Do you have a favorite chair? The one your family knows is “yours”? There may not be a sign on it, but it’s understood. For many years, I sat in an old wing chair I inherited from my family. It’s been reupholstered in different fabric styles, but it always feels the same. When my family opens Christmas gifts, we all have to sit in the same spot. That’s not my mandate, but my kid’s. There’s something about those seats…
A few years ago, I heard a worship song that brought chills to my arms and tears to my eyes. That isn’t always the case for me. I love to worship and for many years, I sang from the stage leading others with wonderful, spirit-led songs. During those years, my desire was to move into a place with God of repentance, praise and thanksgiving and to be used by Him to help others do the same. It was a wonderful time of ministry for me. I wonder if learning so many songs is part of the reason that I’m a hard nut to crack when it comes to moving me so powerfully. Whatever the reason, this song did it. It’s written by my all-time favorite worship leader and composer, Travis Cottrell. His love for Christ is in every word he sings and if anyone can lead me into worship, it’s him. Thank you God for those who use their gifts for you.
Travis wrote a song called “The Mercy Seat.” It’s amazing on it’s own, but he also coupled it with the chorus from a Michael W. Smith song, “Lord Have Mercy.”
While listening to it again this morning, I closed my eyes and pictured this mercy seat. What exactly is it? Do you think of a judges bench? A chair for the Pope? The Mercy Seat was built according to directions from God to Moses. And it was made just like he said. It’s the top, or lid, of the Ark of the Covenant. This Ark was a box which held the Ten Commandment tablets and was placed in the inner-most room of the temple. Only the High Priest could enter the room called the Most Holy Place and only on one day each year. Pretty special. On that day, the high priest would bring blood into the room and sprinkle it on the Mercy seat to atone for the sins of the people of Israel.
So, what’s this all about? Sprinkling blood over a lid. How does that mean anything to us? Stay with me here. Sometimes, when you search the meaning behind the original Hebrew words, you understand a little more. The Hebrew word meaning Mercy Seat means to cover. Ok, I get that; it’s a cover on the Ark. But, this word means cover in two ways; as a noun, meaning a lid or top and it’s root word is a verb meaning...to pardon or atone for, as in to cover a debt. Ah, I think I’m getting warmer. Blood, sacrifice, cover a debt. Sounds like someone who saves. But what about the seat? Is Jesus sitting on the Ark of the Covenant, the Mercy Seat?
Covenant = promise. Jesus is the Covenant. The Promise. Everything we learn in the Old Testament points to him. All that blood, the killing of perfect animals, is symbolic of the perfect Jesus and his blood. So, where is he seated now that his blood was given to cover us? He sits to the right of God who is always on his throne. He’s the ultimate High Priest in the Heavenly Temple and he’s interceding - going to God - on our behalf.
Today, I pictured him in this seat of honor with his arms stretched out. To me. To you.
So, come running. Come running to the Mercy Seat.
You can listen to the song here: