Tag Archives: Peter

The LORD’s Anointed

Meditations on the Psalms

against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV)

It is against God the people of the earth rage and rebel. YHWH, the proper name for God, is used. His Anointed is Messiah. The progression of their hatred begins with God, who is untouchable, moves to the person of Jesus Christ, who experienced the full wrath of the people, was murdered and was raised from the dead, and is finally directed against Christians, who are the representatives of God the world can touch. It should not surprise Christians who experience suffering for righteousness’ sake.

Jesus tells us that following Him will bring suffering for righteousness’ sake, just because we follow Him. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ends His description of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven with the reality of the hatred of the world. Those who are and carry the characteristics of the citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven will be hated and persecuted by the world.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12 ESV)

After Jesus chose His twelve disciples, He prepared them and then sent them out to preach repentance for kingdom of heaven is at hand. His instructions are detailed. They were to allow nothing to keep them from teaching and preaching His words.

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (Matthew 10:17-25 ESV)

It is not against the Christian, who is feeling the brunt of the persecution, the world rages. It is against God and His Messiah, Jesus Christ. Christians identify with Christ and since the world cannot murder Christ again it does the next best thing by persecuting and murdering those who represent Christ.

Why would anyone want to invite persecution? Those who are servants of God know God intimately. They have recognized their sin and rebellion against Him and realized the consequences of their corrupt nature. They have relinquished control of their lives to Him who gives life and begin pursuing Him through the direction of the Holy Spirit. They become wholly His, abandoning themselves and whatever they might have in this world for eternal life. Drawn toward God they cannot imagine returning to the futile and sinful thinking of the heart of those in the world.

When people rebel, it is against God and His Son. When any come to Him it is at the direction and command of God and His Son. Our action toward those who persecute the Christian, ourselves included, is to love them, showing them the light of God through our lives lived in righteousness. We are the salt and light of the world (see Matthew 5: 14-16). Our lives are meant to draw people toward God, not drive them away.

Peter, who fully experienced the persecution of the world, tells us “Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12 ESV). It is toward God, the object of the wrath of the world, that our lives direct the world, so the world might “glorify God on the day of visitation.”


Why Do the Nations Rage?

Meditations on the Psalms

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, (Psalm 2:1-2 ESV)

All peoples and nations fight against God. God asks Why? For what reason are the nations doing this? How did they come to the place where such thinking of their hearts is justified? What has God done to illicit a violent and consuming belief followed by insidious action? Why?

Nations refers to a large group of people or locusts or other animals and refers to all countries. Some translations use the word heathen instead of nations. People refers to the individuals of each nation. Rage means to scheme a tumultuous mutiny and plot in vain means to moan or mutter, to devise and imagine idle and empty thoughts. Thus, large groups of people, whole communities and societies, collectively believe and promote wrong thinking and violence against God.

God penetrates to the heart of the mutiny by identifying those who instigated such thinking. It is the leaders and teachers training the people. The kings of the earth set themselves means the kings of the entire planet who have planted their feet firmly, stationing themselves to take a stand. The rulers take counsel together means those who carry the weight and burden of leading the people daily have laid a foundation and seated themselves close together to consult and decide the actions of the entire group. Thus, the national leaders have listened to their counselors who have all agreed their position and place before God is unacceptable.

What king would allow his subjects to rebel in such a fashion? What ruler would discover and allow a conspiracy to develop in their presence? Do they not know before whom they are speaking and thinking and conspiring? No king would allow this to happen. Kings would squash the conspiracy and put the conspirators to death, or at least replace them with those who are loyal and support him and his authority. Why do any think God will allow rebellion against Him?

Peter and John, after the ascension of Jesus, found themselves before the people of Jerusalem declaring the resurrection of Jesus. Several times they were confronted by the same religious leaders who had condemned Jesus. As they entered the Temple they encountered a lame man begging for money. Instead of giving him money they healed him in the name of Jesus in front of crowds of people.

And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:7-10 ESV)

After this miracle and while Peter and John were teaching, the religious leaders sent guards to arrest them and bring them before the same High Priest who arrested and executed Jesus, using the Romans as executioners. Peter spoke to the assembled counsel of religious leaders about their complicity in arresting Jesus and His death, but also about His resurrection. Also, before them, stood the man healed of his lameness. They threatened Peter and John, telling them to no longer teach Jesus and released them.

When relating their experience to the rest of the disciples they prayed and quoted from Psalm 2:

“Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

“‘Why did the Gentiles rage, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers were gathered together, against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:24-28 ESV)

All leaders of all nations are fighting against the eternal God and against His Son, Jesus Christ.

