He also made the mercy seat of pure gold; two and a half cubits was its length and a cubit and a half its width. (Exodus 37:6)
All of our lives, we have heard the cover of the Ark of the Covenant referred to as the “mercy seat.” As a child I always wondered what that really meant. Of course, the word “seat” alludes to the fact that, as was mentioned in the previous devotion, the Ark served as God’s Throne on earth. His Presence was “seated” there, in the Holy of Holies, resting between the two cherubim but where did the idea of it being a mercy seat come from?
The Hebrew word translated as “mercy seat” is כפרת khaporet and it stems from the root word כפר kaphar which means “to cover. This word is first introduced in Genesis 6 when Noah is told to “cover” the ark with pitch within and within out. It is the pitch (Hebrew, kopher) that allows the ark to withstand weeks of rain and months of immersion in water. In this, we see God’s mercy toward mankind and the renewal of His plan for His beloved creation.
This same word also means to “atone” and is the same root from which the word כפור kippur, as in Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), comes from. It was Yom Kippur that the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies and sprinkled blood upon the Mercy Seat for the atonement of Israel’s sins. Later, Yeshua entered into the Heavenly Temple and, acting as High Priest, atoned for sins once and for all with His own blood. By the blood of Messiah, our sins are covered and we are spared from the eternal death that sin results in.
It thus becomes apparent that tthe Ark of the Covenant — God’s Throne on earth — is not only the place where He reigns and rules in righteousness but with mercy. The lid on the Ark of the Covenant — the place where the atoning blood was sprinkled — was the place from which mercy sprang and covered our sins. It seems fitting then to end today’s devotion with a prophecy that speaks of the day when the Messiah will be seated upon His Throne to rule and judge the nations. Isaiah said:
“In mercy the throne will be established; and One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.” (Isaiah 16:5)
Blessings and Shalom,