By: Elder Enoch Ofori Jnr
Of all His attributes, God’s mercy is perhaps His greatest gift to mankind. To enjoy His mercy is an incomparable privilege!
In the Bible, mercy (Heb. “rahamiyn” and Grk “eleos”) is defined as ‘compassion’ or ‘pity’. To show mercy therefore is “to love, to have compassion on, to take pity on”.
God’s mercy at the ‘basic level’ is for all mankind. The God Who goes by the name “El Hannum” (‘the merciful God’ – Deut. 4:31) provides rain and shine for both the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45).
But that’s not the kind of Divine mercy believers have been called to enjoy. With the righteous, His “goodness and mercy” is a life-long possession, even ETERNAL! David, the LORD’S anointed, exclaimed in praise of God Almighty, His Shepherd:
“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
“ Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever” (Ps. 23:5-6).
On the basis of His mercy He saves us not because of our good deeds. Come to think of it: Were it not for God’s mercy, there was no way we would have been able to do works of righteousness by ourselves. This is because, in our ignorance and folly, we took pleasure in the lusts of the flesh—activities associated with folly and ignorance! But then, God took pity on us and saved us by His grace in Jesus (Titus 3:3-7).
The apostle Paul wrote of his past life under the sway of evil and of his present life in grace:
“How thankful I am to Christ Jesus our Lord for considering me trustworthy and appointing me to serve him,
“ even though I used to scoff at the name of Christ. I hunted down His people, harming them in every way I could. BUT GOD HAD MERCY ON ME BECAUSE I DID IT IN IGNORANCE AND UNBELIEF.
“ Oh, how kind and gracious the Lord was! He filled me completely with faith and the love of Christ Jesus.
“This is a true saying, and everyone should believe it: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners–and I was the worst of them all.
“But that is why God had mercy on me, so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of His great patience with even the worst sinners. Then others will realize that they, too, can believe in Him and receive eternal life” (1 Tim. 1:12-16 New Living Translation Emphasis mine).
Halleluiah! With Divine mercy, the sinner Saul is delivered from destruction and the evil works of the devil into a glorious position where the Lord considers him trustworthy to serve in the ministry. The ultimate goal of God’s mercy towards the sinner is therefore to “redeem us from all iniquity [lawlessness], and purify unto Himself a peculiar [special] people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:11-14, 3:8).
The people “redeemed from all iniquity” are truly the people of His mercy, for “His mercy is on them that fear Him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). These are the ones chosen to be His holy nation, a kingdom of priests and His own special people:
“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
“ Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy” (1 Pet 2:9-10).
Once we have obtained mercy, we must make sure His mercy remains with us through constant obedience (Php 2:12). If we refuse His counsel and direction, He will withdraw His mercy and close His merciful eyes to our cries and pleas for deliverance in time of trouble (Prov. 1:23-28).
Because of the incorrigible sins of the people of Judah, the LORD instructed Jeremiah, the prophet: “Pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto Me for their trouble” (Jer. 11:14, 14:11-12).
This is not the precarious situation we should desire for ourselves. Like King David, our desire and prayer should be for God to maintain His mercy towards us forever (Ps 89:28). With words of comfort, the LORD assures us in Isaiah 54:8-10:
“In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
“For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me: for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.”
How gracious! How loving! Whatever happens, the LORD God who loves us and has made us a kingdom of priests will never remove His kindness from us. With Him is plenteous redemption (Ps. 130:7). The Psalmist asks: “Is His mercy clean gone for ever? Doth His promise fail for evermore?” (Ps. 77:8).
The answer is a resounding no: His mercy endureth forever (Ps 100:5).
Because His mercy endures forever, He will continue to be our God of gods and Lord of lords; He will do great wonders; He will overthrow Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea; He will remember us in our low estate and redeem us from our enemies (Ps 136).
For His mercy’s sake, He will do great and wonderful things for us, for His goodness and mercy shall follow us all the days of our lives! Even in wrath, He will remember His mercy towards us and pardon us (Hab. 3:2):
“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy.
“He will turn again, He will have compassion upon us; He will subdue our iniquities; and Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
“ Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, and the mercy to Abraham, which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old” (Micah 7:18-20).
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Amen!