Tag Archives: judgment

The Everlasting Mercy of God

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“O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.” (Psalm 136:1)

God’s mercy is a monumental theme in Scripture. The English word appears some 341 times in the Bible. The four Hebrew and three Greek words appear a total of 454 times and are also translated by “kindness,” “lovingkindness,” “goodness,” “favor,” “compassion,” and “pity.” Of the 66 books of the Bible, only 16 do not use one of the words for mercy.

Even though “mercy” is an important concept, it is somewhat difficult to prescribe a definition for it, especially since “grace” is occasionally coupled with it.

In the first reference where “mercy” is used, Lot has just been expelled from Sodom by the angels of judgment. In spite of the command by the angels that Lot and his daughters “escape to the mountain,” Lot begs: “Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life, . . . this city is near . . . Oh, let me escape thither” (Genesis 19:17-20). And later, the New Testament saints are told to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). In these and other such passages, the two terms appear to address similar subjects.

However similar they may appear to be, these words are not synonyms. “Grace” is most often associated with the sovereign dispensation of totally undeserved favor, and it is specifically connected to salvation. “Mercy” is more often connected to the withholding of judgment: “For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment” (James 2:13).

Set aside some time today to read and meditate on this psalm. You will find the day less wearisome if you do. HMM III

When Nations Forget God

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“The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Psalm 9:17)

The subject of hell is widely ignored today, even by evangelical teachers and pastors. Heaven is commonly mentioned at funerals, of course, since almost everyone attending a funeral wants to think that the deceased has gone there (assuming there turns out to be such a place). Hell is rarely acknowledged as even a possibility, on the other hand, even for mobsters or other criminals.

Nevertheless, hell is real and it is going to be more fully populated than heaven. The Lord Jesus said (and He should know!), “Broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: . . . narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

But just who are the “wicked” that will be turned into hell? According to the Bible, “there is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10), and “the whole world lieth in wickedness” (1 John 5:19). By the principle of Hebrew poetic parallelism, our text would indicate that “the wicked” are those who “forget God,” where the connotation of “forget” is “become oblivious to.”

Can whole nations become oblivious to the true God of creation—and do business and legislate and conduct all their affairs just as though God no longer existed? If so, those nations (or at least those citizens of those nations who practice such wickedness) are in mortal danger. “Thou puttest away all the wicked of the earth like dross” (Psalm 119:119).

But “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6) and “blessed are all they that put their trust in him” (Psalm 2:12). We who trust Christ therefore surely need to work and pray earnestly for our nation, and its people, that they return to genuine love of God and His Word. HMM

Destroy Them, O Lord

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“Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.” (Psalm 5:10)

No less than 20 of the psalms contain what are known as “imprecations” — that is, prayers to God to judge and destroy the wicked — and this verse is the first of them. As such, it sets the pattern, helping us to understand why the Lord would include such vindictive prayers in His inspired Word. At first, they seem incongruous with a God of love and mercy who has told us to love our enemies, but they help us to understand that God also must judge sin — especially the sin of rebellion. In them, we are taught to see the sin of rebellion in its true light — through the eyes of a loving Creator who has been rejected to the point of no return.

It is one thing to commit an act of wickedness when overcome by temptation; it is quite another thing for men to deliberately rebel against God Himself, seeking by their “counsels” to turn others against Him, and even, if it were possible, to destroy Him and His Word altogether.

This is the age-long sin of Satan, as well as that of the leaders of both ancient paganism and modern evolutionary humanism.

Like the psalmist David, we must pray for God to defeat them and their counsels, for otherwise they will continue to lead multitudes of others into their own transgression.

There is still room for forgiveness of individual sinners, of course — even among such as these — if they come in true repentance, but most such rebels are already irrevocably hardened against God and His Word. The appropriate prayer in such a case is (as David prayed in another of the imprecatory psalms):

“Scatter them by thy power; and bring them down, O Lord our shield. . . . let them even be taken in their pride” (Psalm 59:11-12). HMM

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