“Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.” – Psalm 119:77 (ESV)
The biblical meaning of mercy is exceedingly rich and complicated, in fact several Hebrew and Greek words are needed to understand the depth of this attribute. There are many synonyms used in our various Bible translations to express the dimensions of meaning involved. Our favorites might be “lovingkindness,” and “steadfast love.” Well-known in the concept of mercy is the compassionate nature to forgive an offender or adversary and to help or spare him in his sorry plight. Many other words in the Bible describe the character of our Lord. Perhaps we can say God’s mercy is the foremost attribute revealed. In revealing Himself to Moses, the Lord declared His great mercy (Exod. 34:6–7). The prophets likewise take great pains to remind Israel of this facet of God’s divine love. Micah 7:18 in particular provides a challenging statement: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love.” The Lord our God is not merely merciful, but delights in the opportunity to grant mercy. God’s very nature is to show continual and everlasting mercy without limit.
“ What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” – Romans 9:14-16 (ESV)
There might be many different reasons that we find ourselves not understanding the ways of God. Today, is one of those times. Our temptation is to question the why of something that happened because we didn’t want it to or thought it shouldn’t be. As true faith believers, we know that God has not made any mistake today because He never makes mistakes. We have prayed fervently for a close friend who today was called home to be with Jesus. Now, we continue to pray for his family. His wife and daughter and father-in-law in need of God’s mercy and compassion. This family lost both grandmothers in the last year and a half. But our promise today is a good one. God promises no injustice (that’s the no mistake promise). So if in weakness we may argue God is not just, Paul the Apostle says BY NO MEANS! “May it Never Be!” The Authorized Version says, “God Forbid!” NO MISTAKES, even in the toughest circumstances. It is God who gives and who desires to give Mercy and Compassion in abundance as He wills. It is God who has unbounded supply of mercy and it is He who will give it as we need it.
“O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” – Habakkuk 3:2 (ESV)
The book Habakkuk is one of the “Minor Prophets” in the Old Testament. Not minor is significance or message but in size. Some believe that Habakkuk wrote the book in two phases which he joined together. Chapters 1 & 2 record the prophet’s dialogue with God. Habakkuk questioned God regarding His method and purposes for Israel. The note at the end of chapter 3, identifies that it is written in the form of a psalm to be sung with stringed musical instruments. The prophet knew of God’s past dealings with Israel – by hearing and learning. He personally experiences an awe-filled respect at the power of God. He also uses this knowledge of God’s previous dealings to make a twofold petition. He calls on God to revive His way with Israel. He calls on God to make it known that even in His wrath, His mercy. He requests that God allow his mitigating mercy (cf. Ex. 34:6; Lk. 1:54). This is our promise: for both wrath and mercy are part of God’s nature. God loves us even when we have strayed from Him and turned our backs on His word. He will not turn His back on us.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” – Psalm 23:6 (ESV)
Such protection, provision and love from God was what brought David to realize that the Lord’s good loyal love would go with him everywhere through all his life. God’s blessings on us, His people, remain on us no matter what the circumstances are in our lives. When we need substance he gives food and water…good calm water. He restores us when we are overspent. He makes sure we know the right path. If the path gets dark and scary we need not fear because He is there with us. And then, God spreads a banquet for us right in front of those who hate us. We are refreshed with anointing oil. All this goodness comes from God, from His promises. When times are up or down, in the darkest night or brightest day God has our back, and front, and both sides. He watches over us with His goodness and His mercy. Our reservation in God’s house is promised and secure. The ‘house’ is the presence of God, wherever we meet Him and worship. Not a specific building. “I will dwell, there” is our way of saying we’ll be frequently with God returning often to worship Him.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 2:4-6 (ESV)
This passage assures us that our salvation is by the grace of God. We did nothing to make it ours, we can’t. God’s love has done three things: (a) it has made us alive with Christ, (b) has raised us up with Christ, and (c) seated us with Him in the heavenly places. This is all promised and done because what Jesus did for us. It becomes what happened to us in Christ Jesus. Although still flesh and bone walking on this earth breathing air, what Christ did, became a reality so true that God considers it a done deal for us. When God draws us to Himself and offers us a new life in Christ Jesus, we received it by grace. Although this is difficult to understand with our human reasoning, and various questions arise as we’re trying to grasp how it is; we rest on the faith given to us by grace and accept it as truth. We do not have to fully understand everything we receive for it to be true. It’s true because God has declared it true by His will⸺that is what makes it true and for us right here, right now, it’s accomplished.
“For the Mighty One has done great things for me; And holy is His name. And His mercy is upon generation after generation Toward those who fear Him.” Luke 1 49-50 (NASB)
When we sing at Christmas time we usually think of the singing of angels at the time Jesus was born. They were not the only ones who sang. There is a song recorded in the Gospel of Luke from which our verses today are quoted. This is commonly known as The Magnificat. This is a song which Mary, the mother of Jesus sang several months earlier. We’re so glad for the promise of His Mercy upon all generations. They show us that Mary was not thinking only of what God was doing for her in choosing her to be the mother of our Savior. She was praising God for what He was doing for others, even for us. Yes, in Jesus, God was showing His mercy and love for us. She sang of what He was doing for people from generation to generation. Many generations have lived since that time and the promised truth is that God’s mercy has been and is available to us all. Mary knew that God was using her to do this and what she knew became the glorious gift of Christmas.
“ Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)
Coupled with words of warning, the promises in the fourth chapter of Hebrews offer comfort and encouragement. We all need help because of weaknesses and confusion from the limitations of understanding God’s wisdom. In our natural state, our sins keep us from deserving the help we need. Those who deny their need and try to be their own superman or superwoman who do not need help end up with paralyses of despair. Jesus Christ became a High Priest to shatter the despair with hope and to humble our proud hearts when we believe that we can get through it on our own. The overarching need that we have is the grace that God provides for us. Without that grace given and the faith God provides for us to believe, our situation is hopeless. But we have hope in Jesus Christ. Who or which of us do not find that need in our own life? Our promise from God today and every day is that we may come at any time to God’s throne of grace. It is from there that He dispenses mercy and grace in our time of need if we believe.
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