Lecture 12.

The Mercy-seat

(Exodus 37:6-9)

The mercy-seat, as already briefly described, was a cover upon the ark, of the same length and breadth; it was of pure gold, and at either end were cherubim beaten out of one piece with it; they were thus a part of the mercy-seat. These symbolic figures had their wings overshadowing the mercy-seat, and their faces looking down upon it.

We are told that the heathen had something similar to the ark and mercy-seat with the cherubim — of grotesque and repulsive character. But what is very significant in these heathen arks is, that upon the lid rested an idol — man's work and god — upon which the cherubim gazed in worship. "Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men's hands," says the psalmist (Ps. 115:4); with hands, eyes, lips, but neither power, knowledge nor words — man's miserable creature. How ignoble in contrast to the true God, the Creator and Lord of all! With Him is power, knowledge, wisdom; and "He that planted the ear, shall He not hear? He that formed the eye, shall He not see?" (Ps. 94:8-9).

But upon the mercy-seat was no representation of God. "God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). How divinely in accord with all His truth it is that, in those days of partial revelation, of type and shadow, God should have most jealously guarded the conception of His infinitely glorious being from any semblance of representation so universal among the heathen.

We are told that the Israelites represented a stage in the natural development of the human race in their upward progress. But who taught them to cast away all idols? How could they, or Moses, have conceived the thought that God was infinitely great and almighty, but not corporeal? There is but one true answer — God was pleased to make Himself known. And how constantly, patiently, and carefully, did He reiterate that lesson.

They tell us that Jehovah was understood to be one of many tribal deities, each nation having one or more. How does that consist with such words as these: "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is" (Deut. 10:14). There is no possible room left for any other god, save indeed the demons who, under Satan's leadership and guidance, preside in the heathen deities' worship. "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons, and not to God" (1 Cor. 10:20).

Where could a man or people, surrounded by the idolatries of Egypt, have received such instructions as these: "Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire; lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of anything that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth; and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven" (Deut. 4:15-19).

The last clause of the passage just quoted has been perverted by "higher criticism" to teach that Moses thought God gave the host of heaven to all nations to be their gods, while unperverted minds readily understand that as luminaries they were the common portion of all, God's creation, witnessing of His power and care to all mankind. What blindness it is to see otherwise!

The ark, then, and the mercy-seat, with the attendant cherubim, were not idols, but they emphasized the spirituality of that all-glorious Being who fills heaven and earth, and yet had come to dwell among His people and manifest Himself to them, where there was faith to apprehend Him.

Upon the top of the ark, as we have seen, was a crown of gold, which seems to have answered a two-fold purpose; of beauty for the ark, and for securely holding the mercy-seat in its place. This crown of gold fittingly represents our Lord now glorified. "We see Jesus … crowned with glory and honor" (Heb. 2:9). With divine delight has His God and Father glorified Him who for His sake suffered reproach (Ps. 69:7), and now faith sees Him whose "visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men," in all the beauty, majesty and glory of heaven. It is God's declaration that He has accepted the work of redemption so graciously undertaken and so perfectly accomplished by our Lord. He who offered Himself as a propitiatory sacrifice for sinners upon the cross, who was as the sin-offering forsaken of God, and left, as it were, in the outer darkness, has been placed upon the throne of glory. Thus the crown leads us to the significance of the mercy-seat.

The mercy-seat was of pure gold. The word "pure" (used of metals, and of moral purity as well — Prov. 15:26; Jer. 33:8) is to show that there was no alloy in it; nothing is mingled with what must meet the demands of divine glory. It reminds us that no human thoughts can intrude where "all things are of God" (2 Cor. 5:18) — His word, His will, His glory alone can prevail, though in His infinite patience it may seem otherwise for a time. Whatever the mercy-seat stands for, it must be divine and eternal.

The word is not literally "mercy-seat," but "covering." In the ark, it will be remembered, we had no mention of a covering. Our ever-blessed Lord needed none; all was open to His Father's eyes, and He delighted to have it so. Into the pure depths of that perfect heart Omniscience could look and see nothing but what responded to the divine will; fit abode indeed for the law of a holy God. Only such an One could be the basis of a divine "covering" for those who needed it.

