Mercy is the “true north,” so to speak, of God’s character. Mercy conveys His heart towards His children in a way that wrath, though warranted, does not.
God actually delights in showing mercy and in doing so abundantly.
Many times we are not even aware of the profound magnitude of God’s mercy. Other times, we are transformed by the realization of it.
“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
Looking to the Hebrew Scriptures, we see God’s commitment to mercy displayed through the ancient sacrificial system. And an integral part of the sacrificial system is what’s known as the mercy seat.
What is the Mercy Seat?
The mercy seat was the closure, or covering of a holy box, called the Ark of the Covenant. It housed, among other things, the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments. Though the mercy seat served as a type of lid, in terms of the Ark of the Covenant to better comprehend the purpose the mercy seat the words covering and shield are more appropriate.
The tablets with the Ten Commandments stored underneath bore witness to the sin of the people. Above or rather on the mercy seat the blood of sacrifice was sprinkled by the High Priest for the atonement of sin. This is why emphasis is placed on the word covering, because the mercy seat is the place of transference of sin for forgiveness, of reconciliation between God and His people.
Joseph Prince puts it this way: “As long as the blood was there on the mercy seat, He [God] saw only the blood and accepted the people.”
Who is the Mercy Seat?
The Ark of the Covenant was kept in the most sacred chamber of the Temple, called the Holy of Holies. The High Priest was the only person permitted to enter, and only once a year – on Yom Kippur, to intercede for the sins of the people. Interestingly enough, the Hebrew word for mercy seat, which is “kaporet”, has the same root as “kippur”.
In parallel manner, Jesus became our covering, and our shield.
Romans 3:25 says that Jesus is “our mercy seat because of His death on the cross. We come to Him for mercy, for God has made a provision for us to be forgiven by faith in the sacred blood of Jesus.”
How beautiful it is to contemplate on the fact that Jesus’ very blood was sprinkled on the mercy seat, the throne of grace, making intercession for our sins before God! His flawless sacrifice made it possible for God’s presence to be in our midst.
The Perfect Sacrifice
Through the blood of the Messiah, God does not see our sins when he looks upon us. His covering puts us in right standing before God, once and for all.
Jesus has perfected and satisfied the sacrificial system that the Father originated in the Hebrew Scriptures.
“What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory?” (Romans 9:22-23)