Sunday was our Easter celebration. The testimony cards presented the fact that we all have a past filled with sin, and because of the saving grace of Jesus, we have a hope and a future. We continued to look at the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus and the effect it had on them.
“Stop clinging to Me, I have yet to ascend to the Father.” Pastor Dennis began with the story of Mary at the empty tomb weeping and she has an encounter with the risen Lord.
The heavy lifting had been done.
- Jesus hung on the cross and died
- He absorbed all the sin of mankind
- His death paid the price for it all
So when Mary recognizes the Savior whom she had last seen beaten beyond recognition and lying dead, her response was to cling to him, to not let him go.
But the final act for salvation was yet to be delivered. Jesus had not yet ascended to the Father!
Oh to have a glimpse of Heaven and the throne room of God on that day!
Jesus returns to the Throne Room first as the High Priest to offer the final sacrifice for the sin of mankind, the blood sacrifice that would pay for your sins and mine.
All through Jewish history, God was telling the Jews what was to come. He told Moses precise directions to build a tabernacle that was to be a glorious place where the very presence of God would descend…but it was a mere shadow of what was in heaven.
Why a tabernacle? Why an alter of sacrifice? Why a place called the Holy of Holies when only one high priest only once a year would enter into the presence of God?
It was certainly to point God’s people toward the Messiah that was to come.
There were 3 courtyards in Jerusalem in Jesus’ day, each one progressively closer to the presence of God.
The final barrier was a thick curtain that marked off a 15x15x15 area known as the Holy of Holies.
Each year on the Day of Atonement, one high priest would go behind the veil and carry the freshly shed blood, first a bull to atone for his sins, and then a goat for the collective sins of Israel.
Up until the time of Jeremiah, inside the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant. The ark was the symbol of the covenant God made with Israel. On top of the ark was the lid called the “Mercy Seat”, adorned with two gold angels, prostrate face-face, with wings touching. It was at the Mercy Seat that God would meet with the high priest as he presents the blood for the forgiveness of Israel. This was temporary payment until the Messiah would come.
It was the Mercy Seat that separated God’s people from God’s holiness.
The ark contained the relics collected from the wilderness as Israel wandered before entering the Promised Land.
1) A jar of manna – meaning “What’s that?”
– The provision of food in the wilderness
– Every day manna came – miraculous, generous, continual
2) Arron’s rod – Aaron, Moses’ brother, was chosen by God to be the priest, but others wanted that honor. God had them
put all their rods in a pile. Overnight, Aaron’s rod bloomed and produced fruit. This signified God’s appointment.
3) The tablets of stone written out with the finger of God – the 10 commandments.
Inside the ark was the reminder of Israel’s failure.
1) Despite what God provides, the Israelites rejected God’s provision.
2) The staff reminded them that they had continually rejected God’s authority.
3) And those stone tablets! They had continually rejected God’s right standard of living.
Let me ask you something….
- Have you rejected the same thing?
- Made a mess of your life by not following God’s commands?
- Not submitted – bowed your heart to God’s authority in your life?
- Not accepted God’s provision and instead manipulated life on your own terms?
What kept the people from God’s judgment was the Mercy Seat.
The blood of bulls and goats would strike that covering that separates holiness from sinful mankind.
You who have…
- Been far from God
- Rejected God’s good way of life
- Rejected His authority
- Rejected His provision
- Who are guilty, ashamed, and hiding from God
Because of Jesus, you can come to the throne of God and receive nothing but grace…. because of the Blood!
Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, here is what can happen to your sins today:
- Micah 7:19, “Throw them in the sea.”
- Isaiah 38:17, “Throw them behind His back.”
- Hebrews 8:12, “I will remember no more!”
- Isaiah 43:25, “He will wipe them out.”
The only thing that holds you back today from Jesus is your choice, your pride, your shame, your self-sufficiency.
But the Mercy Seat has been sprinkled!
There is no more shame or sin for those who come.
“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”