"Covering," however, would not be a fair rendering of the word kapporeth without further explanation. It is derived from the third voice, or intensive form, of the Hebrew verb "to cover." It thus suggests the thought of an intensive or complete, effectual, eternal covering; and this, coupled with the gold of which it was made, declares it to be a divine covering. Man's thought of a covering is concealment; God's is by atonement: "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper" (Prov. 28:13). "When I kept silence, my bones waxed old … I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid" (Ps. 32:3, 5). For such an one God provides a perfect and eternal covering. To the returning prodigal saying, "I have sinned," the Father replies, "Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him" (Luke 15:21-22). This thought of covering is very full, and requires further, careful attention.

The law, as we have seen, was put into the ark. Its principles of absolute righteousness, Godward and manward, were the characteristics of the throne of God. "The righteous Lord loveth righteousness;" and this righteousness must act in absolute impartiality toward every son of Adam. Thus, "His eyes behold, His eyelids try the children of men" — He "trieth the righteous," and "upon the wicked He shall rain snares, fire and brimstone" (Ps. 11:4-7). The law can only declare that which is true and right. Thus it pronounces upon the guilt of all men: "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin" (Rom. 3:20). Having proved man to be a sinner, the law can only proceed to pronounce the sentence upon him: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them" (Gal. 3:10). Thus guilty, and under the curse, man but waits for the just sentence of the law to be executed: "Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15).

Such is the inevitable doom of all men according to the sentence of God's holy law. The only One who could stand before God on the basis of having perfectly kept His law was our Lord Jesus. He could have been justified by the law absolutely, and, enthroned upon it, could have pronounced the just doom of all the human race. Did He do this? No, blessed be His name! Instead of being the executioner of the law, He bared His spotless bosom to the sword of justice. Without blemish and spot, thus qualified to be the Substitute, with infinite value, for our guilty race, He lets the law do all its righteous work upon Himself instead of upon the guilty: "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us; for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree" (Gal. 3:13). He not only had the law in His heart, but He opened His heart also for the sword of righteousness: "For the transgression of My people was He stricken" (Isa. 53:8). Marvel of love divine! — the same Bosom holds the law unbroken, and receives the penalty for its having been broken by man. The storm of wrath having spent itself upon Him, the law can no longer curse the sinner who takes refuge in Jesus.

Here then we have the true Mercy-seat — a divine, righteous, and eternal covering for the law of God and for the guilty but believing sinner. "God hath set Him forth to be a propitiation (literally, mercy-seat) through faith in His blood, to declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past (of a past dispensation) through the forbearance of God: to declare, I say, at this time His righteousness: that He might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Rom. 3:25-26). It will be noticed that this passage is in close connection with the one showing how impossible it is for man to be justified by the law (ver. 20). Thus we have the tables of the law covered by the divine mercy-seat.

These truths are emphasized by the dimensions of the mercy-seat 2&1/2 x 1&1/2 cubits; or, as we have already seen (page 242, chapter 11), in the proportion of 5 and 3. Five speaks of responsibility as perfectly met by our Lord Jesus, and three of divine fulness and manifestation. How perfectly is every divine requirement met in this propitiatory, and how the glory of the triune God is revealed in it! So that God is now for the believer, instead of being against him, and this according to all His attributes.

The mercy-seat being of the same measure as the ark, covered it exactly. There was no part uncovered; the law was completely hidden from view. In a very real sense it could not act against the people, although they had broken it. Is there not a suggestion of the need of this covering in the account of the return of the ark from the Philistines' land, already briefly alluded to? The men of Beth-she me sh irreverently looked into the ark, doubtless by lifting the mercy-seat (1 Sam. 6:19), and the Lord smote them for it. They removed the divine covering and, so to speak, the law acted directly upon them. It is sometimes taught that, though not under the law as a ground of justification, believers are under it as a rule of life. This holy action of God at Beth-shemesh is against this, and shows that "as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse" (Gal. 3:10). The law knows no distinction among men. It is God's righteous demand for a perfect obedience in man; if that is not rendered, it can only pronounce a curse.

Nor does this mean the slightest provision for the flesh, or a careless walk. "Sin shall not have dominion over you, for ye are not under law but under grace" (Rom. 6:14). As the apostle declares, "I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God" (Gal. 2:19). To live unto God is surely not unholiness. "What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh that the righteousness (literally, righteous requirements, J. N. D.'s Version) of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:3-4). Thus the righteousness contemplated by the law, but which the flesh would not render, is now secured by the Spirit, through grace. This is a subject of great importance, and we have only touched upon it, but we pass on to our more immediate theme.

