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God's Mercy: Quiet gift of perfect love

God's Mercy: Quiet gift of perfect love
God's Mercy: Approach, my soul, the mercy seat, Where Jesus answers prayer; There humbly fall before His feet, For none can perish there.

God’s Mercy: Quiet gift of perfect love:

The LORD is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression…. Numbers 14:18

The word “mercy” appears 276 times in the King James Bible. That is more than “grace” (170) and a little less than “love” (311) but not up to “sin” (448) and “blood” (447). What does it mean?



mer·cy ˈmər-sē

plural mercies

Synonyms of mercy

1a: compassion or forbearance (see FORBEARANCE sense 1) shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power

also : lenient or compassionate treatment

begged for mercy

b: imprisonment rather than death imposed as penalty for first-degree murder

2a: a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion

May God have mercy on us.

b: a fortunate circumstance

it was a mercy they found her before she froze

3: compassionate treatment of those in distress

works of mercy among the poor

God’s Mercy in the Old Testament

The first time we see the word in the Bible is in Genesis when the LORD saves Lot and his family from destruction in Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot was Abraham’s* nephew and because they were both very wealthy in terms of cattle and land they had to split up. Abraham let Lot have first choice, and he chose the land of Sodom because it was the best land, even though the people were wicked.

* means there is a short bio or that person in SPIRITUAL LIVES

When their day of judgment came, the LORD sent His angels to deliver Lot and his daughters. Lot was thankful for the mercy, but not inclined to follow the angels’ instructions. God’s mercy had saved them from death. They were dead without His help. Their lives were spared but they did not live them for the LORD. God still gave mercy. This was mercy according to definition 1: a above.

God’s mercy to Abraham is on display as he seeks a wife for Isaac:*

Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren.- Genesis 24:27

This is another kind of mercy, not of forbearance but of power. This mercy opens to Abraham’s servant blessings he had no chance of obtaining. This demonstrates that when a man’s ways please the LORD, His mercy operates in his favor.

We see this again with Joseph* fifteen chapters later. He had been kidnapped and sold into slavery by his brothers. Worse was to come when he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison by an angry husband.

God was with the young man in his trouble and showed him favor by giving him mercy from the jailor, something impossible for a Hebrew in hostile Egypt. This mercy granted him his opportunity to read Pharaoh’s dream, save Egypt, and become the governor of the land.

While he was operating in this capacity, his father prayed that he would show mercy to his sons as they went to Egypt to survive the famine. This was the beginning of the regular prayer for mercy that was central to the Old Testament worship.

Moses* tells us that it was in Mercy that God led His people out of Egypt:

Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. – Exodus 15:13

This was the same Mercy we had seen with Lot, Abraham, and Joseph, but on a much larger scale. This mercy is linked directly to redemption and the road to His kingdom. It is at the heart of God’s purpose and plan for the restoration of the perfect creation destroyed by sin.

The rest of the Torah explains how the center of forgiveness is the "mercy seat "(26 times) the seat of pure gold covered by the 15-cubit wings of the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. This was the spot where the blood of the sacrificial lamb was placed in looking forward to the perfect Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Hallelujah!

This is holy reading. These are the words of the LORD:

And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.

And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.

And the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings on high, covering the mercy seat with their wings, and their faces shall look one to another; toward the mercy seat shall the faces of the cherubims be.

And thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark; and in the ark thou shalt put the testimony that I shall give thee.

And there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubims which are upon the ark of the testimony, of all things which I will give thee in commandment unto the children of Israel. - Exodus 25:17-22

The mercy seat was put in place while the children of Israel were in the wilderness from 1493-1452 BC. David had witnessed its operation at the center of the worship system for 500 years and gave this testimony:

For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. – David in Psalm 86:5

This divine Mercy was first displayed to Adam* and Eve* after they had sinned.

The LORD had told Adam, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. – Genesis 2:17

From the beginning, the devil was out to get Adam and Eve and was expecting them to die when they ate the forbidden fruit. That is the devil’s nature, he was a murderer and thief always doing any and everything he could to hurt God and His people. God is completely different. He is love, created everything good, and wants to pour out His blessings on everyone.

