Memphis Belle

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Romans 3:24&25


        Romans 3:24-25, "Being justified freely by his grace through redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God." 

        "This morning I would like us to think about what it meant to stand before a Holy God.  I want you to turn to the book of Leviticus.  Leviticus chapter 16, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus.  Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, all of Israel stood wondering whether or not they were good enough to be accepted by God.  Once a year, according to Leviticus 16, one man on the planet could enter into the presence of God in the temple, and bear stepping in through a cloud of incense he put in before, and he would fan the incense before him, he would step into the Holy of Holies, going through the great vale that divided the Holy place from the Most Holy Place.  He would step into that room.  And there he was in the presence of God, a Holy and Righteous God.  And there he would take the blood of the sacrifice that he had offered to God and he would sprinkle the blood once on the top of the Ark of the Covenant, seven times in front of the Ark of the Covenant.  And he would hope and pray that what he had done was enough to save not only his own life, but the life of the whole people of Israel.  On the outside, the people were fearful.  They saw their high priest take off his crown, they saw him take off his jewels, they saw him take off his beautifully embroidered robes and instead he put on just the simple plain white linen robe of a common priest.  They saw him go into the Holy of Holies with a rope tied around his ankle.  That rope was there just in case what the priest offered wasn't acceptable to God.  If it wasn't acceptable to God, then the priest would be struck dead, and you couldn't go in after him.  Any man, any woman, anyone who went into the Holy of Holies uninvited and at the wrong time and without the right sacrifice, that person would be struck dead.  So if the priest dropped dead, you couldn't have a guy go in and rescue him, he'd drop dead, and the guy who went in after him would drop dead, and you'd have a real mess on your hands.  So they tied a rope around his ankle, they really did.  And if they heard a klunk and a censor drop and a bowl of blood fell, they knew it was all over, we're lost.  Drag him out and we're all going to hell.  On the outside, the people waited around the temple.  And in earlier and earlier days, it was the tabernacle, and there they would put on rough clothing, they called it sackcloth.  We call it burlap.  They'd wear that next to their skin.  They'd lift up dust and drop the clods of dust on their heads, symbolizing their sorrow for their sins.  And some of them you would see expressing their grief by beating their chests, and wondering 'Would God accept us?  How can we stand before a Holy God?'  Once a year this happened, every year you'd have to go through this again--'Will God accept me?'  'Will God forgive me?' 'Will God redeem me?'  'Is the sacrifice good enough?'  'Have I confessed enough?'  And there was this wondering and this doubting.  Some of you can relate to that, can't you, wondering whether or not God would accept you.  Leviticus chapter 16 describes how the priests would take a sacrificial animal, and then he would enter inside the veil, verses 15-17, "then he shall slaughter the goat for the sin offering which is for the people, and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with blood of the bull and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat, and he shall make atonement for the Holy place because of the impurities of the sons of Israel and because of their transgressions in regard to all their sins.  And thus he shall do for the tent of meeting which abides with them in the midst of their impurities.  When he goes in to make atonement in the Holy place no one shall be in the tent of meeting until he comes out, that he may make atonement for himself and his household, and for all the assembly of Israel."  A very solemn day.  A very scary thing to have to walk into the Holy of Holies, and there you saw the most awesome piece of furniture that's ever been made by any human being.  You saw the Ark of the Covenant, (and I know, you're all experts on the Ark of the Covenant because we've all seen Indiana Jones searching for the lost ark, right?).  But really, what is this Ark all about?  Why is it so important?  Well the Ark was a picture, you see, of the very throne of God.  That was a crude drawing, a crude human sketch, if you will, of what God's throne in heaven is like.  And so the Holy of Holies was like actually stepping into the throne-room of God.  