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How does the Bible define "mercy?"

q.gif (1639 bytes)   How does the Bible define "mercy?"



a.gif (1659 bytes)  The word “mercy” used to be a commonly used word in the church, but it will not be as churches change to a more “positive” image, and refuse to preach on the subject of “hell” and “judgment.”

The “law of first mention” is something talked about in regard to the Bible.  It means that we should take special note of how a word is used when it is first mentioned in Scripture.

Genesis 19:16-19

   16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city.  17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.  18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:  19 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; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:

This “first mention” of the word “mercy” is when Lot is being spared from the judgment of God which is falling upon wicked Sodom and Gomorrah.

- mercy = “The act of sparing, or the forbearance of a violent act expected.”          - Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary

Mercy is when we are spared from judgment or harm.  But when churches refuse to preach on “hell” and “judgment,” then there is less and less need to talk about “mercy.”  It will be a word that is gradually phased out of sermons.   God just becomes the “Good Guy” that would not even think of harming or judging anyone, so the subject of “mercy” never arises.

What we are hearing today is that “God loves the Sodomite just like he is.”  Is that what God said to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah?  “Hi, all you people of Sodom — I am God!  I just came down to let you all know that I love you, and I will accept you just the way that you are!”

No, that is not how the Lord came.  Genesis 18:17-21 says, “And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;   Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?   For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.   And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because THEIR SIN IS VERY GRIEVOUS;   I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.”

The angels that God sent on to Sodom did not go with the message, “Hi, everyone, we are angels!  We have come with the message that ‘God loves you!’ and that He will accept you just as you are!”  This is what the angels told Lot.  Genesis 19:12-13 says,  “And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place:   For WE WILL DESTROY THIS PLACE, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and THE LORD HATH SENT US TO DESTROY IT.”

There is “mercy” with the Lord in regard to the Sodomites — but only if they will repent.  Ezekiel 33:11 says, “Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die...?”  But if we are not willing to preach “judgment,” then no one will be seeking for “mercy.”  They will be justifying their sin, and will see no need for mercy.

The Biblical meaning of “mercy” is to be spared or rescued from judgment, harm, danger, or trouble.  Notice the following verses.

Psalms 4:1 says, “Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have MERCY upon me, and hear my prayer.”

Psalms 6:2 says “Have MERCY upon me, O LORD; for I am weak: O LORD, heal me; for my bones are vexed.”

Psalms 9:13 says,  “Have MERCY upon me, O LORD; consider my trouble which I suffer of them that hate me, thou that liftest me up from the gates of death:”

1 Timothy 1:12-13 says, “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry;    Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained MERCY, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.”

Titus 3:5 says, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his MERCY he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;”

Jude 1:21 says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the MERCY of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

Through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have “mercy” granted to us for all of eternity — the withholding of judgment against us, because His pure blood cleanses us from all sin.


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