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The mercy of the Lord

The mercy of the Lord is a much spoken subject in the Word of God. Really, the word "mercy" appears there over 250 times and today we will have a look at some of these occurrences.

1. Mercy: what is it?

To understand what mercy is, we will start from Luke 10:30-37. There, Jesus is using a parable to answer the question of a lawyer about who is his neighbor:

Luke 10:30-37
"Then Jesus answered and said: A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, "Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you." So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?" and he said, "He who showed MERCY on him."

In contrast to the priest and the Levite, the Samaritan denied to be indifferent to the half-dead traveler. Instead, he had compassion on him; he showed him mercy and helped him. Mercy therefore is to have compassion on someone; to help out of love without expecting something in return. And the Lord is very rich in it. As Ephesians 2 characteristically tells us:

Ephesians 2:4-6
"BUT GOD WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE WITH WHICH HE LOVED US, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES, MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

It was not our worth or what we could do that gave us salvation but the grace, love and mercy of God. As the one the thieves had left half-dead, so we were dead in trespasses. Religion, philosophy and all else could not help us. They passed us by as the Levite and the priest. However, the Lord "WHO IS RICH IN MERCY, BECAUSE OF HIS GREAT LOVE WITH WHICH HE LOVED US, EVEN WHEN WE WERE DEAD IN TRESPASSES, MADE US ALIVE TOGETHER WITH CHRIST" He stretched His hand and "delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love" (Colossians 1:12-13). As I Peter 1:3 tells us:

I Peter 1:3
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who ACCORDING TO HIS ABUNDANT MERCY has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead"

and Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"

We were dead. He was full of love, mercy and compassion. He stretched out his hand and made us alive. Though unworthy, He made us worthy. Though sinners, He made us righteous. Though His enemies, He reconciled us with Himself. Though in the kingdom of darkness, He transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. Really, how great His grace, love and mercy for each of us personally.

2. "Vessels of mercy"

Continuing on the same topic, we will go to Romans 9. There in verses 15-16 we read:

Romans 9: 15-16
"For He says to Moses, I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion." So then it is not of him who wills, nor of him who runs, BUT OF GOD WHO SHOWS MERCY"

In other words, it is not how much we run. It does not have to do with our power and efforts but rather with the mercy of God. Without His mercy, of our own selves, we can do nothing (John 5:30, 15:5).

Keeping on, Romans 9:22-24 tells us:

Romans 9:22-24
"what if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering, the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the VESSELS OF MERCY, which He had prepared beforehand for glory EVEN US whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?"

Though there are vessels of wrath, we are NOT of them. In contrast, we are vessels of mercy that God prepared beforehand to know the riches of His glory. HE PREPARED US FOR GLORY! His mercy is from generation to generation. As Luke 1:50 tells us:

Luke 1:50
"His mercy is on those who fear Him, from generation to generation"

And as Psalms 25:10 say:

Psalms 25:10
"ALL THE PATHS OF THE LORD ARE MERCY AND TRUTH, to such as keep His covenant and His testimonies"

Continuing in Psalms and the subject of mercy, we give below some further characteristic references to it:

Psalms 33:18
"Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him, on those who hope in His mercy"

Psalms 32:10
"He who trusts in the Lord, mercy shall surround him"

Psalms 33:5
"The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord"

Psalms 36:7-10
"How precious is Your lovingkindness [mercy- same Hebrew word as in all other places], O God! Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of your wings. They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your pleasures. For with you is the fountain of life; In your light we see light. Oh, continue your lovingkindness [mercy] to those who know you, and your righteousness to the upright in heart."

Psalms 57:10
"Your mercy reaches unto the heavens, and your truth unto the clouds."

Psalms 63:3
"Your lovingkindness [mercy] is better than life"

Psalms 69:16
"Your lovingkindness [mercy] is good"

Psalms 86:15
"But you, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth"

Psalms 103:13, 17
"As a father pities [the Hebrew word means "to love deeply, have mercy, be compassionate"] his children, SO THE LORD PITIES THOSE WHO FEAR HIM..... the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him.."

Psalms 89:14
"Mercy and truth go before Your face"

Psalms 103:11
"For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him"

Psalms 103:1-4
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies"

Psalms 118:1
"Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever"

Though there are many other references to the Lord's mercy, summarizing what we have seen till now:

• God is rich in mercy, and He has begotten us again according to His abundant mercy.

• All His ways are mercy and truth and these are going before Him.

• All the earth is full of His mercy. His mercy remains from generation to generation to those who fear Him.

• His eye is on those who trust in His mercy and mercy surrounds them.

• His mercy is good and precious. It is better than life!

