James 2:13 Mercy triumphs over judgment.
At the start of this year I challenged myself to read through the entire Bible as quickly as I could. I had to read big chunks of Scripture, not verses or chapters, but books at a time; the Pentateuch over a weekend and the Psalms in a day. Reading the Bible, not as a bunch of individual stories compiled together, but as one big continuous story, has been a life-changing experience. I have come to know the God I’ve believed in most of my life in a whole new way. Instead of seeing God in different facets, one of the Old Testament and one of the New Testament, one being God of war, requiring perfection and dealing harsh punishment, and the other an incarnate God of grace and sacrifice, I saw one God. His character is consistent all throughout. His hand is evident in every story, weaving his eternal plan for humanity. I was left with one overwhelming theme, constantly reinforced with each page I turned. Our God is a god of mercy; overwhelming, never-breaking, constant, abundant mercy. In every punishment he dealt, every nation he set for destruction, every prophecy, psalm, and story, Jesus’ death and resurrection, the persecution of His Church, even in the very existence of the Bible, his mercy shines through!
God is the one making every effort to relent the destruction his people deserve and we are the ones refusing his offer. When the first sin is committed, God doesn’t wipe out humanity, but mercifully spares them, clothes them, and more than that, he immediately promises one day to conquer the Tempter. He hears his people’s prayers and sends manna and quail to the Israelites, opens the barren woman’s womb, stops plagues, and sends rain on the dry land. He mercifully sends his prophets to warn the wicked nations, to call them to repent; but they refused to turn from evil. He gathers his people back to their homeland after exile and ensures generous protection and provision. He set aside his divine privileges and spent 33 years on this fallen earth. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the hungry; all undeserving. Above all, He died and bore the sins and guilt of ALL of humanity! But this is just a tiny fraction of the merciful acts of God. The best part is God’s wealth of mercy didn’t run out at the end of the Bible. It’s available for all if we just raise our empty hands and accept it. He loves us. He wants us to pursue Him. He will do whatever it takes to draw us closer to Him. He wants us to be filled, satisfied, flowing over with joy! We! who are daily sinners, traitors, immoral, rebellious, hurtful and corrupt. Is this not the greatest demonstration of mercy? Let’s not keep this to ourselves. The world is out there hurting, longing for mercy and we only need to show them that it is here for the taking.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
I have heard all about you, Lord.
I am filled with awe by your amazing works.
In this time of our deep need,
help us again as you did in years gone by.
And in your anger,
remember your mercy.
“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.