The Brink and The Mercy Seat

A trip to the park on the Brink…  We visited the dog park,

IMG_1094and went for a short bike ride as the sun set.

IMG_1091

Some thoughts that arose during the course of a discussion on Calvin in the Philosophy, Theology, and Religion class.  The professor of the course presented 6 different categories of apologetic proof that Jesus satisfies the atonement.  The proof categories were “Jesus as propitiation” (Rom 3:23-26, 1 Jn 2:2, 1 Jn 4:10) ,”Jesus as Sin” (2 Cor 5:18-21, Gal 3:10-14), “Jesus as Sacrifice” (Matt 26:27-28, Mk 14:23, Lk 22:20, Rom 4:23-25, Rom 5:6-11, Eph 2:14-16, Eph 5:1-2), “Jesus as Pascal Lamb” John 1:29, 1 Cor 5: 6-8, 1 Pet 1:17-19), “Jesus as the Suffering Servant” (1 Pet 2:4-5, 1 Pet 2:21-25), “Jesus as the New Adam” (Rom 5: 12-19, 1 Cor 15:21-22)…  The word “as” here is pivotal I think since it captures the parable nature of the literature.  In the end, he links all of these categories to a Hebrew origin in Leviticus 16.

There was an extensive discussion of the construction of the tabernacle, and the Ark when it was still portable.  We discussed the cherubim, and the professor later presented the ark covering as “the mercy seat”.  I would later learn that although there is a specific reference in Samuel to a seat constructed out of the cherubim, Jewish people deliberately avoid this translation of the word “kapporet”, or covering.  Anyway, my archeological mind went to work on the descriptions (which I believe may be too detailed not to have been written, and I believe scholars attribute the writing to the Priestly source (generally attributed to the time of the Babylonian exile-Ezra?).  This detail would then describe the ark and tabernacle as already built.

So, as I imagine the ark being carried from one place to another, containing the tablets, with the cherubim on top forming a seat, the question naturally arises as to whether this tradition was adapted from another custom, where a very important person was transported in the mercy seat.  Later the injunction in the Torah is that no one but Aaron is to enter the Holy of Holies lest this person die, and Aaron is to wear bells on his robe so that if he dies, (the bells stop sounding), they can pull him out by his feet without entering. 

So, imagining how this might have evolved preP (priestly source), maybe an individual would grab the horns of the outer altar begging for mercy, and be led back into the chamber, at which point, they would possibly be killed and sacrificed.  Isaac was said to have been the end of human sacrifice, and yet post Isaac, we have the story of the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges.  So, there was some human sacrifice that still went on.  Eventually, this resolved.  But there remain some important questions:

In what way, is the sacrifice of Jesus different from a human sacrifice?

Who made the sacrifice?

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