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A New Covenant
The Mercy Seat

Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

Psalm 33:6 By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.

Psalm 148:4-6 Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens!  Let them praise the name of the LORD! For he commanded and they were created.  And he established them forever and ever; he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away. 

Before the beginning, YHWH created the universe.  14 Billion, or so, years ago, our God commanded and the universe sprang into existence.  Praise the Lord… for He spoke moons, and planets, and stars and black holes and solar systems and constellations and over a one hundred billion galaxies into existence.

His presence is throughout the universe!

4.5 million or so, years ago… 

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Genesis 1:1-2 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 

Jeremiah 32:17 Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who has made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Genesis 1:31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 

At the beginning, YHWH created our world.  Praise the Lord… for He spoke oceans and mountains and deserts and jungles and sunsets and valleys and all the beauty of our earth into existence.

His presence is throughout all the earth.  

Some undetermined, or so, years ago…

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Genesis 1:27-28 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.  And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over… every living thing.”

Genesis 2:8-9 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.  And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. 

Genesis 3:8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

God created a Garden.  He made humans… with all of our wonderful pieces-parts.  Then, then, He walked with us in the cool of the evening.  

God’s presence was with Adam and Eve in the Garden.

4000, or so, years ago…

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God made a covenant with Abraham.  A covenant to bless the earth.  A covenant that was passed on to his son and to his son and then to a family. YHWH expanded this covenant to be for a nation. 

Exodus 19:2-6 There Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel." 

This nation; the children of Israel, the Israelites, or simply Israel, were to be a kingdom of priests.  They were to represent YHWH to the all the people of the earth.  They were to be his holy nation… for all the earth is mine!  For all the earth is mine.

His presence in the Universe, throughout the earth, with humans, to a family, to a nation.  God wanted to be present with his people, again. 

So, 3,500 years or so, ago YHWH had Israel build a tent for his presence.

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Exodus 26:30-34 Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain.  And you shall make a veil of blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen. It shall be made with cherubim skillfully worked into it.  And you shall hang it on four pillars of acacia overlaid with gold, with hooks of gold, on four bases of silver.  And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony (The ark of the covenant) in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.

Exodus 13:21-22 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.  The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

God walked with his people again, well sort of.  Perhaps, not like he did with Adam and Eve in the Garden. But He traveled with his people. Whenever the cloud or the fire would move the nation of Israel followed. 

God’s presence was with his treasured possession, his people… in a Tent.

Within the Tent, His presence was with the Ark of the Covenant.

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Exodus 25:10-11 They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height.  You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it. 

The Ark of the Covenant was an amazing artifact… Remember…

--Ark of the Covenant’s presence led the Israelites across the Jordan…

--Ark of the Covenant’s presence conquered Jericho…

--Ark of the Covenant’s presence was captured by the Philistines in the days of Eli.

--Then. it was carefully returned. The Philistines did not want the Ark of the Covenant’s presence, anymore.

--Its presence fried the careless Uzzah

--Its presence was brought to Jerusalem by David.

--Solomon placed the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple.

--Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Nazis and is now in a secret government warehouse… not really.

His presence was focused on the Ark of the Covenant. 

But, His presence is more concentrated on… the Mercy Seat.

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Exodus 25:17-20 You shall make a mercy seat of pure gold. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its breadth.  And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work shall you make them, on the two ends of the mercy seat.  Make one cherub on the one end, and one cherub on the other end. Of one piece with the mercy seat shall you make the cherubim on its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings…

The “mercy seat” is the Hebrew word is “kapporeth”. It is found 27 times in the OT. It is derived from the Hebrew, “kaphar”, which means “to cover”. Thus, “kapporeth” is the cover of the ark.  But the meaning of mercy is to cover!  It is the seat of covering. His mercy covered His people!  The presence of YHWH was a covering of mercy over the people!

God’s presence with his people was found in the mercy seat on the top on the Ark of the Covenant.  This was God’s way of being able to walk with his people.  The Jews called the presence of the LORD on the Mercy Seat… the Shekinah.  The word shekinah does not appear in the Bible, but the concept clearly does. Jewish rabbis coined this extra-biblical expression to express the divine presence on the mercy seat.  The glory; the Shekinah of YHWH was his presence with the people on the top of the Ark of the Covenant!

That is cool.  Come on that’s cool… The Shekinah is God’s glory on the mercy seat.  Cool?

2,000, or so, years ago… God cut a new Covenant… His Shekinah became even… cooler. 

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The Gospel of Matthew records an odd event at the death of Jesus.

Matthew 27:51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.

This curtain that kept the Shekinah of YHWH contained in the Most Holy Place was torn wide open.  The Shekinah of the LORD was released from the Tent.

Hebrews 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Christ moved through the Temple; through the copy, to take us with him to the reality of the presence of God!  The new covenant, cut with his blood, allows us to be in the presence of God continually!

Ephesians 2:18-22 For through Jesus we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So, then, you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.   In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place (Shekinah) for God by the Spirit.

In the universe, here on earth, as the people of God, we become the temple of God. Each of us, individually, and all of us, together, become the dwelling place, the place of presence, the Shekinah of YHWH.  We of the New Covenant live in the presence of God.  We are the Temple.  Within in us is the Shekinah of God… in here, inside, within us. 

His presence is with people of the New Covenant!

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So, today, or so, we live in His presence...

--Our worship is done directly… we live in the glory of His universe. We worship…

--Our words are spoken from His presence just as he spoke the world into existence.  We speak with Him in the world.

--Our joy brings Him joy as he walks with us in the cool of the evening.  Go for a walk with God.

--Our guidance is from Him… his fire/cloud moves and we move.  We listen to His movement within us!

--Our prayers go straight to Him.  We live in the Most Holy Place. Our prayers don’t travel far.

--Our acts of mercy are done from His Mercy Seat… we cover others.  We live to cover the flaws of others.  We live in mercy. 

--Our glory is His glory as we live in the Shekinah!

In the New Covenant we live in His Presence!

 

Tim Stidham

June 16, 2019

Los Alamos Church of Christ



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Los Alamos Church of Christ - 2323 Diamond Drive - Los Alamos, New Mexico - 87544 - (505) 695.5875