This morning I am reminded of the Lord’s mercy. The Psalmist wrote in Psalms 136:1, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love (mercy) endures forever." It goes without saying that mercy and grace are the only reason I have hope in this world. I can’t imagine living in this world with the thought process that after my years are done, I am done. For someone who turns away from the pulling of the Holy Spirit towards the mercy, love, and grace of Christ, to me, is unimaginable. To think that this is all there is, would be a little discouraging. But in a since, I guess that is why people are so driven to experience all they can during life here. Working like a dog, to accumulate all they can, living it up because “you only go around once.” But for those who would reject the idea of serving God and making them Lord of their life, THIS is all there is, and and kind of joy, or at least manufactured joy that this world gives, will come to an abrupt stop when they come face to face with their eternal existence when this life is over.
But there is mercy. God grants mercy, first through his Son Jesus Christ and what he did on the cross for mankind, and secondly when we mess it all up, when we sin. In Jeremiah 2, we are reminded of just how merciful God is towards his chosen people, the Israelites. Time after time, they turned away. God delivered, they turned away. God provided, they turned away. God stood up for them, they turned away. There was this crazy cycle that the people of Israel continually moved through: Turn away from God, he brings punishment, they repent, he restores. It happened time and time again. Do you think that God ever had enough? Do you think that he ever said, “Enough, I can’t take it anymore! If you do this one more time, then I will ___________________!!!”
But The Lord’s answer…mercy. “Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and you that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord. Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 3:12b-14 ESV)
Mercy. Our God is the author of mercy, he invented it and he displays it everyday to his children. So what does this mean to you? First, for the Christ follower that sins, there is mercy. For the believer that steps outside of God’s will, there is mercy. For the chid of God who loses sight of God and begins to live in a way that does not reflect God’s principles and standards, there is mercy. It’s who He is. He is a God that loved this world so much, and wanted to fix what Adam and Eve did in the garden, that he would send his only Son to die for you and me. Mercy.
But mercy also means forgiveness. Just like Israel kept messing up, turning away, losing focus of the God that saved them, he offered mercy. And in the mercy also comes forgiveness. He wants you to correct your path, he wants you to realize that you have traded a relationship with the living God for a relationship with a “whore” (Jeremiah 3:3b). As bad as that sounds, there is still mercy.
Now we are not part of the nation of Israel, but for the follower of Christ, make no mistake, you are a chosen one. Granted mercy, forgiven, set apart, and called a child of God. And better yet, you are part of his royal family, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)”
Mercy. How long will it last? As long as you have breath, and then mercy is folded into judgment. Judgement, no one likes that word, but it is a reality of life, death, and the eternal. John recorded the words of Jesus in John 12:36, “While you have the light, believe the light, that you may become sons of light.” What is the light? Its is obvious that the light is symbolized as Jesus, but also in the verse before Jesus states that one who walks in the darkness can be overtaken. Jesus also says that the light will not be around forever. It reminds me that a lightbulb doesn’t last forever, at some point, the lightbulb does not exude light. The same is true for our lives, they will go out. There will be a time when our light goes out for good, either by death, or the return of Jesus to this earth. Mercy is available for mankind, while the light is still shining, but there will be a point when the light of mercy will shine no more. Mercy will be removed, forgiveness will be unattainable, and judgement will be handed out.
In Jeremiah 2:14, the Lord says, “Return, O faithless children,” He is granting those who have turned away mercy. He grants you mercy. Even in your turning, he stands in the same place, hands stretched out, waiting to embrace you as you return, either for the first time or the thousandth time. Mercy is available now for you, but don’t delay.