Even to Death

Peter, the boldest, most opinionated, outspoken of the disciples, was one of the “inner three.” He walked on water and witnessed Christ’s metamorphosis on the Mount of Transfiguration. He bore Christ’s rebukes after each of his arrogant, unthinking statements. At the end of his life He died for Christ.

On the night before Passover, the passion of Christ, Jesus continues preparing His disciples for His death. He tells them what will happen, what they are to do and to wait for. Peter hears only some of His words and allows his arrogance to rise. He declares he is ready to stand with Christ through anything and everything, even facing death.

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.”

Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” [Matthew 26:31-34 ESV]

Jesus rebuked Peter often. I have often wondered how Peter felt after each rebuke, every time Jesus challenged his intent, the thinking of his heart. I can only imagine hurt and since Peter is like most men, his pain turned into stubbornness, a form of anger. Did he say to himself “I will not fall away!” dejectedly and dutifully following his Master into a garden like he had done so many times before. This night would be different. This night they would have unwelcomed company. This night would begin a day of terror and suffering for Jesus.

Mark adds to the story.

But he said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all said the same. [Mark 14:31 ESV]

It is not until we read Luke’s account we discover a hidden element to Peter’s heartfelt declaration.

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers. [Luke 22:31-32 ESV]

Like Job, and how many other unknown followers of God, Satan squeaked into God’s presence, tolerated by a Holy and Just and Good and True God, and threw down a challenge. Satan cannot be everywhere since he is not God. He can direct those who are his, who speak and act in his name, to tempt and lie to those whose sin will grieve God deeply. God is not afraid of grief and agony and suffering. He decided from eternity past to embrace the agony of the cross as a sacrifice of love for those with whom He will have an intimate relationship. God uses Satan to test the obedience of those He loves so they will fail and relinquish control to Him and live. Yes, He expects us to fail. Only in our failure will we accomplish His will His way. He must be the One who works in us. It is the suffering of our failures which brings us the joy of God presence.

Peter belongs to God.  Satan cannot have him.

John shows us what Peter’s devotion will cost him. Peter, like his fellows, will face unmerciful emotional suffering which will last until they see with their eyes the resurrected Jesus. Christ’s suffering is finished and ours is begun. Do not think for a moment our suffering is not experienced by God. We are hidden in Him, identified with His Son and filled with His Spirit.

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”

Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.”

Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” [John 13:36-38 ESV]

Jesus knows intimately the heart of His disciple. Peter truly wants to be with his Master. Jesus truly wants Peter with Him.  For this to happen, and it will happen, both must suffer the agony of the cross, one on the cross and one watching. Jesus must endure its physical trauma. Peter must endure its spiritual consequences. He must mourn deeply over the entire consequences of his sin bourn by his Master in his stead.

Do I want to be with God, where He is, to please Him, to love Him? This is hard. My gift will only please Him after I suffer with His Son. This is not something I am willing to face. But, God loves me and will bring me through what He has determined for me. I will never for eternity be out of His presence. Even when enduring the deepest, harshest suffering.

Peter and Stephen

Those who have the pure salt of righteousness and shine God’s truth through their persons in a world darkened by sin will naturally face persecution. Creatures of darkness cannot abide the light for they fear exposure and run away from anything touched by light. But the light of truth cannot be hidden any more than it can be extinguished, especially when the source of light is God Himself, who is truth. Nor will the salt of righteousness lose its saltiness from those abandoned to God simply because of the hatred of the world.

Stephen was a Grecian Jew probably born outside of Judea or Galilee. He was one of the Diaspora, in Jerusalem to celebrate Passover or Pentecost and staying when he heard either Jesus teach or one of the Apostles, Peter maybe, or John. This is all speculation. We know little about Stephen other than his name, that he was chosen with six others to help serve the growing church, and that he was a godly man filled with the Holy Spirit. We also know he had a good grasp of Israel’s history and was unafraid of the Jewish leadership. We know he was persecuted and murdered because of his stance for Jesus and the gospel. We know he was falsely accused and offered a defense using his accusers own history. His story is in Acts 7.

Israel’s history condemns them for it is their history which God used to point to His Son. Using normal sinful thinking these Jews pluck out the good things from their history ignoring the sinful behavior of their ancestors. Jesus, Peter, and Stephen would not allow them this luxury. They, just like their fathers, were prone to idolatry.

Peter, an untrained teacher, also used Israel’s history to point to Jesus, His death and resurrection. None of those who confronted Peter could disprove his words. They could not produce Jesus’ body. Nor could they stand against Peter’s words before the people. Many entered God’s kingdom because of Peter’s words and miracles.

Steven did the same thing. “Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘Go out from your land and from your kindred and go into the land that I will show you’” [Acts 7:2-3, ESV].

