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October 09, 2013

Mercy

Nehemiah 9

16 “But they and our fathers acted presumptuously and stiffened their neck and did not obey your commandments. 17 They refused to obey and were not mindful of the wonders that you performed among them, but they stiffened their neck and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt. But you are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and did not forsake them. 18 Even when they had made for themselves a golden[c] calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, 19 you in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them and did not withhold your manna from their mouth and gave them water for their thirst. 21 Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness, and they lacked nothing. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell.

26 “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you,and they committed great blasphemies. 27 Therefore you gave them into the hand of their enemies, who made them suffer. And in the time of their suffering they cried out to you and you heard them from heaven, and according to your great mercies you gave them saviors who saved them from the hand of their enemies. 28 But after they had rest they did evil again before you, and you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies, so that they had dominion over them. Yet when they turned and cried to you, you heard from heaven, and many times you delivered them according to your mercies. 29 And you warned them in order to turn them back to your law. Yet they acted presumptuously and did not obey your commandments, but sinned against your rules, which if a person does them, he shall live by them, and they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not obey.30 Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.31 Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end of them or forsake them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.

Here is a prime example of the mercy of God. I am surprised to hear so many people speak of God as being mad and bad in the Old Testament and the God of the New testament as being gracious. Some theology preached even declare that the God of the Old Testament is the God of the Law while the God of the New Testament is the God of grace.

This is a very dangerous and misleading theological statement. All throughout Scripture we see God’s mercy and grace at work. What is also consistent is man’s rebellion against God and God in His great mercy and grace devised a rescue plan to save people from their sin. And in His mercy, He is still continuing to save people from sin.

We have to remember that God is holy and just and He has every right to punish man for their sins. At the same time God is gracious that He gives us a chance to repent of our sin through His kindness towards us.

That is mercy at work.