We have already had occasion to refer briefly to the cherubim, both upon the curtains and the veil, and on the mercy-seat, but have deferred taking up their significance as shown in Scripture until this point.

As already seen, the cherubim were beaten out of one piece with the mercy-seat. That would suggest that they embody the same truths as are presented in that covering, looked at however from a different point of view. We will first look at a number of passages where the cherubim are spoken of.*

{*With regard to the meaning of the word cherub, cherubim, authorities differ greatly. It has been suggested that it is derived from a word meaning "to prohibit from a common use," hence "to consecrate" the word would then mean a guard, or keeper. Another thought has been that of "one permitted to draw near." Still others have connected it with "griffins," derived from a Persian word meaning to grasp or hold, as guardians of treasure. It has been thought to be derived from a root meaning "to ride," suggesting a chariot, in explanation of Psalm 18:10-11. One suggests a derivation from the word "to engrave," as being particularly characteristic of these figures, and would thus connect them with the Greek and Latin words "to write." But it must be remembered that the engraved form was but the expression of what already had an existence, and to give a name to the delineation of an object rather than the object itself, is unnatural. Lastly, it has been suggested that it is compounded of two words, meaning "As pleaders," or "adversaries." This last is a possible derivation, and accords well with the evident significance of the cherubim. But I hesitate to pronounce definitely in view of so many suggestions, and would narrow them down to the last one, and that from the word "to approach" — "those who have access," and thus who are guardians of the Divine presence. It is striking that we have them referred to so early in the Scriptures, as though well known; and it would seem that we can gather their meaning more readily from their work than from the significance of their names.}

"He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. 3:24). Here, then, the cherubim were guardians to keep man from that which he had forfeited, the right to the tree of life. While it is not said that the sword was in the hand of the cherubim, their being mentioned so closely together would identify their purpose. The angel of the Lord with the drawn sword who withstood Balaam (Num. 22:23), and the bringer of the pestilence upon Israel for David's sin in numbering the people (1 Chron. 21:16), are both suggestive of this work of the cherubim at the gate of Eden, and may furnish a further clue to their interpretation,

"And when Moses was gone into the tabernacle of the congregation to speak with Him, then he heard the voice of One speaking unto him from off the mercy-seat that was upon the ark of testimony, from between the two cherubim" (Num. 7:89). This was in accord with the promise, "And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim which are upon the ark of the testimony" (Ex. 25:22). Thus the two cherubim formed the sides or supports of the throne of God, who is described as "dwelling between the cherubim" (2 Sam. 6:2). God was addressed there by Hezekiah when he prayed for deliverance from the Assyrians (2 Kings 19:15). See also Psalm 99:1, "The Lord reigneth: let the people tremble: He sitteth between the cherubim; let the earth be moved." We seem to have this translated for us in Psalm 97:1-2: "The Lord reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation (more literally, foundation) of His throne." The cherubim seem clearly to represent the divine attributes of righteousness and its execution in judgment, which is the basis of all true government, human or divine, the only guarantee of the stability of that which is beneath its sway. The throne of iniquity can have no fellowship with the God of righteous judgment (Ps. 94:20). Therefore God will overturn until the righteous Ruler comes who loveth righteousness and hateth iniquity (Ezek. 21:27; Ps. 45:6-7). Such a throne alone can be "forever and ever;" and this Ruler is the Melchizedek, "King of righteousness and King of peace," David's Son and yet his Lord, who sits at God's right hand till His enemies are made His footstool (Ps. 110:1-2). In view of such a Ruler the people may well tremble and bow in heart to Him in the day of His grace ere His judgment falls; and yet when He takes His power to reign, the earth shall rejoice and be glad. For Him His whole creation waits in hope, for then will the children of God be manifested in their liberty of glory, and creation be delivered from its present bondage (Rom. 8:21-22).

The primary thought of the cherubim conveyed by these scriptures, then, is that of supports or guardians of the throne of God in His absolute righteousness and judgment. We get the same thought in a different connection in the 18th psalm, where David celebrates his deliverance from all his enemies, particularly from Saul. From His holy temple, where David's prayer was heard, God appeared for his deliverance. The earth trembled as its Maker came forth for His beloved one's deliverance — type of the true King, who was subjected to all the hatred of Ungodly men. "And He rode upon a cherub and did fly: yea, He did fly upon the wings of the wind" (Ps. 18:10). It is as though the King eternal left for the time His place in His sanctuary, and appeared for the judgment of His enemies. The expression, "He rode upon a cherub and did fly," seems to explain a phrase used of the mercy-seat: "And gold for the pattern of the chariot of the cherubim, that spread out their wings, and covered the ark of the covenant of the Lord" (1 Chr. 28:18). Here the throne suggests the chariot upon which Jehovah rides in connection with the cherubim, who bear Him on, as it were, in resistless power throughout His creation.

