By M.D. Crutchfield
One night in 1935, Fiorello H. La Guardia, mayor of New York City, showed up at a night court in the poorest ward of the city. He dismissed the judge for the evening and took over the bench. One striking situation involved an elderly woman who was charged with stealing that she might feed her grandchildren. After hearing the evidence, the “judge for a night” said, “I’ve got to punish you. That will be ten dollars or ten days in jail.” The gavel cracked atop the desk.
As he spoke, he threw $10 into his hat. He then fined everyone in the courtroom fifty cents for living in a city “where a person has to steal bread so that her grandchildren can eat”. The hat was passed around and the woman left the courtroom with her fine paid and an additional $47.50.
Someone wrote, “Thank God for mercy, for all have been the recipients of mercy. A saint who forgets the mercy of God will soon lose the spark of thankfulness and the true spirit of worship.” I believe that many today have a misunderstanding of what God had purposed through the Law, much like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. (Remember it was Habakkuk 2:4 that first told us that The Just shall live by his faith. In Exodus 34:6, we read for the first time where God used language to describe Himself as MERCIFUL!)
God intended to have mercy in the implementing of the Law. Unfortunately, the oft-rebellious Israelites saw more of the judgment side of God, not because of what God desired, but because of their propensity to sin. Jesus was fighting this misconception when He told the Pharisees that mercy was a weightier matter of the Law. Note the construction of the central piece of furniture in the Tabernacle; the Ark of the Covenant. The Law (The Tables of Stone) was inside the Ark, underneath a lid called “The Mercy Seat.” Praise the Lord! Even under the Old Covenant, the righteousness of the Law was covered with Mercy. When God spoke to Moses, He spoke from above the Mercy Seat, not from the Law! The Law is good and right, but God’s plan is that it is to rest under a buffer of Mercy.
The problem with removing the covering of Mercy is that the pure righteousness & judgment of the Law is exposed to all. In a sense, that is what happened when the Pharisees brought the adulterous woman to Jesus to be stoned. When their chief demanded that the judgment of the Law be performed upon her, they unwittingly exposed themselves to the judgment of the Law.
When the Ark returned from Philistia, the men of Bethshemesh were excited and looked into the Ark. (The Mercy Seat had to have been moved, in order for them to look in at the Law.) God smote over fifty thousand men that day; men who had removed the mercy that covered the Law! A cry arose from Bethshemesh that day, Who is able to stand before this Holy God? What they needed was a High Priest with blood so that the judgment of the Law would be satisfied.
Today, we have such a High Priest carrying blood that has satisfied the demands of Justice upon a seat of Mercy.
Jesus is our High Priest, and the Blood He carries is His own.