Thank God for Mercy
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“And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways, nor according to your corrupt deeds, O house of Israel,” declares the Lord God. (Ezekiel 20:44 esv)
People don’t like to obey God. That’s a problem. No matter how religious or how good we think we are, at the end of the day, there is something inside of us—what the Bible calls a sin nature—that rails against God. And that rebellious nature deserves God’s judgment.
We see this worked out in ancient Israel as God chose a people to live in covenant partnership with Him. He chose them out of pure grace and faithfully blessed them. But the entire time God was walking with the people, they rebelled against His rule. They complained incessantly instead of giving thanks for God’s provision. They worshiped idols made of wood and stone despite God appearing to them visibly and giving them bread from heaven. They ignored His commands about sabbath rest created for their own sake. They tried to depose the good leaders God placed over them. And at times they even sacrificed their own children by fire.
Now, if you were God, and you’d both created such a people and set them free from oppression, don’t you think you’d have cause to be angry? And indeed, God’s wrath sometimes found its mark, because great injustices had been committed that had to be dealt with by the only One with the right to judge. But the amazing part is what else happened. Over and over again, God had mercy—because God is mercy.
In Ezekiel 20-21, God spoke through the prophet Ezekiel to let His people know how they’d wronged Him and what sort of punishment they deserved—what amounted to total annihilation. But then God extended His arms in mercy, not once, not twice, but after every description of their well-deserved condemnation. Hear just one of those moments: “Nevertheless, my eye spared them, and I did not destroy them or make a full end of them.” (Ezekiel 20:17) This is who God is.
Since the beginning of their journey together, God had revealed Himself to Israel this way: “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.” (Exodus 34:6-7)That’s God’s nature; even though He is God of justice, He is perpetually a Father of mercies. And that mercy is beyond our experience as humans. His compassion is as much greater than our compassion as the heavens are higher than the earth (Isaiah 55:7-9).
And that is something we can be thankful for today and every day. Are you a terrible covenant partner with God? Do you do something every day that deserves His judgment? Join the club. And God’s mercy is ready for you. What a joy! What a gift! All God requires is a heart of repentance, a humble soul that recognizes we have failed Him and confesses our wrongs. As Jesus said to all believers, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
We can experience God’s mercy so much more in our lives and in our communities as believers if we will own this truth. James 5 calls on believers to come together for this great purpose of healing, cleansing, and comfort. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:16) Remember the mercy waiting for you in the Father’s arms, and remember the healing available to you in the community of believers. The path to wholeness and thankfulness is here for us. Let’s walk it together!
Scripture is quoted from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®). ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.
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