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The Magnificence of Mercy

Magnificence of Mercy (The)


Why Write a Book on Mercy?

What is there about mercy which would demand the writing of a book? Only one who has been delivered from misery by mercy could truly tell us. Often in human living we see people who were once desperate, unable to get themselves out of their insuperable difficulties, and we have seen a person or persons exercise mercy and liberate them.

Biblically, Man is in an inextricable situation of misery. We need not here go into all that. God's mercy is something which in human terms we would call involuntary. God moves in mercy to release Man from his misery. If He does not move to release Man, then He cannot be called 'unmerciful', since mercy is something He does of His own will. Were He obligated to move, then mercy would not be mercy. We need not, here, go into the dynamics and practics of all this.

My own personal reason for writing this book is that I have been, over many years, the object of God's mercy. I know that mercy, and it never ceases to astonish and humble me. As I understand it, God has mercy when men in guilt have terrible misery. He also moves in mercy when situations, which do not necessarily arise from personal guilt, oppress human beings to the point of intolerable suffering and distress. Yet again, He moves in mercy to give rich vocation in life to persons who have not previously had direction and purpose, or who have had somewhat pointless vocations, and minor goals for living. Since all of these situations are the lot of most of us, mercy comes as a beautiful and liberating action of God. Only one who has known mercy in these ways would want to write or tell about it.

It has been my experience that I-with many others-have often cried for mercy. Part of the ancient Christian liturgy has been, 'Kyrie eleison! Christus eleison! Kyrie eleison!', and it seems, in all ages, to be the cry of many hearts. Some simply do not address Christ because they do not know he is a great source of mercy. There are those who cry to God, although they do not know Him personally. One does not need to read a book about mercy in order to cry out of the misery that oppresses and the doom that threatens. Mercy is scarcely a matter of research! Even so, I have been richly rewarded in the digging I have done-exploring the Scriptures which are resonant with God's great and practical pity. I guess that, at best, I am a 'home theologian'. I have always thought the Bible was for such as I am-given in the brilliant and helpful fruits of more scholarly research.

In this minor research, I have come to see that Israel needed, wanted and received certain foundational realities in regard to God, especially as He revealed His glory to them in His covenant. In particular, in Exodus 34:6-7 He revealed His attributes of mercy, favour, steadfast love, long-suffering, faithfulness, forgiveness and the holiness which does not forgive evil where Man is impenitent or scornful of covenant goodness.

I have also come to see that these qualities of God-if we may call them that-were unchanging and unwavering. God kept reminding Israel in both their adversity and prosperity that He was the Lord and as such unchangeable, that is, wholly dependable. So by the law, by the prophets, and by the constant acts of God they were reminded of this covenant God and His great character.

Human beings, even covenant-related human beings, have a way of forgetting God, trying to ignore Him as they seek to go their own ways. We would all have to admit to this. The incarnation of the Word-God becoming Man in Jesus-is one of the most remarkable miracles of history. In him was not merely a reminder of all that God is, but the very manifestation of God Himself: 'Emmanuel, God with us!' Jesus was mercy incarnate, as he was love, and goodness, righteousness and holiness incarnate. God spoke to Man through His Son, and still so speaks.

It was the great act of the Atonement, that of giving His Son up for us all, which was His supreme act of mercy. His movement in history to set Christ forth as His required and satisfactory propitiation is what has caused the world to think. It is startling-God abandoning up His only and true Son. We are confronted by it. What does it mean? What must we think and do in the light of that act?

The truth is that we are confronted by mercy-mercy incredible and unspeakable. We cannot hide from the Divine mercy. It is always there before us in Christ. We cannot evade history. No other persons confront us as does Jesus, and no other act has ever equalled or surpassed this act-not even any other act of God.

So that is why we write about mercy. Readers may find some of the material tedious. More's the pity if they do. The book builds up to a climax, but first sets the basic foundational ideas for understanding that climax. I urge readers to undertake a serious reading, and not skim the contents. The reward lies in the deepest understanding of His 'everlasting mercy'.

It may even be that some readers have never come under that mercy. What an experience to do so! What liberation! What meeting with the great love of God! Of course; but the greatest outcome of knowing God's mercy is that we begin to have mercy on others. When God's mercy becomes translated into Man's mercy to Man, then the subject is no longer in the abstract. It is touching us all where we live, and that is what matters.

I hope this brief treatment of mercy will draw us to the acts of mercy so needed in a world of human carelessness, of human misery and grief.

Magnificence of Mercy (The)

Rev. Geoffrey Bingham

by Rev. Geoffrey Bingham

Publisher: NCPI

Subject: Mercy

Book Code: 361

Pages: 210 pp

Pub. Date: 2000

ISBN: 0 86408 221 5

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