Summary: God hates sin, but He loves to show mercy.
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Men, have any of you ever forgotten your anniversary? (I won’t ask for a raise of hands.) It’s one of the biggest mistakes a husband can make. Forgetting your anniversary is sure to make your wife angry (or at least very annoyed). When a man forgets his anniversary, what does he often do? He goes out and buys his wife a gift (flowers, jewelry, etc.) hoping that when he gives her the gift she will no longer be mad at him.
You could say a husband’s gift for his upset wife is an example of propitiation. Propitiation is an offering that appeases the wrath of someone.
WRATH AND MERCY
· God’s wrath: His righteous hatred of all that is SINFUL.
“Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness. For the day that you departed from the land of Egypt until you came to this place, you have been rebellious against the LORD. Also in Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the LORD was angry enough with you to have destroyed you” (Deuteronomy 9:7-8).
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18).
· God’s mercy: His goodness to those who are in MISERY and DISTRESS.
“Nevertheless in Your great mercy You did not utterly consume them nor forsake them; for You are God, gracious and merciful” (Nehemiah 9:31).
Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, for I am desolate and afflicted. The troubles of my heart have enlarged; bring me out of my distresses! (Psalm 25:16-17).
· God HATES sin, but He LOVES to show mercy.
The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy (Psalm 103:8).
You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy (Micah 7:18 NIV).
THE MERCY SEAT
The cover of the ark of the Testimony (covenant) is traditionally known as the mercy seat (“seat” meaning “location”). The NIV translates the original Hebrew word (kapporeth) as “atonement cover.”
“You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two and half cubits shall be its length and a cubit and a half its width. And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat” (Exodus 25:17-18).
“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony that I will give you. And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony, about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel” (Exodus 25:21-22).
The ark of the Testimony:
· The TEN COMMANDMENTS were inside the ark.
“You shall put the mercy seat on top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the Testimony [two tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments] that I will give you” (Exodus 25:21).
· God’s symbolic THRONE was above the ark.
“And there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim which are on the ark of the Testimony” (Exodus 25:22).
So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim (1 Samuel 4:4).
· On the Day of Atonement, the BLOOD of a sacrificial animal was sprinkled on the mercy seat.
“Then [Aaron] shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness” (Leviticus 16:15-16).
The Hebrew word for “make atonement” is kaphar, which means “to cover over.”
· The blood on the mercy seat covered over the BROKEN LAW and hid it from God’s HOLY PRESENCE.
PROPITIATION BY CHRIST’S BLOOD
In the NT, the Greek word translated “mercy seat” is hilasterion. “And above [the ark] were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat [hilasterion]” (Hebrews 9:5). This same word is found in Romans 3:25, which presents Jesus Christ as the mercy seat (place of propitiation).
1. The blood of Jesus Christ is the sacrifice that appeased God’s WRATH against our sin.