Micah 6:8, "He hath shewed
thee, O man, what is
good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to
do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with
Deuteronomy 10:12, "And now, Israel, what doth the
LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy
God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to
serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all
This morning, we will attempt to investigate again
some parallel passages to view rich beauty defined.
As it has often been stated, "The Bible is its own
best commentary." So, to find many definitions of
things in the Bible, let us seek their definition (if
we can) within the same source material. Writings of
men, dictionaries, and commentaries are good tools to
utilize, but if the Holy Scriptures give us working
definitions, let us hold those fast no matter the
leanings of men in their works. Should one desire to
define the term "gospel," a quick reference between
Isaiah 61 and Luke 4 will uncover that the definition
of the gospel is "good tidings." Many times, the
Biblical definitions of words (from other Bible
passages) will not only lend the meaning of the word,
but they will also provide great beauty as well. So,
let us seek to discover these things from the verses
While we could extend our thoughts into each and
every phrase from both verses, we will seek to
regulate our thoughts to one phrase from each verse.
In the text from Micah, the second phrased commandment
is "to love mercy." If we compare the phrases in
Deuteronomy, we discover that the parallel phrase from
that verse says "to love him." So, we easily discover
that we can define "mercy" with "God." We are told in
other places what God is (in His attributes), but here
we discover that one of them is mercy. Granted, we
see different kinds of "mercy" out in the world in
different circumstances and with different
motivations. But, in the exhortations of the above
verses, we find mercy synonymous with God. Now, the
definition is easy to discover by laying these verses
together, but what beauty can we learn from this? By
equating God with mercy, what becomes our task in
fulfilling the command?
Right now in my chronological reading, I am
travelling through the book of Jeremiah. One of the
themes that occurs over and over in that book is that
the Lord (through Jeremiah) tells the land of Judah
about the impending Babylonian captivity. Yet, in all
the prophecies about this event, the Lord shows mercy
upon mercy. He tells them at one point that the
captivity can be withheld should they refrain from
their abominations. At other places, He tells themthat their lives can be spared should they surrender
themselves to Babylon. Still, at other times, they
were told that the city of Jerusalem would be spared
from ruin should they surrender to Nebuchadnezzar.
Yet, time after time, the wickedness of the rulers
prevailed to prevent the mercy offered. Jehoiakim
burned the roll containing the precepts of the Lord.
The princes prevailed against king Zedekiah to put
Jeremiah into the dungeon for "weakening the hands of the people."
One might ask, "Where is the mercy shown by the
Lord?" Firstly, the Lord was not required to offer
conditions of mercy to either spare the captivity or he full tragedy of the captivity and fall of Judah.
Secondly, He was not required to extend more mercy
when the first was scoffed at. Today, natural man
despises great mercy as he thinks it a sign of
weakness. The Lord does not show lack of power on
these occasions (or lack of purpose), but rather, He
is showing the extension of mercy unto His people when
they merited none of it. We understand from passages
like this that the Lord is both slow to anger and
plenteous in mercy. He would have been just and holy
to annihilate Adam in the garden at the moment of
transgression. He would have been perfectly within
His Divine Right to have Jerusalem leveled at the
first indication of idolatry and abomination in the
land. Yet, He continues to show mercy unto us (His
people) even unto this present hour when we merited
none of it.
Looking further at mercy, Paul asserts in Romans 9
that God will have mercy and compassion on whom He ill. It is interesting to note that the mercy of God
being extended to "who He will" is due to Divine
Authority. The Lord does not choose this haphazardly,
as each object of mercy is known and loved of Him.
But, also note that it does not say that He will have
wrath on whom He will have wrath. God does not choose
to pour forth wrath in the same vein as He shows
mercy. Those that find His wrath are deserving of it,
but those that find His mercy were not deserving of
it. It is true that we are made worthy by the blood
of the Lamb, but we deserved not the mercy shown unto
us. The wrath is most fitting and deserving unto
those that receive it. But, again, God is not lacking
in power or purpose (or fairness for that matter).
Rather, He shows forth that His mercy unto us is
freely by His grace and purpose.
Now, to find the beauty in this exhortation, we must
look at the structure of the command. We are to love
mercy. What exactly does it mean to love mercy?
Natural man (as mentioned above) despises mercy, but
we are to love it. By loving mercy, we are loving
God. Therefore, when we see mercy manifest, that is something to be loved by us (not condemned). When we
see mercy in God's dealings, we are to love that
picture without charging God with the age-old adage,
"That's not fair!" We are to love the doctrine of
free grace, and manifest our love for that teaching by
showing it forth to our brethren. We are to love the
fact that mercy was stamped to our account and the
justice removed by the merits of our Saviour. While
we are made worthy by His blood, let us remember that
Mercy was the extension to us that bore our justice
from us. These are thoughts to love and prize.
So, when we traverse the scenes of our lives, let us
seek to show mercy. God chose to show mercy on those
in a pitiful state. Let us seek to do likewise. God
chose to show mercy to those that had transgressed His
precepts many times over. Let us seek to do likewise.
There does come a point when mercy is withheld due to
God's longsuffering being ended (in a particular
circumstance). In the Jeremiah account, the
perspective of that prophet segues from the end of the
kingdom of Judah to a book known as Lamentations.
Indeed, it is a lamentable time to see God's mercies
withheld from us for steeped disobedience. Yet, the
mercies are not gone (but withheld), for Jeremiah
tells us that they (His mercies) are new every
morning. So, in seeking to love mercy (God) and show
it forth, there may come times when the mercy is to be
withheld, as He has given us patterns in His word.
Such a time is that of church discipline. We do not
enjoy these seasons, but He has given us indicators of
when mercy is withheld. But, let us also remember
that Divine mercy in eternity is continued upon us,
and repentance from dead works and renewed faith
toward God extends mercy unto us here in this life.
So, let us extend mercy when repentance is shown and
never forget that our enemies for the sake of truth
and the gospel are still beloved objects of mercy for
the sake of election.