This brings us to a similar passage where this thought is enlarged, in Ezekiel 1:4-28. The terrible majesty of God is seen in the cloud and the devouring fire, and the brightness of His glory (ver. 4). In connection with this the "living creatures" appear — four of them, not two. These are described with considerable minuteness; they had the likeness of a man (ver. 5), which suggests intelligence, but with four faces — of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle. These four faces suggest: intelligence in the human face; fearless authority in the lion; strength in the ox; and swift, heavenly flight in the eagle. The feet, "like the soles of a calf's foot," would suggest stability, and the hands of a man and the eyes upon the wheels show the predominance of intelligence rather than mere power. The wings suggest their heavenly character, and in that way would remind us of the angels "that excel in strength, that do His commandments, hearkening unto the voice of His word" (Ps. 103:20). "The living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning" (ver. 14) — "His ministers a flame of fire" — instantaneous and swift obedience to the control of the Spirit (ver. 12). Then the wheels are described — those awful symbols of the resistless power of God rolling on in their course — high unto heaven, and bearing upon them the throne and Him who sat upon it, "the likeness as of the appearance of a Man above upon it" (ver. 26).*

{*The rings of the wheels "were so high that they were dreadful" (Ezek. 1:18). God's vast unmeasured creation may be described as wheels. The earth itself, and all the heavenly bodies, are spherical, and their movements are circular. Of the immensity of their orbits it is difficult to speak in language which our finite minds can grasp. The orbit of the earth is nearly 200 million of miles in diameter; that of Neptune, the most distant planet in our solar system, over five billion miles. But the whole solar system evidently has an orbit of unknown immensity. Thus system after system revolves about other centres — wheels within wheels — all in perfect harmony, and all carrying forward His perfect will who is God over all. In the presence of this immensity human history is too brief as it were to be measured; we bow in our puny weakness, and own the almighty God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit.}

Here we have in divine detail "the chariot of the cherubim," the chariot on which the almighty Jehovah goes forth in His government and judgment. Here the throne is in motion, passing with resistless majesty from place to place of His wide creation. Closely linked with this is the transfer of the throne from His temple (defiled by sinful men to whom its honor had been committed) to the chariot, and its removal from Jerusalem and the chosen people. Its removal is like when the ark went into captivity in the days of Eli, but here on a grander scale and a more solemn way.

This vision is again described in the tenth chapter of Ezekiel, and there the "living creatures" are called cherubim; we see the action of judgment also in the "coals of fire" given by one of the cherubim to be cast over the city of Jerusalem. "Then the glory of the Lord departed from off the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim" (Ezek. 10:18), and "Ichabod" was written upon that house where the God of Israel had recorded His name. Alas, that the heart of man should forsake the fountain of living waters!

There may be a suggestion in the fact that in the description of the cherubim, in this tenth chapter, instead of mentioning "the face of an ox," as in chapter 1, it is called "the face of a cherub" (ver. 14). The ox, as the chief of the creatures in the service of man, would emphasize the fact that these cherubim are creatures, not divine.

We pass next to the solemn passage in the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 6:1-8). Here we have seraphim* and not cherubim; their employment is worship rather than judgment: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory" (ver. 3). In the presence of this unutterable glory, the prophet is abased to the very dust; he cries, "Woe is me, for I am undone." But it is the holiness of love, whose judgment for sin has already been visited upon Another; for the live coal from off the altar speaks of a fire which has fed upon the sacrifice and the incense upon it; the live coal touches the unclean lips (as of a leper, see Lev. 13:45) and purges away all iniquity.

{*The etymology of seraphim is disputed, though it seems clearly to be derived from one of two roots: "to burn," and "to be great, noble." If the former meaning is taken, we would have the suggestion of devouring fire and if the latter, the thought seems to be of princely dignity — "principalities and powers" (Eph. 3:10), or archangels (Jude 9).}

In the book of the New Testament symbols (Revelation 4:6-8), we have the characteristic features of the cherubim and seraphim combined. Like the former, they are described severally as lion, calf, man and eagle, and like the latter, they ascribe worship to the triune God. Like the cherubim too they are connected with the judgments to be inflicted upon the earth (Rev. 6:1, etc.).

