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        The book Black Like Me told the story of John Griffin, a white man who darkened his skin in an effort to understand what it meant to be black in a predominantly white society.

        More recently, a 30-year-old lady, and industrial designer, masqueraded as an elderly woman once a week for 3 years.  She was trying to see how it feels to be old in America.  What she learned is heart-breaking.  She was robbed, insulted, and frightened by a world that isn't easy on its elderly.  Because of their experiences, John Griffin and this 30-year-old lady were able to sympathize with another race and another generation.

        Nearly 2,000 years ago, God took upon Himself the likeness of human flesh that He might sympathize or commiserate with our weaknesses.  Our God is a compassionate God!!!

        This is study thirteen in our series on the biblical doctrine of compassion.  We are presently studying the magnificent compassion of God.  Twelve 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 common Hebrew word, racham (raw-kham'), 7355, and the second most common Hebrew word, racham (rakh'-am), 7356, and the third most common word, rachuwm (rakh-oom'), 7349, are translated "compassion," "compassions," or "compassionate."

(Let's move on to the next Hebrew word.)

        The next Hebrew word is chamal (khaw-mal'), 2550.  It means to commiserate or spare.  To commiserate is to feel or express, sorrow, pain, compassion or pity for someone.  To spare is to have mercy upon someone because you can feel their sorrow or pain.  So the word chamal (khaw-mal') means to spare someone because one can feel their sorrow or pain.  This is a pretty fair definition of the word `mercy.'

(That leads us to the stating of a new principle:)

Principle #5:  Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love.  He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate.  In certain instances, His compassion is depicted as mercy.  The major ideas are:

(1)     forbearance shown to an offender, i.e. kindness instead of strictness or severity;

(2)     grace, i.e. divine favor or compassion; and

(3)     pity, which is sympathetic heartfelt sorrow for one that is suffering physically or mentally or is otherwise distressed or unhappy (definition studied last time and taken from Webster's Third New International Dictionary).

        Most of the few usages of chamal (khaw-mal') are not concerned with God's compassion.  The word is translated one time "have compassion" in

Ezekiel 16:5, "No eye looked with pity on you to do any of these things for you, to have compassion on you.  Rather you were thrown out into the open field, for you were abhorred on the day you were born."

This was God speaking about the lack of compassion that Israel had been shown in the past from others.

        It is also translated "had compassion" four times.  Three of those times with no reference to God in

1 Samuel 23:21, "And Saul said, "May you be blessed of the Lord; for you have had compassion on me."

This is Saul commending the Ziphites for promising to surrender David into his hands.

2 Samuel 12:6, "And he must make restitution for the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no compassion."

This is David's response to Nathan concerning the man who still another man's only beloved lamb.

2 Chronicles 36:17, "Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand."

God chastened the Israelites for rebelling against Him by sending the Chaldeans against His people.  The Chaldeans had no compassion on anyone.

        But let's turn our attention to the one time the Hebrew Word chamal (khaw-mal'), 2550, is used one time with reference to God in:

2 Chronicles 36:15, "And the Lord, the God of their fathers, sent word to them again and again by His messengers, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place."

Observation 5.1:  To understand this, we must read the entire context in 2 Chronicles 36:13-21.  Would you turn there with me please.

        God commiserated with the children of Israel, His beloved people and bride and because He commiserated with them, i.e. He felt sorrow, pain and pity for them, He spared them.  He spared them and the holy city, Jerusalem, destruction by sending His messengers, the prophets, over and over to warn them of the consequences of their sins.  He did not have to do that.  He had warned them sufficiently.  As a matter of fact, He had warned them exceeding abundantly, but He continued to warn them because of His feelings of pain, sorrow, pity and compassion for them.

(Perhaps we will be able to relate to this feeling of God better by considering an illustration entitled:)


        When a Michigan deerhunter found a 100-pound buck struggling to get out of a mud-bog in which it was hopelessly stuck, the hunter's first thought was to shoot it, but he couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger.  Instead, he called for the help of his partner.  Together they snared the animal with a rope and pulled it out of the mud.  The moment it was freed, the deer bolted to freedom.  The hunter later recalled, "When you see a deer like that, eyeball to eyeball, it's a little different.  I think the eyes did it - that longing look, like, `What are you going to do?'"