Peter used the words of Moses to prick the consciences of his hearers, words they knew well.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you.  And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness. [Acts 3:22 ESV]

Stephen used the same illustration from Scripture. “This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our fathers. He received living oracles to give to us” [Acts 7:37-38, ESV].

Peter brought his teaching to the place where he accused the Jews of killing God’s Righteous One. Stephen did the same. Peter saw thousands come to God through the gospel and felt the lashes of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing in his sharing in the suffering of Christ. Some came into the kingdom from Stephen’s teaching while he lived. He felt the stones of their hatred toward God while asking God to forgive them. How many has God made righteous through the light of Stephen?  We do not know. It does not matter to us. What matters is we, too, are willing to shine light in a world dedicated to darkness and hatred for God.

Those who hate God think they can extinguish a person’ s light and nullify their righteousness through persecution and intimidation or by killing them. Jesus was raised from the dead. The hatred of the world is evidence of the citizen of the kingdom of heaven’s righteous standing before God.

But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” [Acts 4:19-20, ESV]

Aliens and Strangers


Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles (aliens) of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.[1 Peter 1:1-2 ESV]

We must change the way we think if we are to know, both intellectually and intimately, God and His peace. We long for peace for it is integral to our eternal image. In this world we have peace, but we do not have peace. We are in a position of peace with God residing in a place at war with Him and consequently with us.

First Peter uses two words to describe the Christian. He calls us “aliens and strangers.”  “Beloved, I urge you as strangers and aliens to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul” [1 Peter 2:11 ESV]. These words are often translated as “exiles,” “sojourners,” “pilgrims.” We are confused by these English words because they are used interchangeably. They are not interchangeable.

First, read the word used in 1 Peter 1:1 as aliens. An alien is a resident foreigner, someone who has moved to a place from another nation for whatever reason, making the host country their temporary home. They are not going back home any time soon, if ever. They could be political exiles or refugees, fleeing persecution in one place to live in what they think a safer place. They are not citizens of the host country but still abide by its laws, adopt its customs and traditions, language and lifestyle. They may adopt its religion as their own. But, they are citizens of a different place and long to return to their true home.

Peter uses a second word with a completely different meaning.

And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile (being as a stranger), knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.[1 Peter 1:17-19  ESV]

Read the word “as strangers” not “exiles.” A “stranger” is a person simply travelling through a place for a specific purpose. They are free to come and go and are in the country to get something and then leave, going home with that which they have gotten. They may be in country on business, looking for merchandise or something of value. They may be tourists gathering memories. They could be exiles but will not remain so for long. The host country is not their home and they refuse to adopt its culture and traditions, its language or religion. It is not their home because they are going home soon, once they have acquired that which they sought.

Peter describes the Christian as an alien and a stranger. We are not citizens of this world but citizens of the kingdom of God, of Heaven. We are here for a time, making a home here, a tent, something easily left, with our eyes fixed upon home, ready to leave at a moment’s notice. We are here as witnesses to the world, a testimony of God and His grace through the work of Christ. We are here being prepared for eternity. We are not here to claim anything this world has as our own. Why do we cling to that which we cannot take with us?

God differentiates between the alien and the stranger in Exodus. The alien in Israel my eat the Passover with those who are God’s chosen. Those gentiles who have adopted Israel as their home are covered by the blood of the paschal lamb. However, those gentiles who are strangers may not eat the Passover with Israel. See Exodus 12:43-49.

Christians must think differently, not like the world but like a citizen of the kingdom of God. Aliens and strangers are never at complete peace in the temporary place in which they live. They may experience relative peace, but they view the host country as a place they will stay for a limited time. Then they will return to their true home. We live here as witnesses of God, as aliens. We live here getting that which we can only get here, as strangers being prepared for eternity.

One of the reasons God left us in this world is as a witness to His grace through jesus Christ. Aliens and strangers are peacemakers, seeking to move those called by God from citizenship in the world to an eternal, peaceful kingdom.

“Rest in Peace”

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him!  Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.  And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. [Luke 12:4-9 ESV]

If there is anything consistent in the makeup of man it is the reality of sin and consequent physical death. In our rebellion we excuse and ignore sin. We cannot ignore or avoid death. We can refuse to acknowledge God all of our physical lives until we come before Him.

Jesus told His disciples of His impending death at the hands of His enemies in Jerusalem.

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’”[Matthew 16:21-22 ESV]

I think Peter spoke for the group. He pulled Jesus aside and rebuked Him, suggesting Jesus was not going to die as He described. While we could debate Peter’s motivations his refusal to accept the impending death of a loved one is more prominent. He could not imagine the man before him, robust, quick witted, strong, facing death. Jesus bested the Pharisees. He would continue to best them. There is no way Jesus would be murdered by anyone.

