The Place of Communion

The words “There will I meet with thee, and will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel” (Ex. 25:22), refer to the ark, mercy seat, and cherubims in combination, as they served together to form the throne of Jehovah in Israel. There He dwelt, and from thence He communicated His thoughts to His people. In its typical teaching there is presented to us our Lord Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. God has spoken in Him (Heb. 1:1). By Him God was declared (John 1:18). Every principle of blessing shadowed forth in that ark, whether we look at it as one whole or at each part separately, find their centre of expression and shine forth fully in Him who was God manifest in flesh.

The holy place in the tabernacle and its furniture may typify Christ and His people, or more accurately Israel, as seen in Christ under the eye of Jehovah, but in the holiest, the place of the ark, it is Christ alone. Nothing could surpass for heavenly grandeur that which is outlined in the ark. It is Christ, standing alone in His own unique glory and dignity, and in the measureless distance that lies between Him and every other man as the revelation of God — God manifest in flesh, and as we see this we can understand the words, “There will I meet with thee, and commune with thee.”

The Book of Exodus, in which we are introduced to the ark, does not give us the blood-sprinkled mercy seat — that belongs to Leviticus and is connected with our approach to God. Here it is God speaking to man in that glorious Person whose name is “Wonderful,” and in it comes before us the fathomless depth of that wonder of all wonders, the inscrutable mystery of the Word made flesh. We must not lose sight of this distinction between Exodus and Leviticus.

God is there. Whether we survey the pathway of the Lord through this world or take it in detail, God is there. Take, for instance, His words to the demoniac, Luke 8:39, “Return to thine own house, and show how great things God hath done for thee.” The Father was in Him and He was in the Father, and His Deity was recognised at last by the disciples, when Thomas worshipped Him as his Lord and God (John 20:28).

Perfect manhood is there. From His sinless human heart there flowed holy feelings of deep compassion, as when He removed the fears of a daughter of Abraham who had sought blessing from Him (Luke 8:48). Matthew 8:17 is an instructive passage in this connection also.

The mercy seat is there. He appeared as the mercy seat when a guilty woman of the city drank deeply of the mercy of God at His tear-washed feet (Luke 7). And when the Pharisees on another occasion would have made Him the servant of the law, to condemn a sinful woman to death (John 8), He stooped and wrote upon the ground, and if we had discernment we might read that writing; may we not say that it is found in another scripture: “I will have mercy and not sacrifice”?

Justice is there. Justice, of which the cherubims spoke, was not wanting. How stern was the rebuke with which He silenced the Herodians and Pharisees. “Render therefore into Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). To trace out the blessed perfections of our adorable Lord is happy work, and the preciousness of the theme must be accepted as my apology for dwelling upon them. The communications from between the cherubims may be viewed as foreshadowing the purpose of God as coming out in the ministry of Christ, particularly in the Gospel of John. He appears in that Gospel as rejected from the beginning (John 1:10-11), and there He is presented not in relation to Old Testament promises, but in relation to God’s eternal purposes. In His person divine and eternal relationships are revealed which are set forth as the thought of God for those who believe on Him, and which would be entered into when He had gone back to the Father. Eternal life, Sonship, and the knowledge of the Father, communion with the Father and the Son by the Holy Ghost in a new relationship based upon His finished work. These are some of the communications that came out in Him, and they all referred not to the day in which they were spoken, but to this present time in which the Spirit of God is here below and Christ is at the right hand of God.

But while distinguishing between the mercy seat of Exodus 25 and the blood-sprinkled mercy seat of the day of atonement (Lev. 16), they must not be separated, for all the communications promised in Exodus 25 had the day of atonement in full view, though the fall of the priesthood (Lev. 10) was the immediate cause of the ordinance of that day, yet we gather from Exodus 30:10 that Jehovah had before Him the yearly service of Leviticus 16 before the failure of the priests. So while pointing out the perfections of the Incarnate Son we cannot separate them from His sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. Incarnation naturally preceded atonement; but nothing is lost, and all the communications that came out in His life are carried over into resurrection and are established now in Christ and the church.

J. McBroom
S.T. 1915