        When God looks into our pitiful eyes, the helpless eyes of sinful mankind, He is touched with the feelings of our pain and sorrow and often demonstrates His own feelings by sparing us!!!

        Those of us who are parents should be able to relate to this.  There are times when our children are deserving of swift justice, but when we look into their eyes we end up sparing them, because we can commiserate with their pain, sorrow, sadness, i.e. their plight.

        Isn't it sad that we cannot do the same thing with our mates and others who are around us.  We will not spare anyone that we do not commiserate with.

        Let me come at this from another angle.  We often commiserate with people who share similar plights.  Often in the church, we can understand and identify with certain groups of underdogs.  We often champion the causes of some of these underdogs, but we don't know why.  Let me suggest that we champion these causes because we commiserate with this group of people.

        You can understand this if you had brothers or sisters, because no matter what your brother or sister did, when their whipping is over we can often commiserate with them.

        Let me suggest to you that your spiritual growth and maturity should lead you to commiserate with all people, for we are all sick and in pain.

        Let me further suggest that you begin to try to commiserate with me as a person.

(This idea of sparing someone because of commiseration takes us on to another interesting point.)

        The idea of sparing someone has to do with mercy.  Let's look at mercy a little more closely.  Webster defines mercy as

mercy "1 a : compassion or forbearance shown to an offender or subject : clemency or kindness extended to someone instead of strictness or severity; 2 a : a blessing regarded as an act of divine favor or compassion; 3 : relief of distress : compassion shown to victims of misfortune."

Jehovah God extended forbearance to Israel in the midst of all her rebellion and sins.  He continually showed clemency instead of strictness and kindness instead of severity.  He continually engineered relief for His distressed people.

        Not only did He do this for the children of Israel, but it is His nature and He does it for all of His children past, present and future.

Ephesians 2:4-7, "But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

God (1) made us alive together; (2) raised us up together; (3) seated us in heavenly places in Christ; (4) will show us the surpassing riches of His grace throughout eternity; as a demonstration of His mercy; as a function of His love!!!


        T. DeWitt Talmage, the renowned minister of a bygone day, writes: "I am told that the wonderful mercy of God is like an ocean upon which are placed four swift-sailing boats- each with compass, rigging, and a skillful navigator.  I tell them to launch out from the harbor of heaven and discover for me the extent of this uncharted ocean.  The first shop puts out in one direction and sails to the north, the second to the south, the third to the east, and the fourth to the west.  They unfurl their sails and sail 10,000 years and one day come back to the harbor of Heaven; I shout to them from the beach, 'Have you found the shore?' And they answer, 'There's no shore to God's mercy.'

        Then swift angels, dispatched from the throne, attempt to go across it.  For a million years they fly and fly, but then come back, and bow their heads at the foot of the throne, and cry, 'No shore!  No shore to God's mercy!'"

(Let's restate this new principle:)

Principle #5:  Jehovah God, as to His nature, is love.  He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate.  In certain instances, His compassion is depicted as mercy.  The major ideas are:

(1)     forbearance shown to an offender, i.e. kindness instead of strictness or severity;

(2)     grace, i.e. divine favor or compassion; and

(3)     pity.

(Let's move on to the next Hebrew word.)

        The next Hebrew word is chemlah (kham-law') 2551.  It is used two times in the Bible.  One time it is translated mercy, which is not within the strict purview of our study.  The only other time that it is used it is translated compassion in:

Genesis 19:16, "But he hesitated.  So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the Lord was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city."

Observation 5.2:  The Hebrew word chemlah (kham-law') 2551 comes from the primary Hebrew word chamal (khaw-mal') 2550, which we just studied.  The word chamal (khaw-mal') means "to spare."  We have already studied the fact that the idea of sparing someone has to do with mercy.

        The mercy of the Lord was upon Lot, i.e. He spared Lot and would not destroy him along with Sodom and Gomorrah.  Even though Lot, in wickedness and greed, chose against Abraham what He thought was the best land, he in actuality chose a place which was godless and wicked.  He chose on the basis of material values and ended up being vexed every day, losing his home, losing his wife and being sexually defiled by his own daughters.  Nevertheless, God had mercy on Lot and would not destroy him with Sodom and Gomorrah.

