Mercy :: by Grant Phillips

According to the Blue Letter Bible, the word “mercy”, in the King James translation (KJV), occurs 276 times in 261 verses. God’s mercy is shown so many times in the Bible and in our own lives we often fail to see it. If you would do a concordance check of this word, you will see that God’s mercy abounds. Keep in mind too His mercy is quite evident in the Bible even when the actual word, “mercy”, is not in the passage. I could accurately begin by stating that if but for His mercy, we would all be in hell.

During the days of Noah, the world had become so corrupt God told Noah to build an Ark, because He was going to destroy every human and animal on earth, excluding those He specifically saved via the Ark. It took Noah and his sons 120 years to build the Ark, and during any part of that time, anyone could have repented and come to God, but they did not. Some will say that God was cruel to destroy so many, but how can that be when He gave mankind 120 years to repent? They watched the “gallows being built”, so to speak, but mocked their own destiny. God’s mercy is quite evident. (Genesis 6:13 and following)

Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them were warned, and then destroyed. In God’s mercy He warned them, and in His mercy, He removed His own first. (Genesis 18:20 and following)

Abraham had to send Hagar and her son Ishmael away. She and her son were ready to die of thirst in the desert, but God provided water for them, saved them from the desert’s elements, and made of Ishmael a great nation. That’s mercy. (Genesis 21:14 and following)

When Elijah prophesied to Ahab that God would hold the rain, the Lord provided water and fed Elijah at the brook of Cherith via ravens. “And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.” (1 Kings 17:4) “And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.” (1 Kings 17:6) In God’s mercy, He provided for His prophet.

On another occasion Jezebel had sent word to Elijah that she was going to kill him. He fled to Beersheba and found himself a day’s journey into the wilderness. He rested under the shade of a juniper tree (which would grow up to ten feet) and God gave him water and fed him via an angel. Again, God’s mercy is shown upon Elijah. (1Kings 19:1-7)

Another prophet, Jonah, was eventually “persuaded” by God to witness toNineveh (the Assyrians). They repented. Jonah didn’t like it, because he hated the corrupt Assyrians and knew that God was merciful and would forgive them if they repented. “And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.” (Jonah 4:2) The Assyrians were very evil and cruel people, but they repented, and God granted them mercy.

So Jonah pouted, left the city, sat on the east side (where it’s the hottest), built a crude shelter and had a pity party. God prepared a gourd for Jonah to ease his misery under the hot sun, but then also prepared a worm to destroy the gourd the next morning. Therefore, the gourd withered. The sun arose again, and Jonah complained, again. However, I believe God got the last word. “And God said to Jonah, Doest thou well to be angry for the gourd? And he said, I do well to be angry even unto death. Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:9-11) Isn’t it great that God’s mercy supersedes ours?

In Luke 15:11 and following, Jesus gives the account of what we commonly call the “prodigal son.” (The word “prodigal” is not in the Bible, as also with words Trinity, Bible, and Rapture). There are three accounts of mercy shown by the Lord in this passage: (1) the elder son refers to Israel and the younger son refers to the Gentiles. God always intended for Israel to share Him with the other nations. Jesus is telling them that He will die on the cross for all who will come to Him, not just Jews, (2) the elder son refers to an elder son and the younger son simply refers to a younger son. In other words, God is waiting for any child of His who sins to come home (1 John 1:9), (3) same as number two; any person who is without God in their life can come through Jesus and be reborn (John 3:16).

The greatest example of mercy in the entire Bible is at the cross. People often talk about being “fair.” “God should be fair!” If God were “fair,” we would all be in hell (Romans 3:23; 6:23), but in His mercy He gave His Son as a redemption price for anyone who would come to Him through His Son Jesus.

Some Christians say that those of us who believe in the Rapture (because it’s promised in the Bible by the way) are escapists. We just want to escape the Tribulation. Well, guess what? I want to escape the Tribulation, and I thank the Lord Jesus Christ that as part of His Church, the bride, I shall “escape” the Tribulation. That is mercy from God, and I readily accept it. If you want to go through the Tribulation ……. You thought I was going to say, “Have at it.” No, I say you will not, because that is what Jesus tells His bride. He is coming to snatch His bride away before He pours out His wrath upon this world. Not even an “earthly” groom would pour his wrath out on his own bride, and I know for sure that Jesus will not do so. Thank God for mercy.

Last of all, out of multiplied trillions of examples, I think God shows mercy upon the Tribulation saints. Let me explain. The Church will avoid the Tribulation, but we don’t know when Jesus is coming for us. Those saved during the Tribulation will suffer the trials of that era, but they can know, to the day, when Jesus will return for them. That to me is a clear case again of God’s mercy.

The Lord says in Romans 9:15-16, “For God said to Moses, “I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” So it is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it.” (NLT) God decides who, what, when and how He will provide mercy.

Maybe we should take an inventory of our lives and do a reality check. I sincerely feel that we often don’t recognize God’s mercy in our lives. We grumble that we don’t have a lot of money, but God knows we couldn’t handle it. That’s mercy. He keeps things from us that He knows will hurt us. That’s mercy. He allows us to fail so we can call out for Him. That’s mercy. He provides blessings we don’t deserve. That’s mercy. We deserve hell, but He provides Heaven. That’s mercy. We can’t save ourselves, so He does all the work. That’s mercy. As His children, we disobey, but He provides forgiveness. That’s mercy. We can’t hold on to our salvation, but He can and does. That’s mercy.

I’m sure there are many who are reading this article who feel they don’t deserve any mercy. The truth is you don’t. I don’t. But God provides mercy for those who ask, and even for those who do not ask. Look again at the eleven examples above. For both man and beast, God’s mercy abounds. How, you say? He provides gravity so we don’t float away. He provides air so we can breath. He provides water and food so we are nourished. Are you getting it?

Does God’s mercy negate His justice? It does not. Let us not think we can trifle with His mercy and avoid any justice He must administer because of His holiness. Right now there is mercy that can be had in His greatest work of mercy, adoption into His family by and through His Son Jesus, but one day His mercy will step aside for justice.

From the 2nd Commandment God says, “And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:6) Consider His mercy and avoid His justice.

Grant Phillips