Lent Day 6: Grace and Mercy On God’s Terms
Exodus 33:19 ESV
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
Many people often see God as distant or aloof in the Old Testament, and yet as we observe him in the text above, he is a God of goodness, grace and mercy. Even in our failures we see that he is a God of a fresh start. The failure in view was the children of Israel’s worshipping a golden calf in Exodus 32. And yet, God was willing to forgive and be gracious to them. But it was on his terms alone.
Brueggemann reminds us that, “God is gracious. God is assuring and affirming and generous and kind. God is merciful. God has compassion and empathy and a readiness to be available in decisive ways. God is gracious and God is merciful. And that is what Moses hopes for, for the new journey after the big failure; the future after the failure depends in God’s graciousness and God’s mercy.”
As we look at this brief text, we notice that all this grace and mercy that God displays is based on God’s terms and not ours. Just like Israel, the American church has to decide if it is willing to give up, “all of its pet projects of religion, all of its favorite convictions, all of its conservative ideology, all of its liberal propensity, to notice that God as not signed on for any of our easy preferences.”
If we are going move beyond our failures into God’s prosperous future for us in Christ, to experience His way of graciousness and mercy, it will be on God's terms, and not ours.
This perspective also calls to mind a similar passage from our Lord in Matthew 6:33 on the priority of keeping first things first. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Along with an additional admonition to follow Jesus on His terms in the text below. We have to be willing to leave the old self behind and embrace the challenges and triumphs of following Jesus on his terms.
Luke 9:23 ESV
23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”
Brueggemann concludes with this thought. “We people of faith do not have life on our terms. And we, like Moses, have to decide that we will walk into the future on terms other than our own.”
We pray, Lord as you offer us a future full of grace and mercy, after our failures, let us be mindful that it is on your terms and not our own. We are confident, because of who you are, that you will walk with us into this future, since you promised to never leave us or forsake us. Give us the strength and courage to respond in faithful obedience with a heart of thanksgiving and praise. Amen.