HOW DOES THE BIBLE DEFINE “MERCY”?
A commonly used word in the language of the church today, but it will not be as churches change to a more “positive” image; refuse to preach on the subject of “hell” and “judgement.” No one wants to hear their pastor preach on such topics!
“For a time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, have ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions” (1 Timothy 4:3-4 AMP).
The “law of first mention”.
When studying the Word of God, when the “law of first mention” arises, it means that we should take a special note of how a word is used; first mentioned in Scripture. Genesis is a good place to start looking:
“But while he lingered, the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, for the Lord was merciful to him; and they brought him forth and set him outside the city and left him there. And when they had brought them forth, they said, Escape for your life! Do not look behind you or stop anywhere in the whole valley; escape to the mountains [of Moab], lest you be consumed.. And Lot said to them, Oh not that, my lords! Behold now, your servant has found favor in your sight, and you have magnified your kindness and mercy to me in saving my life; but I cannot escape to the mountains, lest evil overtake me, and I die” (Genesis 19:16-19).
This was the “first mention” of the word “mercy”. Lot is spared from the judgement of God falling upon the wicked of Sodom and Gomorrah.
– mercy = “The act of sparing or the forbearance of a violent act expected.” [Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary].
THE “MERCY SEAT” WAS WHERE GOD MET MEN:
“There I will meet with you and, from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the Testimony, I will speak intimately with you all.”~ Exodus 25:22
Te Hebrew word for “Mercy Seat” is KAPPORETH and the Hebrew word for Mercy is CHECED.
There isn’t a correlation between the two words. KAPPORETH has nothing to do with Mercy. The Mercy Seat wasn’t made to sit on; Mercy Seat means atonement. Without God’s plan of redemption man would have no mercy; God would have to judge every sin in our lives immediately. The Mercy Seat along with the other furniture in the Tabernacle, was a picture of how God has put our sin under His Mercy Seat and covered it with the blood of Jesus instead of the blood of animals.
Once a year, the High Priest would enter the Holy of Holy s where the ark of the ark of the testimony rested behind the veil. He would sprinkle the Mercy Seat with the blood of animals, making an atonement for the sins of the children of Israel.
New Testament “MERCY” – The Veil Was Torn, Top Down.
Mercy is when we are spared from judgement or harm. But when churches refuse to preach “hell” and “judgement” and less and less talk about “mercy”, the word is being gradually phased out of sermons. God just becomes the “Good Guy” not thinking of harming or judging anyone. So the subject of “mercy” never arises. What we are hearing today is, “God loves the Sodomite just like he is.” Is that what God said to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah? “Hi, all you people of Sodom–I Am God! I just came down to let you all know that I love you, and I will accept you just the way you are!” NO, that is not how the Lord came.
Genesis 18:17-21: “And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do, Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all nations of the earth shall be blessed through him and shall bless themselves by him? For I have known (chosen, acknowledged) him [as My own], so that he may teach and command his children and the sons of his house after him to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is just and righteous, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what He has promised him. And the Lord said, Because the shriek [of the sins] of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is exceedingly grievous, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether [as vilely and wickedly] as is the cry of it which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”
The angels that God sent on, didn’t go with the message, “Hi, everyone, we are angels! We have come with the message that ‘God loves you!’ and that He will accept you just as you are!” No, that is not how the conversation went down as they spoke with Lot.
“And the [two] men asked Lot, Have you any others here–sons-in-law or your sons or your daughters? Whomever you have in the city, bring them out of this place. For we will spoil and destroy [Sodom]; for the outcry and shriek against its people has grown great before the Lord, and He has sent us to destroy it” (Genesis 19:12-13 AMP).
There was “mercy” with the Lord regarding the Sodomites–but only if they repented. Ezekiel 33:11 says,
“Say to them, As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live…”
But if we are unwilling to preach “judgement”, no one will be seeking for “mercy”; they will only justify their sin and see no need for mercy.
The Hebrew word CHECED is God’s Character; it combines the twin ideas of “love” and “loyalty” in a covenant relationship.
