All the time that the history of the Jews was going on, the mercy-seat and the cherubim that covered it were still witnessing to the children of Israel that God was in the midst of them. So the words, ‘There I will meet with thee,’ stood from generation to generation.
I. The New Testament, like the Old, is written to explain these words.—The New Testament declares that He for whose appearance the Jewish worshippers longed has appeared. The New Testament tells us that in His Son God has met men and has reconciled them unto Himself. The lessons of the New Testament take up all the words and lessons of the Old Testament, all that is written about the cherubim and the mercy-seat. They say, ‘All this is now, not for Israelites, but for men, for men in the farthest ends of the earth.’ If you turn to the last book of the Bible, you will find the Book of Genesis appearing again there, a nobler tree of life than that of the garden of Eden, which is not guarded by angels, but the fruit of which all are invited to taste. You will find the Book of Exodus again there. You will hear of the tabernacle of God being with men, and of His dwelling with them and being their God. You will find some of the latest words in the book those which have gone through the whole of it,—‘Worship God.’
II. Worship means that God is meeting us and drawing us to Himself, that He has sent His Spirit into the world and established His Church in the world for the very purpose of bringing all to Him. This is the message that the Bible has brought to men in past ages; this is the message that it brings to them now.
Rev. F. D. Maurice.
(1) ‘God has established a Way by which the humblest and least worthy may draw near and consult Him at all times. The study of the Ark, the Mercy-seat, the Cherubim, the Holy of Holies, and the means by which approach could be made to the hidden Presence, will help us to comprehend something of the blessed offices of our great High-Priest, and of the wonders of that “new and living Way” by which we have “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus.” The symbolism of each detail should, therefore, be studied with care.’
(2) ‘The Israelites were not yet ready for the full revelation of the “boldness and access” to God which was made possible through Jesus Christ. But that access was symbolised and foreshadowed.’
(3) ‘What care, what minute accuracy, appears in every line of this specification! Nothing is left to chance. More space is given to it than to the story of creation; and surely we can detect the Mind that wrought in the creation of the heavens and the earth; the same order, precision, close attention to detail, and love of beauty. Moses was but the executor of the Divine Will, the mechanic working according to the pattern of the Divine Draughtsman.
Probably there are other plans, of which this is a specimen, in the execution of which we are deeply implicated. The plan of our life, the plan of our work in the world, the plan of the Church, these also are delineated with unfaltering accuracy; and it is in proportion as we conform to them with minute obedience, that we can count on the Divine indwelling. Is it for a moment credible that God would have indwelt the Hebrew Tabernacle, if Moses had presumptuously departed from the Divine pattern? When the structure stood complete, would not the Shekinah have been missing? Must not Moses have been compelled to cancel his modifications, and revert to God’s perfect scheme, as the condition of His advent? Here we may stay and ponder our own life-story!’