The Mercy Seat
How is the mercy seat connected to Jesus Christ?
One of the most important events in the Old Testament is the establishment of the Ark of the Covenant. Why? Because this momentous moment revealed God’s greatest commandments.
So, what is this Ark of the Covenant?
A covenant is a formal agreement or a binding agreement between two or more people. In the Old Testament, specifically in the book of Exodus, God gave firm instructions to Moses on how to build the Ark of the Covenant. This happened while the Israelites were at the foot of Mount Sinai. The ark houses the tablets containing the Ten Commandments of the Lord. This ark was also said to be the place where Moses communicated with God, specifically at the mercy seat.
The mercy seat was the lid or cover of the ark made from solid gold. But the mercy seat is no ordinary cover—it has two cherubim hammered on either end of the lid with their wings spread, covering the ark, and their heads bowed down.
The mercy seat plays a very important role in representing God’s promise to dwell with His people. In Exodus 25:22, God revealed to Moses as to how he can communicate with God.
There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.
Jesus and the Mercy Seat
So, how is the mercy seat connected to Jesus?
The two cherubim placed at the lid of the ark holds great importance in the fulfillment of God’s promise. Both cherubim were made to face each other and cover the lid with their wings while facing down as if anticipating something. This image can be viewed to be similar to a very important moment in the New Testament: the birth of the Messiah. Upon the birth of Jesus Christ, it was said that angels from the heavens filled the sky and announced his birth. This jubilation is recorded in Luke 2:13–14:
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
The cherubim’s wings can be seen as a representation of worship of the Lord of the Heavens, while their bowed heads are the anticipation of the coming of the Lord to live with His people. This perfectly mirrors how the angels rejoiced on the birth of Jesus Christ in the manger.
Not only is the mercy seat a way for God to temporarily connect with His chosen people, but it also represents how God truly loves His people.
The ark was made to contain the commandments or testimony of God. Through the acts following these commandments, God shall bestow His judgment upon the people. However, the mercy seat is placed over the testimony. This can only mean that God’s mercy triumphs over judgment. That promise was fulfilled in the New Testament when Jesus died in the cross to save the people. An image that perfectly reflects the mercy seat was written in John 20:11–12:
Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’s body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.
The scene that Mary Magdalene saw at the tomb was the mercy seat. When Jesus was crucified, He saved the people from their sins. The Lord Jesus Christ, has shown His mercy to the people just as how the mercy seat was placed above the testimony, symbolizing that mercy is always above judgment.
The Old Testament housed the tabernacles and God’s promise to dwell with His people while the New Testament reveals the fulfillment of that promise. God’s promise was fulfilled when God gave the people His flesh and blood, Jesus Christ.
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Bible History Online. “The Mercy Seat.” Tabernacle. Accessed on October 31, 2018. https://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Mercy_Seat.htm.
Nichols, Stephen. “What is the Mercy Seat?” Ligonier Ministries. March 28, 2018. Accessed on October 31, 2018. https://www.ligonier.org/blog/mercy-seat-connecting-dots.