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We have arrived at the 14th installment of the Attributes of God series. The series has developed over time and it's been truly exciting to see the impact. This article will cover the mercifulness of God.
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"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3, NIV).
God is the only deity whose power does not rely on humans. He is alpha and omega on His own and rules on His own terms. Mercy and forgiveness abound in His nature, given freely with no payment required. He was existent before humans and will be forever, never changing.
When God is discussed with mercy, it is often attributed to believers. However, there are countless occasions in the Bible where God grants mercy to nonbelievers, to allow time for their repentance.
Ahab was a son of Omri and became Israel's king in the thirty-eighth year of Asa. He reigned for twenty-two years in Samaria before his death (1 Kings 16:29). During his reign, Ahab and his wife Jezebel brought lawlessness, murder, covertness, idolatry, and forgery into the land of Jezreel and were a stumbling block to Israel as they ushered in the worship of Baal. They did what was wicked in God's sight. Upon coveting Naboth's vineyard for themselves and being denied access to this, Ahab became angry. His wife and he conspired Naboth's death after they had framed him for cursing God (1 Kings 21:11-16). God dealt swiftly with Ahab but had mercy on him after he humbled himself. Even though this was not true repentance on Ahab's part, this shows that God's judgment is righteous.
The Pharisees conjured up a plan to try to discredit Jesus in public (much like atheists today who try to discredit Christians in public). Their plan involved bringing a woman before Jesus who they claimed was caught in an adulterous relationship. They wanted to test Jesus to see if He upheld the Law of Moses that stated that such an ordeal was to be punished by stoning. Before answering, Jesus drew in the sand while there were stones being gathered by the onlookers. Jesus' reply not only shocked the Pharisees, but also the disciples.
“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more" (John 8:7-11, NASB).
While God did not condone adultery as acceptable or common in His presence, He exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees by bringing judgement on someone when they are not free from the burden of sin on their own accord.
Rahab was a woman known for her sin of prostitution and slavery of the body. God chose to redeem this woman after she had truly humbled herself and put her faith in God. She housed God's people in her house, protecting them from the king of Jericho who was searching for them to kill them. Scripture reveals that when Jericho fell, Rahab's house was the only providence left standing, a fulfillment of God's promise (Joshua 6).
There are many, many more examples of God's mercy in the Bible extended to nonbelievers. For time and space reasons, I limited the examples to three.
"Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy"( Micah 7:18, NIV).
If God chose to not show mercy upon the human race and send them Jesus, there would be no hope for life today. No reason to believe in a purpose for existence. However, God did not leave the human race in its fallen depravity. He chose to send His Son as the one-time atonement for sin 4,000 years ago. With a cry of "tetelestai" (the Greek word meaning "it is finished" derived from the word telos meaning "a goal achieved, a result attained"), Jesus paid the ultimate sacrifice that bridged the gap between God and mankind that was severed by man's sin. This gift comes free of charge if one is willing to humble themselves and confess their sins.
"Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy" (Proverbs 28:13, NIV).
God's mercy is an attribute we should strive for as we strive for holiness in this life. Although we are not little gods like false teachers proclaim, we are made in the image of God. We can never see perfection is this life, but for those that believe in a perfect God, we have a hope of eternal security that was bought by Jesus' blood on the cross.
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