Then he took the testimony and put it into the ark, and attached the poles to the ark, and put the mercy seat on top of the ark. (Exodus 40:20, NASB)
Amidst the excruciating details God gave to Moses for setting up the tabernacle, is the verse above related to the Ark of the Covenant. Into this ark, Moses was to set the two stone tablets upon which God had written His commandments for Israel. These became the laws of the land which were to benefit the people, but it also represented the law which the people had no possibility to keep perfectly.
As I studied the passage recently it dawned on me that literally above the law was a portion of the ark’s lid which God called “The Mercy Seat.” He could have called it anything in the world, but He chose to locate a place of mercy immediately above the law. Listen to how God described what would occur:
There I will meet with you; and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony, I will speak to you about all that I will give you in commandment for the sons of Israel. (Exodus 25:22)
Where God, His law, and His people would meet would literally be at the seat of mercy. Mercy is the only way in which God’s perfect law and His imperfect people can be justly reconciled. As James would later say, “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
Ever get discouraged by your inability to live a perfectly sinless life? If so, remember that God has always placed His mercy over our ability to keep His law! –Dave
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