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Our Merciful Father

Our Merciful Father

    When one contemplates the Characteristics of God, mercy must surely come to mind. God has shown His love in various ways to all of mankind since time began and even up to the present.   Therefore, many confuse the mercy of God with His love.   John 3:16 clearly states that God loves the world.   For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  But just because God created the world and loved it so much, He sent His son to die, does not mean that His Mercy is unconditional.

   In Exodus 34:5-6 as God led Israel out of Egyptian bondage and toward the Promised Land, He called Moses to Mount Sinai to receive the tables of stone on which were written the decalogue. God appeared to Moses and told Moses some of His (God’s) attributes.   And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth,  Then as we read Deuteronomy 4:31 it is clear that God’s Mercy is directly proportionate to His Law. This was written to God’s O.T. people Israel.   (For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.  God’s Covenant is His Law.

     The fact that God’s Mercy is “tied” to His Law is apparent in Exodus 20:6 in the midst of where the Ten Commandments are first stated. God stated the conditions in which His Mercy would be extended to His O.T. people Israel. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandmentsHis Commandments must be kept.   God’s Covenant with Israel is known as the Old Testament.   That Covenant was only with Israel, and not with the rest of the world.

    Yet, while the O.T. Law was still in effect, the Holy Spirit, through the prophets told of the final dispensation of time and the last Law of God to all mankind.   Isaiah was one of these prophets. In Isaiah 2:2 this was foretold. And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.   Notice in this prophecy, God’s covenant in the “Last Days” would be with “all nations”, or applicable to all people.

     We see in Hebrews 1:1-2 that God no longer speaks to man through the prophets, but through His Son.   God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; It is affirmed that Christ “fulfilled” the O.T. Law in His own Words of Matt 5:17.   Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. As He fulfilled the “Old Law”, He instituted the “New”.

     This “New Law” – the New Testament is God’s final instruction to man. In Hebrews 8:8-11 we read why this New Law was given. Also, under this New Law forgiveness of sin is part of God’s Mercy.   For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:  9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. Under this “New Law”, God’s mercy is available to all who will Keep His Commandments and obey His Law.    For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. 

    God is the Father of mercies as 2Corinthians 1:3 tells us, and verse 4 says He comforts us so we will be able to comfort others.   Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.  That comfort comes from God’s own Word. Romans 15:4 shows this as well as the hope we have through the scriptures. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.  It is also through the scriptures we learn how to be forgiven.

     Is there any comfort greater than knowing that sins can be forgiven? Is there any mercy greater than the forgiveness of sins?  Mercy by definition is: compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one's power to punish or harm.   God offers mercy, and in 2Peter 2:9 He also promises to punish those who refuse that mercy. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:  Won’t you seek God’s mercy today and be obedient to His Commandments and become His child?  

                                    Dennis Strickland – Mooresville church of Christ

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