From the scriptures we have considered we conclude that these figures are symbols of God's intelligent creatures, for they give Him worship; that they are endowed with untold powers, for they go and return with the speed of the lightning; that they are closely connected with His governmental throne, and with the judicial execution of the righteous judgment of that throne. But let us look a little more closely at these facts.

We cannot think of them as being symbolic figures merely of divine attributes, for we could not conceive of God being worshiped by His own attributes, or of their being veiled with wings in His presence. It is only conscious personal beings who could thus present their adoration to Him. And yet these beings are identified in their office with the execution of divine righteousness. We must beware of intruding into those things which we have not seen among which is a "religion of angels" (Col. 2:18); but this does not debar us from gathering all that God has been pleased to reveal to us.

Both Old and New Testaments abound with passages referring to the existence, personality and ministry of angels. They are called literally "messengers" — for this is the significance of the word both in Hebrew and Greek — and no doubt is left that they are heavenly messengers. Their estate is heavenly (see Gal. 1:8; 2 Thess. 1:7); and they are there as worshipers and servants of God (Job 1:6; Job 38:7; 1 Kings 22:19). This last passage would almost suggest the position of the cherubim: "I saw the Lord sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing by Him on His right hand and on His left" — they are grouped about His throne, ready to do His will. Angels were particularly used in connection with errands of mercy and of judgment: to announce to Abraham the birth of Isaac, in due time (Gen. 18:2 with Heb. 13:2); for the rescue of Lot out of Sodom (Gen. 19:1); in ministry upon Jacob as he slept (Gen. 28:12). They were present in great multitudes at Sinai, and gave character to the ministration of the law (Ps. 68:17 with Acts 7:53; Heb. 2:2).

We have a higher thought in "the Angel of the Lord," spoken of frequently (Gen. 16:7-13; Gen. 22:11, 15; Ex. 3:2; Ex. 23:20; Judges 2:1, etc.), and who in a number of cases seems to be identical with the Lord Himself, who appears in this form, and at other times His representative. This is suggestive, and brings us back to the thought we have been gathering of the cherubim.

The cherubim then seem to have been well known as symbolic figures, setting forth in their composite forms the blending of all creature powers, and in their wings and close relationship with the throne of God, their heavenly, angelic character. They were thus symbols of the host of heaven, the angels, ministers of divine judgment and justice, associated with God as His servants in His government of the world. As such, they are His representatives, vested with His authority and, so far as needed, with His power. (See Matt. 13:39, 41; Matt. 25:31; Mark 8:38, etc.) They are not the objects of worship, but are themselves worshipers. But, as engaged in His service, they are His representatives, and therefore accompanied with the majesty which is part of the display of the presence of God Himself.*

{*In Ezekiel, as we have seen, the cherubim of judgment are prominent in their association with the throne of God. In the 28th chapter we have mention of another, "the anointed cherub that covereth" (Ezek. 28:14). The description is that of the "King of Tyrus," type of this world's splendor and power, and man as its ruler. But, as has been pointed out by others, the true ruler of this world, its "prince," is Satan (John 14:30), and there are remarkable expressions here which would suggest superhuman dignity and privilege, and a more than human fall: "Thy heart was lifted up because of thy beauty: thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness" (ver. 17). Such was the fall through pride of him who, as one of the chief of God's creatures, would have been associated in judgment and rule with his Creator.}

That there were upon the mercy-seat two of these figures would suggest competent witness to God's holiness, righteousness and goodness. We see them here with their faces turned toward the mercy-seat, and their wings hovering over it, We are reminded of this attitude by a passage in 1 Peter 1:12, "Which things the angels desire to look into." It is as though they were gazing in wonder and worship upon the cover of the ark, the mercy-seat. This, as we have seen, covered the tables of the law; so it was not at these the cherubim were gazing. They had been associated with the promulgation of the law amid the thick darkness, lightnings and thunderings of Sinai, ready to take vengeance for "every transgression and disobedience." But it is the blood upon the mercy-seat that fixes the gaze of these ministers of justice and judgment — the blood of the sacrifice sprinkled there on the great Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:14). The blood speaks of judgment already visited upon the Substitute, and it arrests the adoring gaze of these holy servants of God. Instead of flying with the speed of the wind or like the lightning flash upon the enemies of God, they bend with adoring worship upon that which speaks of "righteousness and peace having kissed each other" (Ps. 85:10).

