God Is Merciful
Could our failure to capture the pure joy of mercy consciously experienced be the result of our unbelief or our ignorance, or both? It was so once in Israel. “I bear them record,” Paul testified of Israel, “that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.” They failed because there was at least one thing they did not know, one thing that would have made the difference. And of Israel in the wilderness the Hebrew writer says, “But the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” To receive mercy we must first know that God is merciful. And it is not enough to believe that He once showed mercy to Noah or Abraham or David and will again show mercy in some happy future day. We must believe that God’s mercy is boundless, free and, through Jesus Christ our Lord, available to us now in our present situation.
We may plead for mercy for a lifetime in unbelief, and at the end of our days be still no more than sadly hopeful that we shall somewhere, sometime, receive it. This is to starve to death just outside the banquet hall into which we have been warmly invited. Or we may, if we will, lay hold on the mercy of God by faith, enter the hall, and sit down with the bold and avid souls who will not allow diffidence and unbelief to keep them from the feast of fat things prepared for them.
Arise, my soul, arise;
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding Sacrifice
In my behalf appears:
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His bands.
My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I bear:
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear:
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.
For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
We may plead for mercy for a lifetime in unbelief, and at the end of our days be still no more than sadly hopeful that we shall somewhere, sometime, receive it.
Father, may we not be like the Israelites, who heard the message of hope but did not combine it with faith.