Mercy is an amazing word. When I hear it spoken it is an immediate reminder to me of God. When it comes to mercy, God is the original. He is what makes mercy so beautiful. Without the acts of God’s mercy in the backdrop of our lives, we will never truly understand how to receive mercy, let alone be able to extend it to others.
Isaiah 48:9 -11 “For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another
The first act of Mercy I see in the Bible is in the Garden of Eden. Eve had eaten of the fruit and gave some to her husband, the curse had been implemented and now everything is different. There was a tree in the garden designed to sustain man’s existence eternally. But God did not desire that man live forever in separation from Him, so He cast him from the garden to live in toil and by the sweat of his brow. So this was truly mercy, for He had already promised a Redeemer that would one day crush the head of the Serpent that deceived Eve, and make reconciliation. The promise was the seed of a woman.
You might ask, “Why did God do it this way?” “Why not just fix the whole thing before it got any worse?”
I believe the answer to this is that God is far more concerned with His Glory than He is with man’s happiness. To say otherwise would be idolatry. His Glory is the basis of everything He does. From creation to redemption, to judgment, all is for His praise and glory.
Move forward to the story of Lot and his family. They lived in a town full of wickedness, sin and corruption. It had not been so long that the Flood was forgotten, but this is the nature of sin and rebellion, to live for the now, forgetting the past, and ignore future consequences.
In the city was a man who was no different in nature but whose eyes understood the promise of the redeemer. He was considered righteous but only through his belief in God’s promise to Abraham.
Eventually fire rained down upon that city because of their sin and idolatry, but even in the midst of this peril, Lot recognized the mercy of God. “Behold, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have shown me great kindness/mercy in saving my life.” Genesis 19:19
The cities were overthrown and burning and yet Lot’s wife disobediently looked back. Why is this a big deal? I think we can assume that she was not looking back in compassion for the lost, but rather in self-pity. Here she is, in the mercy of God and in the flight of escape, and she looked back. I think she disapproved of a God that would allow this destruction. Her home was gone, her friends were gone, the city was destroyed, and all by the purposes of God. She did not value the purposes of God and His plan to glorify himself in the destruction of Sin. We find the same mindset today when someone says “I cannot serve a God who allows destruction in this world.” Or “A God of love would not allow anyone to go to hell.” All the while he or she is surrounded by the wonderful mercies of God and the Gospel of Christ and if he or she would just look to Him, they too would be saved.
Moses was instructed to make a place for Israel to meet and fellowship with God. In the center of this system of community was the Mercy Seat. It would seem that all eyes were on that place, for even the golden Cherubim were built to face the Mercy Seat. This is where the blood of the sacrifice was applied. The smoke of the incense would rise to cover the Mercy Seat. It was the place where the eyes of a holy God would turn from the guilty man to the innocent sacrifice, and place the sinless account of the lamb on the stained lives of the sinful.
Flash forward to the New Covenant sealed by the blood of Christ. The true seat of mercy is the throne of God. No one can enter before that throne unless bearing the account of the sinless Son of God. He is our perfect sacrifice and great High Priest. He bled innocent blood on the cross, entered as the only Mediator into the Holy of Holies in Heaven, and secured everlasting mercy for all who trust Him.