Israel’s continual waywardness made it inevitable that God is never going to let her go. His relationship with His children must be maintained; His loving-kindness; His “mercy”; His goodness is all undeserved. For this reason, the predominant use of the word Checed, including mercy and forgiveness is a main constituent of God’s determined faithfulness to His part of the bargain.
A Dilemma; “Which comes first, mercy or justice?”
Rashi(11th Century AD Jewish commentator) said that God gave ‘precedence to the rule of mercy’ and joined it ‘with the rule of justice.’ There is no reference in Scripture to any sentimental kindness and no suggestion of mercy apart from repentance. God’s demand for righteousness is always insistent; it’s always at the maximum intensity of His Character.
“MERCY” Came Running:
The Biblical meaning of “mercy” is: “to be spared or rescued from judgement, harm, danger or trouble.” Notice how “mercy” is used in the following Bible verses:
Psalm 4:1 says, “You have freed me when I was hemmed in and enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me and hear my prayer.”
Psalm 6:2 reads, “Have mercy on me and be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am weak (faint and withered away); O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.”
1 Timothy 1:12-13: [v.13] “Though I formerly blasphemed and persecuted and was shamefully and outrageously and aggressively insulting [to Him], nevertheless, I obtained mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief.”
Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but because of His own pity and mercy, by [the] cleansing [bath] of the new birth (regeneration) and renewing of the Holy spirit.”
*[See also Psalm 9:13; Jude 1:21]
The “Prodigal Son” Analogy or Parable–Luke 15:11-32.
I think most of us know the story that Jesus tells in the form of a PARABLE of the “prodigal” son; leaving his father with his premature inheritance, and leaving his home and family where he winds up ‘wasting his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living.’ (verse 13).
After a famine hits the land where the younger son had journeyed to, he gets a dose of ‘humble pie’ or in his case, ‘pig pie’; he was “sent into the fields to feed hogs where he would gladly have fed on and filled his belly with the carob pods that the hogs were eating, but [they could not satisfy his hunger and] nobody gave him anything [better]” (verses 15-16).
“Then when he came to himself…”; his confession was given: “I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; [just] make me like one of your hired servants” (verses 18-19).
That is true repentance with the companion character of humility. So read on to what the son does and more importantly how his father responds to his son’s repentance and humility:
“So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he RAN and EMBRACED him and KISSED him [fervently]” (verse 20).
Now after seeing his father’s reaction, he once more repeats his confession once more, only with a surprised expression with his father’s words: “Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. And bring out that [wheat-] fattened calf and kill it; and let us revel and feast and be happy and make merry, Because this my son was dead and is alive again: he was lost and is found!” (verses 22-24).
The son’s father did not look out his window while watching television as his son was walking down the path to the house; his head hung down in repentance and humility. But he girded his garments in his loins (running bare legged with joy) and “MERCY” CAME RUNNING to the repenting son.
I co-wrote a play several years ago that was performed in a local area church on Resurrection Sunday entitled “Mercy On Trial”. After the drama was over that Sunday, as the people mingled and left the building, I had the Philips, Craig and Dean song played over the sound system “Mercy Came Running”. Here are the lyrics to the chorus:
Mercy came running
Like a prisoner set free
Past all my failures to the point of my need
When the sin that I carried
Was all I could see
And when I could not reach mercy
Mercy came running to me.
Through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have “mercy” granted to us through all of eternity. The withholding of judgement against us because: His pure blood cleanse us from all sin.
JESUS was the final sacrifice; His blood was sprinkled on the Mercy Seat, the Cross at Calvary for our sins; not once every year but once for all. “Mercy” came running to us because God loved us so much that He gave us His One and only begotten (unique) Son, so whoever believes in (trust in, clings to, relies on [MERCY] shall not perish but have eternal (everlasting) life. ~ John 3:16.
JESUS, [“MERCY”] came running to us because…when the sin that I carried was all I could see, I turned from my sin in repentance; “I was dead and now ALIVE again!