READ: Psalm 110, Nahum 1, John 14, Philippians 4

CUSTOM MERCY

“Look upon me and be merciful to me as your custom is toward those who love Your name” (Psalm 119:132).  God’s nature is mercy based. God is both more merciful and more terrible than we imagine. He is not a tame god.  God is not contained by our preferences or our comfort. God is not balanced, if balance means mercy cancels out wrath. God is fully merciful even as He blazes in fiery wrath against sin. God at once considers man vile (Nahum 1:14) and precious.

If God’s great mercy and fierce wrath are both solid realities, which stretch like railroad tracks to a kissing point beyond our comprehension, then Nahum is like a little boy who traverses the tracks by hopping back and forth from one to the other.

God is jealous, furious, an avenger, reserving wrath for His enemies, Nahum says (1:2). God is also slow to anger (v. 3). The Lord has His way in the whirlwind and storm, the hills melt, and the earth burns at His presence (vv. 3-5), and the Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, knowing those who trust Him (v. 7). God will make an end of His enemies with an overflowing flood (v. 8), and He will break the yoke and bonds of our oppressors, bringing good tidings of peace (vv. 13-15). Nahum does not try to reconcile the mercy and wrath of God–he simply celebrates them both finding no tension between them.

There are aspects of God’s character that seem to diminish the more we try and explain them. God is to be celebrated more than explained. God is to be experienced, not dissected. God is to be enjoyed, not catalogued. The Trinity is hard enough to explain to Christians, let alone Muslims. Yet the experience of God the Father for us, God the Son with us, God the Spirit in us is magnificent and compelling. Doctrine matters and sound teaching that is biblically based is essential, but God will not be reduced to our formulas and faulty diagrams. God must be experienced and worshiped more than He must be understood.

God’s mercy and God’s wrath should be celebrated. How wonderful it is that God is more merciful than man. God in His infinite mercy gives us what we don’t deserve and even gives us what we have refused to others. If God was not over merciful, there would be no hope for man. At the same time, how marvelous it is that God is more holy than man, demanding perfection, intolerant of sin. We would foolishly allow sin a place in our hearts or community and it would over time destroy us. God is so committed to goodness and wellness that He fiercely protects us from that which would corrupt us. God’s wrath against sin in and around me is thus the purest form of mercy. Without God’s wrath there would be no lasting life for man.

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