God of mercy. That is who He is.
The topical title for Jeremiah 3:6-4:4 is Unfaithful Israel. “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done?” (Jeremiah 3:6. NIV84) “But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to Me, O house of Israel” (Jeremiah 3:20. NIV84). Even so, the call “return” appears numerous times throughout these chapters. Why would God want to call a people…a person who has been unfaithful to Him to return to His side? God of mercy. That is who He is.
Nehemiah 9 describes another instance of God’s mercifulness.
“You saw the suffering of our forefathers in Egypt; You heard their cry at the Red Sea. You sent miraculous signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all of his officials and all the people of his land, for You knew how arrogant the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day. You divided the sea before them so that they passed through it on dry ground, but you hurled their pursuers into the depths like a stone into mighty waters. By day You led them with a pillar of clouds and by night with a pillar of fire to give them light on the way they were to take. You came down on Mount Sinai; You spoke to them from heaven. You gave them regulations and laws that are just and right, and decrees and commands that are good. You made known to them Your Sabbath and gave them commandments, decrees, and laws through Your servant Moses. In their hunger You gave them bread from heaven and in their thirst You brought them water from the rock; You told them to go in and take possession of the land You had sworn with uplifted hand to give them…” (Nehemiah 9″9-15, NIV84).
All these great, miraculous signs and wonders God had done and still the people turned from Him. “But they, our forefathers, became arrogant and stiff-necked, and did not obey Your commands. They refused to listen and failed to remember the miracles You performed among them, they became stiff-necked and in their rebellion appointed a leader in order to return to their slavery” (Nehemiah 9:17b, NIV84).
How quick are we…am I to judge the Israelites? Condemning, “They experienced the goodness and faithfulness of God, they saw His wondrous hand, they escaped slavery and peril because He miraculously led them out and they in full will turned away from Him. What stupidity!” Are we…am I so innocent of such? Are not there are times when alike the Israelites we…I refuse to listen and fail to remember and obey in spite of what God has done to reveal Himself to us…to me?
Why would God want to forgive them…forgive us…forgive me? God of mercy. That is who He is.
“‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will frown on you no longer, FOR I AM MERCIFUL,’ declares the Lord, ‘I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt– you have rebelled against the Lord your God, you have scattered your favors to foreign gods under every spreading tree, and have not obeyed me,'” declares the Lord. “‘Return, faithless people,” declares the Lord…” (Jeremiah 3:12-14, NIV84).
May we…may I not take the mercy of God for granted. May we listen to His beckoning, His merciful call to return to His side. May we come. May we see the Christ child in the manger as Mercy come down to us and revealed for us, the Forgiveness of God given…given. May we acknowledge our guilt, accepting who He is– God of Mercy–, and return to walk at His side as individuals, as families, as churches, as communities, as countries. That is my prayer this Christmas.
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