Jesus rebuked the liar who inspired Peter to believe the lie. “Get behind me Satan” [Matthew 16:23 ESV]. Wishful thinking is just that. It has no foundation in truth and therefore no substance.

Christians are probably more afraid of the process of dying than of actual death. If we knew when we were going to die would we not get our house in order? Would we tremble and quake because we do not know Him or face death with peace because we do know Him. Moses was told he would not enter the Promised Land so he prepared the people to follow God after his death. Then was gathered to his people atop a mountain overlooking the land he could not enter. There is no indication he feared dying.

Often it is not the one dying who is afraid but those around facing the reality of losing a loved who are the most distressed. Leaving loved ones, through death, might bring resignation and acceptance of one’s circumstance. Trapped by the world, those staying want to build a false peace to placate their emotional upheaval.

“Rest in peace” is an accepted euphemism stuffed with wishful thinking. Where there is no peace with God there can be no peace in death. Where there is no fear of God there is no desire to be right before Him. Death becomes a purposefully ignored unknown filled with superstitious possibilities based upon fantasy.

Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem where He would face a violent death at the hands of professional executioners. He knew this and He was at peace. He asked God to take away the cup, but submitted Himself to His Father, for He knew the peace He had could not be taken, even by death. How we face death, our own and the death of a loved one, is a test. Do we know we have peace with God? Do we know the person dying has peace with God? Do we live for God?

Death could not hold Jesus. He was raised from the dead. Those who are His need have no fear of death. Those who are not His should absolutely fear death.

Coming Into God’s Presence

Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. [33] And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, “Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah”— not knowing what he said. [Luke 9:32-33 ESV]

And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” [Matthew 17:4 ESV]

Peter was practical, his thinking and acting focused completely on his immediate involvement in life. From acquiescing to Jesus command to let down his nets for a catch after a full night of futile work (“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets” [Luke 5:5 ESV]) to his walking on water.

“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” [Matthew 14:28-30 ESV]

Peter’s only drawback was his inability to think beyond himself as the center of the world. It is a problem we all share.

While Pete’s life was full, he walked with and was taught by Jesus and after the ascension he traveled the world as the apostle to the Jews, I want to look at the mercy God showed him. Mercy is active love and God showed His active love toward Peter and the other disciples in ways far beyond their limited comprehension.

On the mount of transfiguration Peter came into the presence of God. As you look back in Scripture you will find only two instances where God “showed His glory” to a man. Both times on a mountain, the Mountain of God. Both times shielding those He showed His glory from seeing His face.

When Moses went to God to make the second set of tablets God passed by and shielded him with His hand.

Behold, there is a place by me where you shall stand on the rock, and while my glory passes by I will put you in a cleft of the rock, and I will cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take away my hand, and you shall see my back, but my face shall not be seen. [Exodus 33:21-23 ESV]

Then, when Elijah ran to God after killing the prophets of Baal and was threatened by Jezebel, he pulled his cloak over his head shielding his face from seeing God.

And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. [12] And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. [13] And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. [1 Kings 19:11-13 ESV]

Are there any other instances in Scripture where sinful man was exposed to the glory of God? Adam and Eve before the fall? Joshua, who never left the tent of meeting while the glory of God was on it? Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) walking around in the fiery furnace with one who looked like a “son of the gods” [Daniel 3:25 ESV]? How about those who were given visions of God on His throne? None of these were shielded from what they saw yet all saw God. Better, all saw the preincarnate Christ, God the Son.

When Jesus was transformed (metamorphoo) before Peter, James and John, He was transfigured into that which He is truly. Peter, James and John saw Jesus with Moses and Elijah, the only three men who had ever seen God the Father’s glory. What the three disciples saw was Christ in His glory. We make the assumption this was the only time during Christ earthly life where He was transfigured, clothed with His true glory. Yet, Christ went alone many times, as was His habit, up mountains to pray. Just because we are told of one time does not mean He was transfigured only this one time. We have no witnesses of the other times He was alone and there is no reason to  believe He was not transfigured at those times, also.

Why Peter said what he did is a mystery. We can make assumptions, something we do willingly as we focus upon ourselves and try to understand a man who walked with Christ. That he and the others saw Christ in His glory is an act of love extended to few in this world. Not until we reach eternity will we see Christ in His glory. Peter, James and John saw Him while living in sinful, rebellious bodies.

There was nothing about these men which qualified them for such an honor. Peter was a sinful man who viewed the world revolving about himself, who wanted things his way. He acknowledged the sinfulness of his heart. He suffered the gentle stinging rebukes of Jesus because of his lack of faith. He denied Christ. By the end of his life he did not see himself worthy to even die the same way Christ died. Throughout, he received God’s gracious mercy even when he did not recognize it.

Mercy is more than God’s actions toward those in pitiable circumstances. Mercy defines God’s actions toward us all the time.