Saturday, October 8, 2016
Rachem, Rachem, Rachem! (Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!)
The Lord has been impressing many messages on my heart, and the one I’m going to share is a very important lesson that has taken many years for me to grasp (and I’m only just beginning to get it).
Here I am, on a Saturday, with YouTube playing songs of praise and worship, and then this one comes in and touches my heart.
And as the song plays, I find this is the kind of song that when you listen to it, you need to replay... and replay... and replay...
Things are getting worse and worse. Those of us who have had our eyes opened understand that “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” This is becoming more and more apparent, and Isaiah’s words seem a poignant description of the world we’re living in:
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who change darkness into light and light into darkness,
who change bitter into sweet and sweet into bitter!”
And as we see, with great pain, the world unravelling, our heart cries to God for mercy.
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!
The person who composed this song requested mercy for Israel, for Yerushalayim, the city of peace that is under attack. We see suffering all around us and cry for mercy for our
people. Our friends and family, our neighbors, our country, our churches, the unsaved people we know and those we don’t... We cry for mercy...
And as I was listening, some passages of Scripture came to mind:
Micah 6:6-8 With what can I come before Adonai to bow down before God on high? Should I come before him with burnt offerings? with calves in their first year? Would Adonai take delight in thousands of rams with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Could I give my firstborn to pay for my crimes, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
Human being, you have already been told what is good, what Adonai demands of you — no more than to act justly, love grace and walk in purity with your God.
In keeping with my post of a Jewish song, I’ve just quoted from the Complete Jewish Bible, but the same passage in the NKJV, for example, renders the last verse as follows:
He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?
And what grips me is the instruction to “love mercy”, or to “love grace”. Of course we love it when Abba Father shows grace and mercy to us. We all prefer God dealing with us in His loving mercies than in judgment! But what He is telling us here is that, just like we love it when He shows mercy to us, we ought to love showing mercy to others, being gracious when we deal with fellow sinners. If we understand’s God’s standard of justice and righteousness, of perfect mercy and humility, we understand we greatly fall short of the perfect model He displayed for us, Yeshua, our Messiah.
At least I... I’m far from being just and righteous as He is. I don’t have anything resembling His mercy. And I’m not at all meek and humble as He is.
So I acknowledge my serious shortcomings in keeping the commandment to love my neighbor as I love myself. I have strayed from the straight and narrow and fallen into the trap of self-righteous judgmentalism and unloving arrogance. I need to return to God. I need His mercy to cleanse me of these sins and show me how to walk in His perfect will.
Hosea 6:1-6: Come, let us return to Adonai;
for he has torn, and he will heal us;
he has struck, and he will bind our wounds.
After two days, he will revive us;
on the third day, he will raise us up;
and we will live in his presence.
Let us know, let us strive to know Adonai.
That he will come is as certain as morning;
he will come to us like the rain,
like the spring rains that water the earth.
“Efrayim, what should I do to you?
Y’hudah, what should I do to you?
For your ‘faithful love’ is like a morning cloud,
like dew that disappears quickly.
This is why I have cut them to pieces by the prophets,
slaughtered them with the words from my mouth
— the judgment on you shines out like light.
For what I desire is mercy, not sacrifices,
knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
Like a dry and weary land, my soul needs God’s restoring rains. I have been unfruitful, I have experienced great spiritual drought as the people in Elijah’s time experienced a physical drought. But He has promised to restore those who realize their condition and become earnest seekers. As certain as the sun rising in the morning is the coming of the sun of righteousness to those that fear Him and wait upon Him.
Many of us have offered God a fickle kind of love. Like the apostle James reminds us, when we are in two minds, when we have one foot in God and the other in the world, we are “like a wave in the sea being tossed and driven by the wind”. Such a person is “unstable in all his ways”. But God wants us to walk in His ways all the time, not just when we feel especially “inspired” to do so.
And one thing that should be a characteristic of us believers in Yeshua is, precisely, mercy. We of all people should be gracious and merciful. We should imitate Him who showed to us a mercy we didn’t deserve.
Please meditate on Matthew 9, which I’m quoting now from the NKJV:
10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples,
“Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them,
“Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.
13 But go and learn what this means:
‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’
For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Fellow brother or sister, read this again in the CJB version:
“The ones who need a doctor aren’t the healthy but the sick.
As for you, go and learn what this means:
‘I want compassion rather than animal-sacrifices.’
For I didn’t come to call the ‘righteous,’ but sinners!”
If you can admit you haven’t been as merciful and compassionate as you should,
please come to the throne of grace, where abundant mercy will be shown to you.
God will help you! Ask God to put His agape love in you!
More than ever, this dying world needs compassionate, merciful, humble and righteous people living out the Gospel they preach.