Marveling at Mercy
Rejoicing in Salvation
Like the idols they would worship (Deut. 4:28), the majority of Moses's listeners in Deuteronomy 4 had eyes that didn't see and ears that didn't hear. They were ignorant of God's greatness, blind to his glory, and deaf to his word (29:4; cf. Ps. 115:4–8). Their rebellion and unbelief had led to four decades of discipline in the wilderness (Deut. 1:26, 32, 35), and even most of those from the new generation were stubborn, unbelieving, and rebellious (9:6–7, 23–24). Their obstinacy would lead to enactment of the covenant curses, climaxing in exile from the Promised Land (4:25–28; cf. 30:1; 31:16–17, 27–29).
How amazing, therefore, is Moses's promise of new covenant redemption (4:29–31; cf. parallel promises in 30:1–10). After experiencing curse in the latter days, the people would seek the Lord and actually find him (4:29). They would return to God and obey his voice (v. 30). Verse 31 declares the reason why: "For the LORD your God is a merciful God." Mercy stands at the forefront of Yahweh's character (Ex. 34:6). It identifies God's deep compassion for his people and often expresses the withholding of a judgment that they deserve. Without mercy, there would be no new covenant—no victory, no hope, no life. But mercy has come, and Moses stresses in Deuteronomy 4:31 that this new covenant mercy means that God's presence as provider and protector is now sure ("He will not leave you"), that his wrath is now appeased ("[He will not] destroy you"), and that both Jews and Gentiles can rejoice in salvation. God has remembered "the covenant with your fathers" that through Abraham all the world would be blessed (i.e., justified; Gen. 12:2–3; 22:18; cf. Gal. 3:8, 14).
The Gift of Mercy
Like Israel of old, we begin our lives with a sensory disability: we are spiritually ignorant, blind, and deaf. We need God to overcome our illness. If you have sought the Lord and found him (Deut. 4:29), then marvel at his mercy. If, "according to his great mercy," God has caused you "to be born again to a living hope" (1 Pet. 1:3), then make much of his mercy. If you find yourself today worshiping something worthless, then plead for more mercy, and by these same mercies present your body "as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Rom. 12:1).
The decisive cause of all new covenant relationship is blood-bought mercy. Stand in awe today of the mercy-filled gifts of justification (Rom. 3:24), sanctification (Rom. 6:17, 22), and eternal life (Rom. 6:23). "The Father of mercies and the God of all comfort" has entered into our world in Christ (2 Cor. 1:3). May we marvel at mercy—such free, undeserved, yet costly love.
This article by Jason S. DeRouchie is adapted from the ESV Men's Devotional Bible.