Friday, February 04, 2011
I am the pastor of a small church in Elk River MN and right now I'm teaching through the first book of the Bible, Genesis, on Sunday mornings. This week I'm to teach on chapter 4, the story of Cain and Abel. Cain killed his brother in jealous rage and then paid a high price for that lack of self-control but, in the end, what this story is really about is the mercy of God in the life of Cain.
God did punish Cain and this was a mercy. Can you imagine a parent who never punished their child for anything, including murder? That would be a very bad parent and most of us would suggest that that parent be punished! God is a good parent, if you will, and therefore he does punish.
But he's also a gracious and merciful God and he doesn't punish us exactly as our sins deserve but he finds a way to deal with the sin but also release us from the more severe consequences of our sin if we will only humble ourselves.
In due time Cain did humble himself and the Lord did extend his massive mercy to him. God protected Cain from those who would kill him for what he had done, and God promised to avenge Cain "seven-fold" if anyone did in fact strike him dead. There's more to be said about the story but the point is this: who treats murderers like this? God does because he's immensely merciful!
I woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning feeling very moved by the mercy of God not only in the life of Cain but in my own life as well. I just felt so stunned and breath-taken by how patient God has been with me, and I worshiped him. Then about 5:30 I got up and wrote to God in my journal and expressed my feelings to him, after which I turned to my daily Bible reading which "just happened" to be Exodus 34-36.
Only six verses into my reading here are the words I read, words which the Lord spoke to Moses as he revealed himself to Moses: "The LORD passed before him [Moses] and proclaimed, 'The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation'" (Exodus 34:6-7).
Wow, I felt stunned and all the more amazed at a God so merciful as this! That he would orchestrate circumstances so that I would be reading these particular words on this particular morning, well that just amazed me! He's such a good and gracious Father.
Oh, friend, seek the Lord while he may be found. He is a faithful Friend and Guide to all who will humble themselves before him, and he's immensely merciful. He will wipe away the guilt of your sin in an instant if you'll only look to his chosen one, Jesus Christ, and believe. And he will walk with you all the days of your life, pouring upon you the massive mercy that's in his heart.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, hope you have a mercy-filled day!