By: E. W. Reeves
Remember these, O Jacob and Israel; for thou art my servant: I have formed thee; thou art my servant: O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of me. I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and,
as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. Isaiah 44:21-22
Israel had been wandering after idol gods. She was as a wayward child. Isaiah saw their condition and warned them of coming captivity for their sins. In these verses it seems that he saw a bit more of the
nature of God. God in His mercy and grace was going to bring to Israel a redeemer: “He hath holpen (helped) his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy.
As I began to study this thought I saw God’s mercy extended in three measures.
MERCY IN MEMORY
There were times in which God acted immediately. Examples of this are in the stories of the Scripture concerning Adam and Eve, Korah and Dathan (Numbers 16) and Annias and Sapphira (Acts 5).
“Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:” (Ecclesiastes 8:11-12). Solomon’s observance of the actions of God caused him to pen such words as found in these verses of
It was the Prophet Habakkuk who prayed the prayer that brings my thought to fruition in God’s mercy in memory. “O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid…in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).
God’s greater feeling for Israel is expressed in Isaiah’s further prophecy to the nation of Israel. “For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer…For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee” (Isaiah 54:7,8,10).
How powerful is the mercy of God seen in His mediatorship as recorded in I Timothy 2:5-6 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” You and I have been privileged to share in that extended prophecy and have found mercy in the memory of God today.
MERCY IN FORGIVENESS
A great plan of God was extended to the children of Israel in the sacrifices set forth in the Book of Leviticus. There was a sacrifice for just about any sin that a man could commit. All he had to do was bring the proper animal or offering to the priest and God would give him forgiveness. Examples of these are found in chapters 4 and 5 of this tedious rendering of the Law. There were offerings for the various levels of service as well as offerings for the multitude of infractions possible in the everyday life of man. Explicit instructions were given concerning the offerings to be brought by disobedient man. What a tremendous load for a man to carry about in his daily living.
By the time of Isaiah we hear him saying: “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. Sing, O ye heavens; for the LORD hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel” (Isaiah 44:22-23).
We are given further hope: “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah
1:18); “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back” (Isaiah 38:17). Micah increases that hope:
“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will…cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). The Psalmist sang in this manner: “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy..As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalms 103:11-12).
What greater emphasis could I find than in the teachings of Jesus. He instructed us in Matthew 18 to forgive 70×7. Would he not do more abundantly. John the Apostle wrote under inspiration: “If we confess
our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake” (I John 1:9; 2:12).
MERCY IN REDEMPTION
Is there not enough sin in the world today to justify the judgment of God as in the Old Testament illustrations referred in the opening of this message? The days are more wicked and the thoughts of men more evil. Their rejection of the Messiah has warranted the severe judgment of the God of justice. However, along with the mercy in memory and mercy in forgiveness He has given unto us mercy in redemption.
It began in the opening book of the Bible with a promise of redemption from the destructive powers of Satan.
Genesis 3:15 – “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”
God gave us commandment to seek Him by forsaking our way of wickedness and turning to the redeemer who will abundantly pardon. “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6-7).
It is the Apostle Paul who completes our promises from his epistles: “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Corinthians
1:30); “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7); “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ
Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
In the writings to the Hebrews I find the conclusion of the matter before us –
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament,
that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.” Hebrews 9:12, 15.
(The above material appeared in an issue of the Louisiana Challenger.)
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