#2 – God is patient and merciful toward sinners. In Kings we witness the story of King Ahab from the northern kingdom Israel, 1 Kings 16:29-22:39. What we read of Ahab is really disgusting. Not only did he marry a very wicked woman, Jezebel. But, between him and her they constantly were committing monstrosities against God and His elect. Not only did him and his wife worship Baal, but they built a temple to honor Baal in Samaria. And he built altars and idols to another pagan god named Asherah. And not only did they try to force Israel into idolatry, but they went to war against God’s prophets and people, killing priests, prophets and anyone who got in their way.
What is amazing about this is no matter how evil Ahab seems to be to us, God still gave him multiple opportunities to repent. The purpose of the famine in 1 Kings 17 was to produce repentance. The purpose of the contest at Carmel in 1 Kings 18 was to prove beyond doubt the identity of the true God. Then he heard the preachings of Elijah, Micaiah and Obadiah, but yet, nothing would bring him to repentance.
Today, God is just as kind and merciful to sinners upon earth. “But is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” 2 Peter 3:9. God has given us many more chances than we deserve today, to be what He wants us to be. And at times, some people have more chances than they deserve to come to Christ. Just as God is merciful to sinners giving some multiple chances and merciful to His children providing us more than one opportunity. We need to consider how merciful we are to others. I pity people who live by a one, two or three strike rule and you are out. Clearly they don’t understand how merciful God is and how merciful we are to be. We can see in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-25) that God expects us to be a forgiving merciful people as He is. And if we are not, well, we should remember, we will have a God that will judge us the way we judge others. “For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment,” James 2:13. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy,” Matthew 5:7. So, as recipients of the mercy of God (Hebrews 4:16) let us, “Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful,” Luke 6:36.