Monday, May 16, 2011

The place God dwells, speaks, and reconciles

The sermon at church on sunday was on 1 Kings 8 where King Solomon dedicates the Temple, following the placing of the ark of the covenant. It was emphasised that at the centre of the temple was the mercy seat (or atonement cover) and how this was related to us finding mercy through Jesus. This reminded me of Karl Barth's nice exegesis of Romans 3:25 [which he translates "Whom God set forth to be a covering of propitiation, through his faithfulness, by his blood"]
"In the Old Testament cultus the covering of propitiation was the sheet of gold, overshadowed by the wings of the two-angel-figures (cherubim), which covered and marked the place where the contents of the ark, the oracles of God, were deposited (Exod. 25:17-21). In I Sam. 4:4, 2 Sam. 6:2, Ps. 80: 1, it is the place above which God himself dwells; in Exod. 25:22, Num. 7:89, it is the place from which God speaks to Moses; it is pre-eminently, however, the place, where, on the great Day of Atonement, the people were reconciled to God by the sprinkling of blood (Lev. 16:14-15). The analogy with Jesus is especially appropriate, because the mercy seat is no more that a particular, though very significant, place. By the express counsel of God, Jesus has been appointed from eternity as the place of reconciliation above which God dwells and from which he speaks; now, however, he occupies a position in time, in history, and in the presence of humanity"
Karl Barth, The Epistle to the Romans, 6th Edition, pp. 104-105.

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