It was like stepping into judgment day, a very scary thing to do.  Let's look at the Ark of the Covenant for a moment, in Exodus.  Go to the left, Exodus chapter 25 and we see God gave instructions of how the Ark should be made.  The Ark was about the size of a nice size cedar chest.  How many of you have cedar chests at home?  Raise your hands, cedar chests.  So you know, most cedar chests are made, not just to be a chest, but some of them nowadays are made to sit on, aren't they.  They've got a little pad on top, and so their sort of like a seat-chest.  Well the Ark was the same way, it was designed to be a portable chair or seat or throne.  But it was about the size of a cedar chest.  The instructions are that they were to take, verse 10, 'And make a box, an ark of acacia wood, cover that wood on either side with pure gold.  Then they were to make little rings on the four corners of the ark, and they were to take a pole and cover it with gold and slip it through these golden rings, and the way you would carry the chest would be with these two poles.  And then there was to be around the top of the Ark a crown of gold,  and the crown of gold would hold the lid in place.  The lid is described in verse 17, "you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold, two and a half cubits long, one and a half cubits wide, and you shall make two cherubim of gold, and make them hammered work at the two ends of the mercy seat, one cherub at one end, one cherub at the other end, you shall make the cherubim of one piece, with the mercy seat."  This is an awesome piece on top.  The lid was actually this solid slab of gold, and out of that very same slab of gold, two huge cherubim were made.  And artists have tried to depict what the Ark of the Covenant may have looked like, and here is one depiction of the Ark [guess he's holding up a drawing], and as you can see, inside the Ark were the two stone tablets, the Ten Commandments, there was a golden pot of manna, and there was Aaron's rod which budded, and they were placed in the base of the Ark.  Then next piece was the lid, called the mercy seat, and you can see the slab there of pure gold forming a seat or a top, and then the cherubim.What was God doing here?  What is the reason for designing this box and making it the way he did?  Well, God wanted his people to get an idea of what his throne-room was like.  And so his throne-room is filled with angelic beings which he created, and they are called cherubim.  'im is plural, so when you get more than one cherub, you have, not cherub you have cherubim.  And so his throne-room is filled with cherubim, and these are awesome creatures.  Turn to Ezekiel chapter one.  The Bible says over and over again, in 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, a couple of times in Psalms, 'Oh Lord, thou art enthroned above the cherubims, it says that very phrase five or more times in the Old Testament, 'Thou art enthroned above the cherubim.'  In other words, the throne of God is above the cherubim.  Ezekiel, where in earth is Ezekiel?  That's a good question, just keep looking gang, page 808 in my Bible.  Wouldn't that be neat if they all had the pages in the same way, that would be a good idea.OK, Ezekiel chapter 1, Ezekiel had a vision of what these cherubim looked like.  And this is a pretty awesome vision.  When I think of the cherubim, what do you think of?  I think of some fat baby flying through the air, don't you?  Some little baby with a real fat bottom and two stubby wings just sort of buzzing through the air like a bumble bee you know.  And a lot of ladies have these [images] spray painted gold and they're hanging on their wall or around their mirror or something, we use them to decorate with.  'Cherubs, oh when we go to heaven we'll be little cherubs.'  I'm sorry, you don't understand the Bible if you are thinking those are cherubs.  These beings are anything but fat babies, I'll tell you that much.  Look at Ezekiel 1:1, "Now it came about in the thirtieth year on the fifth day of the fourth month, while I was by the river Chebar among the exiles that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God."  Now what did he see?  You're going to see the very throne of God.  And what is conspicuous around the throne of God?  Verse 4 says, "And I looked, and behold a whirlwind was coming up from the north, a great cloud with fire flashing flashing forth continually, a bright light around it, and its midst something like glowing metal in the midst of fire, and within it were figures resembling four living beings."  He doesn't even know what to call them.  They're beings, you know.  [This is God's portable throne, maybe like a starship, who knows, but it moves, it's moving in this description, with four living creatures within it, along with the Lord.]  