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Jul 2013

Approach My Soul, the Mercy Seat

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. – Hebrews 9:24-26

My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things — that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior. – John Newton

This Sunday we will be introducing a new song to our Sunday gathering entitled Approach My Soul, the Mercy Seat, inspired by John Newton’s original hymn of the same name, and featured on Jamie Barnes’ EP The Mercy Seat.

In the Old Testament, the Ark of the Covenant was a symbol of the relationship God had with His people. He was their God, and despite their continued unfaithfulness, they were His people. The ark was housed inside the Temple’s innermost sanctuary, the Holy of Holies, as the ark was associated with the presence of God. The “mercy seat” was an object that rested on the ark between two golden statues of cherubim, forming a seat for God (Exodus 25:18-21). The Holy of Holies could only be entered by a priest who was to sprinkle the blood of a sacrificial bull onto the mercy seat, as an atonement for himself and the people of God. This was a way of honoring the covenant, remembering who God is and what He had done for them in delivering them from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

But God sent a greater sacrifice, his son Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb, whose blood was the blood of the new covenant. It was poured out as a sacrifice on the cross, covering the mercy seat as an offering to appease God’s wrath. And this is the great promise of God that we can now cling to: that Jesus took our sin upon himself, he died in our place, and he was raised to new life where he sits at the right hand of God interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:34). Jesus satisfied the holy, righteous demands of God against sin. Through the death of Jesus, a holy God and helpless man like myself can now meet and have fellowship. Jesus is our mercy seat.

Approach My Soul, the Mercy Seat is a call to remember this great truth, to remember what our God has done for us. To remember the covenant he has made with us through his son Jesus. We are to remember this because it is our only plea before a Holy God:

Approach my soul, the mercy seat
Where Holy One and helpless meet
There fall before my Judges’ feet
Thy promise is my only plea, O God

God is the Holy One, the righteous Judge. We are helpless, filled with sin and grief. When we come before God’s presence, our only plea is the promises God has made to us in Jesus. We are to remember this because it is the very power of God to lift us from the clutch of sin, relieve us from fear and grief, and protect us from the lies and schemes of Satan:

Send wings to lift the clutch of sin
You who dwell between the cherubim
From war without and fear within
Relieve the grief from the shoulders of crumbling men

Fashion my heart in your alchemy
With the brass to front the devil’s perjury
And surefire grace my Jesus speaks
I must. I will. I do believe. O Lord.

You can listen to Approach My Soul, the Mercy Seat below by clicking the video, and you can purchase and download the full song by clicking here. I pray that we would be reminded of our great need for a Savior. I pray that we would see our sin as the grave matter that it is. And I pray that we would respond in thanksgiving to the amazing grace of God who rescues helpless individuals from the depths of sin, and leads them to the “one name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12),” the Lord Jesus Christ.

O God – Pour out your mercy to me. My God, Oh what striking love to bleed.



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