And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat. 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.
And you shall make two cherubim of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at one end, and the other cherub at the other end; you shall make the cherubim at the two ends of it of one piece with the mercy seat. And the cherubim shall stretch out their wings above, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and they shall face one another; the faces of the cherubim shall be toward the mercy seat.
The cherubim were to be made as a part of the mercy seat, not made separately and soldered onto it. The idea is that this lid would be made with the cherubim as one piece so that they were inexplicably linked together.
They were to be placed on each end of the mercy seat with their wings covering the lid while they faced each other but directing their attention towards the middle of the mercy seat.
The use of and meaning for the cherubim is debated and there are roughly three main views.
1. They symbolically represent the Godhead (Father, Son, and Spirit)
2. They represent all of redeemed humanity (Jew and Gentile)
3. They represent actual angels as those who guard the tree of life(Genesis 3:24) and those created in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 6:23-28).
These angels were also some form of divine chariot. (Psalms 18:11, 2 Samuel 22:11, Ezekiel 10:15-20)
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.
The Testimony or the two tablets was to be placed inside the ark before the ark was sealed by the mercy seat.
The implication of this is that the Testimony was for Israel. It not only was a testimony concerning their duty to live by its standards as God’s chosen people but also a testimony against them when they violated its standards.
This was not something to be taken lightly. The God of the universe, the one true God, had chosen these people as His. He had reached out of eternity and specified how He wanted them to live and interact in His government.
This testimony was placed inside the ark and this lid was its covering. This also tells us that what is inside the ark and under the mercy seat requires mercy. This testimony that blesses and can curse was sealed inside the ark and under the mercy seat. It also implies that this testimony will be broken.
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.
The word for “meet,” is “yaad” and it means “to appoint, to designate.” This was the designated point of meeting between God and not all of Israel. The use of the word “you” is singular. This was the meeting place of God and one chosen to meet with Him. Moses at first, then eventually the High Priest.
Gods presence would be above the mercy seat, in between the cherubim wings and the spot where they were looking. This is the very place where He would speak. The place where His Word would go out.
As we have seen before, the ark is a picture of Jesus. We get an even more complete picture now that we see the Testimony being placed within the ark.
In this we see that the ark is also a picture of His death. Jesus died even though He was incorruptible and fully God.
The tablets represent the entire Law being placed inside the ark.
This pictures Christ embodying the Law. He is the fulfillment of the Law.
Yet, without His death, the Law couldn’t be considered fulfilled.
In His death we see a new covenant coming into place where the Law was fulfilled for us as we are granted mercy from the Law. He is the place where propitiation is restored with God and man
Jesus fully answers each demand of the Law
His blood covers us from the curse of the Law and from sin.
For Israel, once a year a priest would enter the Holy of Hollies and sprinkle blood from a sacrificed animal, usually a lamb, to atone for the sins of Israel.
This Day of Atonement continued as an instrument of God’s covenant with Israel all the way to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD.
The most telling picture of Christ as our meeting place with the Father and for His work in grace and mercy is captured in John as we see the representation of the outcome of the sprinkling of the mercy seat once and for all.
(Matt. 28:1–10; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:1–12)
Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”
Peter therefore went out, and the other disciple, and were going to the tomb. So they both ran together, and the other disciple outran Peter and came to the tomb first. And he, stooping down and looking in, saw the linen cloths lying there; yet he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes.
But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb. And she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. Then they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”
Now when she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?”
She, supposing Him to be the gardener, said to Him, “Sir, if You have carried Him away, tell me where You have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”
Jesus said to her, “Mary!”
She turned and said to Him, “Rabboni!” (which is to say, Teacher).
Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ ”
Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that He had spoken these things to her.
We see three things here.
1. Jesus as the Lamb of God
The sprinkling of blood on the mercy seat was required yearly for Israel as atonement for sin. This was a pictorial lesson that the earthly sacrifice was not what man needed. The blood of animals as well as the earthly priesthood was temporary and limited.
Jesus is the Lamb of God whose shed blood was a complete atonement for sin. He died physically once and for all for not only Israel but for all mankind.
2. Jesus as the Person and presence of God in earth.
When Mary looked into the tomb, she saw the two angels sitting at the head and feet area where Jesus had been laid to rest, just as we see in the mercy seat. Yet Jesus was not there.
In Matthew 28 it tells us that three angels were there and that one tells the two Marys that Jesus is not there. He had risen.
Here in John Mary weeps because she doesn’t know where the body of Jesus is.
She is very much like Ezekiel and Israel as eventually God’s presence would be gone out of the Temple.
Then the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim. And the cherubim lifted their wings and mounted up from the earth in my sight. When they went out, the wheels were beside them; and they stood at the door of the east gate of the Lord’s house, and the glory of the God of Israel was above them.
This was the result of the nation and it’s leaders idolatry.
After the exile in Babylon, those returning under the leadership of Ezra endeavored to rebuild the Temple and restore it to its former glory.
Sadly nowhere is it mentioned that God’s presence and glory return when they finished.
Now we almost see the same thing as Jesus is nowhere to be found.
Yet Mary sees and speaks with the risen Jesus, then later the disciples see and touch our Lord and Savior.
He is present and His presence is no longer in one physical place. He meets with us through the Holy Spirit.
His presence meets with us in our hearts and mind as we are now His temple.
3. He has ascended yet He will return.
When the disciples look into the tomb, they see the face cloth used to cover the face of Jesus, rolled up or folded by itself. The prominent story for what this represents has been the this:
When a master is eating in his house and he stops for some reason (a visitor comes to the door) he will do one of two things to let his servant know where he is with his food.
He will either place his napkin over the food indicating that he done.
Or he will fold his napkin by his plate indicating that he is not done and he will return.
While this works out well in this scenario and gives a great illustration for us that our Master Jesus Christ is coming back; I must admit that there is nothing that confirms this tradition.
Another story is that of a carpenter. A rolled up handkerchief was a sign to a client that the work was done and the carpenter was coming back to settle the account.
Sadly we can’t be for sure that either of these was true but I believe that this incident was placed there and mentioned by the Spirit for a reason.
Even if it is simply a sign for us that what had happened was orderly, voluntary, and finished at the moment.
Either way we have a perfect picture of the precious blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