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Ps 99:1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved!
Exod 25:17-22 "You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel."
he Ark of the Covenant was a small chest made of acacia wood overlaid with gold and open at the top. The Mercy Seat was the lid or cover of solid gold the same size as the top of the Ark (2 1/2 cubits long x 1 1/2 cubits wide). At each end of the Mercy Seat, and of one piece with it, were two hammered gold cherubim facing one another. Their outstretched wings overshadowed the gold lid and their faces constantly looked down upon it. They were symbols of the presence and holiness of the Lord and are His chosen instruments of judgment toward any sinful approach toward the presence of the Lord and as they look upon the blood the wrath of God is appeased and they are at peace.
Exod 25:8-9 "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. According to all that I show you, that is, the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furnishings, just so you shall make it."
When God revealed the pattern of the tabernacle and the way to approach Him He also declared exactly where He would meet Moses:
Exod 25:22 "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel."
So the outstretched wings of the cherubim were to provide a throne for the God where He would mediate His rule on the earth as a representation of the real throne in heaven:
1 Sam 4:4 So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. (NIV)
When God had spoken to Moses out of the midst of the cloud upon Sinai, He also told him that He would come down to speak with him in the midst of His people. It was from the area above the Mercy Seat that He did:
Num 7:89 Now when Moses went into the tabernacle of meeting to speak with Him, he heard the voice of One speaking to him from above the mercy seat that was on the ark of the Testimony, from between the two cherubim; thus He spoke to him.
The Mercy Seat was where the blood was sprinkled.
In the New Testament this Mercy Seat or atonement cover is spoken of twice.
Heb 9:2-5 "For a tabernacle was prepared: the first part, in which was the lampstand, the table, and the showbread, which is called the sanctuary; and behind the second veil, the part of the tabernacle, which is, called the Holiest of All, which had the golden censer and the ark of the covenant overlaid on all sides with gold, in which were the golden pot that had the manna, Aaron's rod that budded, and the tablets of the covenant; and above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail."
Rom 3:23-26 "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."
The Greek word for Mercy Seat is 'hilasterion'. It is used here in Romans 3:25 where Paul says (literally) that God presented Christ as a propitiation or 'mercy seat'. This means that Jesus Christ is the mercy seat.
The Mercy Seat did not derive its worth from the purity of its gold but from the fact that it was the place where the blood of sacrifice was sprinkled in the presence of Yahweh.
The word for "mercy seat" is the same root for the word "atonement". It means to cover, cancel, appease, or cleanse.
The Greek equivalent is the word "propitiation".
Lk 18:13 "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!'
The word "seat" speaks of a resting place so the mercy seat was the "place of mercy or propitiation".
The cherubim were on the mercy with wings outstretched.
The 2 Cherubim
Ex 25:18-20 "And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. "Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. "And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.
- They represent the judgment of God.
- Their position indicates that God's judgment upon Israel was averted because of the blood-sprinkled mercy seat.
According to the writings of the ancient sages the words of Ezekiel, "The had the hands of a man under their wings" (Ezek 1:8), refer to the hand of God which is extended beneath the wings of the Chayyoth (Cherubim) to receive penitents from the power of judgement" [Pes. 119a]
- The Cherubim are revealed by Ezekiel in chapter 1:5-10 as 4 living creatures, each one having 4 different faces, the face of a man, lion, ox, and eagle.
Man- This face spoke of mind, reason, affections, and all the things that encompass a human being.
Lion- The lion was always recognized as strong, fierce, and majestic. It was the royalist of animals.
Pro 30:30 A lion, which is mighty among beasts and does not turn away from any;
Pro 20:2 The wrath of a king is like the roaring of a lion; whoever provokes him to anger sins against his own life.
ox- The ox was recognized as the animal who patiently labored for his owner. He was strong, able to bear a burden, and knew its owner.
Pro 14:4 Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; but much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
Ps 144:14 That our oxen may be well-laden; that there be no breaking in or going out; that there be no outcry in our streets.
Is 1:3 The ox knows its owner and the donkey its master's crib; but Israel does not know, my people do not consider."
Eagle- The divine bird that flew above the storms, while below there was only sorrows, dangers, and distress. A swift bird strong and powerful, never becoming weary.
Pro 30:18-19 There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yes, four which I do not understand: The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent on a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a virgin.
Is 40:31 But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Ps 103:5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
Ex 19:4 `You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself.
Ezek 17:3 "and say, `Thus says the Lord GOD: "A great eagle with large wings and long pinions, full of feathers of various colors, came to Lebanon and took from the cedar the highest branch.
Hos 8:1 "Set the trumpet to your mouth! He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant and rebelled against My law.
According to the writings of the ancient sages it is said that "the Holy One, blessed be he, looks to all the peoples of the world, hoping that they will repent and so bring them near beneath His wings" [Num R. x. I), and "the Holy One, blessed be he, bids the peoples of the world repent so that He may bring them near beneath His wings" [Cant. R. vi. I].
- This mercy seat was placed on top of the ark and it was here that the blood was sprinkled.
Lev 16:11-15 "And Aaron shall bring the bull of the sin offering, which is for himself, and make atonement for himself and for his house, and shall kill the bull as the sin offering which is for himself. "Then he shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from the altar before the LORD, with his hands full of sweet incense beaten fine, and bring it inside the veil. "And he shall put the incense on the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of incense may cover the mercy seat that is on the Testimony, lest he die. "He shall take some of the blood of the bull and sprinkle it with his finger on the mercy seat on the east side; and before the mercy seat he shall sprinkle some of the blood with his finger seven times. "Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat.
Lev 16:30 "For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.
- Because of the mercy seat the tabernacle was called "the tent of meeting". Because here God met with man:
Ex 25:21-22 "You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. "And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.
A Type of Christ
The mercy seat protected man from the judgment of God represented by the judgment angels, the Cherubim. Because of the blood that was sprinkled on the mercy seat, man's sin and guilt were washed away and the curse of the law has no effect. The mercy seat foreshadows the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our mercy seat. He forever stands between a holy God and sinful man. Just as the sins of the whole nation were atoned for by the sprinkling of the blood on the mercy seat, so also Christ, by the shedding of His own blood atoned for the sins of the entire world.
1 Jn 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
Lk 22:20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
1 Pet 1:18-19 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
Heb 9:11-12 But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come, with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.
Heb 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.
Dan 7:9-10 "I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; his garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.
Dan 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
Rev 5:1-13 And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, "Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?" And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals." And I looked, and behold, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth. Then He came and took the scroll out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne. Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying: "You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth." Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, and strength and honor and glory and blessing!" And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
Ps 99:1 The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble! He dwells between the cherubim; let the earth be moved!