That first day of judgment came in Eden and it was a terrible one for the serpent, the man and the woman, and human history. Death came into the world, as God said, for He cannot lie (Numbers 23:19), but He had compassion on the sinners and delayed the execution of their sentence. This was the first act of mercy, and it made all continuing life and civilization possible. Mercy is a natural fruit of love, the divine or “Agape” love of God described in 1 Corinthians 13.

This first display of mercy was epic and it was sanctified by the shedding of blood when the LORD made Adam and Eve clothes of skin to protect them. The devil’s work is entirely in the opposite direction, motivated by hatred and tempting to sin and destruction. Its unbridled end is death and destruction.

The world was destroyed by the Great Flood because of this, but even then, God showed mercy to the eight people who were faithful to Him.

By Abraham’s day the world was heading in the same direction again, and the LORD called Abram and Sarai from idolatry in love and gave them the gift of faith. When they believed Him, He showed them mercy and favor as illustrated in the instances of Lot, Abraham’s servant, Joseph, and Jacob above.

In Egypt, the children of Israel were bound by sin and God brought them out as an act of mercy. The book of Exodus is the basis for this deliverance, and while it was established as a great deliverance for His people it spelled destruction for those who hate God, i.e., the idol worshippers.

The whole context the LORD presents the Ten Commandments in is one damning idol worship and false religion. God destroyed Egypt because of idol worship, not that the idols of Egypt had any power, but that they stood in God’s place, and God is a “jealous God.” So thoroughly does He abhor them that He visits those who worship them with “iniquity” to three or four generations.

Mercy opens the door to grace, the source of our salvation, but before Jesus* came, Moses set up the vast operation of the sacrificial/Levitical system to attain mercy for their sins.

Through the blood offered in the animal sacrifices, mercy has been claimed millions of times. The biggest concentration of mercy claims is in Psalms, where there are one hundred. Psalm 136 completes each of its twenty-six verses with “for His mercy endureth forever.”

What is all this about? Is the Holy Spirit using an empty tautology? No, says Salomon Gesner (German theologian and educationist (1559-1605)

“but our great necessity demands it: for in temptations and dangers the flesh begins to doubt of the mercy of God; therefore, nothing should be so frequently impressed on the mind as this, that the mercy of God does not fail, that the Eternal Father wearies not in remitting our sins. “.

God’s mercy is a majestic quality, for God is a king, and we reflect His majesty and love when we show mercy to others.

Mercy fills the pages of the Old Testament appearing sixteen times in Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, three times in Ezra, and four in Nehemiah. God’s character is loving, compassionate, and above all merciful (this adjective is used another forty times).

He shows extraordinary mercy to David for his sin and Hezekiah to mention two godly kings. Even more amazing is the mercy He gave to wicked king Ahab and even more wicked Manasseh.

Psalmists fill their songs with praise, and the wise kings of proverbs teach their sons the value of mercy: He that covereth his sins shall not prosper but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:26

Prophets major and minor advance the qualities of mercy:

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. – Isaiah 55:7

And I will shew mercies unto you, that he may have mercy upon you, and cause you to return to your own land. --- Jeremiah 42:12

The first minor prophet tells the beautiful story of Hosea’s marriage to a prostitute as an analogy for Israel’s whoredom with idolatry. The most remarkable narrative of mercy takes place in Nineveh where the LORD saves the wicked Assyrian capital from destruction through Jonah’*s preaching.

The Old Testament ends with an affirmation of future mercy that will not fail:

I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them. – Zechariah 10:6

God’s Mercy in the New Testament

Mercy appears fifty-nine times in the New Testament vs. 217 in the Old. With Jesus’ coming, mercy became more visible. Jesus speaks about mercy in the Sermon on the Mount, saying,

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

Later He explains His mission in terms of mercy:

I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. -Matthew 9:13

In the Old Testament the worship system commanded sanctification through prayer and sacrifice and the sprinkling of blood on the mercy seat before mercy was given. Jesus came into the world to be the sacrifice and to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21).

He began right away by showing His compassion for those who needed mercy:

  • The woman of Canaan: Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. – Matthew 15:22

  • A father for his son: Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water. Matthew 17:15

  • Two blind men sitting by the wayside, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. – Matthew 20:30

  • Ten lepers: Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go show yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. – Luke 17:23-14

Jesus’ Parables on Mercy

When a lawyer asked Him what he must do to be saved, Jesus told him to love his neighbor as himself. The lawyer asked, Who is my neighbor?”