Never seen anything like them before.  "And this was their appearance, they had human form, each of them had four faces and four wings."  Incredible, you can be two-faced, you can be four-faced.  "And their legs were straight and their feet were like calves hoofs, and they gleamed like burnished bronze.  Under their wings on their four sides were human hands, as to the faces and the wings of the four of them, and their wings touched one another and their faces did not turn when they moved.  Each went straight forward."  Well that's obvious, if you've got four faces you don't have to turn around and look, you're looking already.  'I want to go this way, I want to go that way.'  That's awesome.He goes on, verse 10, "And the form of their faces, each had the face of a man, all had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle."  So they got a man's face, a lion's face, a bull's face, and an eagle's face.  Incredible.  "And such were their faces, and wings were spread out above, each had two touching another being, and two covered their bodies.  And each went straight forward, whenever the spirit was about to go they would go without turning as they would."  Awesome.  [Reading on through verses 13-14 it says, "As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire, and like the appearance of lamps: it went up and down among the living creatures; and the fire was bright, and out of the fire went forth lightning.  And the living creatures ran and returned as the appearance of a flash of lightning."]  Look at chapter 10.  Ezekiel 10, he sees them again in another vision in verse 4 [read verses 15-20 of Ezekiel 1 first, then Ezekiel 10:1-3 for context, to see this is describing the same portable throne of God.]  "The glory of the Lord went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of God." and then look at verse 18, "And the glory of the Lord departed from the threshold of the temple and stood over the cherubim."  Again, all through the Bible the glory of God is above the cherubim.  And then verses 20-22, "These are the living beings that I saw beneath the God of Israel by the river Chebar and I knew that they were cherubim.  Each one had four faces and each had four wings, and beneath their wings was the form of human hands.  As for the likeness of their faces they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the river Chebar, and each went straight ahead."  Now John has another vision.  Thousands of years later he has a vision of the throne room in Revelation chapter 4.  And guess what he sees?  He sees the same cherubim there in the throne of God.  Look at Revelation chapter 4.  Did I say something weird?  Revelation, chapter 4, John, yeah.  He's talking in Revelation.  He records the throne-room worship, and we see that these cherubim not only guard the glory of God and proclaim the Holiness of God, they lead the worship, too, in heaven.  And, verse 5, "from the throne proceeds flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder, and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne was as it were as sea of glass like crystal.  And in the center and all around the throne four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind."--well sure, two, four, six, eight eyes--"And the first creature was like a lion, and the second creature like a calf, and the third like the face of a man, and the fourth creature like a flying eagle."  Now there is no discrepancy here.  Ezekiel got to see that each one of these cherubs had a different face, but John just sees them standing in place.  And he doesn't see them move, so it looks like each one has a different face, but they all have four different faces.  And he just sees from his angle of observation each one of them has a different face.  And he goes on to say that they have the six wings full of eyes around them, within, and verse 8 says, "they do not cease day and night to say 'Holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty who was, who is, and who is to come.  And when the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who sits on the throne, to him who lives forever and ever, then the twenty-four elders will fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever and will cast their crowns before the Lord."  And so this is the worship of heaven.  You go into chapter 5, you see there again they're worshipping the Lamb, and these mighty beings are the guardians of God's throne--his holiest, his special elite guard, you might call it.  Not that he needs them.  He created them.  They are musicians, pare excellence.  We read in Ezekiel 28, verse 14, that Satan was one of these cherubim.  Satan in Ezekiel 28 was one of these.  