Post Author: Bill Pratt
Skeptics of Christianity love to point out all the difficult passages in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. By noting these difficult passages, skeptics explicitly or implicitly imply that Christians are foolish (or even deranged) for worshiping the God described in the Old Testament.
My problem with this implication is that the number of difficult passages are dwarfed by the number of passages that clearly describe the greatness of God. These passages come in a wide variety and they are found all over the Old Testament. The skeptic’s approach is, therefore, totally unbalanced – it does not take into consideration the totality of Scripture.
So, to the skeptics who question why I worship the God described in the Old Testament, it’s not only his wisdom, his majesty, his beauty, his holiness, his moral perfection, his truthfulness, and his love, but his mercy.
The Old Testament affirms in many places that God is merciful. In fact, contrary to skeptics, God’s mercy is mentioned far more in the OT than most other of God’s attributes.
According to Norman Geisler in his Systematic Theology, Volume Two: God, Creation, the mercy of God is exhibited in numerous ways, as seen below.
How does the Old Testament connect God with mercy?
God’s Mercy Is Rooted in His Goodness and Love
“[He is] maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished” (Ex. 34:7).
“The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished.… In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now” (Num. 14:18–19).
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good” (1 Chron. 16:34).
“They raised their voices in praise to the LORD and sang: ‘He is good’ ” (2 Chron. 5:13).
God’s Mercy Is Great
“Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life” (Gen. 19:19).
“In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now” (Num. 14:19).
“Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day’ ” (1 Kings 3:6).
“Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love” (Neh. 13:22).
“Then I commanded the Levites to purify themselves and go and guard the gates in order to keep the Sabbath day holy. Remember me for this also, O my God, and show mercy to me according to your great love” (Neh. 13:22).
God’s Mercy Is Everlasting
“Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands” (Deut. 7:9).
“He gives his king great victories; he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed, to David and his descendants forever” (2 Sam. 22:51).
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever” (1 Chron. 16:34).
“They raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang, ‘He is good; his love endures forever.’ Then the temple of the LORD was filled with a cloud” (2 Chron. 5:13).
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy” (Micah 7:18).
God’s Mercy Is Faithful
“If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the LORD your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your forefathers” (Deut. 7:12).
“O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way” (1 Kings 8:23).
“Then I said, ‘O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands’ ” (Neh. 1:5).
“Now therefore, O our God, the great, mighty and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love, do not let all this hardship seem trifling in your eyes” (Neh. 9:32).