As we begin a new year it is good to consider what we are looking forward to. In Messiah all believers are priests, and we are called to carry God’s burden for His people and for His holy name’s sake. These two elements are inseparable: the glory of the holy name of YHVH is connected with the life and character of His people worked out in love for Him and for one another.
Ex 34:6-7 Moses asked God to show him His glory. God answers by saying that He is “YHVH, YHVH God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger (long-suffering), and abounding in lovingkindness (grace) and truth, keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but by no means clearing the guilty. . . ”
The glory of God is seen in His mercy. . . . God did not show Moses then a dazzling light or perform some amazing miracle. Rather, He described His Name, His attributes! He is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, full of good things, especially to those who love Him. He will not acquit those who choose not to repent of their unbelief and rebellion against Him who is Good. But when He does judge, it is only after many opportunities He has already given to any person or nation to fear and to honor Him, the Creator and Redeemer.
Our salvation is dependent upon God’s mercy (Rom 11:30-32). As much as we speak of being saved by grace through faith, it is nonetheless true that we are saved in mercy. We do not deserve it. Mercy is for now; we will not be in need of mercy in the New Heavens and New Earth. There, grace/lovingkindness will abound for all eternity.
We are God’s witnesses; we are Yeshua’s witnesses. It is important that we can explain who He is to others in truth. The Muslims call their God the Merciful One. It is clear that the definition of mercy which they are using is not the same as that which describes our great God and Savior. People often speak of love as most important in our relationships with each other and towards others. That is true, but what definition of love is being understood and lived? Love in the Bible is described like this: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us, sent from the Father to be the propitiation for our sins. (1Jn 3:16; 4:10-11)
What is mercy? That benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice demands. (Webster’s Dictionary, 1828)
Ex 28:9-12,15,21,29-30,36-38 The High Priest bore the names of their brothers and tribes on their shoulders and over their heart when wearing the holy breastplate (ephod).
Lev 4:3; 16:6,11,15,16 Priests were to offer sacrifices first for themselves and their own sins; that is, they were to judge themselves first, and thank God for His righteous mercy, and paying the substitutionary price He required for their sin and sins. Then, they were prepared to be merciful and encouraging to their brothers who were coming to them with their own need to offer to YHVH God the sacrifices for their sins in appreciation of His mercy and grace towards them. Priests under the Law of Moses were to intercede with mercy by the Spirit of God for their brethren.
Mt 5:7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. The merciful will be supplied with more mercy to continue to be merciful!
God will judge even believers if we do not have compassion and show mercy to those who need it from us. (It may not be a salvation issue, but it will surely negatively affect our relationship with the Lord, with others, and will reflect very poorly the name of the Lord which we carry upon us in our lives.) (Mt 6:14-15; Ja 2:13)
Mt 18:32b-34 “‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?!’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him.”
Lk 18:9-14 Some of us think more highly of ourselves than we ought. The truth is usually otherwise. And when we do think we are of a higher spiritual ‘level’ than others, we will surely show no mercy towards them, but will simply dismiss them as ‘not as spiritual’ or ‘not as devoted to God or religion or good works’ as we are. But the eyes of our all-knowing God sees and judges according to a different law: the one who justifies himself is guilty; he who admits he is a sinner is justified.
Lk 10:25-37 While the respected lawyer sought to minimize his sphere of influence and responsiblity towards his fellowman, the disrespected Samaritan proved to be the ‘good neighbor’ to the one who needed help and care: he showed mercy on him.
Lk 23:27-47 (Is 52:13 – 53:12) The glory of God is fully seen in the suffering and the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly He displayed what can only be described as that by which YHVH describes what He is like: merciful, gracious, slow to anger (long-suffering), and abounding in lovingkindness (grace) and truth, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but by no means clearing the guilty. The words of warning He spoke to the women lamenting what was being done to Him; His kind words to one of the criminals being crucified with Him; His gracious words to His disciple and to His mother; His asking the Father to forgive those who did not know what they were doing in crucifying the Lord of Glory.
This year, let us give a priority to the Holy Spirit to conform us to the image of the Son of God in this quality of His compassion and mercy. As we learn to appreciate how much it is that we have been forgiven by God, and what price, we will be enabled to love God and others more.
2Cor 1:3-5 “Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Messiah abound in us, so our consolations also abound through Messiah.”