Each Friday night we have Family Night where we take the time to focus and enjoy each other. Our evening usually always has a Bible lesson we teach and discuss. I want to share one of those lessons with you. I hope you will use it, teach it, and implement it with your children no matter their age. Recently our Pastor, Jentezen Franklin, preached an amazing sermon on this topic and it was so profound I wanted to share my thoughts with a few excerpts from his sermon in this month's blog because I believe it could change your family's life and how you parent. It's a great one to use as we head into the Easter Season!
When God gave the detailed directions to Solomon for building the Holy Temple, he made it very clear that having a Mercy Seat inside the temple was of the utmost importance.
What was so important about the Mercy Seat?
It represented his mercy towards his people despite their mistakes.
What is Mercy?
Mercy is defined as holding back what a person deserves when they make a mistake. The Lord loved his people so much and he wanted them to know he was holding back what they deserved. He shows that same mercy to us today by keeping from our lives what we actually deserve based on our poor choices.
Are Mercy and Grace the same thing?
No, grace is when God blesses us with something we haven't earned or don't deserve. Mercy is when he holds back what we do deserve.
What was the significance of the Mercy Seat in the Temple?
It was a symbol of God's love. It was actually the Ark of the Covenant placed at the front of the temple. It stood near the altar where the sacrifices were made by the priests for the sins of the people during Old Testament times.
Why were sacrifices made?
Prior to Jesus birth, there was no way for God's people to make restitution for sin except through sacrifice of an unblemished, animal. That's why the arrival of Jesus in the New Testament was so significant. He came to be the perfect living sacrifice freeing the people from any future animal sacrifice. He was the unblemished lamb and God sacrificed him on the cross for our sins.
What did the Mercy Seat look like?
It was a large box that held a jar of manna from Moses' day, Moses rod which was made of wood, and the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments engraved on them.
What did each item in the Arc represent?
The manna represented God's provision. It was the food that fell from Heaven each morning when his people were forced to wander in the wilderness. He never failed to feed them and meet their needs just as he will never fail to meet ours. The rod represented God's deliverance. It was the rod Moses used to part the Red Sea so that God's people could walk through the water on dry land and escape their enemies and certain death. God later sent his son, Jesus, to die on a wooden cross and deliver us from our enemy. The rod symbolized the cross. The stone tablets were the laws God had given his people to govern their lives. They could not keep the law because we are all imperfect, which is why Jesus had to come to earth and die. on behalf of all of mankind. This is why the Arc was called the Mercy Seat. It represented God's mercy, provision, and deliverance from the law into mercy.
What stood at each end of the Arc?
On each end stood two angel statues called Cherubim. The angel's wings were up in the air touching one another over the arc. Their eyes gazed down on the top of the arc where the blood would splatter when a sacrifice was made on the altar that stood near by. They were not looking eye to eye.
(Following the teaching of this information, show your children the seat in your home that you have chosen as the mercy seat as explained below.)
What does this have to do with your parenting?
The symbolism is profound. I knew about the mercy seat but had never considered adding it to our parenting, but as our pastor so eloquently taught on the subject I began to realize it's significance to us as parents. First of all, your home is your temple, and each member of your family is in a covenant of love with one another. Just as the angels were not looking at one another eye to eye over the Arc of the Covenant, we will never see eye to eye on every issue in our home with our children. Instead, their eyes were looking down on the blood splattered on the top of the Arc of the Covenant. The blood represented the mercy of God over his children and their sin as it splattered and covered the Arc. Just as Jesus blood flowed for our sins, and his blood covers the arc of our covenant as a family, we must allow his splattered blood to cover our differences in our home with mercy and forgiveness.
Why should we have a mercy seat in our home?
We all make mistakes, and just as our Heavenly Father withholds what we deserve out of his complete love for us when we make mistakes, as parents, we are to model that same love to our children. They need to know we love them unconditionally no matter what their mistake. They need to know that our mercy abounds at home.
Does this mean we don't punish?
No, sometimes the situation requires punishment, especially if their choice puts their life or someone else's life in harms way. Or if their choice could have long term consequences. We do discipline at our home, but we do our best not to discipline out of anger but out of love.
How do we discipline out of love?
We take a break if we are angry. Once calm, we quickly discuss the issue at hand, shed God's word on the subject, and then explain what the punishment will be. Then we pray together and administer the punishment.
How can we add a mercy seat to discipline?
Choose a seat in your home and explain after the lesson above that it will be the designated Mercy Seat for everyone to use. Then explain the guidelines:
After twenty-three years of parenting, I am convinced that the journey has been amazing, but some of the hardest times have been when we discovered something in our children's lives that had been hidden from us and did not know what to do or how to confront. I am also convinced that if we provide a place for confession, it will set our children free of the temptation to run and hide or lie to cover their mistakes.
The Bible teaches in 1 John 1:9 that, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." Just as our Father in Heaven has mercy for us, we need to model this same mercy for our children. I believe having a Mercy Seat in our homes will allow us the opportunity to do that and it will help us to be better parents by removing the temptation to parent out of legalism and instead choose mercy and grace over condemnation. There is no better place to live than on the Mercy Seat of our Father!