Robert McLaughlin Bible Ministries

NE Conference 2006. The love and mercy of God found in prophecy in the end times. Part 5.

Friday, August 11, 2006

God promises in His Word to give a special blessing of happiness to all those who seek to grasp and comprehend what He has revealed about the future.

Those who neglect the prophetic plan of God lack something essential in their lives, particularly in relation to their understanding and appreciation of TLJC.

If the Scriptures teach us anything about God, it’s that He is for us.

He calls us to obey Him, not because He needs our puny efforts, but because He wants to bless our lives.

He has used prophecy in the past to communicate His amazing grace, and prophecy can help us right now to experience His abundant love.

Prophecy will continue to convince men and women of God’s gracious intentions, right up to the very end of history.

From cover to cover, Bible prophecy powerfully proclaims the grace, mercy, and love of God to those who believe in Him.

Even at this darkest of hours, our merciful God prophesied that He would send the Christ, the Seed of the woman, to defeat Satan (“He shall bruise your head”) by dying on the cross (“You shall bruise His heel”).

Even before His special creatures had sinned, God already had designed a remedy, a powerful solution for their separation from Him, REV 13:8.

REV 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

The word grace first appears in Scripture in GEN 6:8
“Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”

The last book in Scripture, Revelation, opens with a reference to God’s grace, REV 1:4 and closes the same way, REV 22:21.
The middle of the book reminds us of the greatest act of grace in history, that TLJC was “slain from the foundation of the world,” REV 13:8.

REV 22:21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Why this concentrated focus on grace?

To give us courage, strength, and hope, particularly in uncertain times like these.

Prophecy tells us that from the very beginning of history to its end, God shows Himself to be merciful, gracious, and loving beyond all imagination.

From the first book of the Bible to the last, prophecy declares that God has created an astonishing plan to bless millions of redeemed human beings with eternal life, eternal significance, and eternal joy.

No one has to be afraid of the God of prophecy.

There is only one kind of god we do have to fear:
the one who does not exist – the one who rubs his hands together and grins each time we fail, thereby earning his angry judgment.

Bible prophecy shouts loud and clear, “You can know where you’re going; you don’t have to remain in the dark. And you do not have to stay in a place that takes you exactly where you don’t want to be.”

Bible prophecy reveals a kindhearted God who is merciful and gracious beyond all expectation.

PSA 66:5 Come and see the works of God, {Who is} awesome in {His} deeds toward the sons of men.
ISA 66:18 For I know their works and their thoughts; the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and see My glory.

No wonder the apostle Peter called them “holy men of God!” (2PE 1:21).

Samuel, Elijah, Elisha, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, David, and Moses.

They had a special insight into the nature and character of God.

“Do you really want to know who God is?”
Then understand Him from the prophets.

Everyone has problems and we all look to God for solutions.

Jonah, the Rebellious Prophet.

Oddly enough, this man ended up surfing undersea currents in the belly of great fish precisely because he knew God to be gracious and merciful.

Jonah lived sometime around the eighth century BC, when Assyria, which is now Iraq, dominated the affairs of the ancient Near East. From about 900-600 BC, Assyria overran Mesopotamia through its powerful and vicious armies.

Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, had become the greatest city in the world. A wall almost eight miles around enveloped the city, while a population of at least 120,000 lived within its walls.
A much larger administrative district surrounded the walled city; the whole complex was often referred to as “Nineveh.”

God told Jonah to go to that lavish city and proclaim, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
(JON 3:4).

HEB 12:27 remove those things which can be shaken, as of created things, in order that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

Assyria had long posed a threat to Israel, and since Jonah was a Hebrew prophet, perhaps he could see that one day this powerful Gentile nation would destroy Israel (an event which did in fact occur in 722 B.C.).

He did not like this turn of events, because from his perspective the recipients of God’s grace were from the “wrong” nation and they did not deserve it.

The prophet ran from God, not because he feared a God eager to hurl down bolts of judgment, but because he knew God to be gracious, merciful, and deeply loving.

