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:
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
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
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.