Our Compassionate God (14 July 2019)

Exodus 34: 6-7 has always reminded me of the proclaimation of God and His character to Moses.  It says “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 inquiry and transgression and sin…”

Last week there was the annual RBC conference. This year the message was shared from the Book of Judges focusing on the character person of Samson. Over two nights, the message of God’s mercy was beautifully preached. Despite all his worldly deeds and sinful lifestyles, God in His great mercy, answered Samson’s last prayer and demonstrated great compassion to His appointed judge.

Most of us act foolishly from time to time, but because God is rich in mercy, He often gives us a second chance. Jonah, the  evangelist who was commanded by God to preach to the wicked people of Nineveh, was too given a second chance, after his first denial and refusal to obey God.

The apostle Peter, denied Jesus three times. He must have thought that Jesus would have given up hope on him, after his disappointing behaviour towards the end of Jesus earthly life. But the risen  Lord met and reinstated him to ministry, appointing him to feed His flock (John 21). And we cannot forget John Mark (the writer of the gospel of Mark). He also gave up halfway in the ministry while accompanying Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary trip, abandoning the team (Acts 13:13). Later in Acts 15, the bible records for us that  Mark was given a second chance and Barnabas took him on another trip. The young man must have made good use of his second chance, because subsequently in 2 Tim 4:11, we are told that Paul later acknowledged that Mark was helpful to him in the ministry.

When was the last time we think we had disappointed God and walked away from Him? Have we ever then look back again and seek God’s forgiveness and repentance? Our God is a compassionate God! He loves us. He will forgive and want us back again, if only we are willing!

God gave Jonah a second chance too: “Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time”. Instead of rejecting the disobedient prophet and disposing of him, God again asked him to go to Nineveh. Having rescued him from the belly of the fish, God gave Jonah another opportunity to obey Him. Jonah had run away from God, but now God gave him another chance to run for Him. In all this, God’s mercy and grace were demonstrated for the audience then and certainly for us now as well.

God in the Bible is often depicted as ever ready to forgive sinners. He seems to move readily  and rapidly to forgive at even the slightest sign of repentance.  Will we respond the same?

Will we be willing to forgive others just as God is ever ready to forgive sinners like us?

Will we be also ever ready to respond and return to God who is forever compassionate in His dealings with us? God’s heart melts when people return or turn to Him. If He is angry with us, it is because He is concerned for our own good. When we turn back to God, He responds with a merciful, gracious heart. He forgives us and spares us the destruction we bring up on ourselves.

Don’t miss the second chance when God gives!

Elder Andrew Lim