God is rich in mercy
Mercy is active compassion. It is an active desire to relieve the miserable. Prompted by the distress of the miserable the one who shows mercy strives to relieve misery to the best of his ability.
Exodus 34: 5-7a And the Lord descended in the cloud, and stood with him [Moses] there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands...
God's name describes God. God is merciful. God strives to relieve the misery of those who call upon Him in their distress.
Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. Thou art the Lord the God, who didst choose Abram, and broughtest him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gavest him the name of Abraham; And foundest his heart faithful before thee, and madest a covenant with him to give the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Jebusites, and the Girgashites, to give it, I say, to his seed, and hast performed thy words; for thou art righteous:
God's mercy began with blessing Abraham and giving him the promised land. Abraham's descendents walked away from God and became slaves in Egypt. In their misery and distress they called for God's help.
And didst see the affliction of our fathers in Egypt, and heardest their cry by the Red sea;
Prompted by the cry of the afflicted children of Israel in Egypt, God, according to His ability, showed forth mercy by His actions in response to the misery of Israel.
And shewedst signs and wonders upon Pharaoh, and on all his servants, and on all the people of his land: for thou knewest that they dealt proudly against them. So didst thou get thee a name, as it is this day. And thou didst divide the sea before them, so that they went through the midst of the sea on the dry land; and their persecutors thou threwest into the deeps, as a stone into the mighty waters. Moreover thou leddest them in the day by a cloudy pillar; and in the night by a pillar of fire, to give them light in the way werein they should go. Thou camest down also upon mount Sinai and spakest with them from heaven, and gavest them right judgments, and true laws, good statutes and commandments: And madest known unto them thy holy sabbath, and commandest them precepts, statutes, and laws, by the hand of Moses thy servant: And gavest them bread from heaven for their hunger, and broughtest forth water for them out of the rock for their thirst, and promisedst them that they should go in to possess the land which thou hadst sworn to give them.
God's mercy included rescue from Egypt, destruction of their enemies, guidance in the wilderness, His Word and laws for how to live, food and water, and the promised land in which they would live. All this God gave to relieve their distress. That is great mercy!
But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, and refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not.
Mercy is not dependent upon a grateful response. God gave Israel all they needed to relieve their misery and they responded by turning away from Him and trying to return to the bondage of Egypt. God is merciful even when man does not appreciate it. Ready to pardon - gracious - merciful - slow to anger - great kindness - That is mercy indeed!
Yea, when they had made them a molten calf, and said, This is thy God that brought thee up out of Egypt, and had wrought great provocations;
What thankfulness. God showed them mercy and they made themselves a molten calf and claimed that the calf was the god that helped them. God could have easily left them to themselves, but He did not. He continued to care for them and showed them even more mercy.
Yet thou in thy manifold mercies forsookest them not in the wilderness: the pillar of the cloud departed not from them by day, to lead them in the way; neither the pillar of fire by night to shew them light, and the way wherein they should go. Thou gavest also thy good spirit to instruct them, and withheldest not thy manna from their mouth, and gavest them water for their thirst. Yea, forty years didst thou sustain them in the wilderness, so that they lacked nothing; their clothes waxed not old, and their feet swelled not. Moreover thou gavest them kingdoms and nations, and didst divide them into corners: so they possessed the land of Sihon, and the land of the king of Hesbon, and the land of Og king of Bashan. Their children also multipliedst thou as the stars of heaven, and broughtest them into the land, concerning which thou hadst promised to their fathers, that they should go in to possess it. So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would And they took strong cities, and a fat land, and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and oliveyards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.
God's manifold mercies included guidance in the wilderness, clothing that did not show wear for 40 years, health, houses already built, wells already dug, goods and farms already prepared - in short a fat land and all needs supplied without any effort on the part of the receivers. Once again the grateful response of those that God showed this manifold mercy to was rejection.
Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations. Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them:
God did all he could to bless the children of Israel and to turn them back to His Word. They rejected His Word and were eventually taken over by their enemies. Once in great distress they cried unto God in their misery.
and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies.
No matter how many times the children of Israel got themselves in distress, when they turned to God in their misery, He always responded. That is the manifold mercy of God. And what was the grateful response of those that God helped?
But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them:
Time after time God showed mercy. Time after time the children of Israel turned away as soon as their misery was relieved. Time after time they began to be in misery again and called for help. And time after time God demonstrated mercy.
yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies; ... for thy great mercies' sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
The Word of God describes the distress of our misery in Ephesians:
Ephesians 2:1-3 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
We were dead! That is real distress. That is real misery. When we recognize our need for help and confess Jesus as Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead God also demonstrates His mercy toward us.
Ephesians 2:4-8 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindess toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved though faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
God's mercy is always so much greater than any distress we suffer. God gave us life - eternal life! God raised us with Christ and seated us with Christ. God will continue to show his mercy and grace in the ages to come. God is so rich in mercy!
God saved us by His mercy. We need to show mercy as our Father showed us mercy and not turn away as did the children of Israel. Although we too could return to the life we lived before God demonstrated His manifold mercy to us, our response to His love and goodness should be to share the grace He has shown to us and be thankful.
Titus 3:2-7 ...speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward men appeared, Not by works of righteousnes which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Luke 6:36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.