(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
The featured Scripture, Lamentations 3:21 through 26, surprises me! The vast majority of the book’s’ 154 verses contain Jeremiah’s description of a ruined land, city, and temple; trampled under the boots of the invading Babylonian army! It is not just a bystander’s impartial telling either. The prophet is horrified at what he has witnessed, and he weeps many tears over the suffering, sickness, and death of his fellow Jews! But he also has suffered as well! The surprise is that in the midst of all this, Jeremiah breaks forth into six verses of hope and praise:
This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. [It is of] the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compas- sions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, there- fore I hope in Him. The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
In the middle of personal and national suffering, Jeremiah, through God’s promises, had hope! (Lamentations 3:21).
- He found God’s “…mercies, new every morning…” (Lamentations 3:22). What is meant by God’s mercies? Mercy means that the LORD does not give what is deserved!
✡ What do we deserve? We deserve God’s condemnation and eternal hell because we have broken God’s laws by sin- ning against Him! For instance, in Mark 12:29 and 30, Jesus tells us, “...the first of all the commandments is...you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” In Matthew 22:38, the Lord calls the commandment “...the greatest and the first command- ment.” (Lexham English Bible); and we are to love Him like this all the time! ➔ But in John 14:15 Jesus also said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” The Living Bible translates John 14:15 this way: “If you love Me, obey Me....” So loving the Lord must result in obeying the Lord! ➔ It stands to reason, then, that the first of all the commandments could be written this way: “...you shall obey the LORD your God with all your heart, with all our soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” And who does that........all the time? ✞ So if we have broken the greatest commandment, doesn’t that make us the greatest of sinners?! Yes, all of us, every human being... ➔ ...stands condemned before God! (see Romans 3:10, 19, 23). ➔ ...is in desperate need of the LORD’s mercy – not giving us what we deserve – condemna- tion and hell!
- Mercy, emphasized in the Old Testament is often paired with grace in the New.
✞ I Timothy 1:2 – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.” ✞ II Timothy 1:2 – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.” ✞ Titus 1:4 – “Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior....” ✞ Hebrews 4:16 – “...let us come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” ✞ II John 1:3 – “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with you from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.”
But there is a difference between mercy and grace:
- While mercy is not giving us what we deserve…
- …grace is giving us what we do not deserve!
In James 4:6 we are told, “…He gives more grace…” to overcome the sinful world! And Paul writes in Romans 5:20, “…where sin abounded, grace abounded much more.” What does it mean for us to receive from God more, much more abounding grace? What don’t we deserve that He so richly gives us?
- He sent His Son Jesus to die in our place, completely paying for our sins! When we accept Him as our Savior…
✞ ...we were guilty! He paid the price for our sins! (see II Corinthians 5:21). ✞ ...we are accounted as clean in His sight! (see I John 1:7). ✞ ...we become His sons and daughters! (see II Corinthians 6:18). ✞ ...we gain eternal life, now in this earthly life, and for- ever in heaven! (see John 5:24; II Corinthians 5:8). ✞ ...God through His Holy Spirit resides permanently in our hearts to empower us to live for Him! (see Ephesians 3:16).
- II Peter 1:2 through 4 beautifully sums it up:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the know- ledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, hav- ing escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
Not only are the LORD’s mercies new every morning, so are His compassions, and His faithfulness! (Lamentations 3:22).
- His compassions are His tender yearnings to help us in our troubles! Eerdmans The New Bible Dictionary says that mercy and pity are synonyms for the Old Testament idea of compassion. We can all use such synonyms applied to our lives, especially when we are facing hard times!
- God’s faithfulness is always dependable! In Psalm 119:89 and 90 the psalmist points out, “Forever, O LORD, Your word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness endures to all generations….”
✞ When He says to His children in Hebrews 13:5 and Matthew 28:20, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you....I am with you always, even to the end of the age...,” you can stake your life on it, for the Lord is faithful! ✡ When He inspired Isaiah to write in Isaiah 43:1 through 3, He meant it! But now thus says the LORD, who created you... and He who formed you...‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
There are so many other faithful promises in the Bible, God’s word to us!
- Read it! Study it! Meditate on it! Memorize it!
- As Paul wrote in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly….”
One more Gem, and we will complete our study of Light In The Midst Of Darkness!