You want to know what the devil looks like?  You just read a description of him.   Ah, he might have aged some.  I don't know, you know, but it does lend some credence though, to those who've said they've seen the devil, and there's always talk about cloven hoofs, you know and things like that.  If he was a cherub, then his legs do have feet like a cow's.  But it says in verse 14, "You were the anointed cherub who covers and I placed you there.  You were on the holy mountain of God, you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.  You were blameless in your ways from the days your were created until unrighteousness was found in you."  And he talks about how in verse 17, "your heart was lifted up because of your beauty.  You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor, and I cast you to the ground [cf. Luke 10:18], I put you before kings that they may see you."  And then it talks about his doom.  Ah, beautiful creature  there in verse 13.  Verse 12, "Well, son of man, take up lamentation over the king of Tyre."  And here the king of Tyre is a type of Satan.  "Say to him, Thus says the Lord God, you have the seal of perfection, full of wisdom in Eden."  "You were in Eden the Garden of God", obviously that's not the king of Tyre, he wasn't in Eden.  It's talking about Satan.  "Every precious stone was your covering, the ruby, the topaz, the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, the jasper, the lapis lazuli, the turquoise, the emerald, the gold, the workmanship of your settings, your pipes and sockets was in you", some seem to think that he has a built-in pipe organ, Lucifer, who's called the star of the morning, was one of the worship leaders in heaven.  Got to watch out for these worship leaders, you know.  You know, he was an awesome creature, and even to this day the apostle Paul says watch out, because Satan can transform himself into--what?--an angel of light.  So, he was a mighty being.  Well, this isn't what I wanted to share with you today.  You're probably wondering, 'What are we studying today, Mark?'  Well, there is a reason for all of this, because the Ark of the Covenant, when the priest came in and he stood before that Ark, it was like he was standing before God on the day of judgment.  And there it was what looked to him like the throne of God, the cherubim, there was the throne, and at the base of the throne--what was in the bottom of the ark?--the Law, right?  Righteousness and truth were there at the foundation of the throne, and Psalm's says in 89:14, "righteousness and justice are the foundation of thy throne."  And so this whole box, whole throne, it's not really a box, it's a throne.  It was created to show men what God's throne was like.  God, the foundation of his throne is righteousness, the foundation of this box, the foundation of it was the Law, righteousness and truth.  Above it were the holy cherubim, and above that the glory of God would dwell.  What do you do when you're standing before God in judgment?  What do you have to plead?  The priest would come, trembling in.  We're told that he would come in, and that he would actually enter into the Holy of Holies, he would get through the veil, and he would get the incense fanning so that there was this huge thick cloud of incense, and he would just sort of sneak in through that incense.  It's like, 'I'm not really here, it's just this incense, Lord.'  Because the sweet smell of the incense was something God wanted, it represents the righteousness of God [it also, as Revelation brings out, represents the righteous prayers of the saints].  And then he would come with a bowl of blood, trembling he would come.  And you know where he would place that blood on judgment day?  He would place that blood on a place called the Mercy Seat.  The very top of this ark, between the cherubim, on the very top, was the place, encircled by that crown, that is called the Mercy Seat.  The word in Hebrew means "to cover."  It's related to the Hebrew word for "atonement", kafar.  And it means "to cover", and it was the place there the blood of the sacrifice was to be applied, and then they'd wait to see, 'is the sacrifice good enough to forgive us of our sins?--if not, the priest will drop dead, then God will slay us.'   It was a fearful thing that happened every year.  'Well, it's that time of year again.'  I would dread it, wouldn't you?  Every year I would dread, judgment day, not again!--oh when is this going to be over!'   'When can we know for sure?'  'When can we know once and for all that we're accepted by God and we don't have to go through this insecurity and this wondering?'  Oh, for the day when we'll know.'  Now we're ready to go to our text in Romans chapter three. 

