The Mercy Seat – The Doctrine of Propitiation


The Mercy SeatThe Doctrine of Propitiation (God is totally satisfied with the substitutionary death of Christ for us). GOD IS SATISFIED! ARE YOU?


The object of this ministry is to exhort you as a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, to read your own Bible using this study to help you understand and be challenged by ancient history and worship, bearing in mind that God provided the Old Testament for Divine purposes — these purposes were designed for your personal knowledge, today. If God thinks the Old Testament is imperative, maybe you should too. Rethink your attitude towards the Old Testament.

A prayer to start us off “Thank you Father for the knowledge of all these wonderful things, which form a large part of who we are today. Help us understand Your grace towards Israel and towards us. Thank you father for preserving Biblical History so we can know you and understand your patience and love and justice towards all your people and creation. Your Word is priceless, as Jesus demonstrated on Calvary. We pray that we will be extremely challenged by these things as the Holy Spirit directs our thoughts and understanding. Help us Lord to relive the Exodus with the ancient Hebrew people. In Jesus Name we pray.  Amen.”

Outline of Exodus: Please take time to read the Book of Exodus as you read and refer back to this summary study. We recommend that you read Exodus using the following outline as your guide. 

First session: The Exodus 1:1-4:31.

Second session: God Delivers Israel from Egypt  5:1 – 15:21.

Third session: The journey to Mt. Sinai  15:22 – 18:27.

Fourth session: God’s Covenant and the Law 19:1 – 24:18.

Fifth session: The Tabernacle, it’s Purpose and Ministry 25:1 — 40:38.

Propitiation incorporates both the sinless life of Christ, and Christ’s sacrificial death (offering) on the Cross, as payment for our sins, and God’s total satisfaction. (Blood sacrifice in the Old and New testament is symbolic of spiritual death which is not visible). 

In ancient times the common man was illiterate. Worship and the everyday study of God’s Word was verbal. God’s Word was handed down from generation to generation until eventually it began to be written on parchment by gifted scribes.  

The Hebrew people were nomadic, therefore the Tabernacle was portable for travel through the wilderness. The Ark of the Covenant became the Mercy Seat. It was a high honor to be selected to carry the Mercy Seat.

The Mercy Seat and the Ark of the Covenant were forms of shadow worship regarding God’s promised salvation for man, which the Lord God first promised as He spoke to Satan in Genesis 3:15. God pronounced Satan’s doom and the Messiah’s victory, so that the Israelites and all mankind throughout all generations of history could watch God fulfill His Word by His Son. You cannot get to the Father except through the Son (John 14:6).  

The Bible proves God and convicts the world of sin, thereby revealing our need for His Son. Everything in Scripture points to God’s Son — Messiah, who would give His life for us to have His Eternal Life. The Old Testament is the history of man through Abraham and his descendants through the centuries until Messiah’s first coming. 

Ark of the Covenant is better known as Ark of the Testimony; Ark of the Lord; Ark of God. The Ark of the Covenant was the most sacred object to the Israelites during their time in the Wilderness. The Ark served as a visible reminder of God’s presence with the Hebrew people. The Mercy Seat covered with gold, symbolized God’s throne and God’s sovereignty. The Israelites believed that God lived among them, represented by the Ark. His presence was between the Wings of the Cherubim on the Mercy Seat. God spoke to Moses from the Ark (Numbers 10:33); when they crossed the Jordan River to enter Canaan (Joshua 6:1-20). It was eventually placed in Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:1-9). It disappeared after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.


The Israelites were very much aware of the literal meaning of The Mercy Seat and The Ark of the Covenant (see outline below for details and importance).

Christ is the fulfillment of the Covenant of God to mankind, not just the Israelites. Divine Proof of God’s total satisfaction (propitiation) of the Cross-work of Christ IS the resurrection, ascension and session of Christ at the right hand of the Father (Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3,13; 8:1; 10:1-18 but specifically verse 10; 12:2).

