Part 20 of the Gospel of God: Studies in Paul’s Letter to the Romans – In his grace God has chosen Abraham and his descendants to be his instruments of mercy to bring blessing to the world, but the Israelites as a whole had not received the gracious message of the gospel. Had God gone back on his promises to his people Israel? Not at all, says Paul, for our God keeps his promises. In our passage this morning Paul plays the prophet in revealing God’s purposes, both in the present and in the future, for his own people Israel, confirming once again the faithfulness of our God.
Part 18 of The Gospel of God: Paul’s Letter to the Romans – The wonderful assurance of God’s love at the end of chapter eight turns to a painful reflection on Israel’s rejection of the gospel in chapter nine. At stake in Paul’s mind is the very faithfulness of God, and the discussion of this issue will carry us through chapter eleven. In our passage this morning Paul begins by setting forth a central principle, deals with objections, and gives us a profound perspective on the nature of God’s grace.
We live in a culture suspicious of institutions and especially of authority, yet we still make value judgments and expect justice. On this Easter morning we consider how the resurrection of Jesus addresses our cultural concerns exactly. It shows us that there is justice in God’s world, which means there must be a day of judgment. But it also points us to God’s mercy for all those who put their trust in this One who is raised.
Part 5 of Living as Exiles: Considering the Book of Daniel – Our God is a God of mercy, but he is also a righteous Judge. Our passage this morning reminds us that we dare not presume upon his forgiveness, or we may be liable to face his wrath. May we turn to him in faith while we still have the opportunity, for there will come a day when it will be too late.
Part 4 of Jonah – “Our Father in heaven . . . forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors . . . For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Mt. 6:12,14,15).
With these familiar words Jesus teaches that we can only receive God’s mercy as we demonstrate that mercy toward others. As we conclude our study of the prophet Jonah, we see this as the central message. The prophet knew of God’s mercy, he had received God’s mercy, but he refused to extend that mercy to Nineveh. His obstinate anger provides a mirror through which we can look at ourselves.
Part 7 of Ezekiel – The way the people of Israel in Ezekiel’s day perceived themselves was very different from the way the Lord did. In our passage, the prophet uses shocking imagery to confront them with this fact and in the process calls them, and us, to remember where we’ve come from as we seek God’s mercy.
Part 4 of Ezekiel – The great and awesome God who appeared to Ezekiel in his “chariot-throne” vision of chap. 1 revealed himself in chaps. 2-3 as a personal God who speaks. Now we see that this God who speaks means what he says. Ezekiel will communicate a message of doom to this people who have broken God’s covenant. They will get what they deserve and what God promised. But the Lord’s faithfulness to his word in judgment offers us hope that he will also be faithful to his word of mercy.