• As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.

• His mercy on us is as big as the distance of heaven from earth and He crown us with mercy and lovingkindness.

• We are vessels of mercy, prepared by Him for glory!

3. More examples of the Lord's mercy.

Moving further, we will see some more examples of the Lord's mercy as these are given in the Bible. Thus, it was the Lord's mercy on Abraham, that lead his servant in the land of his ancestors, to find a wife for Isaac. After all that is recorded in Genesis 24:1-25 and after meeting Rebecca, Isaac's future wife, the servant:

"bowed down his head and worshipped the Lord. And he said, "Blessed be the Lord God of my master, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master."

It was the Lord's mercy that saved Lot and his family from Sodom's destruction:

Genesis 19:17-19
"So it came to pass, when they [the angels] had brought them outside, that he said, "Escape for your life! Do not look behind you nor stay anywhere in the plain. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed." Then Lot said to them, "Please no, my lords! Indeed now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and YOU HAVE INCREASED YOUR MERCY which you have shown me by saving my life"

It was the Lord's grace and mercy that kept Joseph during the first difficult years in Egypt:

Genesis 39:21
"But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison"

Despite the difficulties, that were all in the plan of the Lord, the Lord was with Joseph and showed him mercy.

4. "Let us therefore come boldly...."

The mercy of the Lord is not something that is given with measure. It is not something the Lord gives sometimes. He does not have mercy on us on a periodic basis but rather on a permanent basis. IT IS A CHARACTERISTIC OF HIS VERY NATURE. As He advises us in Hebrews 4:

Hebrews 4:14-16
"Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. LET US THEREFORE COME BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF GRACE, THAT WE MAY OBTAIN MERCY AND FIND GRACE TO HELP IN TIME OF NEED"

We need mercy. There is no-one that does not need it. Let's therefore come boldly to the throne of grace to receive what we need. Let's open our hearts to God. Let's ask for His mercy and compassion on us, as David did in respective situations:

Psalms 4:1
"have mercy on me, and hear my prayer."

Psalms 6:2
"Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak"

Psalms 9:13
"Have mercy on me, O LORD! Consider my trouble from those who hate me"

Psalms 25:16
"Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me, For I am desolate and afflicted."

Psalms 30:10
"Hear, O LORD, and have mercy on me; LORD, be my helper!"

Psalms 31:9
"Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am in trouble;....... Make Your face shine upon Your servant; Save me for Your mercies' sake."

Psalms 51:1
"Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions."

Psalms 86:16
"Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant, And save the son of Your maidservant."

Psalms 123
"...as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their masters, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, until He has mercy on us. Have mercy on us, O LORD, have mercy on us!"

None of those who sought the Lord's mercy left empty. Really:

The two blind men

Matthew 9:27-31
"When Jesus departed from there, two blind men followed Him, crying out and saying, "SON OF DAVID, HAVE MERCY ON US!" And when He had come into the house, the blind men came to Him. And Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to Him, "Yes, Lord." Then He touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith let it be to you." AND THEIR EYES WERE OPENED."

The woman of Canaan

Matthew 15:22-28
"And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "HAVE MERCY ON ME, O LORD, SON OF DAVID! My daughter is severely demon-possessed." But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us." But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!" But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs." And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." AND HER DAUGHTER WAS HEALED FROM THAT VERY HOUR."

The child with the demon

Matthew 17:15, 18
"LORD, HAVE MERCY ON MY SON, for he is an epileptic and suffers severely; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water......And Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of him; AND THE CHILD WAS CURED FROM THAT VERY HOUR."

Another two blind men

Matthew 20:30-34
"And behold, two blind men sitting by the road, when they heard that Jesus was passing by, cried out, saying, "HAVE MERCY ON US, O LORD, SON OF DAVID!" Then the multitude warned them that they should be quiet; but they cried out all the more, saying, "HAVE MERCY ON US, O LORD, SON OF DAVID!" So Jesus stood still and called them, and said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" They said to Him, "Lord, that our eyes may be opened." So JESUS HAD COMPASSION and touched their eyes. AND IMMEDIATELY THEIR EYES RECEIVED SIGHT, and they followed Him."

5. Conclusion

The Lord's mercy and compassion for His children is really without measure, as the distance of heavens from the earth. We are vessels of mercy, vessels prepared by Him for glory! He has surrounded us with His love and compassion. He is rich in mercy. To reiterate the invitation of Hebrews 4

Hebrews 4:16
LET US THEREFORE COME BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF GRACE, THAT WE MAY OBTAIN MERCY AND FIND GRACE TO HELP IN TIME OF NEED"

Anastasios Kioulachoglou