Scripture Reading: Habakkuk 3:1,2
“O Lord, I have heard the report of You, and Your work, O Lord, do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it, in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)
Habakkuk prayed for God’s mercy. He knew that God’s wrath would be poured out in His judgments. We don’t like to thick much about the wrath of God. However wrath is one of God’s attributes that is mentioned hundreds of time in the Bible. “The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is His displeasure and indignation of Divine equity against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of just sentence which He passes upon evildoers” (A.W. Pink, “The Attributes of God”). God is angry over sin. His anger is a righteous indignation against all forms of sin and evil.
Thus Habakkuk prayed, “in wrath remember mercy.” The mercy of God is HIs ready inclination to relieve the misery of fallen creatures. It is what sinful people do not get that they deserve to get. God grants mercy on whom He desires to grant mercy — “And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19).
Mercy and grace are similar, but there is a distinction between them. Mercy is what we do not get that we deserve to get. We deserve to get His wrath because of our sins. Grace is what we get that we do not deserve to get. It is God’s undeserved favor granted to sinful people. Habakkuk knew that the people deserved to get God’s wrath (justice); but He pled with God to grant mercy — not to give them what they deserve to get. People either get justice or mercy.
However, do not every forget what it cost God to grant mercy to sinful, undeserving people. It cost Him the death of His Son. The wrath and mercy of God come together at the cross of Jesus Christ. Jesus bore the wrath that His people rightly deserve so that God could grant mercy to them. God’s justice had to be satisfied. A judgment and punishment had to be rendered. Once that had been done, God was able to grant mercy to whom He desires. Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer to Habakkuk’s prayer — “in wrath remember mercy.”
Lord Jesus, thank You for bearing God’s wrath in my place. Thank You for voluntarily becoming my substitute and suffering in my place. I know that mercy is only possible because You bore God’s wrath for Your people. Never let me forget the extent of Your love and mercy shown to me in Your death on the cross.
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