Psalm 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the House of the LORD forever.
Luke 1:72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant
Mercy is defined by the online Encarta dictionary as:
|1. compassion: kindness or forgiveness shown especially to somebody a person has power over|
|2. compassionate disposition: a disposition to be compassionate or forgiving of others|
Mercy is defined in the Easton’s 1897 Bible dictionary as:
- compassion for the miserable. Its object is misery. By the atoning sacrifice of Christ a way is open for the exercise of mercy towards the sons of men, in harmony with the demands of truth and righteousness (Gen. 19:19; Ex. 20:6; 34:6, 7; Ps. 85:10; 86:15, 16). In Christ mercy and truth meet together. Mercy is also a Christian grace (Matt. 5:7; 18:33-35).
WHAT IS GOD’S ETERNAL MERCY?
The mercy of God allows for salvation, holiness and sanctification, and Holy Ghost baptism; all the evangelical graces with continual blessing and daily provision, and the hope of glory with Jesus the Christ our Lord. These graces of His Glory, bestowed through His mercy, are given because of His great desire to be with all His children.
Jesus once shared a story with His disciples about two men who went to the temple for prayer. One was a publican, a civil worker, and one was a teacher or Rabbi. Both men had come to ask God for repentance of their sins. The Rabbi began his plea by thanking God that he was not like the publican who was standing close by. On the contrary, the publican, entered the Temple and began his plea by beating his chest in a sign of surrender and humility. He then made this powerful statement in prayer: “God have mercy on me, a sinner”. This publican, probably a foremost chief of sinners, first of all knew who he was; a sinner in need of repentance, and secondly a man in need of the mercy of the Lord. Like this Publican we must recognize who we are, sinners in need of the mercy of the Lord. What is an absolute necessity for the people is the mercy of God.
MERCY AND REPENTANCE
It is mentioned in Genesis that in the days of Noah and the flood; God shut the door to the ark and the people missed the opportunity to salvation. Noah however, found grace in the sight of the Lord for his faithfulness and Godliness while living in the midst of evil and wickedness. It is interesting to note, though, that even after Noah had completed the building of the ark, there was a seven (7) day period before God supernaturally shut the door. Why the wait? God had already announced the judgment upon the people; why not just finish the work immediately? The mercy of God was so eminent that even after pronouncement of judgment, God gave time for the people to turn unto him.
Today, there is still a judgment for living in disobedience to the word of God. It is the law of God that gives unto us the guidelines which makes our paths straight. The law of God was so central to the Lords people that they secured the tablets in the Ark of the Covenant. Now, the Ark of the Covenant had a lid, and on that lid were two cherubim’s facing each other. In between the two cherubim’s the Lord declared was His mercy seat. It is interesting to see how that His mercy covered over the law.
Let us take a look at another story on repentance leading to eternal mercy, let us take a look at the Prophet Jonah. Jonah was called by God to bring a message to the people of Nineveh of imminent danger and destruction coming upon them because of their wickedness and sin. When the message was finally delivered, following an extensive journey through disobedience, it was received positively by the entire city and its ruler ship. The king of the city and its people repented with ash and sackcloth and the mercy of the Lord was released and salvation was bestowed.
MERCY AND DELIVERANCE
It is good to remember that whenever God pronounces judgement He also releases His mercy. “For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5 KJV). King David declared that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life” (Psalm 23:6a). The Psalmist also proclaims that His mercy endures forever in Psalm 103. Mercy follows His children from day one, even through the dark times of His judgement.
As we turn to the Lord in the midst of our darkness, His mercy will come pursuing after us and be made manifest in ways unimaginable “above all that we could ask or even think”. It was David who witnessed the truth of this when he found himself walking “in the valley of the shadow of death” (Psalm 23). There, in the darkness of the shadows, came goodness and mercy following after. The word “follow” in the Hebrew denotes the military term for pursuing an enemy or group that has taken off on the run either in retreat or for regrouping and is a command that the commanding officer would give to the troop(s). When we turn to God He orders the pursuit. When mercy caught up to David there was found prepared a table before him even in the presence of his enemies with an overflowing cup of the blessings of the Lord.
There is still a judgement yet to come. Nevertheless, the blessing of His mercy has been released for our eternal salvation. And so, let us do what Jude exhorted us to do “KEEP YOURSELVES IN THE LOVE OF GOD, WAITING FOR THE MERCY OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST THAT LEADS TO ETERNAL LIFE.” (Jude 1:21)
One day Jesus sat down and had a meal with a sinner by the name of Matthew. In fact, scripture tells us that during the meal many more sinners came to the table for food and fellowship. For this, Jesus was scorned and questioned by the religious elit and affluent. However, Jesus simply told these leaders that he desires mercy over all other forms of religious activity. “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13) This parralleled what God spoke through the prophet Micah when it was written “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8)
God desires mercy from us just like with His son Jesus Christ, whom we are to imitate. In Christs greatest sermon while standing on the mount He boldly declared “Blessed are the merciful for they shall receive mercy”. Today’s culture needs to see a true expression of Gods mercy. So many do not know or simply cannot understand the mercy of God for their eternal salvation. Let us choose to become that visible expression of mercy to those we come in contact with so that they might accept the eternal mercy from God through His Son Jesus.