July 9, 2017

God delights in mercy

When observing the world around me, I relate to the Old Testament prophets. I feel their dismay at how folks disobey God, but also their sense of guilt along with the rest of humanity. If I focus on this too long, my heart is overwhelmed. Yet even in their declarations of God’s judgment, the prophets offered hope!

“Woe is me! For I have become as when the summer fruit has been gathered, as when the grapes have been gleaned: there is no cluster to eat, no first-ripe fig that my soul desires. The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind; they all lie in wait for blood, and each hunts the other with a net. Their hands are on what is evil, to do it well; the prince and the judge ask for a bribe, and the great man utters the evil desire of his soul; thus they weave it together. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright of them a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen, of your punishment, has come; now their confusion is at hand. Put no trust in a neighbor; have no confidence in a friend; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your arms; for the son treats the father with contempt, the daughter rises up against her mother, the daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own house. But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.” (Micah 7:1–7)

Micah knew that God had promised a Savior. Many decades would pass before He came, yet this man was fully convinced that God would keep His promise.

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:18–19)

“Steadfast love” is translated “mercy” in some Bible versions, probably because the love of God is a mercy. No one deserves it, but God delights in being a merciful God. He hates sin and could rightfully determine wrath as our fate, but He delights in loving us, in showing kindness to us, even though our disobedience deserves wrath.

Jesus, indeed who is a God like You? You forgive our sin and because of Your blood shed for us, You pass over our transgressions — much like the angel of death passed over the homes of Your people in Egypt simply because the blood of a lamb covered the doors of their homes. If God retained anger, we would perish, but that wrath You accepted. In compassion, You ‘tread our iniquities underfoot.’ Micah knew You would cast sin into the depths of the sea because You promised to do it. I know that You have cast my sin into the depths of the sea because You have done it! What joy is mine because You delight in mercy and in loving me!

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