I believe Mercy is our last best hope. Justice is good, it is desirable – and God is a just God. We get angry when we see injustice. But I am so glad that it does not stop there.
For by the strictures of justice, I am condemned, and justly so. I do not desire justice, not for me. Were the heart of love only about justice and law there would be no hope, not for any of us, especially in this day and age. We stand, individually and as a culture, condemned. The jury has sat, the evidence read out, the judgement rendered. We are guilty; Justice condemns us.
No, right now I am rooting for Mercy. Of course these are just different facets of the same Heart but, humans that we are, we need to differentiate to understand. I plead for mercy, both for me, and in the current times for us – our people, our nation. It’s all we have – and no-one can plumb the depths of Gods mercy.
Consider King David’s story in 1 Chronicles 21:
1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. 2 So David said to Joab and the commanders of the troops, “Go and count the Israelites from Beersheba to Dan. Then report back to me so that I may know how many there are.”
3 But Joab replied, “May the LORD multiply his troops a hundred times over. My lord the king, are they not all my lord’s subjects? Why does my lord want to do this? Why should he bring guilt on Israel?”
4 The king’s word, however, overruled Joab; so Joab left and went throughout Israel and then came back to Jerusalem. 5 Joab reported the number of the fighting men to David: In all Israel there were one million one hundred thousand men who could handle a sword, including four hundred and seventy thousand in Judah.
6 But Joab did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, because the king’s command was repulsive to him. 7 This command was also evil in the sight of God; so he punished Israel.
8 Then David said to God, “I have sinned greatly by doing this. Now, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.”
9 The LORD said to Gad, David’s seer, 10 “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the LORD says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’ ”
11 So Gad went to David and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Take your choice: 12 three years of famine, three months of being swept away [a] before your enemies, with their swords overtaking you, or three days of the sword of the LORD -days of plague in the land, with the angel of the LORD ravaging every part of Israel.’ Now then, decide how I should answer the one who sent me.”
13 David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let me fall into the hands of the LORD, for his mercy is very great; but do not let me fall into the hands of men.”
14 So the LORD sent a plague on Israel, and seventy thousand men of Israel fell dead. 15 And God sent an angel to destroy Jerusalem. But as the angel was doing so, the LORD saw it and was grieved because of the calamity and said to the angel who was destroying the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the LORD was then standing at the threshing floor of Araunah [b] the Jebusite.
He knew that of the choices before him the only real hope was to throw himself on the mercy of God, in repentance and anguish to submit to that divine Mercy. Sure enough, even in the midst of judgment and wrath, God remembers. How can he do other? The heart that burns with anger against sin also is the most kind and tender heart that I have ever known. This is not weakness – it is strength beyond human comprehension. David knew this, that the only place he could fall was into the arms of God. There was nowhere else to go.
Do we know this? Or would apathy blind us? I am convinced that God will not – indeed cannot – refuse prayers that entreat on His Mercy. It is who He is, He cannot deny Himself.
Put it another way, I am convinced that God is peculiarly vulnerable to our call on His mercy. Does He not know our frame, our weaknesses? Has He not known what it is to be human?
If there is one thing that we can do right now, it is to humble ourselves and pray, even at this late hour, for His Mercy – on ourselves, our land, and our people.