And well may the angels gaze upon that Sacrifice! There every attribute of God's character shines forth: His righteousness, for He has meted out the full penalty for man's sin; His love, for here is His gift to a lost world; His wisdom, for none but God could have devised the wondrous plan.

Like the cherubim, we adoringly gaze upon this wondrous sight. We remember that "the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach" (Heb. 13:11-13). The place of greatest distance, where the victim was consumed, brings us in greatest nearness to the throne of God: — the blood of the victim which was burned outside the camp, is brought into the sanctuary of God. Christ "suffered without the gate" — not merely without the city of Jerusalem, nor as rejected by the Jews alone — but upon the shameful cross as upon a gallows, cast out by the whole world, suffering a malefactor's death — Himself the only perfect and sinless Man who ever walked this earth. But even this does not give the full depth of the meaning of that outside place. He was there forsaken of God (Matt. 27:46); the wrath of God was poured out upon Him when He was made a "curse:" the "cup" of wrath was emptied! Oh, the depth of love and mercy to man in that cross — the Sinless goes without the gate!

The blood upon the mercy-seat declares that God has accepted the sacrifice of the Substitute. The value of that blood is linked eternally with the throne, with its righteousness and judgment.

Thus the material of the mercy-seat, and the crown about the ark, speaking of divine glory and Christ enthroned there, agree with the significance of the blood upon the mercy-seat and the adoring gaze of the ministers of justice and judgment. All unites to declare the value of that "eternal redemption" which Christ has found (Heb. 9:12). It also shows the consistency of the type and its divine truth, It gives us a glimpse too of the preeminent thought of redemption in God's mind from the beginning, which shall be the centre of the redeemed heavenly throng, for "in the midst of the throne" stands the "Lamb as it had been slain" (Rev. 5:6).

Here indeed is the "propitiatory," the everlasting meeting-place between God and His creation. How otherwise could a guilty sinner approach Him who is "of purer eyes than to behold evil?" Yet by faith in Christ, whose blood has made propitiation for sin, the repentant sinner can draw near and claim with grateful heart that which divine love indeed presses upon him. No fear on the sinner's part; no wrath on God's part! The law, with its two-fold witness against man, is magnified and made honorable, its righteous judgment having been borne by the Lamb of sacrifice. Thus God dwells, and will forever dwell, amid the praises of His blood-bought people (Ps. 22:3).

Pursuing this thought of the ark as coffer a little further, we can think of it as the treasury of God, with boundless stores of wealth for His people. It speaks of Christ in whom "dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). To Him "who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not," we can come for all that is included in that unmeasured expression, "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge" (Eph. 3:19). And this supply is for the need of the way, as the epistle of the sanctuary tells us: "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). And does it not elevate and sanctify all God's mercies when the heart realizes that all is the purchase of and connected with the precious blood of Christ? Thus God teaches us to reason: "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).

The mercy-seat was, and is, the place of communion. "There will I meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy-seat" (Ex. 25:22). Here then He makes known by His Word and Spirit His will — the revelation of His love and grace, His holiness and majesty. Of the divine holiness of this place Scripture gives unequivocal testimony. The awful majesty of God and His perfect holiness have not changed since He bade Moses and Joshua remove their shoes from off their feet (Ex. 3:5; Joshua 5:15). May the same grace which has provided such a meeting-place control our whole being, and keep us from the blasphemy of linking that holy name and place with a careless, unjudged state. It is thus that Satan would corrupt the most priceless blessings, and turn the very grace of God into a means to work his ends; his judgment will come, and so will that of all who wilfully abuse the mercy of God (Heb. 10:26). "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:28-29).

But this is not to deter the lowly soul, no matter how great its sense of unworthiness, from this throne of grace. It is ever that; and even the power truly to judge our own state and ways comes from God. And this throne of grace is a safe place — "that no flesh should glory in His presence." Satan meets One there who silences every charge — our "Advocate with the Father" (1 John 2:1; Zech. 3:1-4); and there the world and its lusts are estimated at their true value, where the joy of the Father's love is the known portion of the soul forever.