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By Elder Joel Jackson

In the last study, we looked at the earthly sanctuary which God gave to the children of Israel on behalf of humanity. With its three compartments, the compact lesson book was to teach men how God would place enmity (or, hatred) between themselves and Satan. Before beginning the current study on the sin offering, let’s peer behind the final veil of the tabernacle into the most holy place.

The Most Holy Place
 

The most holy place was the dwelling place of God. So sacred was this compartment that only the high priest could enter into it, and only on one day of the year during the solemn service of the Day of Atonement. The most holy place contained a single piece of exquisite furniture; a box-like container called The Ark of the Covenant.

The ark was a cuboidal chest made of acacia wood overlaid inside and outside with gold and, like the altar of incense and the table of showbread, was ringed with a crown of gold about the top. The ark was created as the depository for the Ten Commandments; hence it was also called the ark of the Testament, since the Ten Commandments were the basis of the covenant made between God and Israel. In later years, the ark also became the receptacle for the golden pot of manna and Aaron’s rod that budded. The cover of the ark was called the mercy seat. This was crafted from a solid piece of gold, surmounted by two golden cherubim standing opposite to each other on either end of the mercy seat. One wing of each angel was stretched over the ark, while the other was folded over the body in reverence and humility. The position of the cherubim, with their faces looking reverently downward toward the ark, represented the reverence with which the heavenly host regard the law of God. Above the mercy seat, between the cherubim, was the Shekinah Glory, the visible manifestation of the divine Presence of God. It was here that God made known His will to Israel. 

Interestingly, we notice that the ark itself was a wooden box overlaid with gold while its cover, the mercy seat, was made from a solid piece of gold. In this seemingly insignificant difference we find an amazing lesson. The mercy seat with its two cherubim and the abiding presence of the Shekinah Glory represented the throne of God in Heaven; but the ark, with its wooden, biodegradable internal structure coated with pure gold, represented none other than Christ, the “ark” of God. Of Christ it was prophesied, “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8. Additionally, as the ark rested on the dusty earth of the sanctuary floor, it provided a continuous connection between the mercy seat and the earth. Similarly, Jesus, the One in whom all things in Heaven and earth are reconciled to each other, is the bridge between humanity and the presence of God. 

“I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” Psalm 40:8
 

Beautifully, Ellen White tells us, “The Law of God, enshrined within the ark, was the great rule of righteousness and judgment. That law pronounced death upon the transgressor; but above the law was the mercy seat, upon which the presence of God was revealed, and from which, by virtue of the atonement, pardon was granted to the repentant sinner. Thus in the work of Christ for our redemption, symbolized by the sanctuary service, ‘mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ Psalm 85:10.” Patriarchs and Prophets, pg. 349.