The Attributes of God Devotional - God is Merciful
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end” (Lam 3:22).
This verse in Lamentations 3 draws our attention back to the prophet Jeremiah’s lament over the city of Jerusalem during its destruction by Babylon. What sorrowful lament indeed to see the city of God’s people decimated and deserted in judgment. Most of us have not had to witness a city laid to waste and abandoned, let alone a city so full of covenant promise. Yet when Jeremiah bore witness, he recounted God’s mercy, the attribute of steadfast love that never ceases. Even if the cities around us are destroyed, we should reflect on the great patience, compassion, and kindness that is revealed in God’s mercy.
Scripture often translates the Hebrew term Raham as “to be merciful,” and indicates one’s sympathetic view of another’s distress. Like His other attributes, God’s mercy is perfect, infinite, and is part of God’s love, goodness, and patience. It is not in conflict with any other attributes like His justice; rather, we cannot fully understand God’s attribute of mercy until we juxtapose it with His justice. God’s righteous justice requires that sinners receive judgment, yet in generous love, God pities our condition and relieves our misery. Scripture is replete with examples of God’s mercy on display to both the sinner and the saved. When Noah preached repeatedly to the ones that practiced evil continually (Gen 6:9), every day it did not rain God was showing His mercy. In Sodom’s destruction, God showed His mercy in sending angelic messengers to save Lot and his family. In Exodus 33, when Moses desired to partake of a deeper understanding of God he was exposed to the attribute of God’s mercy. “And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Ex 33:19).
The proclamation of the Lord here to Moses is not just that He will be merciful to whom He chooses, but that His mercy will be certain, which is the foundation of our great hope; most vividly in our Lord becoming flesh. His covenanting with us in our misery, redeeming sinners, and ultimately paying our unpayable debt on the cross, is the ultimate expression of God’s mercy; infinite compassion on those who do not deserve such kindness.
The mercy of God is at the heart of the gospel and should be the focus of our witness to the unbelieving world, especially in times of destruction, sickness, and lament all around us today. These symptoms of the world’s fallen condition are warnings of a coming greater judgment. Even in our worst day, God is showing us His mercy, and while we have breath and opportunity we should reflect this attribute in our conduct. This attribute, after all, is a communicable attribute, one that we should imitate. 1 John 3:17 teaches “If anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” How merciless is it to stay silent about what we believe and what is our only true hope in a time like this?
We are living during a time of a pandemic far greater than a virus that can hurt the flesh; a spiritual pandemic. The world’s solution will always be no less than an idol. No matter how bad the circumstances may appear politically, economically, or socially, God’s mercy abounds. I encourage you to read Ps 136 today and consider how many daily examples we have, even in quarantine, of how “the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever!”
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