We have already seen how the blood of Christ was applied to the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant (Update No. 3) and was recorded as evidence that an atoning sacrifice had been made for sin. But let us remember that at the time Christ was giving His life at Calvary, there was more than one thing going on from a spiritual point of view. The concepts shared in this article are only a reflection of some of those things.
According to the Apostle Paul Christ became our "propitiation".
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;" Romans 3:24,25
The Greek word that is here translated as "propitiation" is a literal reference to the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. In fact, in Hebrews 9, this same Greek word is translated "mercyseat" in Paul’s description of the Ark of the Covenant.
"And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly." Hebrews 9:5
This suggests that symbolically the Mercy Seat represented Christ. He became our propitiation, ie. our Mercy Seat. This has great significance in regards to Christ’s blood being sprinkled on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant shortly after His death.
If we look back in the Old Testament to the beginning of the earthly sanctuary service, the tabernacle and its furnishings were dedicated to service before it was officially set up and the service begun. Aaron was also specially dedicated to the work of the sanctuary as high priest. Just as each step of these service was a type, they would later be fulfilled literally in Christ when He became our High Priest.
You can read the details of this dedication service in Leviticus Chapters 8 and 9. The specific points that stand out in this dedication service are these:
- Aaron washed himself.
- He put on the priestly garments of the high priest.
- He made the appropriate sacrifices.
- He applied the sacrifices according to the law.
- He himself was sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice.
After this dedication there was a period 7 days of consecration. On the 8th day, Aaron came out of the tabernacle and the "glory of the Lord" appeared and blessed the people (Leviticus 9:23). Now let us look at how these various aspects of the typical service were fulfilled in Christ.
Christ’s whole life and ministry was dedicated to fulfilling the law and ultimately becoming our High Priest. The first step in becoming high priest was to be washed. The first step in Christ’s ministry was His baptism which of course represents cleansing.
The next step was to put on His priestly garments. We know of course that the garments represent character (Revelation 19:8). This is fulfilled as He worked out His own righteousness in human flesh.
The next step was to prepare and make the sacrifice. The main point with any sacrifice, whether it was a lamb, a bullock, a goat, etc. was that it was "perfect"; that it was without spot or blemish. We know that Christ’s 3 Â½ year ministry was one that clearly illustrated that He was such a sacrifice (Hebrews 4:15).
Once his "perfection" was established he was sacrificed. We have already spoken of how the blood was applied to the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant. However, who applied the blood?
In Hebrews 9:14 we are told that it was the Holy Spirit that "offered" Christ’s blood.
"How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?" Hebrews 9:14
And why was it offered specifically on the Mercy Seat?
It was because of what the Mercy Seat represented, Christ, our propitiation, the one that makes atonement. And who was it that made atonement? It was the high priest.
Thus the next step was for Christ, as part of the dedication service, to be sprinkled with His own blood. Not the haphazard sprinkling that took place on His physical body as he suffered in the hands of cruel men but the ceremonial sprinkling that took place when, "through the eternal Spirit" the blood was sprinkled upon the Mercy Seat.
All of these things took place during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. Once He was resurrected he spent 40 days with His disciples. Then He ascended into Heaven to officially receive His Kingdom and His position as High Priest. He was then to begin His work in the Holy Place of the Heavenly Sanctuary.
Once He ascended, 8 days later, on Pentecost, His Holy Spirit fell upon His people and blessed them. This perfectly fits the timing of the typical dedication service and the falling of the Holy Spirit on the people at the end of that dedication service. Let’s look closer at the timing.
Pentecost is on the 50th day after Passover. Christ died on Passover which was Friday. He spent 3 days (according to Jewish reckoning) in the grave. He spent the remaining part of Friday (the Passover), all of the Sabbath and part of Sunday in the grave. He arose some time on Sunday. Since Pentecost is the 50th day AFTER Passover we must start our counting with Sabbath.
- Therefore He was in the grave two of those days (Sabbath and Sunday). 2 days
- He spent 40 days with the disciples teaching and encouraging them at the end of which He ascended into Heaven. 40 days
- Once He entered Heaven he entered the Sanctuary, received officially the position of High Priest and then spent the next 7 days in the Sanctuary just as Aaron did. 7 days
- On the 8th day the consecration process ends and the Holy Spirit falls upon the people. 1 day
So that is 2 days + 40 days + 7 days + 1day = 50 days. And what happened 50 days after Passover? The festival of Pentecost was celebrated and on that exact day the Holy Spirit fell on the people just as Jesus had promised! It happened 8 days after the end of His dedication as High Priest and at the end of the time of consecration.
Thus we had confirmation on earth that Christ was officially installed as our High Priest. And thus we see that part of the application of the blood sprinkled on the Mercy Seat at Calvary was a fulfillment of the typical high priest dedication service.
First published December 1999