Not Justice But Mercy
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your unfailing love; according to Your great compassion blot out my transgressions” (Psa. 51:1).
Read Romans 9:14-29
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matt. 5:7).
Surely this emphasis on God’s prior action only makes matters worse. How can he escape responsibility? In citing a key text from Exodus following Israel’s golden-calf rebellion (Exod. 33:19), Paul reminds his hearers that from the outset idolatrous Israel, like genocidal Pharaoh, had become a helpless pot in God’s judicial hands. They merited judgment, but God nevertheless showed them mercy. Similarly, in Israel’s hoped-for second exodus, God would again show mercy to his consistently idolatrous “not-my-people” (Hos. 1:10; 2:23). Although only a remnant, even its existence was a sign of God’s kindness (27-29). From their election to their continued existence and future hope the last thing Israel needed was justice. What God gave them was mercy.
Now, if Israel was defined from beginning to end by mercy, why could God not also mercifully embrace the equally “not-my-people” Gentiles (24)? In fact, that’s precisely what was happening through Paul’s “without distinction” gospel. To return, then, to “not all Israelites are Israel,” Israel is not that nation which boasts of past priority. It is instead those “not-my-people,” both Jew and Gentile, who in this day of God’s ultimate revelation of his glory have obtained his mercy. From this perspective, the issue is not God’s predestination from eternity of some to salvation and others to damnation. Paul’s concern is to show his hearers that Israel’s historical priority is not really the issue. Like the Gentiles, they had become a “not-my-people.” If justice was the issue, they had long forfeited their calling. For Paul, however, the point of God’s electing purpose was to reveal that, although just, he is above all a God of astonishing mercy. Such good news ought to characterize to its core the life of God’s people. Above all else, we ought to be known for our mercy.
Ask God to show you some specific and personal way in which you can bring his mercy into someone else’s life.
Merciful Father, Your mercies are so easily lost from my view. Remind me afresh of Your mercies and grant me a merciful heart.
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