Bowels of Mercies
by Ramona Cook
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Isaiah 10:4..."but His hand is stretched out still."
Matthew 12:7 tells of Jesus' answer to the Pharisees when they were accusing Him and His Disciples of breaking the Sabbath as they plucked ears of corn to eat because they were hungry; He said to them, "If you only understood what this means, I will have mercy and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless."
The Pharisee, the religious zealot, is a facet of all our personalities. It afflicts everyone of us because we are all right in our own eyes, and we want to be a "god" unto ourselves. We love a list of rules to follow and upon keeping the list we gain a sense of righteousness of which we approve. The list is not the problem it is the internal attitude that keeping the list too often produces in us.
Many people do not allow a God to exist in their opinion; but they have made of themselves a god, which they can control. Of those who do permit God to be, they often restrict Him to only certain facets of emotions and generally anger is not one of those emotions.
Thankful are we that God controls His anger for the gross sins of Earth's people. If He did not then He would wipe us out and start over. He did that once. The Scriptures say that, "God is angry with the wicked every day."
Isaiah penned a description of woes to those who decree unrighteous decrees and make degrees according to their choices without regard for God's requirements. The text in Isaiah 10 states that they have prescribed to "Turn aside the needy from judgment (justice) and to take away the right of the poor of My people, and that widows may be their prey, and that they rob the fatherless!"
God then asks this question as if to say, "Think about this": "And what will you do in the day of visitation (when I come down to judge), and in the desolation which will come from far away? To whom will you run for help? Where will you leave your glory? "Without Me," says God, "they shall bow down under the prisoners and shall fall under the slain."
The following verse offers a beautiful simile: "For all this (sin) His anger is not turned away, BUT His hand is outstretched still."
From the very pit of sin and disobedience, when God's anger is strong against the sin we engage, His hand is stretched out to us still. God's very nature is to love us and to forgive us, but He will not force us to love Him. Forced obedience is not from a heart of love at all, and God desires us to love Him with all our hearts.
However, we must not mistake His love for us as a license for sinful indulgences because He makes it clear throughout Scripture that He does indeed judge sins and there are no exceptions. In all this God is merciful and He prefers mercy over sacrifice.
Paul tells Believers in Colossians 3:12 to "Put on bowels of mercies." Bowels of mercies is a strange instruction.
Recently I saw the daily picture posted by Bing of the deep caverns of the earth, often called the "bowels of the earth." I had recently watched a colonoscopy being performed and had thought how much the bowels of the earth resemble the bowels of a human being. In both there seems to be endless deep cavernous spaces for storage. No doubt Paul was referring to our ability to open up deep caverns of mercies within our hearts toward each other in all kindness, humility of mind, meekness, long suffering, forbearance for one another, and forgiving one another, because it is the same kind of mercy that God extends to us and gives to us.
"For all of our sins His anger is not turned away, BUT His hand is outstretched still," inviting us to take hold of His hand and to be pulled out of and away from that which will defile and destroy us, and then to be pulled into His arms of love and protection.
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(Isaiah 13- 3 I have commanded My sanctified ones; I have also called My mighty ones for My anger— Those who rejoice in My exaltation.”)..... Know this My children; judgment comes. Whatever a man sows, that he shall also reap. Mercy upon mercy,- refuse upon refuse... I will repay," says the Lord!