        Romans 3, verse 23-25a, "For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in his blood through faith."  You know that the word "propitiation" is translated "mercy seat".  You can translate this, if you look at Hebrews 9:5 it's translated, the same word is translated "the mercy seat."  The word "propitiation" means "a making right with God."  And they use the word to mean "mercy seat" everywhere else in the Old Testament.  In the Greek version of the Old Testament they use the same word for "mercy seat", everywhere.  So we can read it, ".being justified as a gift by his grace through the redemption which is in Jesus Christ, whom God displayed publicly as a mercy seat in his blood through faith."  The question is, 'When will the day come when we can know for sure that we are right with God?'  When can we know and not have this Judgment Day coming up every year, worried and wondering 'Is God going to accept us?'  Saints, the day has come.  God has publicly portrayed Jesus Christ [Yeshua Moshiach] as a mercy seat for our sins.  In other words, God is saying, 'Jesus became the place where the blood would be sprinkled, the place where I would either accept you or reject you.'  Well how do we know whether or not God has accepted Jesus, and us?  We know that by his resurrection from the dead.  There is no doubt according to chapter 4 of Romans, verse 25, "he was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification."  Jesus became the mercy seat for us.  The mercy seat was that which covered the Law.  Right?  You look at this, it covers the Law doesn't it?  Now that's important, because you know what happened once when some guys at a place called Beth Shemesh, they were guys that were very curious.  The ark had been ripped off by the Philistines, they [themselves] had had a terrible experience.  They put the Ark in Dagon's temple, and they would come in, in the morning, and Dagon's statue had been mutilated, and was fallen on its face before the Ark.  And then a lot of other things started happening and they had to buy preparation-H and everything else, because they had some real problems the Bible says.  But anyway, the thing was, they said 'Let's get rid of this Ark.'  And they just let it lose, and they put these oxen in front of it [on a cart they had placed it on], and they just let the oxen take it wherever God would lead them.  Well it came to Beth Shemesh and there some curious guys  decided they wanted to peek in.  'Yeah, I heard the Ten Commandments were in there.  I heard the Manna's in there, I've heard Aaron's Rod is in there--I want to see it, don't you?  Yeah I do too!'  So they lifted the lid of the Ark!  And you know what?  They were struck dead.  In fact, 50,070 of them where struck dead that day, we're told.   The moral of the story is, a sneak peek can hurt.  Right?  No, the moral of the story is, that you can't stand before the Holy Law and not be struck dead.  The wages of sin is what?  Death [Romans 6:23a].  You need something covering the Law for you!  You need the Mercy Seat covering the Law for you.  And when they removed that Mercy Seat [which happens when you lift the lid of the Ark], man, wham!--they were dead, 50 thousand of them!  That's what happens when the Law gets a real chance to strike out at us.  I don't want to stand before the Law on Judgment Day!  I want the Mercy Seat!  Jesus covers the Law.  And when you think about the Mercy Seat, it was pure gold.  Right?  So that when the Law looked up and the Mercy Seat was in place, what did the Law see?  The Law.  Right?  It reflected just like a mirror, it saw itself, and said, 'I'm satisfied, this is great, perfection, perfect, the Law, the Law.'  When God looked down, what did he see?  The blood.  He would look down from above the cherubim and what did he see?  He saw the blood, as he looked through the Mercy Seat he saw the Law, but there sprinkled on the Law was the blood.  In other words, the wages is sin is death, yes, but someone has died.  A life has been given, justice has been satisfied [Romans 6:23, whole verse].  But the glorious thing, gang, it wasn't our blood it was the blood of a sacrifice, it was the blood of a spotless sacrifice, Jesus Christ.  Isn't that neat?  God is so good.  We have a Mercy Seat.  The blood speaks, you see.  You say, 'What do you mean?'  When you go back to Genesis chapter 4, and you see the very first murder, and Cain is jealous over Abel's offering being accepted because Abel offered a lamb, Cain offered his good works, the fruit of his own labor, and God said, 'I can't accept your good works, it's not good enough.'  'But Lord, this is wonderful fruit I've raised.'  God's said,  'It's fruit from a ground I've cursed, I can't accept it.'  And so he rejected Cain's offering, but had favor on Abel's.  This made Cain jealous and he got so mad he killed brother, killed Abel, murdered Abel in such a way that Abel's blood was shed and spilled on the ground.  And the Lord came to Cain and he says, verse 9, "'Where is Abel your brother?'  And he said, 'I don't know, am I my brother's keeper?'  