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        Don Richardson tells in his book, Lords of the Earth, that the elders of a heathen tribe heartlessly hurled a little girl into a rushing River.  She had innocently wandered into the "holy place" of Kembu, a spirit whose wrath was evident from the unrelenting rains.  There was only one solution--sacrifice the child to regain his favor.

        Most people's understanding of God's anger and compassion are about as superstitious as those of this heathen tribe.  Their understanding of God's anger and compassion is not based upon How He reveals Himself in His Word, but upon conjecture, hearsay, misperception and secular experiences.  I thank God that He has chosen to reveal His compassionate nature and personality in the Word of God.

        This is study eleven in our series on the biblical doctrine of compassion.  We are presently studying the magnificent compassion of God.  Ten messages ago we embarked on a long expedition through the uses of various Hebrew and Greek words translated "compassion," "compassions," and  "compassionate."  We have surveyed all the Scriptures where the most commonly used Hebrew word racham (raw-kham'), 7355, is translated "compassion," "compassions," or "compassionate."

        We now have also surveyed all the Scriptures where the second most commonly used Hebrew word, racham (rakh'-am), 7356, is translated "compassion," "compassions," and "compassionate."

        After reviewing all of these Scriptures, I formulated three principles from my observation:

Principle #1:  Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love.  He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate; and

Principle #2:  Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love.  He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate.  But God does have self-imposed limits and boundaries and hence, His compassion can run out.  These limits and boundaries have to do with sin in all its forms.  This running out of His compassion seems to be temporal, with respect to Israel, and not eternal.  He sets conditions for restoration to His temporal compassion, but seems to state that in the final analysis His immanent lovingkindness and transitive compassion will be eternally bestowed upon Israel.

Principle #3:  Jehovah God, as to His nature is love, He demonstrates His love by consistently being compassionate.  In certain instances His compassion is depicted as a Motherly feeling towards His children.

(We are now ready to move on to the next Hebrew word.)

        The next Hebrew word is rachuwm (rakh-oom'), 7349.   This is the third most frequently used word translated "compassion, compassions or compassionate."  The literal meaning of this Hebrew word is basically its translation:  compassionate.

"compassionate; -always of God" (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon).

The word rachum (rakh-oom'), 7349, comes from the primary Hebrew word (raw-kham'), 7355, which literally means to fondle, love or be compassionate.  This brings us back to:

Principle #1:  Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love.  He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate.

(As we look at how each of these principles concerning God's compassion is represented in the Scripture, we have been making specific observations in each individual passage of Scripture.  Although these observations will, in many cases, include an observation, an interpretation and an application, for the sake of brevity we have been calling these statements "observations".  We have been numbering them with a double number.  The first number indicates the principle that is being applied and the second number indicates the particular observation with respect to that principle.  Let's survey the Scriptures where the Hebrew word rachuwm (rakh-oom',) 7349, is translated "compassionate."  This occurs eleven times in the following Scriptures:)

Exodus 34:6, "Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, "The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth."

Observation 1.19:  Way back in our very first observation, Observation 1:1, in our first study in this tremendous series, we observed that Jehovah God, as to His nature is compassionate and gracious.  In this particular passage of Scripture, we get additional adjectival phrases (descriptive phrasing which act as an adjective) describing the nature of His compassion and grace.  The first adjectival phrase is "slow to anger."  Once again, we have already observed a great deal about God's anger and its relationship to His compassion, including the fact that His anger inhibits and prohibits His compassion.  But now God reveals to us that He is "slow to anger."  The fact that He is slow to anger means that He is much more likely to demonstrate His compassion then He is His anger.

        The fact that He is slow to anger can be stated in one word, which is also another characteristic of God's nature:  "long-suffering."  We do not have time to study this particular attribute of God.  Let it suffice to say here that:  "By virtue of His compassion, God is long-suffering!"