        What a lesson for today's people and society.  Abraham chose his land on the spiritual values of love, peace and pleasing God.  Abraham chose to take whatever Lot left to keep down confusion.  Lot chose to go after what he considered the best in life, i.e. the best materially.  Abraham was blessed of God and Lot was dispossessed.  But God in His mercy and grace refused to destroy Lot.  This is another illustration of Principle #5.

        We have now surveyed all the Scriptures where the most common Hebrew word racham (raw-kham'), 7355, and the second most common Hebrew word, racham (rakh'-am), 7356, and the third most common word, rachuwm (rakh-oom'), 7349, and the fourth most common Hebrew word chamal (khaw-mal'), 2550, and the fifth most common Hebrew word chemlah (kham-law'), 2551, are translated "compassion," "compassions," or "compassionate."

(Let's move on the next Hebrew word.)

        The next Hebrew word is chus (khoos), 2347.  The word means to cover, compassionate (Strong's), pity, look upon with compassion (The New Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius Hebrew-Aramaic Lexicon).  In our last message, we covered the word "relent" which also meant to pity.  We formulated:

Principle #4:  Jehovah God as to His nature is love.  He consistently demonstrates His love by being compassionate.  In certain instances, His compassion is depicted as pity.  He has sympathetic, heartfelt sorrow for our suffering.  He pities us!

The Hebrew word, chus (Khoos), 2347, can be categorized under Principle #4Chus (khoos), 2347, is translated "had compassion" one time in

Jonah 4:10, "Then the Lord said, "You had compassion on the plant for which you did not work, and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight."

God was rebuking Jonah for pitting a plant for which he did not work or cause to grow, but not understanding nor demonstrating God's pity of the great city of Nineveh with 120,000 children.

Chus (khoos), 2347, is translated "have compassion" three times in

Jonah 4:11, "And should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know the difference between their right and left hand, as well as many animals?"

Observation 5.3:  Jonah had no compassion, deep feelings or pity for the people of Nineveh nor for the animals that would be destroyed if He did not preach repentance and give them a chance to avert destruction.  But God is concerned about both.  He is concerned about people who do not know the truth.  He is concerned about innocent animals.  We think of conservation as a human derivation of these last days.  But Jehovah God is a God who created all life; who has value for all life; and who does not want that life wasted.

2 Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, now wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."

(Let's move to the next Scripture.)

Nehemiah 13:22, "And I commanded the Levites that they should purify themselves and come as gatekeepers to sanctify the Sabbath day.  For this also remember me, O my God, and have compassion on me according to the greatness of Thy lovingkindness."

Observation 3.20:  Nehemiah prays for God's compassion on the basis of His stand for holiness in Jerusalem.

        We have already observed and learned that God's relative, transitive, temporal compassion is a demonstration of His absolute, intransitive, eternal lovingkindness and compassion.  We have already observed that both His absolute lovingkindness and compassion are unconditional and cannot be affected by man.  But we have also observed that the temporal, transitive, relative, compassion of God is conditional and can be affected by man.  One condition that we have already observed is how man deals with sin.  That condition is highlighted again here.

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

Psalm 72:13, "He will have compassion on the poor and needy, And the lives of the needy he will save."

Observation 5.4:  We know that God has compassion upon His children.  And according to this principle we know that God has a heartfelt sorrow for the suffering of His children.  But God's compassion extends even beyond His children.  In this passage of Scripture, we get a specific group of people that God feels for or pities:  the poor and needy.

        I am so glad that we serve a God who has mercy, forbearance, kindness, grace and pity for His children.  I am so glad that we serve a God who can be moved with and sympathize with our feelings of pain, sorrow, and adversity.  I am so glad that Jehovah God of the Old Testament came in the flesh in the person of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.  I am so glad that He manifest the same nature as He did in the Old Testament, for the writer of the Hebrews tells us:

Hebrews 4:15, "For we do no have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin."

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


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