What would be the greatest of all Yahweh’s benefits? Would it be to be called out of the nations to be a people for His Name? To be given a hope and a vision of the Kingdom? As members of the body of Christ, to enjoy the privilege of fellowship together in Christ? Or to enjoy family life in the Lord with children walking in the Truth?

All of that! All of those blessings find their source in our gracious heavenly Father and many others besides. At the top of the list of all of Yahweh’s benefits the Psalmist says, “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities” (Psa 103:3). All our sins! Should we not then be forever thankful that our cries for help are met by a responsive God, who in the words of the Psalm is “… merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will He keep His anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (vv. 8–10).

So comprehensive is Yahweh’s willingness to forgive all our sins that He likens it to the vastness of the heavens, “so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him” (v11). We are told by scientists that the vastness of the heavens cannot be measured. There is no limit. It is infinite. How great then is His mercy towards them that fear Him. When any of His children come with a humble and contrite heart, openly confessing their sin and seeking His grace, there is no bar, or barrier to His willingness to forgive, to restore, and to heal. The Psalmist shows another illustration of the extent of Yahweh’s grace, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath He removed our transgressions from us” (v12). How far is the east from the west? They never meet. Our sins are forgiven and remembered no more for they are removed far, far from us.

The willingness of Yahweh to forgive us our sins is graphically portrayed in the words of Micah the prophet. Knowing our inherent uncleanness and proneness to sin, the prophet extols Yahweh as a Mighty One, a just God and a Saviour, “that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage” (Micah 7:18). That echoes the sentiments of Malachi—“I will spare them, as a man spareth His own son that serveth Him” (3:17). Yahweh clearly loves His children, His heritage, because His mercy is higher than the heavens towards those that fear Him. So Micah says, “He retaineth not His anger forever”. He is slow to anger and quick to reverse that anger. His anger is short-lived for every new day it can be said, “It is of Yahweh’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam 3:22). His compassions fail not and are extended to us whatever our need, whenever our need. The night of sorrow, the night of soul searching, the night of wrestling with sin is over and we humbly face the new day with tears of contrition and find the healing balm of God’s forgiveness as warm and comforting as the sun’s rays of a new morning. Micah continues to say that Yahweh retaineth not His anger forever, because “He delighteth in mercy”. What a wonderful thought that is. This “loving kindness” (Hebrew—“chesed”) is the quality of mercy found in the name of Yahweh who “keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations” (Deut 7:9). It is that loving kindness that spared the man after God’s own heart: a man forgiven great and terrible sins. It is frequently linked to God’s goodness, eg. “He is good; for His mercy endureth for ever”. David often brings to mind God’s faithfulness and God’s mercy—eg. the repeated phrase of Psalm 136: “for His mercy endureth for ever”. It is a quality of God that we can sing about, praise Him for, trust in, extol Him for and plead for day by day.

So Micah continues to illustrate the goodness of God in returning, showing compassion, subduing our iniquities and again, removing our sins afar off by casting them “into the depths of the sea” (7:19) as one would hurl a stone far out into the deep. In all probability the stone would never be seen again, gone forever. It is this willingness of Yahweh to forgive the imperfections of His servants that enables Him to fulfil His promises to the fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (7v20).

This performing of “the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham” was confirmed as the new covenant in Jesus Christ. The benefits of being the faithful seed of Abraham, heirs together of the Kingdom of Christ, is that we who were afar off, aliens from the covenants of promise can “glorify God for His mercy”. As a chosen generation, a purchased people we can but marvel at God’s loving kindness in electing to call us from darkness to light, from perishing without hope to filling our lives with hope and promise.

Let us pause and consider the enormous privileges we share in Christ now, let alone the all surpassing glory and wonder of the future when, in the dispensation of the fullness of times, “He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him” (Eph 1:10). We have this inheritance according to the good will and foreknowledge of God, “that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ” (v12). We have come from nothing, from the darkness of trespasses and sins and were “children of wrath, even as others, but God who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us… hath quickened us together with Christ… and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (ch 2:3–8).

What a privilege we share! We are recipients of His grace, having had our sins covered and washed far away in the waters of baptism. Gladly we can now be elevated and excited at the prospect of being united with our Lord and Redeemer. In that state of readiness and watchfulness we feel a sense of exaltation and honour to be “fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God”. We are purchased by the blood of Christ and since we are not our own, we live not to ourselves but unto him that first loved us—and loved us from the foundation of the world.

How do we show our thankfulness for this grace and favour? Dare we bask in the warmth of God’s love and feel a sense of well-being and comfort without being compelled to love one another even as our Lord has loved us and given his life for us? Dare we receive mercy and not extend mercy? Dare we receive forgiveness for our numerous sins and not forgive our brother for his trespass against us (1 John 4:20, 21; 3:16–18)? Our Lord laid down his life for us. It was the highest demonstration of love to a world undeserving of such grace. The perversity of man did not prevent the grace of God. If we are children of the Father, we must emulate our Father. Luke 6:35, 36 records Jesus as saying, “love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great,… for He is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful”.

How did God demonstrate His greatness? Certainly in many ways but His greatness is seen in love, protection and care for those who, without strength, trusted in Him. The greatness of Yahweh “your Elohim” is expressed in that He is “Elohim of Elohim, Adon of Adonai, a great El, a mighty and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward” (Deut 10:17). That greatness is then expressed as being strong on behalf of the defenceless: “He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (v18, 19).

Our God, Who is so high and lofty, chooses to dwell with those who are contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the heart of the contrite. Let us show that we are children of the Father by reaching out to revive the spirit of many who are finding the way difficult. Far from standing aloof with a censorious, denigrating manner we should come alongside and put our arm around them in a spirit of meekness, encouraging a faltering faith. We must be swift to hear, to listen and gently give reassurance, not once, but week by week. We may send a cheery note full of hope of the Kingdom and of their restoration amongst us. These are not merely public works, but they are mighty because they can save one of Christ’s little ones. If we have been in the Truth twenty years we have probably heard a thousand exhortations most of which have gone from our mind, but we never forget the loving ministration, the caring support and the wise counsel of that brother or that sister that has affected our lives for good.

So are we “menders” or are we “renders”? Do we lift up and reassure our brethren or do we pull down and depress our brethren? Are we “peacemakers” or are we “row makers”? The criteria upon which we shall be judged to be one of Christ’s brethren is our love in deed and in truth, the doing of righteousness and self-sacrificial love of the brethren.

We must not alienate ourselves from our brethren. We must not have an isolationist policy and protest, like Elijah, that we only have maintained the Faith. We must be out there with the “seven thousand” other brethren and sisters who need reassurance. We must be revivalists, reviving the heart of the faint hearted, the weary and heavy hearted. We all must, in these faith-destroying times, love our brethren in deed and in truth. In so doing we know that we are of the Truth. When we love one another, “God dwelleth in us, and His love is perfected in us” (1 John 4:12). Let us pray that Yahweh may be towards us “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy” and as His children of like character and motivation, let us replicate that character to others.