The Good Samaritan

Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan who had mercy on a Jew who had been assaulted, robbed, and left for dead on the road to Jericho. A priest and a Levite passed by 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 on him,

And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.

Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?

And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise. –Luke 10:33-37

The Rich Man and Lazarus

A rich man and a beggar died on the same day. But they ended up in different places.

And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. –Luke 16:22-24

The Pharisee and Publican Pray

Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.

I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. –Luke 18:10-14

Jesus is the root from which mercy flows. He is the fulfillment and embodiment of the love and compassion we recognize as mercy. These are the gentler qualities of mercy that we love, the qualities of Jesus who is meek and lowly of heart, He of whom Isaiah says, “A bruised reed He shall not break,” the mercy Shakespeare describes in the Merchant of Venice:

The quality of mercy is not strained;

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest;

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:

'T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown:

His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,

The attribute to awe and majesty,

Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;

But mercy is above this sceptred sway;

It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings,

It is an attribute to God himself;

And earthly power doth then show likest God's

When mercy seasons justice.

This mercy is a visual property of the Gospel and Salvation Jesus sent His disciples to teach the world. It is, of course, the same mercy God gave in the Old Testament, the mercy that overflowed from Jesus and through the rest of the New Testament.

St. Paul mentions mercy twenty-eight times, nine in Romans alone where he lays this foundation of Christian doctrine: For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. – Romans 9:15-16

In Philippians, he testifies that God’s mercy heals:

For indeed he (fellow laborer Epaphroditus) was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.Philippians 2:27

Paul fleshes out the role of mercy to Titus:

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; --Titus 3:5

Yes, the Baptism of the Holy Ghost is a product of His Mercy. Then and now!

Hebrews extends this blessing of mercy to us, again encouraging us in the Lord:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:16

Jesus’ brother sees His mercy as a part of divine wisdom:

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. – James 3:17.

His other brother encourages us to this mercy as our ongoing hope:

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.Jude 1:21

God’s Mercy Today

My life is a testimony to the fact that His mercy endureth forever! Jeremiah tells us They are new every morning. – Lamentations 3:23

I have found it so.

Jesus healed me from asthma, eczema, and throat cancer. This was His mercy! Greater mercy still was that He saved me from my sin, so vile that I deserved Hell, or “to be consumed” as Jeremiah puts it.

Jesus loved me, unlovable as I am, and saved me when I was a little boy. He came into my room and touched me, and I have never been the same.

When I got too smart for the Bible, I walked away from that narrow road that leads to life and began to plunge down the BROADWAY that leads to destruction. I would have reached destruction long ago, but Jesus would not let me go.

He came after me as the Good Shepherd, even though I was a faithless sheep. Why? Mercy. But why again? Because He gave His life for His sheep. He gave His blood on the cross to wash away my sins! Hallelujah, Hallelujah! HALLELUJAH!!!

I love Him today and am so thankful for His mercy. You are His sheep too! Enjoy His mercy today!

The mercies of God What a theme for my song

Oh I never could number them o'er

They're more than the stars in the heavenly dome

Or the sands of the wave beaten shore.


For mercies so great, What return can I make

For mercies so constant and sure

I'll love him, I'll serve Him with all that I have

As long as my life shall endure.

They greet me at morn when I waken from sleep

And they gladden my heart at the noon

They follow me on into shades of the night

when the day with its labor is done.

His angels of mercy encompass me round

Wheresoever my pathway my lead

Each turn of the road some new token reveals

Oh For me life is blessed indeed.

- Thomas O, Chisholm, 1935

O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. – Psalm 90:13

God's Mercy rests on the Mercy Seat of the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle.

God's Mercy: Quiet gift of perfect love Approach, my soul, the mercy seat, Where Jesus answers prayer; There humbly fall before His feet, For none can perish there.

illustrators of the 1890 Holman Bible -

The Mercy Seat, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible

Public Domain

File:Holman The Mercy Seat.jpg

Created: 1 January 1890

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