Mature Class Study, teacher Edith Tolbert.
Mercy is forgiveness and withholding punishment. It’s God’s pity, compassion, and kindness toward people. Mercy triumphs over judgment. If God’s judgment had been pronounced on us, we wouldn’t be saved. We’re here by mercy. After every verse, the psalmist said “for his mercy endureth for ever.”
Psalm 136:1-26 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. O give thanks unto the God of gods…To him who alone doeth great wonders…To him that by wisdom made the heavens…To him that stretched out the earth above the waters…To him that made great lights…The sun to rule by day …The moon and stars to rule by night …To him that smote Egypt in their firstborn…And brought out Israel from among them…With a strong hand, and with a stretched out arm…To him which divided the Red sea into parts…And made Israel to pass through the midst of it…But overthrew Pharaoh and his host in the Red sea…To him which led his people through the wilderness…To him which smote great kings…slew famous kings…Sihon king of the Amorites…Og the king of Bashan…And gave their land for an heritage …Even an heritage unto Israel his servant…Who remembered us in our low estate…And hath redeemed us from our enemies…Who giveth food to all flesh…O give thanks unto the God of heaven: for his mercy endureth for ever.
God is tenderhearted, has loving compassion for his people, and is willing to forbear punishment. He is ready to forgive. Mercy is not something God owes us but he extends it to us with kindness and grace for those who don’t deserve it.
Lamentations 3:22-23 It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.
God is patient in mercy because he is holding off judgment of justice to a later time. Mercy is beyond our understanding. His judgment is always the result of mercy that was offered but has been rejected. There’s judgment for unbelief and sin.
Numbers 14:11-12…Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long…ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed…I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them…make of thee a greater nation…
Because Moses asked God for mercy on the people, they weren’t destroyed. Moses intervened but God still brought the judgment that the people who murmured and complained would wander in the wilderness until they died.
Numbers 14:17-20…according as thou hast spoken, saying, The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers…unto the third and fourth generation. Pardon…the iniquity of…and…forgiven this people…And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word:
The people tempted God by murmuring and complaining 10 times. Murmuring and complaining isn’t a testimony for God.
Numbers 14:22-24 Because all those men which have seen my glory, and my miracles…in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice; Surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any…that provoked me see it: But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
Moses was 120 years old and the people were complaining. It doesn’t matter how we feel, we must obey God. He gave Moses specific directions to speak to the rock and water would come out. Moses was angry and didn’t follow directions. God didn’t say scold the people or hit the rock. God’s judgment was that Moses couldn’t go into Canaan because he didn’t believe God to do what he said. People make excuse for their anger, but God didn’t give mercy for not obeying.
Numbers 20:7-11…Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly…and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it…shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. And Moses took the rod…Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said…Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
Are we extending mercy to those who treat us bad or offend us? We must extend mercy no matter what people do to us.
Matthew 6:14-15 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
The Jews had begun teaching that it was ok to hate your enemy, but God never said that.
Matthew 5:43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
Even in the Old Testament, God said to help and love your enemy.
Exodus 23:4-5 If thou meet thine enemy’s ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back…If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.
Elisha prayed that God would blind the Syrians surrounding them (II Kings 6). Then he took them to the king at Samarian, who asked if he should kill them. Elisha said to feed them and then send them home. Because of the kindness and mercy shown to them, the Syrians didn’t come any more to war against Israel.
Proverbs 25:21-22 If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee.
God is specific about loving our enemies. He said to do good to them and pray for them.
Matthew 5:44-45 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
God told Jonah to go preach at Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria – enemies of Israel for many years. Jonah went the opposite direction. Nineveh was 500 miles northeast of Jerusalem. Jonah got in a boat headed for Joppa, 2500 miles west. Jonah didn’t want to preach to his enemy. If the people repented, he knew God would have longsuffering and mercy for them so what he said about them being destroyed wouldn’t come true. He thought the enemy needed judgment and not mercy. When the storm came, he told those in the boat that he feared God but he was running from what God said to do.
Jonah 1:8-9 Then said they unto him, Tell us, we pray thee, for whose cause this evil is upon us; What is thine occupation? and whence comest thou?…he said…I am an Hebrew; and I fear the Lord…which hath made the sea and the dry land.
The people on the ship threw Jonah in the sea and turned to the Lord, even though Jonah was disobedient. God was trying to get Jonah’s attention. He prepared a special fish to swallow Jonah so he could still breathe inside for 3 days he was there.
Jonah 1:14-16 Wherefore they cried…O Lord, we beseech thee, let us not perish for this man’s life, and lay not upon us innocent blood: for thou, O Lord, hast done as it pleased thee. So they took up Jonah, and cast him forth into the sea: and the sea ceased from her raging. Then the men feared the Lord exceedingly…offered a sacrifice unto the Lord…made vows.
Jonah recognized that he believed a lie or vanity. The whale spit him out 3 days journey from Nineveh.
Jonah 2:7-9 When my soul fainted…I remembered the Lord: and my prayer came in unto thee…They that observe lying vanities forsake their own mercy. But I will sacrifice unto thee…I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.
The people of Nineveh repented. No matter who the people are, God will have mercy if people repent.
Jonah 3:7-10 And he caused it to be…published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that is in their hands. Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not?…God saw…they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do…and he did it not.
Jonah had a bad attitude about the people of Nineveh who were Gentiles. He didn’t have any mercy for them. He was angry that God didn’t destroy Nineveh. He had more mercy for the vine that shaded his head. There were 120,000 people who weren’t destroyed because of Jonah’s preaching. We need to be sure God’s love is flowing in us for our enemies.
Jonah 4:2 And he prayed…O Lord, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled…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.