The Lord spoke to Moses ‘from between the two cherubim above the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony‘, (v.89). The atonement cover, made of solid gold, was also known as ‘the mercy seat’. This is where God’s glory appeared when he talked to Moses.
Once a year, the Israelite High Priest conducted a special ceremony of forgiveness and dedication at the mercy seat. This is now celebrated as ‘Yom Kippur’, the Day of Atonement.
The Levites were made ceremonially clean so they can work for the priests at the Tent of Meeting and ‘to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary’ (8:19).
Since Jesus died for us on the cross and atoned for our sin with his perfect blood, we can approach ‘the mercy seat’ of our heavenly Father at any time without fear or trepidation.
God sets fifty as the retirement age for the Levites (v.25). Most religious people I know today are in at least their Seventies and still doing a wonderful job. They have no intention of stepping back from their leadership positions. However, it is important to also give the next generation opportunities to build up their ministry skills.
God shows that religious rules can be flexed for practical reasons. Moses consults God about when ceremonially unclean people may celebrate the Passover and God allows them to celebrate a month later. If we don’t know the answer to a question – particularly about an aspect of religion – we can find the accumulated wisdom of thousands of years on the internet but God, through an intimately, close relationship with Him also loves to give us ‘new wine’, fresh sparks of revelation that we can share with the world.
Jesus, at the age of twelve, stays behind at the temple.
The reading shows that young children at this time were given a remarkable amount of freedom. His parents didn’t miss him for a day and assumed he was among their relative and friends.
They found him ‘sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions’ (v.46). This shows that Jesus had temporarily set aside his all knowing (omniscient) powers as the Son of God, when he took on a human soul. He was politely listening and learning. We should never think that we know it all, every day is a learning opportunity.
However, Jesus learnt very fast and the Holy Spirit had gifted him an extraordinary amount of wisdom, ‘Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers (v.47).
Jesus never sinned and even though he had alarmed his parents, he had not intended to and was innocently following his mission, ‘Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house (v.49).
His mother forgave him and ‘treasured all these things in her heart’ (v.51).
Jesus continued to grow ‘in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men’ (v.52). God supplied him with wisdom and Jesus demonstrated his unwavering faith to the Father. We can grow in favour with God by growing in faith.
King David is besieged by ruthless witnesses. Even though he has been extremely good to them, ‘they repay my evil for good’. Jesus told us to forgive fellow disciples ‘seventy-seven (or seventy times seven) times (Matt. 18:22) even when they are behaving ‘like the ungodly’ (v.16).
We were told to ‘love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray to for those who ill treat you (Luke 6:27-28). At least today, David isn’t praying for harm to come to those who have betrayed him. He is simply asking God to hurry up and rescue him (v.17).
Even though God doesn’t need our payment, David promises to give a testimony after he is rescued; praising and thanking God ‘among throngs of people’ (v.18). Testimonies can be very powerful in building up both ourselves and the living body of the church. God loves thanksgiving, praise and worship and giving it to God makes us feel terrific as well.