Gracious and Merciful
Job 1:20-21 ESV
Deuteronomy 6:13-15 (Harvest)
Leviticus 23:34-44 (Deliverance from Egypt)
Exodus 34:22 (Festival of Weeks)
Exodus 23:16 (Reaping)
Numbers 28:26 (First Fruits)
1 Chronicles 25 (Temple musicians)
Joel 2:13 ESV
Luke 2:49 (Boy Jesus in the Temple)
Mark 11:15-17 (Jesus and the money-changers)
Luke 11:33-36 ESV
Matthew 7:16-17 ESV
It’s difficult to say how God relates to each of us.
I’ve come to believe that God stands ready all the time waiting for us to allow Him to come in.
For the first half of my life I think I believed that I was the driver praying and waiting for God. I no longer believe that is the case.
While there have been times in my life when God gave me a dream or a vision that told me He was with me, I now wonder if God spoke to me while I slept because I wasn’t listening for His song…His call when I was awake.
Once I began to listen..really listen for God I realized that God was in every breath I took.
Throughout scripture the people of God have had various practices and ways of connecting to God.
Outward signs in the Old Testament when the people of God ‘turned’ and listened to God occurred when they offered sacrifices, when they celebrated feasts, and when they participated in ceremonial washing. In some cases, there are outward signs that depict how they felt on the inside.
For example in tribulation, Job tells us in Job 1:20-21: “Then Job arose, and tore his robe, and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship, and said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.”
In the Old Testament we read about Sukkot which was a time to celebrate the harvest (Deuteronomy 6:13-15) and when they remembered Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Leviticus 23:34-44.) During Shavuot they celebrated the Festival of Weeks (Exodus 34:22), Reaping (Exodus 23:16), and First Fruits (Numbers 28:26).
When David was king he stipulated in 1 Chronicles 25 how the Temple musicians would celebrate God.
When the grand Temple was build by Solomon it became the central place to meet God.
After the Temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. when the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem. everything changed when many from the tribe of Judah were taken to exile in Babylon during first temple period. That was from the time period of 1200-586 B.C.
The Second Temple period was from 586 B.C. to 70 A.D. when Roman emperor Titus destroyed the Temple. (https://www.moon.com/travel/arts-culture/jerusalem-history-first-second-temples/)
Around 400 to 350 B.C. in Joel 2:13 the prophet tells us, “And rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to and anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel’s prophesies focused on the coming judgment of Judah.
Then came Jesus.
At that time the Temple was the center of Hebrew life where they turned to God.
But there were issues and no one was fooling God. While Jesus did go to temple as a boy (Luke 2:49) he also went to Temple to expel the merchants and money changers (Mark 11:15-17).
God is truth, the author of truth, and God knows the truth about us. If we outwardly look holy but our hearts are not separated from the things of this world, God knows it.
So, when Jesus came everything changed.
Grace and mercy were taught in love as Jesus met people on the streets and spoke to crowds on a hillside. Jesus was teaching that God’s love is real everyday in every way. It doesn’t just apply at Temple.
Jesus knew (knows) what we look like on the inside when we are doing it for show.
Jesus also knows what it looks like on the inside when we are really turned to God.
Jesus spoke of a different kind of relationship with God. He said God sees the light in us in Luke 11:33-36, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”
The crowds had not heard this kind of message. They were accustomed to the ritual of Temple life. They were not accustomed to the message of Jesus that made God real and personal.
Jesus also told us how to recognize false prophets. On the mount, Jesus taught the crowd about the character of God. He told them when they trust God and turn to God they would receive grace and mercy from God’s love. Jesus also warned them to keep watch for others who are not sent by God. In Matthew 7:16-17 he said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?”
One sure way to tell is by their character. The true God is Gracious and Merciful.
Slow to Anger.
Abounding in Steadfast Love.
The real God relents over disaster; when we genuinely ask for mercy, God gives mercy.
The bottom line is that the one true God loves us, is merciful, and gives us grace.
Spiritual Practice: Give
As God gives to you, give grace and mercy to others when they genuinely seek it.
In God, Deborah