It is very interesting that God placed mercy (eleos) as the first of blessings in this verse. In the divine mind, eleos (mercy) precedes the charis (grace). God so loved the world with an actively compassionate love, that He gave Himself, Christ Messiah (herein the charis), that the world through Him might be rescued.
At first blush, most of us would assume mercy is mentioned more in the New Testament than the Old, but this is not true. Curious, I did a quick word search for the English translation of the word- mercy and found it is used 176 times in the bible. Of those 176 citing’s, only 39 could be found in the New Testament.
Mercy, eleos is not only part of God’s name (el), but it is also who and what God is. Mercy is a hard concept for us to understand. We struggle with the idea that God would, could be actively compassionate towards us. Why is it so hard to believe? I think our confusion stems from the fact that we forget that God is not like us.
God is different than His creation. His attributes and character are not like us at all. God is uncreated, meaning He is; He always was; and He has always been. God is without beginning or end. God is perfect, omnipresent, eternal and infinite. Man is imperfect, mortal, finite and we live under the laws of nature. God created these laws, like gravity and time and yet, He is outside them. Important, smart people have defined infinite as boundless and limitless which makes sense since it is the root word for infinity.
My husband and I have a ritual…. When we finish texting and close out our message, we always say, “Love you, infinity times infinity”. It is a nice thought, but unrealistic. Our love has a beginning. It cannot be the love of infinity times infinity since it began in 1976. Only God who exists in infinity, can give love and mercy for infinity. God is infinite mercy. It is what He is and what He will always be.
One of my favorite scriptures is in Lamentations. Lamentations was written as a result of Judah’s continued and unrepentant sin. God allowed the Babylonians to besiege, plunder, burn, and destroy the city of Jerusalem. Solomon’s Temple, which had stood for over 400 years, was burned to the ground. The Prophet Jeremiah, an eyewitness to these events, wrote the Book of Lamentations as a lament for what occurred to Judah and Jerusalem.
Jeremiah was a special man. He is known as the “weeping prophet” because of his deep and abiding passion for his people and their city (Lamentations 3:48-49). Jeremiah had a very sensitive soul. I am sure you have known someone who was and is very tender hearted. Jeremiah was one such man. Since Jeremiah also was a godly, yielded man, God continued to remake him to be a sensitive soul. God gave Jeremiah a word. It was a present to him and to God’s people. This word would touch such a sensitive soul. What is the verse? Lamentations 3:22.
“It is the Lords mercies (pity; to actively stoop in kindness) that are not consumed, because his compassions fail not”. That word for compassion is the same love that a mother has for her fetus. The love of a young girl.
This same sorrow over the sins of the people and their rejection of God was expressed by Christ as He approached Jerusalem and looked ahead to her destruction at the hands of the Romans (Luke 19:41-44). Because of the Jews’ rejection of their Messiah, God used the Roman siege to punish His people. But God takes no joy in having to punish His children and His offer of Jesus Christ as a provision for sin shows His great compassion on His people.
Do you know God; the giver of unlimited and boundless mercy? Would you like to know the God who is the only one who is truly able to love you infinity times infinity?
Why not start anew and let 2017 be the year of infinite mercy, grace and love. God, after all He is only a prayer away.