“Bless the Lord, my soul; all my being, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, my soul; and do not forget all his gifts, Who pardons all your sins, and heals all your ills, Who redeems your life from the pit, and crowns you with mercy and compassion, who fills your days with good things, so your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord does righteous deeds, brings justice to all the oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, to the Israelites his deeds. Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always accuse, and nurses no lasting anger; He has not dealt with us as our sins merit, nor requited us as our wrongs deserve.
For as the heavens tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.” (Psalm 103:1-12, NABRE)
The understanding of mercy in the mindset of the ancient Israelite was that of removing one from sin, and not so much the cancellation of a debt or remission of the penalty of the sin itself. In the Old Testament the idea of obtaining mercy was merely a removal of a person from sin. To remove someone from sin, one had to make various types of offerings according to Yahweh’s Law. The penalty for sin remained, because Christ had not yet come and His sacrifice on the Cross had not yet been made.
“The Lord is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in compassion.”
For as the heavens tower over the earth, so his mercy towers over those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.” (Psalm 103:11,12)
Moving forward to the New Testament era, when Christ was teaching the multitudes, He taught a great deal about mercy. He taught that God’s mercy was greater than that of any human being. (Compare 2 Samuel 24:14) The New Testament relates mercy with the terms “compassion” (Matthew 5:7), “pity” (Romans 9:15), and even “tenderhearted” (Ephesians 4:32; 1 Peter 3:8).
God’s mercy was shown at the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ, when not only the sins of the people were removed, but also the penalty for those transgressions against God’s Laws. Christ’s death on the Cross and subsequent resurrection helped reconcile humanity with God. The ultimate form of mercy was shown, and forgiveness of sin was granted.
Through the Apostles, Christ gave authority to His bishops and priests, even to this day, to affirm the forgiveness of sins to those who confess their sins with a genuinely repentant heart. When we are granted forgiveness, we no longer look upon our sins. Our mindset is not like that of the ancient Israelites who only thought of themselves as being removed from the sin, but we know with assurance that our sins have been forgiven.
May we be confident in our proclamation that “The Lord is near to all who call upon him,” because He has truly forgiven our sins.
God bless you +
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