Jan 9 2022 God's Radical Compassion
9th January 2022
God’s Radical Compassion
We are going to be, as the video showed – talking about compassion.
Lord, thank You for the opportunity to be in Your presence. As we are livestreaming here – I pray that You would open our hearts to hear from You. Give me the grace I need to share. Your word is so incredible and You are so amazing – to share these character qualities of yours – I can only scratch the surface. Fill in the gaps for us, Lord. I pray you would bring this pandemic to a close. For those who are sick, we pray for healing.
We are going to jump up from last week – and go back to Exodus 34 – Moses had asked God to show His glory – I’ll put you behind this rock – and I’ll put my hand over your face so you don’t see my face – or you will die, …
Exodus 34:6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
So this is the first time in the Bible that God describes Himself to humanity. He reveals his nature, his core being – and the first thing He says is He is compassionate. Right off the bat, that is what He wants us to know.
What about – if I were God – thank Him I am not – my first description of myself would be LOVE. And the New Testament tells us that God is love.
Why does God put compassionate first?
When Moses came down from the mountain – the first thing he comes across is the golden calf – and as a result – God’s judgment falls upon the people – 3000 die – and Moses goes back up the mountain – and asks – God, show me Your glory – and God wants Moses to understand that when God deals with fallen humans – when God sees we have failed – He moves in compassion toward us. This is a pattern throughout the Bible.
These 5 characteristics – Compassion, Grace, lovingkindness, faithfulness – these are built on the foundation of LOVE and how God expresses love, especially to us. This tells us that God’s nature does not change with our behavior.
Next verse: - God’s compassion is displayed in our unfaithfulness. Nehemiah gives a history of Israel -
Nehemiah 9:19, 27, 28, 31
You, in Your great compassion, Did not forsake them in the wilderness…
So, the golden calf – then the wilderness – they rebelled before crossing the Jordan – and as a result, spent 40 years wandering in the desert. It was God’s compassion that did not forsake them.
But when they cried to You in the time of their distress, You heard from heaven, and according to Your great compassion You gave them deliverers
Deliverers or saviors. They finally conquered the land and then we get to the book of Judges (and that is where Nehemiah is). After they conquered the land, they went back to other gods – and God sent judgment upon them – either through battles or famine – and they would cry out to God and His immediate response is compassion and sending them help.
"But as soon as they had rest, they did evil again before You… When they cried again to You, You heard from heaven, And many times You rescued them according to Your compassion,
As soon as God got them out of their trouble – they did evil – and judgment would come and they would cry again to God. Many times…
We cannot escape or use up God’s compassion – it is always available – what we need to do is to cry out to Him.
"Nevertheless, in Your great compassion You did not make an end of them or forsake them,
Isaiah 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the LORD, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon.
For myself – I have the tendency – when I am unfaithful in some way to God, my tendency is to hide or run. But in that time, God wants us to return to Him so that He can show compassion. God longs to be gracious – to have compassion on us. He is waiting on high! God is saying – Please turn to me so I can be compassionate!
Isaiah 49: 14 But Zion said, "The LORD has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me." 15 Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. 16 See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
So God takes a nursing mom – probably the strongest human expression of compassion is a mother for her baby – and He compares His compassion to that – but says – even that does not describe His compassion for us.
His compassion flows from the foundation of His love – and is stirred by His helplessness – our vulnerability. Like a mom- because that baby is completely helpless – the mom has compassion.
When I have trouble falling back asleep – I pray for our kids and grandkids – sometimes I get through all of them – sometimes, just one or two – so I reorder how I pray each night.
When I pray for the grandkids – I know they are vulnerable – anything can happen – they need God’s protection – and that tends to be my prayer. God sees us as young children.
The walls – He is the protector of Jerusalem – of Zion. He is their wall.
Compassion is strongest for those made in our image! Our children and grandchildren. For God, we are the only creatures made in His image, so His compassion is strong for us.
Jeremiah 31:20 Is not Ephraim my dear son, the child in whom I delight? Though I often speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore my heart yearns for him; I have great compassion for him," declares the LORD.
This is a parental love for a rebellious child.
Even though He speaks against him – he is a child in whom I delight. God sees us as He saw Jesus – at His baptism, God said – this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased. That is how God sees you – even when you are unfaithful, if you are in Christ.
Psalm 103: 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits; 3 Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; 4 Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
What we will see in this psalm and other places – Compassion is often tied to the forgiveness of sin and guilt.
In verses 8-9 – he quotes Exodus 34:6 – word for word – then in v. 11:
11 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. 12 As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
So here we have this connection – one of the most important things about God’s compassion – He forgives us. A parent has to forgive his children many times – and the children, the parent! When they are young, it is many small things – as they get older, it is often bigger.
Let’s look at Jesus and compassion – His life was one of compassion.
Matthew 9:36 And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd.
There is a pattern in this verse – and a pattern in Jesus’ life – when it comes to compassion – three things that happen – He sees the people’s condition – distressed, downcast – helpless like sheep – lost. And as a result – He has sympathy and compassion that goes out to them.
For us – a good way to see this – we see people – and we need to recognize that everyone has something they are going through – a battle they are fighting – and when we understand that – we have a better grasp on having compassion.
In seeing their need – He FELT compassion. Those phrases go together numerous times in Jesus’ life.
Felt compassion – an inner moving in our core being – this deep movement inside.
I am less expressive of emotions compared to others at times – I know this and I’ve been told this. Last week – the last song connected with the message – and Jeff was moved by that – and expressed that – and the next day – we got – an Instagram message – our son John preached a sermon at his church – and 2-3 times during the sermon – he broke down – I said – that is not me. I struggle with that.
I was at Giant Eagle a couple times – there are 2 words to describe the self-checkout lane – you never know what you are going to get.
I was behind a guy in his mid70’s and he was struggling – and I’m thinking – why is this guy in the self-checkout lane. Everyone is going through something, I reminded myself. I realized he had never done this before – let me help you!
The next time, it was a younger woman who was not paying attention – and I struggled all the more to be understanding.
The story of the prodigal son – should be called the story of the compassionate father!
Luke 15:20 "So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
When the father saw him – he welled up with compassion. The embrace and kiss is a sign of forgiveness. If there is a broken relationship – if someone does not exhibit compassion – the relationship will not be restored.
In the header, this story is called the parable of the laborers – but it should be called the story of the vineyard owner…
Matthew 20: 3 "And he went out about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the market place; He said to them, 'You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.'
Right = righteous – just/and fair.
5 So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o'clock that afternoon, he did the same thing.
Then he goes back at the 11th hour and there are a few more. We know the story – when it comes time to pay them – even the ones who worked an hour or two – full days wage. The ones who worked all day – WHAT? You paid them the same as us? You got what we agreed to – you got a full day’s wage –
These day-laborers would get enough to support their family for that day – with maybe a little left over for the sabbath. For the ones who started working late – he knew they needed a full-day’s wage. Like someone trying to feed a family of four on a part time minimum wage job. How often do we complain about others who get things free that we had to work for…
Jesus is speaking to the religious leaders:
Matthew 9:13 "But go and learn what this means, 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Sacrifice – speaking of the sacrifices in the temple to ‘please’ God. It is symbolic of the Torah – the Law – they had strict religious piety – but they did it without compassion – and Jesus is saying – religious piety without compassion is of little value –
For us – it is not sacrifices or following the rules – but one thing we think is key – believing in the right stuff and telling others to believe in the right stuff. That is important – but without compassion – it is of little value. I desire compassion and not sacrifice. Jesus gave us an example of how to be compassionate and we are to follow that example.