Tag Archives: mercy

Meet the Man Who Created the Sabbath

Part of a weekly series on Matthew. This week: Matthew 12:1-8.

The Pharisees had a tough time seeing it. Something greater than Jonah. Something greater than Solomon.

They made the same mistake when they accused Jesus and his disciples of plucking grain and eating it on a Sabbath.

Jesus, like he did when tempted by Satan, went to Scripture to demonstrate their hypocrisy.

He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?

In essence, Sabbath laws do not restrict deeds of necessity, service to God, worship or acts of compassion.

What was prohibited was work for the sake of profit.

Therefore a priest could perform his duties. A child weak with hunger could glean for food. A man with a withered hand could expect restoration.

In fact, refusal to do good on the Sabbath is tantamount to doing evil. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sabbath laws should give way to means of religion. And means of religion should always give way to circumstances of mercy.

And if the Sabbath must give way to means of religion, should not both give way to the One who created them?

This Is the Man Who Created the Sabbath

Jesus then drives a stake in the ground: “For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”

A straightforward claim that he was indeed God. Messiah.

No man ever claimed to be lord of the Sabbath.

Not Moses. Nor David.

Only Jesus.

Keep in mind: he didn’t come to abolish the Sabbath.

He came to preside over it. To redeem it from the oppression of the religious. To undo the straps of the yoke. And to breathe an air of love and liberty into it not known until then.

This is why he said:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

As Messiah, Jesus’ campaign of liberation included the Sabbath. In fact, his intention was to bring a taste of our future eternal bliss to us by restoring the Sabbath to its natural state.

A little bit of heaven on earth.

So, when we turn the Sabbath into a theater of hurry or confusion or indulgence, we abuse it. Jesus’ design was that it would become a theater of saints at the feet of their Lord. At rest. At peace. At worship.

Let’s make sure we keep it that way.

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The Unsurpassable Attribute: A Quick Guide to God’s Mercy

Where the biblical meaning of mercy is shown to be exceedingly rich and complex.

There is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy.

Grace comes nearest it.

Mercy implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity, compassion or clemency. And it’s only exercised toward offenders.

Mercy induces an injured person to forgive. Forbear punishment. Inflict less than justice warrants.

Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of God. That’s why A. W. Tozer said:

We who earned banishment shall enjoy communion. We who deserve the pains of hell shall know the bliss of heaven.

God’s mercy is eternal, unfailing, unconditional. And it flows from his unchanging goodness, so doesn’t need to be provoked like wrath, but comes naturally.

It’s exercised on all who want it. And like other moral attributes is rooted in God’s unchanging nature, justice and perfection.

What Is God’s Mercy?

The biblical meaning of mercy is exceedingly rich and complex.

The Hebrew word kapporeth means a lid, used of the cover of the sacred Ark, which is the mercy seat–where the blood of atonement was offered to God. The connotation for kapporeth is one of ransom and propitiation.

The Greek word for mercy–eleemon–means to show mercy, pity or compassion to the wretched. Specifically, eleemon depicts a merciful, sympathetic attitude.

In God, mercy shows up as an infinite and inexhaustible energy that disposes God to be actively compassionate. He has always dealt in mercy with mankind and will always deal in justice when the mercy is despised.

Key Themes of God’s Mercy

God’s mercy is rooted in his goodness and love. Prominent in this concept are some key themes:

  • God’s Mercy Is Great Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. 
  • God’s Mercy Is Everlasting Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 
  • God’s Mercy Is Unfailing In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. 
  • God’s Mercy Is Longsuffering The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. 
  • God’s Mercy Is Received by the Repentant In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now. 

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament proclaim the mercy of God, but the OT has more to say about it than the NT.

Old Testament Stance on God’s Mercy

 as a loving father who looks down from heaven with a yearning heart of compassion upon his rebellious and wayward people.

 as an unfaithful and adulterous wife whom God loves as a faithful husband in spite of her apostate and sinful condition.

And  as a mother who has compassion on the son of her womb.

At the heart of the concept of mercy is the love of God. In the Old Testament, it was his chosen people Israel whom he elected to be his own and to whom he showed mercy. And despite their constant disobedience, God continually sought out his wayward people, to draw them back to him.

New Testament Stance on God’s Mercy

In the New Testament there is a fuller development of God’s mercy. In fact, the word used for Jesus’ mercy expresses his pity and compassion by means of a very intense verb that means “to be moved in one’s bowel’s.”

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. 

But the most obvious and important use of the word mercy in the New Testament is that of God’s provision of salvation for mankind in Jesus Christ.

It is because he is so  that he saved those who are spiritually dead and doomed in their sins. It is out of  that one is forgiven and granted eternal life.

The Old Testament concept of propitiation shows up in the New Testament, too. Mercy was released by Christ’s atoning death for all humankind.

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 

Since mercy flows from God’s goodness, and since God is infinite, it follows that God is infinitely and unchangeably merciful.

Your Response to God’s Mercy

Your response to God’s mercy falls into two categories–repentant or unrepentant.

Somewhere  was both master and father, so that “the divine law joins duties in respect of both these attributes: Thou shalt love God and Thou shalt fear God. It proposed one for the obedient man, the other for the transgressor.”

Your label determines how God shows his mercy–or if he does at all.

Don’t think you can rely on God’s love or  to allow you to persist in your unrepentance. God’s unlimited mercy only shows God desires to save all. God cannot do what is impossible. And it’s impossible to force a free choice.

God will not withhold his mercy from anyone who wants it. But neither will he cram His love down the throats of those who do not want it.

What is the appropriate response to God’s mercy? Prayer.

Prayer is not a condition for God’s giving mercy. Rather prayer is a condition for our receiving the mercy He desires to freely give us. It’s a position of submission. It’s a means by which God takes advantage of our willingness to receive His mercy.

He looks for our obedience.

Personally, I have no idea why I deserve God’s mercy. Sometimes I fall off the rails and hate my life.

But what’s important to me is to yield to His excellent and glorious will. To implore His mercy and loving-kindness. And to forsake all fruitless labors, strife and envy.

It’s the least I can do to show thanks for a gift I never deserved.

**Part of The Nature of God series.**