I doubt there are very few folks in the “civilized” world who have never heard the hymn Rock of Ages Cleft for Me. Many biblical references apply to this Hymn, but none greater than that found in our main text for today Exodus 33:21-23.
¹As the young minister traveled through the rugged country near England’s Cheddar Gorge, the clouds burst and torrential sheets of rain pummeled the earth. The weary traveler was able to find shelter standing under a rocky overhang. There, protected from the buffeting wind and rain, Augustus Toplady conceived one of the most popular hymns ever written, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.”
In Chapter 33 Moses has had to once again intercede on behalf of the Jewish people. While conversing with God (think on that for a moment) he asks to see God. God grants his request with conditions that Moses cannot look upon God’s face, His full Glory, or Moses would die. The solution is God will put Moses in a protected spot (Cleft of the Rock) and ensure his safety.
This is applicable today in two ways, First EVERY believer is hidden in the Cleft of the Rock, that is Christ. He alone bore and hides all our sins and keeps us safe from the righteous wrath of God. Second, EVERY time a believer goes to God in prayer God, just like he did for Augustus Toplady provides shelter from the storm. It may not be a physical shelter or even the type we expect but it is always shelter that God designs (He is sovereign) for our best interest and His Glory.
Today instead of prayer, I offer another great Hymn, this one from Fanny Crosby for Contemplation and Worship:
The Mercy Seat of God really is more like a lid topping the Ark of the Covenant than an actual Chair or seat that we would relate to today. Yet we must remember this in CONTEXT of where the Jewish nation was when God instructed them to build it Exodus 25:17-22 (also see Heb 3:3-5) They were in their desert wandering days and God was leading them as a Cloud and Fire so the “seat” is symbolic. Here God was supposed to be seated, and from this place He was supposed to dispense mercy to man when the blood of the atonement was sprinkled there.¹
I have heard some modern-day believers say so what this no longer applies to “us.” Let me tell you MERCY applies to everyone. Yes, we (Jews and Christians) no longer make blood sacrifices to God for atonement but we still need a blood sacrifice for atonement.
In Romans Chap 3 Paul carefully lays out the case for ALL MANKIND being totally entrenched in sin v.1-8 and their need for atonement to be seen or presented as righteous before God. That no one can save themselves from such sin and be justified (atoned) before God v.9-20. Only the free Grace of God and faith in the redeeming Savior Christ can set us free, yet the LAW still remains v.21-31.
This brings us to our text for today Romans 3:21-26. Here again, Paul is clear and concise:
God’s righteousness is separate from the law
God’s righteousness is revealed by the law and prophets
All of mankind is separated from God’s righteousness because of sin
God’s righteousness comes to us by faith in Christ Jesus
Christ Jesus paid the atonement for our sins by His blood at Calvary
It is Christ’s blood upon the Mercy Seat that allows you and I to be freed from the bondage of sin and justified before God.
Thank You Father – thank You for my salvation. Thank You that His death that gave me life and reconciled me to You forever. Thank You that He took my sin and clothed me in His righteousness. Thank You that He is the propitiation for my sins and took Your wrath upon Himself so that I might have peace with You and receive the peace that passes understanding forever and ever into my life, in Jesus name I pray, AMEN. Source: https://prayer.knowing-jesus.com/Romans/3
What is the mercy seat?¹
What is the Mercy Seat?
Ephesians 3:20-21 (KJV) Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 20Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Today’s bible verse reminded me of something very important that Pastor Tiago mentioned in his message yesterday Sermon Unity in Truth (Joshua 22). Why is it people attend church? Let us move beyond the biblical command for fellowship (Hebrews 10:25) since many today deny that anyway. What is it that motivates folks to get up on Sunday and go to church?
Or maybe the question should be put; whom are you attending church for? Are you attending church for yourself to get “something” out of it? Did you settle on the church you are in because it gives you the best “experience” each Sunday? Maybe it is because you believe you can really feel the Holy Spirit moving in that place or you believe it is the best place for your children (tons of activities, games and a rock wall, etc.)
Did you catch the error in the theme of the previous paragraph? The focus for church attendance is YOU and not GOD! The bible make it very clear that God created man for His Glory Isaiah 43:7 “Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him.” Many have disagreed over the years on what it means to glorify God, but none can deny it means putting God first in everything especially church.
We should not go to church for ourselves but to Glorify God. We should not pick a church for the primary reason that it edifies self but that our attendance Glorifies God. Church for your children should not just be a place of fun and games (although that can be a part of it) put a place of learning to Glorify God even at a very young age. Every time we put the focus on us or our children, instead of God we; rob God of the Glory due Him Psalm 115:1 “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.“
So as Paul reminded the church at Corinth I too pass on this to you: 1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”