God's holiness demands that He be angry at sin but He loves mercy. Now the blood of Jesus has satisfied God's justice so that He can come out to us through the torn veil, showing mercy and grace.
The Old Testament includes a powerful foreshadowing of our merciful High Priest. In Numbers 16, we see the whole congregation of Israel rising up and murmuring against Moses and Aaron. God had destroyed two hundred and fifty princes because they had rebelled against Him and the people were mad at Moses and Aaron over their deaths. "All the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the Lord" (Numbers 16:41).
God appeared in a cloud, telling Moses and Aaron to stand apart from the rest: "Get away from them because I'm going to consume them — right now" (see verse 45).
Suddenly, a horrible plague broke out among the people. Terrified, Moses told Aaron, the high priest, "Take a censer, and put fire therein from off the altar, and put on incense, and go quickly unto the congregation, and make an atonement for them: for there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun. . . . And he stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed" (Numbers 16:46, 48).
Moses was saying, "Run through the camp waving the censer and covering the people with incense." Aaron did just that.
Aaron is a type of Christ here and the incense represents Jesus' prayers for a rebellious people. What an incredible picture of God showing mercy through the prayers of the High Priest. We see an image of Jesus running among rebellious sinners, sending up prayers to the Father on their behalf. With each person He sprinkles, He cries, "Father, have mercy!"
An advocate is one who tells the court what is legal — what is right and should be done. Our Advocate Jesus says, "I have fulfilled the law. I have paid the price to fully satisfy God's justice. The devil can never accuse God of being unjust."
Although 14,700 Israelites died of the plague, two or three million others should have fallen. But God showed mercy!
Likewise, you and I should have died long ago because of our sin. But the Father, through Jesus' prayers, has mercifully kept us by His power.