Saturday, March 05, 2011

Jesus, my mercy seat

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Romans 3:21-31


TO CHEW ON: "...Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood..." Romans 3:24b-25a

Within the word "propitiation" we have one of the most amazing and offending aspects of the Gospel.

In English when we talk of propitiating someone, we mean that we appease, conciliate and cause them to be favourably disposed toward us.

The Greek word for "propitiation" is hilasterion  which actually means "mercy seat." It refers to the place of atonement between the two cherubim on the top of the ark. "The root meaning of hilasterion is that of appeasing and placating an offended god" - New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1738.

The idea that a loving God would personally exercise wrath against His creatures is what's offensive to some. However, the Bible makes it clear that that's the way it is (for example, see Isaiah 53:4-5; Romans 5:9; Ephesians 5:6; Revelation 6:16-17).

But that's not the end of the story. Though we deserved God's wrath, Jesus took it for us. God "set forth" Jesus as a propitiation. "...By His blood" refers to the fact that He died: "Blood is a reference to Christ's death as a substitute sacrifice for us. Christ's blood poured out is a clear evidence that His life was given for us" - New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 1553.

And so God was able to satisfy both His holiness in its complete abhorrence of and wrath against sin, and His love. It really is the most incredible good news (gospel)!

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for being my mercy seat. May I never take my sin lightly, but keep in mind God's wrath visited on you for me. Amen.

MORE: More on propitiation

"What is a 'propitiation'? It is a sacrifice that averts wrath through expiating sin, and cancelling guilt.


This...is the real heart of the gospel: that Jesus Christ, by virtue of His death on the cross as our substitute and sin-bearer, 'is the propitiation for our sins' (1 John 2:2). Between us sinners and the thunderclouds of divine wrath stands the cross of the Lord Jesus. If we are Christ's, through faith, then we are justified through his cross, and the wrath will never touch us, neither here nor hereafter. Jesus 'delivers us from the wrath to come' (1 Thessalonians 1:10)" - J. I. Packer, Knowing God, p. 173.


If you're interested in reading more, check the "Theological Term of the Week," propitiation page of the Rebecca Writes blog.


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