“The Syrians before, and the Philistines behind; and they shall devour Israel with open mouth. For all this his anger is not turned away, but his hand is stretched out still.”
There is a game many youth play where you clasp hands and see who will cry, “Mercy” first. Each person tries to push the hands back in such a manner that it becomes so painful for the one losing that they cry, “Mercy.” It is the mercy of the one winning that keeps them from inflicting more pain on the losing person. If they wanted, they could hurt them, but their mercy is what causes them to stop.
Though our lives are not a game with God, the game of “Mercy” shows what God could do to us if He so chooses. The verse above talks about God’s anger towards His people, but in the midst of anger, He still has His hand out in hopes that they will return. God’s hand being stretched out is His mercy for His children. Though God must judge sin, His merciful hand is always stretched out with the hopes that the sinner will return.
Where would you be if it were not for the mercy of God? I’m afraid that most Christians, if not all, have had those moments in their life when the only way God could get our attention was through judgment, and it was in that time of judgment that we reached for His merciful hand to get us out of our bad situation. There are several reminders we should remember concerning God’s merciful hand.
First, don’t take God’s stretched out hand as a sign of His weakness. Just because God is showing mercy while He is judging doesn’t mean that He is justifying your sin. God’s mercy is not permission to sin, but it’s His offer to have a reprieve from His judgment. God doesn’t extend His mercy because He is weak, but He extends His mercy because He loves you and wants the best for you. Always remember that God’s mercy is a reminder to the sinner that He still loves them even though sin has made them feel unworthy.
Second, mercy doesn’t immediately stop judgment. The verse above never one time states that judgment would immediately stop, but it does reveal that God is willing to help you through your time of judgment. Certainly, mercy will stop sin’s consequences earlier, but the fact is that sin has already set into action sin’s consequences. God’s stretched out hand is His desire to keep you from facing the full force of judgment.
Third, don’t refuse God’s stretched out hand because of stubbornness or bitterness. Though God may be angry with you for what you have done, don’t refuse His offer to help you out of your situation. It is not God Who got you into your situation; it is your sin that caused your situation. Don’t take your anger out on God because of sin’s consequences. God warned you in the Scriptures of the consequences of sin, but you are the one who chose to sin anyway. It would be wise to accept God’s offer to get out of your situation. Instead of getting angry at God because of sin’s judgment, you should get angry at sin and accept God’s merciful hand to get you out of your situation.
My friend, God is a merciful God. Though God may have to punish you for your sin, always remember that you can get out of your situation as quickly as you accept His offer of mercy. Don’t waste mercy’s offer; accept it and determine never to have to go through it again.