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Mercy in the Old Testament – a review

The Lord be with you

Many critics of God these days call God in the Old Testament cold, vengeful, hateful, misogynistic, xenophobic, arbitrary, and any number of other blasphemous things. In doing so they demonstrate their own sin-darkened reason, unable to understand the Old Testament. However the arguments of these critics can trouble the believer, especially ones who are weak in their understanding of the Old Testament. Therefore a booklet like Mercy in the Old Testament can prove a real blessing to those who have been troubled by such lies and might even clear away some of the blindness from the critics.

Mercy in the Old Testament is another pamphlet in the “Mercy Booklet Series” published by The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and available on-line. It is by Rev. Dr. Reed Lessing (Professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis). In the booklet (only 18 pages, not counting the discussion questions at the end), Lessing explores first the general theme of mercy in the Old Testament, then gives us a more detailed look at mercy as found in Amos.

We discover that God’s call for us to be merciful is never some abstract ethical principle but grounded in himself. He shows us mercy and therefore we show mercy to others. Because God is merciful to all, we are merciful to all. Because God’s mercy extends to the non-human aspects of creation, our mercy extends to the non-human parts of creation. It all starts with God. His mercy is first manifested to us through our redemption. God’s mercy is not pitted against our worship life but the mercy God extends to us in our worship life flows beyond the walls of the Church to others. God’s mercy towards us and then God’s mercy through us reflect a true spirituality.

Of course, Lessing makes these points far better than I am and provides a host of biblical support. I certainly recommend you take the time to read this pamphlet about our merciful Old Testament God. To do so, just follow this link:

Mercy in the Old Testament

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

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