ill.—sometimes I fear we have the idea that God is like an indulgent grandpa just overlooking our sin.  That is not the case.  We know the truth about ourselves, we see our grandchild hit their sister, and we say, oh, he didn’t mean to do that.  [oh yes he did!]

        Some people think God just felt sorry for us and decided to forgive us and overlook our sin.  No sir!  If even one sin failed to be judged in righteousness then God’s throne would topple!


But God looked down upon the blood of the Lamb and said, I am satisfied!

1 John 2:2    [slide]
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

Propitiation literally means ‘mercy seat.’ 

1 John 4:10
Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

This seat was atop the ark, right above the commandment tablets...and so when God looks upon our breaking of His laws, He looks at that thru the blood!  And with rose colored glasses He sees us as white as snow.  God doesn’t overlook our sins...for Jesus paid dearly for each and every one of them.


Enthronement, atonement...

3.     A place of obtainment.

Hebrews 4:16    [slide]  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

‘Let us’ – this would never be said in the OT.  Only the High Priest could come.  We are Gentiles and wouldn’t be allowed even into the courtyard.  Even if you were a Jew you couldn’t go into the Holy Place unless you were a priest.  And even priests couldn’t go beyond the veil unless they were the High Priest, and only once in a year, and he couldn’t see anything!


‘Boldly’ – the High Priest didn’t go boldly, but timidly, carefully, and at great risk.  He went backward with a rope tied around him so they could drag out his corpse if he fell dead in the presence of god.  Boldly doesn’t mean irreverently...only that we have access and may come whenever and as often as needed.


‘Grace’ – Wait a minute.  Didn’t we just read that the mercy seat was a throne of righteousness and judgment?  How did it become a throne of grace all of a sudden?  Something has transformed this throne, and it’s the blood of Jesus!


‘That we may obtain mercy and find grace’

  • Mercy is not getting what we do deserve – we don’t have to pay for our sins in hell for all eternity.  The cry of the age is ‘give me what I deserve’.  Better be careful with that one, because what you deserve is not a good thing.

Ill.—when I was younger I asked the photographer to do me justice…but now I ask for mercy!


  • Grace is getting something you don’t deserve – God’s righteousness, forgiveness, and heaven someday.  It’s God’s Redemption At Christ’s Expense!

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