        Praise God!  I believe, from my personal observation of hundreds, if not thousands of Christians, plus my own life, that God slow to anger; i.e. He is much more likely to demonstrate His compassion than His anger; hence, He is long-suffering.  When we have sinned and we are repentant, we can expect Him to be compassionate rather than angry.

        We must admit that God does get angry!  We must admit that God's anger can inhibit and prohibit His compassion.  We must admit that those who refuse to accept God's dispensational revelation of Himself will experience His ultimate and final anger:  The lake of fire and brimstone.  But God is much more inclined, predisposed, likely to demonstrate His compassion than He is His anger.  He has done and He continues to do everything, short of taking away our free moral agency, to place us in a position to receive His temporal and eternal lovingkindness and compassion.

        By the way, He also commands us to be long-suffering.

Ephesians 4:1-2, "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love."

        To forbear is to patiently put up with or to be longsuffering.  If you are longsuffering, you are slow to anger.  We should be slow to anger with our mates, our children, our parents, our brothers and sisters, and especially our spiritual family.  When they come to us repentantly about an offense, they should expect to get compassion, not anger.  It should take a loooong time to make us angry.  Why?  Because we can relate to the pain that our fellow human beings are suffering!!!

        Being slow to anger does not mean that you will never get angry.



        Aristotle made this wise observation: "Anybody can become angry--that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way--that is not easy!"

        In the next adjectival phrase, God reveals Himself as "abounding in lovingkindness and truth."  If this is thought about deeply, it will appear to be a paradox, an antinomy, a description of God that is beyond our earthly, finite comprehension.  It may be beyond our glorified comprehension?  We will not know that until we are glorified.  Lovingkindness and truth are opposites to us.  They are like night and day, darkness and light, love and hate.  Lovingkindness is kind; truth is severe.  It seems that there is no way for them to meet, but they meet in the person of Jesus Christ.  The Psalmist wrote in

Psalm 85:10, "Lovingkindness and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other."

Where did this happen?  Where did this take place?  John gives us a hint in

John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we behold His glory, the glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."

Grace, or lovingkindness and truth is embodied in one Person, Jesus Christ.  And grace and truth were demonstrated at one place:  at Calvary.  At Calvary Jesus demonstrated grace and truth.  Because of truth and righteousness He had to die.  Because of lovingkindness and grace He was willing and able to die for the sins of the world.  So, at Calvary Jesus demonstrated both grace and truth!!!

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

Deuteronomy 4:31, "For the Lord your God is a compassionate God; He will not fail you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them."

Observation 1.4, 1.12:  This has been often repeated and we have covered it thoroughly.  But let's at least list the benefits of God's compassion in this Scripture, which are:

1.      He will not fail Israel;

2.      He will not finally destroy Israel;

3.      He will not forget His covenant with Israel.

        Likewise, God will not fail us, nor destroy us, nor forget His covenant of grace with us, which is through Christ Jesus!

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

2 Chronicles 30:9, "For if you return to the Lord, your brothers and your sons will find compassion before those who led them captive, and will return to this land.  For the Lord your God is gracious and compassionate, and will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him."

Observation 1.7:  We have also amply covered that fact that God is predisposed, even anxious to show compassion to those who repent and turn to Him!

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

Nehemiah 9:17, "And they refused to listen, And did not remember Thy wondrous deeds which Thou hadst performed among them; So they became stubborn and appointed a leader to return to their slavery in Egypt.  But Thou art a God of forgiveness, Gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness; And Thou didst not forsake them."

Observation 1.19:  This Scripture is almost identical to the first one that we covered in Observation 1:19, except that it adds an additional description of Jehovah God.  He is a God of forgiveness.  Because He is gracious and compassionate, He forgives, is slow to anger, abounds in lovingkindness and truth, and does not forsake the children of Israel.

        He is the same to us today.

Colossians 1:13-14, "For He (the Father) delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

Nehemiah 9:31, "Nevertheless, in Thy great compassion Thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them, For Thou art a gracious and compassionate God."

