Bezalel builds the furniture for the tabernacle, which includes the ark of the covenant. The ark will hold the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, the pot of manna (Exodus 16:33-34), and Aaron’s budding rod (Numbers 17:10-11). On top of the ark is the mercy seat where the Lord said “there I will meet with you, and I will speak with you from above the mercy seat” (Exodus 25:22).
God will show His mercy when the blood of sacrificial animals is sprinkled on the mercy seat, atoning for the sins of the people. Remember that the sacrificial system in the Old Testament points to the arrival of the Ultimate Sacrifice, Jesus Christ. In Greek, the word for “mercy seat” is “hilasterion,” which translates into “propitiation” in the New Testament. According to Wikipedia, “propitiation is the act of appeasing or making well-disposed a deity, thus incurring divine favor or avoiding divine retribution.” And why is this significant? Later in the story John, a disciple of Jesus, will say, “if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world” (1 John 2:1-2). And after Jesus’ death and resurrection, we will meet Paul, who will say “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:23-26).
The mercy seat points to the coming Savior whose blood will be shed as the final sacrifice to restore whomever believes in Him to His Father. But in the meantime, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest will enter the Most Holy Place and sacrifice animals to atone for the sins of the people per the Lord’s instructions – “This shall be an everlasting statute for you, to make atonement for the children of Israel, for all their sins, once a year” (Leviticus 16:34). We will read more about the Day of Atonement soon.
Tomorrow the glory of the Lord is going to fill the tabernacle, so keep reading! (Exodus 37:1-39:31)