This is God speaking to Moses, giving instruction for an ark to be built. Not the same sort which Noah crafted. Rather this is more like a holy treasure chest which would hold the Ten Commandments... the testimony that I will give you. And this would be placed within the tabernacle, behind the veil where only the priest could go.
This mercy seat is the cover, or lid of the ark, made of acacia wood, covered with solid gold. Upon it there were two large angelic cherubim crafted, also covered in gold, their wings spread over the ark as they faced each other.
And there in that space above the lid and between the cherubim is where God is saying He will meet with Moses... and later with the priest who will come to represent the people.
Why does this matter?
What does this mean?
This is the God of the universe.
The Creator who showed up in darkness and turned-on the light.
The One who simply spoke and something came from nothing.
The Spirit who gathered dust and breathed life into the form of man.
hearing a cry for help,
longing to save,
endeavoring to rescue,
seeking to redeem...
He delivered His people from bondage and at the same time provided the very treasures needed to build this tabernacle and ark with a wealth of donations handed out by the Egyptians. Interestingly, the very same ones who enslaved them; the oppressors from which Moses led them triumphantly away. And here, above this mercy seat, our merciful God promised to remain; to receive the blood offering of atonement for sins committed.
But here is the most amazing part. Mercy seat... is translated from one Hebrew word that means atonement. It means to cover over, to pay the price for, to plan ahead to forgive. And under the mercy seat... the cover... were those tablets with the Ten Commandments, the law that no one can fully obey.
But God offered His presence there anyway.
Rising above our sin, our disobedience, our inability for perfection.
He knew we would need mercy and forgiveness, so He remained.
And even when His people, after many generations would turn away from Him, would bring idols into His tabernacle and defile it, He still had a plan. All along God intended to send His Son... an atonement for all our sin; to cover over, to pay the price for, to plan ahead to forgive us.
Our God is not a distant God.
From the beginning, He has pursued us.
All along, He has provided for us.
There is never been a moment when He is not available to one who would humbly call upon His name. Let us consider His ever present mercy.
The testimony of our God is redemption.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace! Ephesians 2:4-5
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