CHRIST THE PROPITIATION
"This is the resting place, let the weary rest; and this
is the place of repose"—
"Whom God has set forth to be a propitiation through
faith in His blood." Romans 3:25
Here is rest under the true Mercy-seat; the antitype of
that which, in the earlier dispensation, was surrounded with palm-wreathed
carvings on "the Holy Oracle."
The great redemption is finished. The blood of the Divine
Surety has been shed. The Lamb for the burnt offering has been sacrificed;
access has been provided into "the Holiest of all." Through the rent veil of
the Redeemer's flesh, the approach is available to every true, believing
Israelite, by "faith in His blood." How many among the worshipers of
a false and spurious Christianity, are looking to Christ through material
relics—pieces of the so-called real cross, fragments of the spear or
thorn-crown, or seamless robe! We are called to look "through faith."
How many more are groping their way to Him through propitiations of their
own: penances, and prayers, and fastings, and flagellations. The
Propitiation is completed "Whom God has set forth." If the Jewish
High-priest, as he stood at the mercy-seat, instead of sprinkling the blood,
had stripped the jewels from breastplate and mitre, and flung them on the
sacred chest, what would all have availed? Nothing. There was but one
offering efficacious there: an offering not composed of 'pearls from the
ocean, or gold from the mine'— "When I see THE BLOOD I will pass over you."
The efficacy of the blood of the Great Sacrifice
is inexhaustible. Revelation unfolds "an hundred and forty and four
thousand" with lustrous robes, washed and made white in it; and still the
Propitiation is "set forth;" still the way into the Holiest and to
acceptance is open. Countless pilgrims, weary and heavy-laden, have encamped
by the antitypical Wells and Palms of Elim. Still is the shade-giving
shelter ample as ever. Still is the invitation unlimited as ever—"Whoever
will, let him take of the water of life freely."
The word "Propitiation" in our motto-verse, as is well
known, refers to the lid or covering of the Ark of the Covenant, above which
were the overshadowing wings of the cherubim. Within the Ark were deposited
the two tables of stone, on which were engraved the ten commandments, the
words of the Eternal decalogue. Impressive and significant, surely, was that
old symbolism! The sinner or worshiper (through his representative in the
person of the Jewish High-priest) draws near with blood in his hand—this he
sprinkles above the mercy-seat and before the mercy-seat; the
purple stream falls on the floor at his feet. The law of God is still there
with all its demands intact and inviolate; unabrogated, unrepealed. It
utters the condemning word, "The soul that sins it shall die."
But between the law and the trembling worshiper
there is this propitiation covering; the glorious type of Him, who, to all
His true people, is a shelter from the curses of the law—"a refuge and a
hiding place from the storm." Thus do we see the old, but ever-binding and
obligatory Tables of Sinai's covenant, screened out of sight by the
intervening barrier—hidden, as a covenant of works, by the better work of
Jesus. We can take up with joyful confidence the prayer of the publican in
the parable (Luke 18:10), in which prayer, it is well worthy of note, the
very word which here occurs, propitiation, though differently
rendered, is also employed—"God be MERCIFUL to me a sinner!" 'Be
merciful'—but let mercy reach me by the alone channel through which it
can flow—mercy by sacrifice—mercy through the atoning blood of the
Believer! come, seat yourself under the shadow of this
heavenly Palm, and exult in your indestructible safety and security!
God has set Him forth as a Propitiation (an atoning sacrifice for
sin). He (the true 'shield, and lifter-up of your head'), "stands between
the living and the dead, and the plague is stopped!"
"Trembling with guilt, oppressed with fear,
Unfailing shelter I have here.
Long have I roamed in need and pain,
Long have I sought for rest in vain;
Bewildered in doubt, in darkness lost,
My soul fierce driven and tempest-tos't.
But forth from dark and stormy sky
Beneath the mercy-seat I fly.
There I repose with fears all fled,
Pardoned, accepted, comforted.
The present, peace—the past, forgiven,
The future, vista-views of heaven.
Jesus! my soul alone relies
On Thine accepted Sacrifice."
"The blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin."