The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise . . . for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins. (2 Kefa/Peter 3:9)
Showing Mercy and Firmness
When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground (Exodus 9:23)
Thinking about fire and water brings a strange image to my mind. Fire can turn water into steam and water can quench fire. It’s not often we see fire and water collaborating. However, in Exodus, we see the seventh plague combining the destructive forces of both water, in the form of hail, and fire, in lightening. In the context of Exodus, the combination of fire and water was designed to convince the Egyptians to allow Israel to leave. How might we see fire and water in our lives, today?
I envision water as a metaphor for mercy; it may be cooling and soothing, providing comfort and security. There is no mystery why our children begin their lives in the womb, filled with fluid, mainly water.
How then might we see fire? To me, fire connotes firmness, that unbending, uncompromising quality which keeps our spines straight and our morality consistent.
Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, displayed these qualities to us, to project the perfect model of mercy and firmness. One very clear example of His being both merciful and firm may be found in John 8. You know the story well; Adonai Yeshua has just returned from the Mount of Olives and He is accosted by a group of Sanhedrin members, who have accused a woman of having committed adultery. They question Him about the appropriate punishment. Let’s listen to His response: “When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her’.Again, he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.Yeshua straightened up and asked her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, sir’, she said. ‘Then neither do I condemn you’,Yeshua declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin’.”
Notice, Adonai Yeshua first stood tall before the esteemed members of the Sanhedrin and then reminded them of the Life Instructions of Torah, ‘Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her’, He didn’t negotiate with them; He was firm in the convictions laid out in His Word. Then, He showed the woman mercy and gave her a second chance. Yes, beloved, our Gracious God is a God of second chances. His mercy knows no bounds.
Do we swing from one pole to another? Are we either firm or merciful towards others? For example, and this certainly applies to me, when driving, do you show mercy to those who ‘cut you off’ or are not generous, not allowing you make the turn you need, so they can arrive home 15 seconds earlier? And what happens, when you witness injustice being committed against another? Do you ignore the evil behaviour? Dear friends, these are the behaviours we expect from those who do not know Yahweh, our Gracious God. Sometimes, I see more merciful behaviour from unbelievers, than I see from my brothers and sisters. That should never be the case.
We, believers in the Most High God, have a sacred responsibility to be merciful to others, even when they hurt or threaten us. And we have a sacred responsibility to stand tall in the face of oppression or injustice to our fellows, irrespective of their beliefs.
CONSIDER: When did you last show mercy to another human being? When did you last stand up and confront intolerance, injustice, oppression or bullying?
ACTION: Beloved, I urge you to know more about yourselves; I urge you to keep a log of your merciful and your firm behaviours for one week only. That is certainly not a long time. Try praying for mercy and blessings for those who are unkind to you. Notice when others are being oppressed, bullied by others and stand-up for those who are not able to stand-up for themselves.
PRAY: Beloved Abba, I sincerely repent of those times when I have been unmerciful to those who need mercy and I repent of those events when I have ignored those who needed someone to stand tall for them, in their time of need. Give me Your Strength; give me Your Courage; give me Your Heart of Mercy, I pray, and guide me in mercy and firmness. In Your Beloved Name I pray.
May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly