by Tony Nester

The Mercy Seat
Tony Nester
Exodus 25:1-22

I know a story about an old cattle rancher who discovered a young cowhand who had been caught in the act of rustling (stealing) a cow.

When the thief was dragged before the rancher, he looked down at the frightened youth and said:

"Hang him. Nothing personal, son. I like you a lot, you understand. But we have rules here in the West. Besides, it will teach you a lesson."

One day, the old rancher died and appeared before the judgment seat of God. As he stood there, he remembered all the mean, horrible things he had done on Earth. He particularly recalled hanging that young cowboy he liked so much -- and he trembled in his boots.

Whereupon, the Lord God of heaven looked down upon him in mercy and tenderness and said:

"Forgive him. It will teach him a lesson."

Mercy is both rare and powerful. We all need mercy but often we don't find it. Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful …"

But many people think giving mercy is a sign of weakness, the lack of spine, and a failure of justice.

Still, the cry of hearts is for mercy - exactly as the publican cried out, "Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner" and the thief on the cross whispered to Jesus, "Lord, remember me."

Some of you know how Shakespeare spoke of mercy:

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

…It is an attribute to God himself;
in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy.

And now, perhaps, it may make more sense to you that that in the Book of Exodus, Chapter 25, there are 22 verses giving detailed instructions from God for crafting the MERCY SEAT that capped the Israelites' Ark of the Covenant.

It was precisely because mercy is rare and powerful, and the expressi ...

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