I love the book of Revelation, but it gets heavy, doesn’t it? Like birth pains, God’s judgment rolls in waves, contraction after contraction. Yet if we look closely, the heartbeat of hope still lives even among the boils and blood and fire. See if you can find it:
“. . . they refused to repent . . .” Did you catch that? That implies God had offered yet another chance to turn to Him, despite their hatred and refusal to receive His love. Up to the last possible moment, even as they shook their fist at Him, God provided a window of escape through repentance and the hope and mercy that follow it.
God's mercy is present, even in the midst of His wrath. Click To Tweet
God’s mercy is a lifeline of hope for those laboring under the grief of watching God’s just judgment play out in the lives of loved ones.
Although God’s wrath is real and awaits all who ultimately reject Him, God is not an “angry God” who flies into a temper and sends lightning in a fit of rage. God’s mercy is GREAT, and He offers it long before judgment falls. God's mercy is great, and He offers it long before judgment falls. Click To Tweet
Slow to Anger
God is slow to anger and His loving patience plays out in four ways:
In gentle kindness. God uses loving acts of kindness to draw us to His heart. ” . . . God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance . . .” Romans 2:4
In urgent warning. God uses warnings to turn us away from sin before His discipline or judgment falls on us. “Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, ‘Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ . . . And the people of Nineveh believed God . . . When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”
In firm discipline. God uses discipline to give us a taste of the consequences of turning from Him.“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.” Revelation 3:19
In merciful judgment. God uses judgment to unmask sin and unleash its full consequences so we will turn back to Him and humbly seek forgiveness and restoration. “I [God] have surely heard [Israel’s] moaning: ‘You disciplined me like an unruly calf, and I have been disciplined. Restore me, and I will return because you are the LORD my God. After I strayed, I repented; after I came to understand, I beat my breast. I was ashamed and humiliated because I bore the disgrace of my youth.’
God seeks to draw us into His heart and He knows that what gentleness and discipline fail to do, judgment can often accomplish. Throughout Revelation, God’s patient mercy reveals a heart that desires to rescue, not destroy. God's patient mercy reveals a heart that desires to rescue, not destroy. Click To Tweet What hope that fills me with as I picture my loved ones in the hands of such a God.
Mercy Calls Out
Even in the throes of God’s just judgment, hope lives and His mercy calls out:
No matter how late the hour or deserved the judgment, God offers mercy and hope. And He will open His heart to receive all who call on Him, even from the darkest places.
What hope do you draw from God’s mercy? In what dark places have you experienced unexpected hope and mercy?
Featured image courtesy of Cyrill Hänni