THE MERCIFUL GOD
“And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented [changed His mind] of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did it not.”—Jonah 3:10
After much resistance, Jonah yielded to God to go to Nineveh to preach repentance to that great city in Assyria. Then the pronouncement was made that after forty days God would judge the city with His wrath.
With urgency, the king declared a fast that even included the animals. The people wept and begged for mercy, and with an open heart they prayed to God. Because they humbled themselves in prayer, God lifted His declaration and spoke life, and not death, over them. Our God does not show favoritism,
“for His mercy extends the globe” says John 3:17.
The love and mercy of God can reach anyone—from the uttermost to the guttermost. He can reach out to wherever your unsaved loved ones are and set their feet on the SolidRock of their salvation.
Mercy is the withholding of a just condemnation. Throughout the Bible, God gives many illustrations of His mercy. God fully demonstrates His mercy in Jesus Christ.
God was merciful to the wayward Solomon in 1 Kings 11:13 . God was merciful to Israel in captivity (Psalm 106:45 ; Nehemiah 9:31 ). David illustrated God’s mercy when he showed kindness to Mephibosheth (2 Samuel 9:7 ). God’s mercy was illustrated every year on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest entered the Holiest Place and sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice before the
mercy seat (Leviticus 16:14 ).
Another illustration of God’s mercy is found in Matthew 18:23–27 . In this parable, Jesus describes a rich ruler who was owed a large sum of money. The ruler ordered that money be collected, but then the debtor came and begged for mercy. The ruler, in turn, graciously forgives the debt. Here’s the point: we owed God a debt we could never repay, and He has freely forgiven us that debt in Christ! Interestingly, after the ruler in the parable forgives the debt, the person who owed the money refuses to forgive someone else. The ruler then judges that ungrateful person. God requires us to be merciful and forgiving to others here on earth (see Matthew 6:15 ). We who have been forgiven so much have no right to withhold forgiveness from others.
Mercy is coupled with other attributes of God in Psalm 86:15
“You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (ESV).
God’s mercy is rooted in His love for us. He is merciful, in large part, because He is love (1 John 4:8 ). As sinners, we deserve punishment (Romans 3:23 ). God’s righteousness requires punishment for sin—He wouldn’t be holy otherwise. Since God does love us and is merciful, He sent His Son (John 3:16 ). The fullness of His mercy is seen in Matthew 27 . Jesus is brutally beaten and murdered on our behalf; Jesus received our just condemnation, and we received God’s mercy.
Because of His love for us, God wants us to be with Him. His mercy is required for that to take place; there is an inseparable connection between God’s love and mercy. Jesus laid down His life and became the sacrificial lamb (Isaiah 53:7 ;
John 1:29 ) so that God’s mercy could be extended to us. Instead of punishing us for our sin, God allowed His Son to take the condemnation in our place. That is the ultimate act of God’s mercy
Ephesians 2:4–5. To our eternal benefit, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b ).
DEMONSTRATE HIS LOVE
Think of loved ones who are lost, and pray for their salvation today. Think of those in your city, nation, and world who are lost. Pray for their salvation today. Ask God to be merciful to them and to seed His Spirit to convict, deliver, save, and heal them today.
Jesus, I pray for the lost this day. I pray for my loved ones who are lost. I pray for all the lost in the world. Extend Your mercy and send forth workers into the harvest to proclaim Your GoodNews. Amen.