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Communion Meditations (2020)

 

Mercy Seat

Originally scheduled for May  17

Students of the Scriptures quickly come to realize that God is very fond of using pictures. In the New Testament these pictures take the form of parables; earthly stories with a heavenly meaning, as I was told when I was a youngster. In the Old Testament, however, he often used physical objects to make his meaning clear. The design of the Tabernacle is one instance of this; the design of the Temple is an even more elaborate one. Both of these structures had at their center the famed Ark of the Covenant. Here is one artist’s conception of what it looked like:

Ark

Click on image to expand

 

Of particular interest to us during communion is the lid of this box. It is called the “Mercy Seat.” It is also referred to as the Atonement Cover. The reason for this is that the cover of this box is on top of three things which indicate the sinfulness of Israel.

·         First, there are the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them. Sin became specific with the Ten Commandments.

·         A jar of manna was there also. It testified to the ingratitude of Israel in rejecting God’s provision.

·         Finally, there was Aaron’s rod, a reminder that the people of Israel had rejected the authority God had set over them.

You will note that the cover was overlaid with pure gold. Gold does not rust or tarnish, and is therefore used symbolically to indicate something which is eternal. In this instance that which is eternal is God’s mercy. Without God’s mercy, mankind cannot approach God, for God will not tolerate the presence of sin. Therefore Moses, and the high priests who followed, spoke to God at the Mercy Seat.

You can see the parallels in Christ, our atonement. God cannot see our sin when it is covered by the blood of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. Christ died not only for all who were present but all mankind — no matter how long we last. It is a form of eternal atonement. And it is through Christ, our High Priest, that we speak to God. In a very real sense, the cross is our atonement cover.

Which brings us to communion. The bread reminds us of his body; the cup reminds us of his blood so that we might see the sacrifice which covers our sins physically present for us. We might even say, colloquially, that at the Cross, Christ has us covered. The Mercy Seat was a picture of the Christ to come.

Mercy is the act of overlooking offense. It is the privilege of those who are great to ignore the offenses of those who are not. If this is true among men, then how much more is it the pleasure of God to overlook the sins of those who have become his children? Partake; remember; be grateful and follow his example.

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