And he said, 'What have you done?  The voice of your brother's blood is crying to me from the ground.'"  You see, the blood speaks, that's what the Bible is telling us.  According to the law first mentioned in the Bible, whenever a topic is first mentioned in the Bible, it will lead you to interpret it that way all through the Bible.  Here the Bible is telling us 'the blood speaks.'  Whenever we see the blood we know that it speaks something to God.  And here was the blood of an innocent victim that had been slain, and his blood was crying out for vengeance, and so God cursed Cain, didn't he?  And the curse, by the way, was not a skin color change, as some bigoted people have tried to make it out to be, it was a mark of some kind that God place on him.  I don't know exactly what the curse was, except that finally God put a mark on him.  Actually it says he was scared because of the curse, he said 'Now I'm going to be a fugitive all my life, and people are going to try to kill me every time they see me.  You've made me a miserable man, I'm going to be murdered by somebody someday.'  And the Lord said, 'Ok, I'll put a mark on you to keep that from happening.'  And actually in Hebrew it says, "The Lord placed a Tao on him", which is the sign of the cross.  And he placed that on Cain.  And that was to protect anyone from coming against him for murdering his brother. [a tiny bit lost in tape transition from side one to side two on master tape] .12, he's talking to Hebrews.  Talking to Jews, trying to help them see that they've got it made with Jesus [Yeshua] now, they don't have to wonder about Judgment Day, because the sprinkled blood has been applied.  They're secure, in Christ.  And in Hebrews chapter 12, he begins this grand climax of his letter.  And the writer of Hebrews says in verse 22, and before that he's just telling them, 'Hey, you haven't come to Judgment, you haven't come to Mount Sinai where judgment is falling, you've come to Mount Zion.  Hallelujah!  I'd rather have the view from Mount Zion any day, than the view from Mount Sinai.  Wouldn't you?  "But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriad's of angels, to the General Assembly and Church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all"--but don't be worried now, don't be worried, you're coming to God, the Judge of all, 'Oh no, we're coming to God, the Judge of all!'  Don't worry [he's got you covered]--verse 24, "and to Jesus, the mediator of a"--what?--"new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel."  You see, as a believer in Christ, I don't have to fear standing before a Righteous and Holy God, because the blood has been sprinkled on the Mercy Seat.  Romans 3:25 says that God has publicly displayed Jesus as a propitiation for my sin, as a Mercy Seat for my sin he [Jesus, Yeshua] covers the Law.  His perfect life perfectly satisfies the Law.  And then he himself became the sacrifice.  He's the priest, he's the sacrifice, he's the altar, he's everything we need.  We've got the package deal with Jesus.  You don't need a human priest.  You have a great high priest, Jesus Christ.  You don't need to bring a sacrifice to God, he is your sacrifice.  You don't need an altar upon which to worship, because he is the altar himself.  He's everything you need.  His blood sprinkled before the throne of God has transformed the throne of God from a throne of judgment to a throne of grace.  Now, it makes sense when we read in Hebrews chapter 4, verse 16, "Let us therefore draw near with"--what?--"confidence to the throne of"--what?  I mean, listen gang, you don't have any idea what revolutionary ideas those were when these guys got this letter.  "Draw near to God with confidence"?  Are you kidding?  Every year it's re-affirmed to us that we can't have confidence-are we going to be accepted or are we going to be rejected?  Is the sacrifice good enough?  I mean, what if that high priest went in there and he had a fight with his wife this morning and didn't confess it before God?  We're all goner's.  What if the animal wasn't absolutely spotless, what if they missed a blemish on the animal.  Then God's gonna go "no way" and we're all going to be dead.  We can draw near with confidence? [The whole set of verses is Hebrews 4:14-16, "Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities: but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."] Yeah, that's one of the words of Christianity, confidence.  Why?  Because what Jesus did for you and for me was enough.  How do I know?  On the cross he cried out "It is finished."  How do I know?  He was raised from the dead three days later.  How do I know?  He's ascended into heaven.  How do I know?  He gave the Holy Spirit and gave gifts to his church.  How do I know?  I've seen him transforming lives today.  What he did was enough.  He's alive, he's alive.  Our salvation is secure.  Israel's never was.  Ours is, because the blood speaks better things than any blood of bulls and goats, or lambs.  The blood of Jesus Christ [Yeshua Moshiach] speak peace to those who've been at war with God.  It speaks mercy to those who have disobeyed.  