I awoke this morning singing this song, Mercy Tree by Lacey Sturm. I am currently writing on the Ark of the Covenant as I prepare Devotions From Exodus Part Two for publication.
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
Our God has always desired to meet us at His mercy. The Law of God has always rested underneath His mercy. From the very beginning with the fall of man, with the deception of Eve, and the disobedience of Adam, God’s mercy is what came to confront them in the garden, not His wrath. His mercy has always triumphed over judgment, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).
I believe the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament held the heart of God on stone. In Genesis 6 we read how the heart of God was grieved that man was so wicked and the intent of his heart was evil all the time… when we take the time to really look at the law of God we can clearly see it is God teaching us His heart and teaching us how to love Him and others. The law of God would bring the judgment of God, and yes, the Ark of the Covenant would contain the commands of God, and it is by these commands that all the world is judged (Romans 11:32), but there was something beautiful and awe inspiring that was to be constructed to sit upon the Ark… it would be called the mercy seat.
Once again mercy would come before judgement.
The mercy seat would be where the high priest would sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice. It would be by the blood of this sacrifice that God would forgive the sin of the individual person and the entire nation of Israel. If you look back through the prophets and the history of Israel recorded in Kings and Chronicles, you will see that when Israel would fall away from God and into the worship of false idols this would always be her darkest times and this would also be when the feasts, including that of the Passover would be set aside and the law of God would be ignored and even lost.
It’s funny how accustomed we become to mercy… we come to expect it… to feel entitled to receive it.
If we want to receive of that mercy, we have to come in the realization that we deserve His judgment (Romans 3:19-20), because only the guilty seek mercy (Luke 18:9-14). To deny that we need the mercy of God is to deny that we are sinners and to deny that we are sinners is to deny the free gift of life that is offered to us. It is to be so blinded by pride that we cannot see the glory of the God that loves us beyond the truth of who we are… and it is to continue to live in the lie.
The Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament held the heart of God on stone. The Advent was the coming of the heart of God on flesh. At the appointed time, God exchanged the heart of stone contained in the Ark of the Covenant for a heart of flesh in the body of His Son (Ezekiel 36:26). Our God exchanged the Mercy Seat for the Mercy Tree.
And at that Mercy Tree once again mercy came before judgment…
And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
“And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”