This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.
Nowadays the word mercy is often used to mean something to be grateful for. In the Bible the meaning is having compassion for an offender or enemy in one’s power.
Compassion was the word I chose for the letter C. Mercy is perhaps a way of acting out compassion. It is linked with forgiveness. The word I chose for the letter F was forgive. Daniel 9:9 is an example of the words mercy and forgiveness being linked.
The number of times mercy appears in the Bible, like other words, depends on the translation used. Some versions translate ‘mercy seat’ as ‘atonement cover’, ‘cover’ or ‘lid’, thus reducing the number of times ‘mercy’ appears. In any case it appears over 100 times.
To jump to the story Jesus told a parable click here.
The Ark of the Covenant, for which instructions were given in Exodus 25:10-22 had the mercy seat as its cover.
Many Psalms praise God for his mercy or ask him for mercy, when the psalmist (writer of psalms) has done wrong.
Many of Paul’s letters speak of God’s mercy.
The letter to the Hebrews speaks of receiving mercy at the throne of grace Hebrews 4:16 and compares the Old Testament customs with the New Covenant.
Mercy is frequently used in blessings in the New Testament letters Jude 1:2
Jesus told a parable
Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother. Should he forgive him seven times?
Jesus replied, ‘Not seven times. Rather seventy seven times.’
(Some translations give seventy times seven times. Either way it is a large number and it would be difficult to keep count.)
He went on to tell one of his many parables about the kingdom of heaven (Letter K)
A king was reviewing the accounts of his servants. One servant had a ridiculously large debt – far more than he could possibly earn in his lifetime. His master ordered him to be sold along with his wife and children and everything he had in order to pay off the debt.
The servant fell on his knees and asked for mercy. He asked for more time to pay the debt. The master had mercy on him and forgave him the debt.
Immediately afterwards the servant met another servant, who owed him a trivial sum. He grabbed him by the throat and asked him to pay all that he owed.
The man asked him for more time to pay.
He refused and had the debtor thrown into prison.
The other servants were very upset by what had happened and told the master. He was angry. He told the unmerciful servant that he should have forgiven as he had been forgiven. Then he threw him into prison until he could repay the debt.
Then Jesus likened the behaviour of the king to that of his heavenly Father to people who do not forgive from their hearts.
The original story is in Matthew 18:21-35
In the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples the only clause which is conditional is: ‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.’ Matthew 6:9-13
I know I need God’s mercy.