Outline summary: 

1). The Mercy Seat in the Tabernacle was the place of propitiation. 

2). The concept of the mercy seat must be understood in light of the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25:10-22;  37:1-9). 

3). The ark of the covenant is a wooden box (45 x 27 x 27) and is constructed of acacia wood overlaid with gold. Wood represents the humanity of Christ; gold represents His Deity. 

4). Contents of the ark: the golden pot of manna, the tablets of stone of the covenant, and Aaron’s rod that budded (Hebrews 9:4). The tables of stone depicted man’s transgressions against God’s perfect standard; the rod that budded stood for man’s rebellion against established authority; the pot of manna showed man’s rejection of God’s provision. 

5). The content of the ark is a picture of Christ bearing our sins in His own body on the tree (1 Peter 2:24). 

6). The actual mercy seat is a solid gold lid, which fitted over the ark, and bore two golden cherubs, one on each end, representing God’s Holiness (Hebrews 9:5). 

7). Once each year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered twice into the Holy of Holies with a bowl of sacrificial blood (once for his own sins and once for the sins of the people — Hebrews 9:7). He sprinkled the blood on the mercy seat. This meant that God’s Perfect Righteousness and God’s Perfect Justice were satisfied. God was/is propitiated. 

8). Because of Christ God is able to love the believer. Because of the cross God’s Grace is free to flow to mankind. 

9). Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest and as believers and children of God, we are the Royal Family of God — we are believer-priests representing ourselves before God, because of Christ. Hebrews chapters 7-9 give detail regarding the Old Covenant with Israel and the New Covenant for all believers. It describes the old tabernacle and the new tabernacle in and through Christ our High Priest forever and ever. A mercy seat is a passing over, just as God passed over the dwelling place of believers in the Old Testament by placing blood over their doors (Exodus 12:13). 

10). Reference Romans 4:23-5:21. 

The Levitical Offerings require a detailed study. Actually the Levitical Offerings, which reveal the Person and Work of Messiah in shadow form (Hebrews 10:1), are a part of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law consists of a lot more than the Ten Commandments. The Mosaic Law governed every phase of the life of the people of Israel, to whom it was given.  

Please note that animal sacrifices were used in worship from the time of Adam’s Fall through the days of the Patriarchs. During this long period of time people were illiterate. Therefore, the Levitical offerings were visual aids, visible for teaching the Gospel.

In closing:

The Bible is a written record provided by God for your personal benefit.

The seat of man’s physical life is his soul resident in his body. Our body is a tabernacle for our soul, which apparently God designed to be housed. In eternity we will be ‘tabernacled’ in our soul dwelling forever. This mansion housing or tabernacle is prepared by Christ (John 14:2). God has provided everything for His Children … a marvelous eternal future beyond your wildest imagery capabilities.

You can become a child of God right now. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

“For God so loved the world (mankind) that He gave His only begotten Son, that (here’s the reason) whosoever believes in Christ shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “But, as many as received Him (Christ), to them He gave power to become children of God” (John 1:12).

God has given everything necessary for you to be saved. Christ was necessary! Christ came because you cannot earn or produce your own salvation. Christ is the light of the world! Can you see the Light of Christ? Christ is the only way to eternal life! Christ is the Truth come from God (John 14:6). No man can come to the Father except through Jesus Christ. You can enter the Kingdom of Heaven right now “… believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

The Mercy Seat represents the promise of Messiah who would save His people from their sins. The First Coming of Christ fulfilled the Covenants represented by the Ark of the Covenant. When Messiah died on the Cross for the Jews, they rejected the Messiah and the Cross. Are you one of those who has rejected Messiah — Jesus Christ? Only you can believe and receive. What is your decision?

Fulfilled prophecy is designed by God to comfort and assure us of His faithfulness … it is PROOF of God!

To add to your understanding, be sure to check out the Levitical Offerings study on this website.

Blessings await you in Fields of Grace.

Happy Studying!   

Comments are closed.