Mercy Triumphs over Judgement

These are four simple words, but without them, we would have no hope. All we could expect would be death, even eternal death.

When we look through God’s Word, there are many laws and ways of life listed. A comprehensive list of blessings and curses was given to the Children of Israel as a physical nation just before they were to end their wanderings and enter the Promised Land. In Deuteronomy 28, the first 13 verses give a list of promises for good and health for the people if they would “diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments…” (Deuteronomy 28:1).

However, in the rest of the chapter, beginning in verse 15 to verse 68, that’s four times as many verses, a list of curses and sickness was given if the people “do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments…” (Deuteronomy 28:15). They were given two choices, one leading to great physical prosperity, and the other leading to misery and suffering. One way leading to life and good, the other to death and evil (Deuteronomy 30:15).

Even when offering the people (long physical) life if they obeyed, God knew that they did not have the heart required to obey Him. In Deuteronomy 5:29 we read, “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!”

However, there are many passages, including those in Ezekiel, where we can read, “Again, when a wicked man turns away from the wickedness which he committed, and does what is lawful and right, he preserves himself alive. Because he considers and turns away from all the transgressions which he committed, he shall surely live; he shall not die” (Ezekiel 18:27-28). Here is an example of mercy triumphing over judgement. This wicked man deserved to die because of his wickedness, i.e. to receive just judgement, but because he repented, God promised to show him mercy.

There is a similar provision in the New Testament which is important for us. The conditions are given in James 2:13: “For judgement is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgement.” God is well known to be a merciful God (Joel 2:13), and He wants us to be merciful just like He is, to be developing His character within ourselves. We read this in Luke 6:36: “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

This is a consistent theme both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. In Micah 6:8 we read, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?” If we love mercy, we will be merciful. In Matthew 23:23, we read, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.” Here mercy is one of the weightier matters of the law. Something we must always remember.

We understand that we are all sinners in need of mercy (Romans 3:23), because without mercy, the judgement we would have earned would be the (eternal) death penalty. So, knowing our need of mercy from God, then we must show mercy ourselves. And then, as we read in Matthew 5:7, “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” Then, as the title informs us, if we are merciful, mercy shall triumph over judgement for us, and this gives us hope for forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.

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