It speaks perfection to those who are imperfect.  It covers all of our sins.  Like we read, "The blood that Jesus shed for me, way back on Calvary, the blood it reaches to the highest mountain, the blood it flows to the lowest valley."  The blood, that's all you need.  It can make you white, it can make you clean, it can make you pure, it can make you spotless before God right now.  "It soothes my doubts, it calms my fears, and it dries all my tears.  The blood.  What can wash away my sin?  Nothing but the blood of Jesus?  What can give me peace within, nothing but the blood of Jesus.  This is all my righteousness, nothing but the blood of Jesus."  The sprinkled blood has been applied, gang.  The blood is what secures our salvation [just as the blood of the very first Passover lambs, applied to the door posts of the Israelites secured their physical salvation from the death angel, the blood of Jesus secures our eternal salvation from the second death spoken of in Revelation 20].  That with confidence we may draw near to a throne of not wrath, but grace.  When Jesus died, the record indicates that the temple veil that separated people from God's presence [separating the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies] was torn in half from top to bottom.  They don't know how it happened.  I think God sent one of those cherubim with a mighty sword and cut the thing like butter.  It was about eighteen inches thick, that curtain was.  Now, the awesome thing was not that he cut a curtain, but that God himself would open the way for us to come into the Holy of Holies.  For before, it was always, "Stay away, stay away, you'll die if you come near, stay away, you'll die.  You're not right, you're not holy, you're not good enough, stay away!"  Now it's "Come unto me, all you who labor under heavy laden, I'll give you rest."  'You'll find rest for your souls, come, come.  Whoever comes to me, I'll never reject.'  You see, the way into the Holiest has been made by Jesus' blood, Jesus' righteousness, and we can go into the presence of God.  He covers the Law for us.  He covers our sins with his blood.  He makes us right with God.  He's the place where justice and mercy kiss.  He's the place where God provided what he declared himself what we had to have.  We didn't have it, so he made it for us.  It would be as if you owed a fine of $10,000 and the judge said, 'You got to pay it, that's what justice demands!'  You say, 'But I don't have it!'  And it's off to jail for you, the ruin of your family, the ruin of your life.  You can't borrow it, you don't have the money.  And that judge gets off the bench and he goes with you and he goes to the cashier, and he says, follow me.  You follow him, and there he pulls out his own check book, and he writes you a check and he pays in full all your debts.  That's what the judge has done.  The judge has provided what we need.  And so now it makes sense, gang, when you hear that Jesus has become your Mercy Seat, maybe you'll understand it means Judgment Day is over for you.  Hallelujah!  Look at John chapter 5, verse 24.  I was raised in a church that believed that any time, any moment our names could come up in judgment.  And it was a judgment for salvation, it was a judgment weighing my good works and my bad works.  Can you imagine that?  Any moment, we were taught, our names could come up in judgment.  At any moment God could say, 'Mark Martin, (and maybe he would use my social security number, I'm not sure, but) he knew who I was.  And then he would say, 'Let's see the good works.  Now let's see the bad works.'  Gulp.and hopefully in the big giant scale in heaven, you know, my good works would outweigh my bad works.  But I had a pretty good idea they probably wouldn't.  It was so discouraging.  But look at what the Bible says, there's no judgment for you if you believe in Christ.  John chapter 5, verse 24, read it out loud.  "Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life".  Amen!  We've passed out of death.  We never come into judgment for our salvation.  Why?  Because Judgment Day occurred at the cross!  The blood was applied at the cross and was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, and was accepted by God, there is no Judgment Day left.  Unless you are telling me that what Jesus did wasn't good enough [and before making a foolish statement like that, go watch Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of Christ [].  Then I'll tell you that if what he did wasn't good enough, what do you have to offer that's better?  It comes down to your trusting Christ or not trusting in him, because you know you'll never cut it.  I thank God, I put my faith in Jesus.  There's no judgment for me, I have passed out of death and into life.  I am a child of God, the Mercy Seat has blood on it and that's enough.  God rested with that.  God said, 'OK, good.'  Interesting, it was sprinkled just once on the Mercy Seat, and God said, 'Once is enough.  I accept it.'  But seven times in front of the Mercy Seat, seven times for our benefit.  