Jonah lingered for a few days outside Nineveh, hoping that God would change his mind and destroy the city.

Jonah felt compassion for a plant that helped him feel comfortable; God felt compassion toward a people that for many years had scorned and blasphemed Him.

Jonah wanted judgment; God wanted mercy.
JAM 2:13b mercy triumphs over judgment.

Jonah rooted for death; God championed life.

In his days, the nation enjoyed unparalleled prosperity – but affluence led many to forget that they enjoyed their wealth only through the blessing of God.

Joel, whose name means, “Yahweh is God,” could not allow this sad state of affairs to continue unchallenged.

He declared that if they refused to repent, a plague even greater than mighty locust armies would devastate the nation on the great and terrible “day of the LORD,” Joel 2:11.

As a spiritually mature man, he pled with his nation to turn away from their rebellion and return with their whole hearts to the God of their fathers.

He used graphic pictures and arresting images to encourage God’s people to leave their false gods and their sinful ways of life and to return to the Lord.

He urged them to come to God with their whole hearts, not merely with some religious show, outward garments.

This idea of a merciful God must have flourished in ancient Israel, for both Amos and Malachi (two minor prophets who lived near the end of Old Testament history) referred to their merciful God as “gracious.”

Both major prophets, Isaiah and Jeremiah, referred to Him as “merciful.”

One who understands the thoughts and intents of my heart – and who yet, because of His mercy, wants to bless me anyway.

Several times this sacred record of Israel’s history mentions what it calls “the sons of the prophets,” 2KI 2:3, 5, 7, 15; 4:1, 38; 5:22; 6:1; 9:1.

No doubt it was the effective ministry of this school of prophets that prompted King Hezekiah to write a letter to his people in which he reminded them, “the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you if you return to Him,” 2CH 30:9.

2CH 30:9 “For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive, and will return to this land. For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him.”

David mentioned the mercy of God no fewer than fourteen times in his writings, not counting Psalm 136, where twenty-six times he declared that God’s “mercy endures forever.”

No one can say for sure, but many conservative scholars date the Exodus sometime around 1446 B.C., an estimate that fits well with other biblical data.

By this point in the narrative, the Israelites already had left Egypt, camped at Sinai, received (and broken) the Ten Commandments, and suffered their first deadly bout with idolatry.

About Moses, God had said, “You have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name,” EXO 33:17.

This man – a prophet who knew God “face to face,” EXO 33:11, a man whom God called by name, EXO 3:4 – testified that God’s nature overflows with mercy and grace, love, and faithfulness.

“The LORD your God is a merciful God,” He declared, DEU 4:31.

It is true that He will discipline His people for their sin – but only as a last resort.

This was the unchanging message of the prophets over a period of fifteen hundred years before Christ, eight hundred years before Christ, and seven hundred years before Christ.
It reveals that the most spiritual people throughout history understood that God delights in doing good to His people.

Despite what you might have thought, despite what you may have been told, if you accept the message of God’s prophets – those godly servants whom Peter called “holy men of God [who] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” 2PE 1:21, then you can come to God without fear.

Many people do not experience the mercy and kindness of God because they refuse to do His will.

History shows that those individuals and nations who disobeyed Him either received His judgment or failed to receive the mercy and blessings they could have enjoyed.

They seem unable to understand that they cannot do their own thing – disregarding His will and plan for their lives – and still receive His mercy.

God challenges both Israel and us like this: “In mercy I give you a choice: Obey me and I will bless you; disobey me and I will discipline you.”

Your view of God depends on where you stand, in obedience or disobedience to Him.

We clearly see God’s mercy in His offer of forgiveness to all who have sinned and come “short of the glory [or will] of God,” ROM 3:23.

“In love and mercy I sent my only Son to die for your sins. I raised Him from the dead so that you would know I accepted His sacrifice.”

Do you see Him as merciful, gracious, and forgiving?
Or do you see Him as judgmental, angry, and mean?

The best part of His mercy is that we can reach out to Him any time we need Him.

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