A former pastor once clarified to me the difference in God’s grace and His mercy.
Mercy is “not getting what we deserve.” Grace is “getting what we do not deserve.”
This week, let’s take a look at “Mercy”.
God is merciful in that when His people repent He withholds His harsh judgment. However, we need to remember this: His mercy spares us from His punishment but not from the consequences that are the direct result of our sin.
I like the story of Moses’ conversation with God which we find in Exodus Chapter 32. The background is this: Moses went up onto the mountain and was alone in God’s presence and God wrote the Ten Commandments upon tablets of stone. God was aware of the sin of those left below in the camp.
(It would do you well to read the entire chapter, but here are a few of the verses.)
Exodus 32:1 “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Exodus 32:8 “They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’?”
Exodus 32:10 “Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”
Exodus 32:11-13 “Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: “LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”
Exodus 32:14 “?So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people.”
“The LORD relented…” The LORD showed mercy because of Moses plea. Moses basically stood in the gap and pleaded with God. He had done no wrong. He was walking with and talking with God. Yet he offered to give himself and be condemned with his people. God relented.
Did the people deserve this mercy? Certainly not! Do we deserve God’s mercy? “No” again. But God is very patient with His own when we repent. We deserve punishment. Mercy is God sparing us of the punishment we deserve – not getting that which we deserve.
We read in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Here are some verses about God’s mercy:
Psalm 103:11 “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.”
Ephesians 2:4-6 “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”
I hope this helps all of us better understand God’s mercy. Next article we will talk about God’s grace.