Observation 1.20:  Because God is a compassionate God, He will not, i.e. He cannot ultimately forsake His people.

        If you have been studying these Hebrew words with us for the past ten messages, what I am about to say will make perfect, spiritual sense to you:  "God perseveres in keeping His children!  He will never leave us nor forsake us!  His salvation is eternal."

Hebrews 7:25, "Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them."

This Scripture states that Jesus has the power to save forever those who draw near to God through Him.  He is able to save forever because He always lives to make intercession for them.  But according to the law of the Kinsman-Redeemer, the Goel, i.e. the Kinsman-Redeemer, must be both able and willing!  It is assumed in Hebrews 7:25 that Jesus is not only able, but willing to save those who come to God through Him.  Therefore, our salvation is eternally secure in Jesus!!!

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)


Psalm 78:38, "But He, being compassionate, forgave their iniquity, and did not destroy them; And often He restrained His anger, And did not arouse all His wrath."

Observation 1.21:  We have observed repeatedly that anger restrains compassion.  But now we have a statement which indicates that the converse is also true.  Because the Lord is compassionate, He is forgiving and restrains His anger.  As a matter of fact, perhaps He never arouses all of His anger towards His children.  What would happen if God did not restrain His anger?

        The important observation is that as God's anger sometimes restrains His compassion, in many, many more cases His compassion restrains His anger.  The compassion of God and the anger of God are in inverse relationship and proportion to one another, i.e. the more you have of one the less you have of the other and vice versa.  The more God displays His compassion the less He can deal with His anger.  The more angry God is the less He can display His compassion.

        It is very important that we know and understand this principle, because it also is true of husbands and wives and any relationship.  Compassion and anger are in inverse relationship and proportion to one another!  No wonder those of us who are angry with our mates cannot show them any kindness, mercy, grace, compassion or love.

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

Psalm 103:8, "The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness."

Observation 1.19.

(Let's move on to the next Scripture.)

Psalm 111:4, "He has made His wonders to be remembered; The Lord is gracious and compassionate."

Observation 1.22:  Because the Lord is compassionate, He works wonders for His children and then brings them back to their remembrance when they are forgotten.

        I'm glad that He does, because it is so easy to forget what the Lord has done for you.  The children of Israel periodically needed to be reminded of the compassion of the Lord.  We, likewise, need to be periodically reminded of the compassion of the Lord!!!  We need to look back and consider where He has brought us from.  We don't look back lovingly and longingly though, we look back with awe and thankfulness.

(Let's move on to the last Scripture for today.)

Psalm 112:4, "Light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous."

Observation 1.23:  Because the Lord is a compassionate God, He will rise as light, grace, compassion and righteousness to the righteous one who is in darkness.  In Malachi 4:2, God says "the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings."  Jehovah God is the Sun of righteousness.  It can also be said that He is the Sun of grace and compassion.  In this verse the opposite attributes of grace and righteousness are joined together in one Person, Jehovah God.  This verse can be compared to Psalm 85:10 where the opposite attributes of lovingkindness and truth meet together and righteousness and peace kiss each other.  The place where this tremendous meeting takes place is at the cross!

        I'm glad that I have a light in this dark and dreary world!

        Praise God that we don't have to be misinformed or ignorant of God's nature with respect to anger and compassion.  He has revealed His nature and personality with respect to both in His Word.  It is important to remember that God's lovingkindness is absolute, intransitive, eternal and unconditional.  It is also important to understand that Jehovah God's temporal, relative, transitive compassion is in inverse proportion to His anger.  But praise God that He is slow to anger, and that His anger is but for a moment to those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior!  Follow in the footsteps of your compassionate Father and extend compassion to those whom you are angry with.  It will release you from the torturers.  It will bring blessing to the life of the one you are angry with.  And it will glorify Jehovah God Who is great in compassion!

(Now is the day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, now!)


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