Mercy Seat

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Mercy Seat | We know that God is merciful, and his mercy endures forever, but what is God’s mercy seat and what can we learn to apply to our lives? | #podcast #christianpodcast #catholicpodcast #Godandmercy #mercifulGod #mercy #christianmercy #sinnomoreMercy Seat – Episode 256

We know that God is merciful, and his mercy endures forever, but what is God’s mercy seat and what can we learn to apply to our lives?

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I love the idea of a mercy seat; what do you picture in your mind? In scripture, we read that the mercy seat was the cover or a lid of the ark of the covenant. This is discussed in Exodus. I’m sure you know the story, but Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, as they were jealous of him. This led to a tremendous journey for the people of Israel. Joseph was favored by the Pharaoh in Egypt, but after generations they both died. The next pharaoh wasn’t as kind, especially as the Lord blessed the people. Pharaoh put the people into slavery, and they cried out to the Lord in prayer. Many, many years later, they were delivered by Moses.

The Lord gave Moses direction for the people, but they were entrenched in sin. After all the years of living in Egypt even though they were slaves, they dressed, ate, and acted like the Egyptians, even worshipping false gods. Moses was directed to bring the people to the promised land, “flowing with milk and honey.” However, the people were stubborn, and even while Moses was up on the mountain speaking to the Lord the people were making a grave image to worship.

These people were in need of direction and mercy! Therefore it was the Lord himself, through Moses that directed them. He couldn’t leave it to anyone else, he made a covenant with Abraham, this was a promise to his family and his descendants, and this promise is unbreakable. The words received by Moses from the Lord were inscribed on stone tablets that were then put into a chest. This was, in essence, a portable sanctuary used by the Israelites because they were heading toward the promised land, but in essence, wandering in the wilderness.

The Lord gave specific instructions on how to fabricate the ark of the covenant in Exodus 25, then we read in the following verses Exodus 25:17-22 (Read on air.)

What does it mean when the Lord says, “There I will meet with you and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.” – so, how did the Lord do this? He did it in a visible way. There was a cloud, a symbol of God’s Divine presence which the people saw. It was a cloud during the day and a column of fire at night.

It was a place of worship and the ark contained many precious things. In Hebrews 9:3-5 we read. (Read on air.)

In the ark of the covenant – the chest or container were the two stone tablets inscribed with the Word of God – we know them as the 10 commandments. There was also the law, the way the people were to govern, worship, and other useful information. When we read the passages in scripture they are detailed and ways the people could stay healthy and avoid disease. There were other objects as well, the golden pot of manna – this was the food provided to the Israelites in the desert. There was also Aaron’s rod we can read about that in Numbers 17:1-13. These objects were sacred. Later it would be placed in the temple in Jerusalem, where it was placed in an inner room called the Holy of Holies. And, the ark was made and inlaid with gold. Gold was precious then as it is now. Gold is considered the most precious of currency and has value. In this way so is God. God is not a commodity but he is above all else, above all of the other false gods invented by people and God was and is to be revered above all else.

So what was the mercy seat? Just as the gold cover or lid of the Ark of the Covenant covered the treasures within, the mercy seat covered or protected the people of Israel from the judgment of the Law. It brought to the forefront that God was a God of mercy, slow to anger, and yet righteous.

It is difficult to think about the hardships the people went through in the desert, and some were condemned to die for disobedience. It is difficult with our Western sensibilities to hear about this death and destruction when we read the Bible. Yet, the people who were freed from slavery, who saw a miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, who saw manna come down from the sky to feed them, and doves at night — these people were rebellious. These people continued to complain. These people were made to wander in a desert when there was a direct route into the promised land because of their disobedience and rebellion. In fact, we learn that they will not enter the promised land, however, their descendants will. Even Moses who has been steadfast sins and is kept from this land.

It’s as if God has a Plan A – to bless us and we opt for Plan B or C because of our free will decisions and lack of faith. Just like the people in the desert, God wants us, his people to flourish and God wants to bless his people. But just like the people of Israel, often we have so much we need to unlearn. The people lived in Egypt and took on their ways, we live in basically Sodom and Gomora, our world is turned upside down and we have to focus on what is important, true, and right.

From their time in Egypt, the Israelites learned about all types of sacrifice. This was a people that had participated in pagan worship which included child and human sacrifice. God was teaching them that sin could not go uncorrected and that there had to be atonement for sins if there was a violation of God’s laws as written in the 10 Commandments. They had a day of Atonement where their sins would be presented before the Lord and an animal sacrificed along with very specific things they did as a result. Instead of humans, God taught them animal sacrifices for the atonement of sins. These sacrifices were a way for sin to be removed. This was a foreshadowing of Christ, his atonement as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, the removal of sin, and therefore mercy. Christ shed His blood for us.

Today in Judaism the Day of Atonement known as Yom Kippur is the holiest day. It is a time of repentance, and there is a day-long fast and intensive prayers.

In Christianity, we look at Christ as love and mercy. This ties the Old and New Covenant together in an amazing way. The covering of sin was a visible sign to the Israelites, and for us this sign is Christ. This is the mercy seat of God! In Romans, Paul was telling the people in Romans 3:24-25 (Read on air.)

Just like the mercy seat was the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, Jesus is the covering for sin. It is our faith and our belief that we are set free. God is mercy but He is always just. There cannot be mercy without justice and there cannot be justice without mercy.

John 8:31-32 (Read on air.)

Shouldn’t we want to leave sin behind? I’ve been praying a prayer each evening and these are the words I pray that resonate with me, “You are the strength and the light of my soul in you, I live and move and am. I desire never to grieve you by unfaithfulness to grace and I pray with all my heart to be kept from the smallest sin against you.”

How I desire this to keep myself from sin, to keep myself pure and holy, but I can do none of this without the Lord, frequent attendance of Mass and communion, and frequent prayer and time to listen to the Lord.  The prayer continues with a plea to the Lord to help me to follow His gracious inspirations and to keep me free from sin. 1 John 4:10 states  (Read on air.)

If we follow the Lord we will receive mercy, but this comes with justice. The sacrifice of Christ was merciful for humankind. Without His ultimate sacrifice, we would be in eternal sin and damnation. This week pray that the Lord keeps you from sin, pray for that connection to God in such a real and tangible way as to help us avoid those things that are harmful to our immortal souls. Amen, and may the Lord continue to bless you, pray for me as I pray for you.

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