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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

February 21, 2020

"Draw near to God" again

Filed under Sabbath Thoughts

Last week our topic was James' exhortation in James 4:8: "Draw near to God and He will draw near to you."

Israel's high priest was not the only Israelite who was not supposed to see the mercy seat. You remember that he was to offer sacrifices for himself and all Israel on the Day of Atonement, to make atonement for the people before God. But first he had to use incense to cloud the mercy seat so he would not be able to see it (Leviticus 16:11-13).

What about the other Israelites? Their only opportunity to see the mercy seat would have been while the tabernacle of the congregation was being transported, because on their way to the Promised Land the Israelites went from campground to campground, and in the process the tabernacle had to be dismantled, transported and reassembled.

During the transport the mercy seat was covered and carried on poles so it could not be seen: "When the camp prepares to journey, Aaron and his sons shall come, and they shall take down the covering veil and cover the ark of the Testimony with it. Then they shall put on it a covering of badger skins, and spread over that a cloth entirely of blue; and they shall insert its poles" (Numbers 4:5-6).

Among the Levites the sons of Kohath were to carry the ark of the covenant (and the other implements of the tabernacle). But they were to make sure that they did not see the mercy seat: "Do not cut off the tribe of the families of the Kohathites from among the Levites; but do this in regard to them, that they may live and not die when they approach the most holy things: Aaron and his sons shall go in and appoint each of them to his service and his task. But they shall not go in to watch while the holy things are being covered, lest they die" (Numbers 4:18-20).

How happy will the sons of Kohath and all the other Israelites be one day when they read the exhortation that we may carry out at any time? "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

"Draw near to God" — yes, we can do that!

With these thoughts I wish everyone a rewarding Sabbath!

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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