You see, in any undertaking, we must first have an idea, a plan, a vision. Well God spoke to Moses, to speak to the children of Israel about ‘a pattern’ He had for the Sanctuary, for the Tabernacle. He said, “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them.”(Ex. 25:8). “According to all that I am going to show you, as the pattern of the tabernacle and the pattern of all its furniture, just so you shall construct it.” (Ex. 25:9).
First and formost, the very next verse is not about the altar, not about the door or the place of washing; all the places where we have to be busy ‘doing’ or anything else- the very first verse of instruction is: (Ex. 25:10), “And they shall make an ark…”
This is where God wants everything to begin when we think of sanctuary of God. So, we ask, “What’s the ark all about?” Here’s the pattern:
“They shall construct an ark of acacia wood two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide, and one and a half cubits high. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and out you shall overlay it, and you shall make a gold molding , (or crown), around it.”(Ex. 25:10).
You see, acacia wood speaks of humanity, ‘Jesus came as a man’, or in Isaiah’s words, “He grew up…like a root out of parched ground;” (Is. 53:2). And this ‘acacia wood’, when pierced, it would pour forth a ‘gum resin’ that had healing properties for cuts and sores, just as Jesus was ‘pierced by the flagellum’ and we remember Isaiah’s words, “By His stripes we are healed.” (Is. 53:5). And about the molding or crown, yes, Jesus wore a crown of thorns, but He will also be crowned with a crown of gold, (Rev. 14:14).
This 4 foot, by 2 foot, by 2 foot, wooden box covered with pure gold is the first instruction for God’s tabernacle, this box is a picture of Jesus…He is what matters first, not all the ‘stuff we think we need to DO to please God, it’s first about Him. The pattern of the sanctuary begins with Him…but it doesn’t end there:
“You shall put into the ark the testimony which I shall give you.” (Ex. 25:16).
So, inside this box, were to be placed the 10 commandments written by the ‘finger of God’ (Ex. 31:18). Think on this: The ark is a picture of Jesus, so to speak. And, the Law was to be kept in this ark. He actually is the ONLY ONE who is able to KEEP the 10 commandments. We all have missed the mark. We can’t keep the 10 commandments – Jesus alone can! He is the only ONE who can say, and He did say, “I always do the things that please the Father.” (John 8:29). We most certainly can’t say these words! But God knows this! He has a plan. He knows what we need…
“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long and one and a half cubits wide. You shall make two cherubim of gold, make them of hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end and one cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherub of one piece with the mercy seat at its two ends…” (Ex. 25:17-19).
“The cherubim shall have their wings spread upward, covering the mercy seat with their wings and facing one another, the faces of the cherubim are to be turned toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony which I will give to you.” (Ex. 25:20-21).
The Master Artist had a pattern and design, and He had a plan: “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,…”(Ex. 25:22). God says, “I will meet you at the mercy seat.”
First comes the relationship! “I will meet you…at the mercy seat.”
Well, there is a story in the Bible (1 Sam 6), when the ark was captured by the Philistines and they put the ark with their god Dagon. Well, the next morning, their god Dagon was on his face. So they picked him up. But the next morning Dagon had fallen over again, but this time his head broke off as well as his hands. so the Philistines got rid of the ark and sent it back home. Needless to say, the children of Israel were very happy to get their ark back, but in the excitement, they took the liberties to lift the mercy seat to see what was inside. Well, on that day, 50, 070 people died – all because they ‘lifted the mercy seat’ to uncover the Law.
And, this is true for you and me as well. It can be ‘deadly’ when we ‘lift the mercy seat’ so to speak to get to the inside of the matter! This can lead to death of relationships in families or friends, etc.
“The letter of the Law kills” Paul wrote in 2 Cor 3:6, “But the Spirit gives life.”
God knows we can’t keep His Law. He knows we ‘miss the mark’. He’s provided for us a mercy seat, made of pure gold. He doesn’t lift it to get to the bottom, no, He covers it with His mercy and meets us there. God dwells above the mercy seat!
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” Matthew 5:7 says. Have you been wronged. Have you been lied to, hurt, and become broken? Are you angry and vengeful? “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy,” the Bible says.
But what I think is the most amazing – is God knew in this broken world we would face a lot of hurt, and trial and pain,but He gave us a picture of where He meets us first – and we’ve hurt Him, over and over again in our disobedience and hardness of heart continually- He meets us…with mercy, so that we might be a merciful people to others.
The pattern is precise, according to the Master Artis’s plan, so that we would have picture to remember:…”and there I will meet with you, and I will commune with you from above the mercy seat…” Oh, the beauty of our merciful and compassionate Lord.It’s not just a pattern of a box, it’s a picture of Jesus. He paid it all. God says, The Law is kept perfect in My Son. I often think, Blessed are those who have received God’s mercy, because then He ‘fills us’ with His mercy –
all according to His Master plan!
“Lord, we turn our face to you as You dwell above the mercy seat and inhabit our praise. Fill us to the full with Your mercy and Your love! You have shown us Your plan, O yes, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with you God?” (Micah 6:8).