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The Mercy Seat

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An interesting detail, floated down through Jewish oral tradition, is that, though the Ark was quite heavy, the priests who transported it actually felt no weight at all. If that is true, the mercy of God manifested at the Mercy Seat actually made their burden weightless. Is that not indeed what God’s mercy does in our lives? All of this detail leads us to focus on the most significant part of the Ark of the Covenant. That was, without question, the Mercy Seat. Let’s examine it more closely.

By Robert E. Henson

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Exodus 25:9-11; 16-22 states:

“According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.

And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, within and with¬out shalt thou overlay it, and shalt make upon it a crown of gold round about.”

“And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee.

And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.

And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.

And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.

And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.

And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel.”

The most fascinating piece of furniture in the Old Testament house of worship, which was called the Tabernacle, was the Ark of the Covenant. It was a unit of considerable complexity. The basic box itself was not imposing in size. It measured 45-60 inches in length, 27-36 inches in width, and its height was also 27-36 inches. However, due to the extensive use of gold, the Ark of the Covenant was apparently quite heavy.

The basic storage area was made of acacia or shittim wood and was overlaid within and without with pure gold. In addition to the basic box, there was an ornate crown molding, also made of gold.

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