Seven is the number of completion, of perfection, of rest.  In other words, the Lord's saying 'Rest, right here.'  'Rest right here in the blood.  Rest in what the blood has done for you.'  'It's enough for God, once at the end of the ages he has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  It's enough, I God, the ruler of the Universe, I say it's enough.  Oh sinner, oh doubter, oh little faith-er, rest in what the blood has done for you.  It is enough. It's enough.'  I think the whole Mercy Seat idea made a tremendous impact on the early church.  I often wondered what was it that Mary and the disciples saw when they ran to the tomb, and it says they just looked in and they saw and they believed.  And yet it goes on to say that they didn't believe he had risen from the dead.  They didn't understand that he was to be raised from the dead.  And I thought, 'Well what did they believe then?'  Look at John 20, John chapter 20, verse 6, "Simon Peter therefore came following him and entered the tomb and he beheld the linen wrapping was lying there and the facecloth which had been on his head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself.  Then entered therefore the other disciple that"--John describing himself--"who had first come to the tomb, and he saw and believed."  He saw what and believed?  It goes on to say "For as yet they did not understand the Scripture that he must rise from the dead" (verse 9).  I'll tell you what they saw.  Look at verse 11, I'll tell you what they saw, and every Jew that would look in that tomb would immediately see this, that saw that!  'They saw what, Mark?'  Look, John 20 verse 11, "But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping, and so as she wept she stooped and looked into the tomb."  And what did she see, gang?  "two angels in white, sitting one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying."  What those guys had seen was, was they looked in and it was like they had seen 'Ahh, that was just like the Ark of the Covenant!'  Two mighty angels sitting on either side, with the remains of the sacrifice in-between, on the Mercy Seat.  That's what they saw, and they go That's it!-Wow!-They just didn't understand that Jesus' sacrifice was so great that he would rise from the dead.  I mean, that just didn't compute yet.  It's an incredible thought, but that's what they saw.  It wasn't made out of gold or anything, but I looked into that tomb that they think he was buried in, in the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem, and you know what?  It's not a very big space at all, it's just about like the space for a long cedar chest, very narrow, and if you put two mighty angels on either side of it, sitting there like this, you would have shades of the Mercy Seat, shades of the Ark, seeing those linen wrappings there where the blood would have been sprinkled on the real Mercy Seat.  You know, maybe that's what they saw and believed.  But you know what you're going to see in heaven?  You know what's going to be your joy in heaven?  Let's turn now to Revelation 5.  Wait, before you go there, stop off at 1 John.  1 John 2:1-2, it's right before Revelation.  Ok, 1 John 1:1-2, "My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin.  And 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 those of the whole world."  And what did I say you could translate that word as?  Let's read it that way, verse 2, altogether, "And he himself is the Mercy Seat for our sins, and not for ours only but also for those of the whole world."  Let's do it again in 1 John 4:10.  Read it together and we'll substitute propitiation for Mercy Seat.  Chapter 4, verse 10.  Ready, let's go.  "And this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his son to be the Mercy Seat for our sins."  Wow.  Now, you know what you're going to see in heaven?  You're going to see Jesus Christ, standing in the midst of the throne, like a Lamb that has been slain.  When we get to heaven, we're going to see the throne of God, which the Ark was designed on, and you're going to see Jesus standing where the blood was sprinkled, you're going to see him standing there.  How awesome it is to think that not only do we have the Savior's sprinkled blood before God, we have the Savior before God, who's alive.  We don't just have blood before God, we have a living Savior, an Advocate with the Father before God right now.  He speaks, you see, his blood speaks better things, because he is speaking, he's alive.  Isn't that neat?  Ok, Revelation, chapter 5 of Revelation, verse 6, "And I saw between the throne the four living creatures [cherubim] and the elders, a lamb standing as if slain."  [Talk about Passover lamb analogies!]  He's standing in heaven for you, the precious Lamb of God.  His shed blood, his glorious life should sooth your doubts, calm your fears, dry your tears.  Because the blood that Jesus shed for you, it will never, never, never lose its power."  [This is a transcript of a sermon given by J. Mark Martin of Calvary Community Church, P.O. Box 39607, Phoenix, AZ  85069.]


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