“and mercy…” Psalm 23:6
I asked a leading question yesterday. It boils down to the ages-old query “how could a merciful God consign anyone to Hell?”
I think we have to understand that mercy is a word closely connected with covenant. A covenant in David’s day was a binding agreement between two parties. In the agreement both sides had responsibilities towards and privileges from the other party. Mercy is one of God’s covenant responsibilities:
“Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;” Deut. 7:9
“And he said, LORD God of Israel, [there is] no God like thee, in heaven above, or on earth beneath, who keepest covenant and mercy with thy servants that walk before thee with all their heart:” I Kings 8:23
In David’s day God kept His covenant with those who obeyed the law and followed the sacrifice faithfully…. In other words, with those who chose to enter into covenant with Him.
Today God has made a new covenant offer to mankind. It’s called the New Testament. Mercy is still God’s responsibility. Our responsibility is to trust in the sacrifice of Jesus as Paul wrote in Romans, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” Romans 10:9,10 NLT
God’s mercy you see is available to everyone. It is accessible to all. Still it must be received by faith. Further, Jesus must be confessed as Lord in order for mercy to be accessed. Sadly this is the jumping off point for many.
I once had a pastor say to me “Mr. Lillie you and I do not see eye to eye on many subjects and I will tell you right now if I have to accept Jesus in order to go to Heaven then I will be perfectly happy to go to Hell.”
You see a loving God does not consign anyone to Hell. Unloving humans separate themselves unto it.
How many do you know who are knowingly walking the path away from God’s mercy?
Unfortunately I know many who choose to walk away from the mercy of the Lord. From my observation, what it boils down to is an unwillingness/inability to believe in the goodness of God (much like the nation of Israel). If you don’t believe He is good, why would you want to be with Him, right?
It’s ironic because the Mosaic Covenant seems to be how many of the current “unbelievers” feel they are expected to relate to God, even though that covenant is obsolete. “God will love us and bless us with goodness (including heaven) if we do all these things just right…He sounds like an ogre.” For some reason (maybe it’s our fault as the church?) they don’t know that there is a new deal/covenant God made with humanity through Jesus Christ where He reveals the beauty and love of the Father and we get all these goodies by simply accepting what He wants to freely give!
I’ve also met a few who just cannot accept a free gift of grace and mercy. They feel too much guilt and shame and feel like they must pay back God and earn their way to His banqueting table.
Seeing friends in both of these camps just breaks my heart!
As it breaks mine Matt. The New Covenant is ours to receive by faith and by it the Old Covenant is also fulfilled. “For there is a righteousness that comes by faith apart from the law.” All the goodness of God is our to receive but not by works. Frankly I have found that in this world faith is enough of a work for me.
Unfortunately, I know far too many who are walking away from God. My heart is sad for them but all I can do is to continue to be the witness God wants me and pray believing that they will choose our Lord & Savior some day. He is ready and waiting for them anxiously to take that step. Thank you Lord for putting those souls on my heart. Lord I pray that their heart will come to know you soon. Lord call them to you.
A-men Debby! So many who have heard the truth refuse it 😦
Great explanation of the personal responsibility to accept Him as our God. Is that too much to ask? He is just but we do have the choice to choose Him or not. That doesn’t change who He is! I appreciate this!
Thanks Tom! May we accept our resposibility. 🙂
There are too many loved ones walking away from God that I care to even count. My heart aches for them, I think if only they knew about Him. But the all too real reality is that they do know about Him and that makes the pain excruciating. The big question is why can’t they see? So I pray for a closer walk myself with the Lord in hopes that my loved ones will have an overwhelming desire to seek Him out because of the changes He has made in my life. I pray that they’ll be able to see that your ways lead to life and the world’s ways only lead to death.
And I am in prayer with you about this Sandy! It saddens me that so many are taking the witness of Christ and refusing it. God has told me someday it will no longer be a witness to draw them to Christ but a witness against them, that they heard and would not believe! 😦
I’m like Debby and Sandy and have many loved ones walking away, without probably even realizing they are. There was something that you said, that mercy is God’s responsibility. I never thought of it like that before. Thank you Pastor J, and God bless you and yours this Thanksgiving!
And may God bless your family and your table as you gather to give Him thanks. May God who is rich in mercy draw your family to Him!
Great post! Happy Thanksgiving!
And I hope yours was likewise blessed!