The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
(for my paternal grandmother, who went to be with our Lord fifty one years ago today, and who helped me learn the proper fear of God)
"In Thy Mercy and Thy Fear"
The Psalmist declares of the Lord, "There is forgiveness with thee, that Thou mayest be…"
…Praised? Thanked? Worshipped? Adored? Loved?
Although each of these responses would be more than appropriate, this is not how the statement concludes.
"There is forgiveness with Thee, that Thou mayest be feared" (Psalm 130:4).
Why would the contemplation of God's merciful willingness to forgive serve as cause for fearing Him? The answer lies in that which makes possible God's bestowal of mercy.
"Without shedding of blood is no remission (pardon)" (Hebrews 9:22).
"But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ" (Ephesians 2:13).
According to His character and nature, God cannot and does not forgive as merely a decision, but rather as a judicial act of justice required, justice fulfilled, and justice administered. Sin made necessary God's judgment and wrath - "the soul that sinneth, it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20). As the spotless Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ fulfilled this mandate in His suffering and death on the cross of Calvary - "Christ died for our sins" (I Corinthians 15:3). God then administers a just mercy to all who receive the Lord Jesus by faith - "just and the Justifier of him which believeth in Jesus" (Romans 3:26). All flows from His perfect character of love, and also from the righteousness of His way that must be fulfilled in everything He does - "The LORD is righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psalm 145:17).
Certainly, this constitutes a God to be praised, thanked, worshipped, adored, and loved. He loves to forgive, as the prophet declared, "He delighteth in mercy" (Micah 7:18). However, a proper fear must accompany our joy. Our Lord accounts sin as so heinous it must be judged in the severest manner possible in order to make mercy possible. The sinner will either bear his own sin and ultimately suffer its eternally dire consequences. Or, he will avail himself of the mercy made possible by trusting the One who bore it for him. One way or the other, sin will be judged to the degree that it will ultimately be banished from God's creation. Thus, forgiveness, as made available and offered by a loving and righteous Lord, involves a solemnity so profound that prints of nails and the wound of a spear still mar His body to bear witness to both sublime mercy and its terrible cost (John 20:27).
As the saying goes, in order to create, God had to speak. But in order to redeem, He had to bleed. We do well to remember and affirm our Heavenly Father's delight in mercy. But we also do well to remember and affirm the fearful realities that made possible His forgiveness of sin. The Psalmist got it right, of course. The mercy that so rightly blesses our hearts with ponderings of grateful wonder must also still our hearts with the fear of God.
"But as for me, I will come into Thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy: and in Thy fear will I worship toward Thy holy temple."
Weekly Memory Verse
But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of Thy mercy: and in Thy fear will I worship toward Thy holy temple.