JUDGMENT AND MERCY

 

Following the dreadful Supreme Court decision, many spoke about judgment coming upon America. While I shudder at the massive change in our social landscape and grieve that our grandchildren will grow up in a vastly different culture, I wonder if such a response is appropriate. Cause and effect will bring about judgment. When moral laws written into the fabric of our lives are violated, people suffer consequences.

Does calling for judgment represent the heart of God? Jonah wanted God to wipe out the brutal Assyrians. He probably had relatives butchered by the savage pagans. Something within him cried for justice. He was wrong! And Jesus admonished James and John for their knee-jerk reaction of calling down fire from heaven on resisters.

Does God judge? Yes, even in a season of grace. Is that His heart? No. Mercy is central to the redemptive plan of God. Judgment is not God’s first choice. He is delaying the return of His Son because He would rather save than condemn (2 Peter 3 and John 3:17). Judgment is not the first thing that comes to mind when God looks at San Francisco or New York. Is it ours? Judgment is a consequence; mercy is a solution. Judgment is the alternative to unrepentant rebels. Love LA and now LOVE NY, where thousands are being offered the mercy system over the merit system, reflects the heart of God. New York, like every city in the country, deserves judgment. Thank God that mercy triumphs over judgment. Even the name “Jesus” speaks of God’s passion to save rather than judge. God takes no pleasure in the destruction of the wicked.

Justice was served at the cross, where God was just and the justifier. He poured out on Jesus the wrath we deserved to forgive guilty sinners and declare them righteous.

If you call for judgment, then do it as Dwight L. Moody said with tears. God is looking for people who will rightly reflect His heart. Jonah, James and John did not. Is anyone disappointed that LA didn’t slide into the sea or that a tsumani did not hit the coast of NY? Did these prophetic words represent the Father?

Nehemiah was rehearsing Israel’s prolonged rebellion. Each time their pitiful situation was reversed when God stepped in: “But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God” (Nehemiah 9:19, 27, 31). “Time after time he restrained his anger and did not stir up his full wrath” (Psalm 78:38). “Their hearts were not loyal to him…Yet he was merciful, he forgave their iniquities and did not destroy them” (v. 37). Mercy triumphed over judgment!

Nazi leaders were offered mercy by an American military chaplain, Henry T. Gerecke, serving in the German prison, when most in the world could only see judgment. The first to open up to the gospel was Fritz Sauckel. As German Reichsstatthalter (governor), he was responsible for the deportation of more than five million people. He prayed in his cell, “Gott, sei mir Sunder gnadig?” (God, have mercy on me, a sinner!), and mercy triumphed over judgment. Others followed, like von Ribbentrop, secretary of the exterior, first to go to the gallows. He said, “I trust the blood of the Lamb, who takes away the sin of the world.” Some resisted, like Robert Ley, who in his youth was a member of the YMCA but said of Christ, “I don’t need him,” and went to judgment. May mercy triumph over judgment in our lives and on our lips!

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