Rev. Miersma is pastor of the Loveland Protestant Reformed Church in Loveland, CO.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.
Once more we stand at the beginning of a new year. We are reminded of how quickly time passes by. It would seem that the older we get, the more quickly it goes. The psalmist thus pictures the life of man as a flower growing in the middle of an open field. It is exposed to the rough wind that blows regardless of the delicateness of the flower. Soon it is gone, and the place of it knows it no more.
That is also our experience. We are soon cut off, and we fly away. When a child is born we rejoice over it; but hardly are the pangs of birth forgotten when men already mourn over us. The grave yawns to swallow us up. All that lies between the pangs of birth and the sorrow of death is one hopeless struggle of the tender flower with the fierce winds that blow. Our life is nothing but a continual death because of sin and iniquity. There is nothing abiding, and we fly away.
But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting. It is eternal as God Himself is eternal. The objects of it are those that fear Him. It is not perceived by the natural eye, nor is it tasted by the natural heart, but it is certainly apprehended by faith, which our God implants into the hearts of His people. This is none other than the faith that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. They that fear Him certainly experience this mercy of the LORD: for it is not far above them, is not outside of them and beyond their reach, but it is upon them, right in the midst of this fleeting world. It is the one abiding reality in the midst of all things transient.
This mercy is from everlasting. Even as God is eternal, so is His mercy. Its foundations are not among us. It constantly sheds its blessings upon us, yet itself transcends our boldest perception. It never had a beginning, for mercy is of God the eternal One.
The mercy of God is His eternal will to bless His people, to remove from His own all misery and death, and to fill them with eternal good. It is His everlasting will to wipe away from them all tears, and cause them to sing and to shout with joy. It is to give them heavenly beauty for the ashes of sorrow and the oil of joy for mourning, and to make them taste forever that it is blessed to be righteous and holy.
This is necessary, for it is the will of God that they be blessed. That will is eternally perfect in its realization, for He is indeed the ever and infinitely blessed God. As the living God, the Triune Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, subsisting in one Being of infinite perfection, He lives a divine life of perfect bliss and infinite joy in Himself.
This same mercy is also from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear Him. God willed to have a people that would in the highest possible sense of the word be like unto Himself in righteousness, holiness, and truth. He willed a people that may know Him as they are known, that may dwell in His tabernacle, that may taste that the LORD is good. He willed that they may eternally acknowledge His goodness, and that they may experience His blessedness and rejoice with a joy unspeakable and full of glory. He ordained a people that would be like unto His Son.
This mercy is upon them that fear Him, upon those who live in the midst of the suffering of this present time, and whose life is nothing but a continual death. It is upon those who are in darkness because of the present night of sin and death, upon those whose days are like the grass, which today is and tomorrow is cast into the oven. It is upon those who cry and lament in present misery, who groan and moan because of want and poverty. It is upon them that fear Him, who by His grace in Christ Jesus know and realize that the mercy of the LORD is forever, reaching out to us who live in hope that He will bless us, change our mourning into rejoicing, and make us partakers of the highest conceivable bliss in eternal glory.
This mercy of God is a sovereign mercy rooted in Him only. It is not conditional or contingent on anything we may be or not be, do or not do. It is unchangeable because it is from everlasting.
This everlasting mercy we experience during our present lifetime. It is that which constantly abides, as the immovable rock in the midst of the swiftly flowing stream of time. We experience it by faith, and we rely on God’s unchangeable attitude toward them that fear Him. His mercy denotes the motive of all that He does in time for His people, to them, and in them.
It was upon them when God sent His only begotten Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. He sent Him into our deepest woe, and caused Him to bear our sins on the accursed tree and made Him taste death. He raised Him from the dead and gave Him a name that is above all names. He sent His Spirit into our hearts, by which we cry “Abba, Father,” even in the midst of our present death. His mercy reaches out for us when He has His gospel of grace preached unto us that we might believe. His mercy reaches out for us when He calls us out of darkness into His marvelous light by His efficacious Word, that we might show forth His praises and declare that the LORD is good.
This mercy is constantly upon us from age to age, from day to day, from hour to hour, and from moment to moment. It never leaves us or relinquishes its hold upon us. This is true even when the way is dark, steep, and rugged, when poverty causes us to be filled with anxiety with regard to the things of this present time. It is upon us when the pain of death causes us to writhe in agony, and when sorrow upon sorrow overwhelms our soul.
Rejoice, therefore, in hope, even in the midst of the darkness of this present time. Your sorrow shall pass away, but His mercy never.
That mercy, which was from everlasting and through this present time, is also untoeverlasting. It is eternal also with respect to the future. Not only do we look backward and contemplate the reality of God’s eternal mercy and say that it is from everlasting, but we may look ahead and say the same thing. The mercy of the LORD is never-ending. In the future it will always be. That is also true of that mercy with respect to us. That implies that we will be the never perishing objects of His never-ending mercy. The world passes away and the lust thereof, for they are not the object of the Father’s mercy. Therefore they can never abide. How can anything abide that God does not choose to bless? Therefore, love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If you love the world, the love of the Father is not in you, neither is His mercy upon you. But he that does the will of the Father, he that fears God, abides forever. We shall not perish, but continue to be, even through death. We shall not die, but live in everlasting glory, being the objects of His everlasting mercy.
What a marvelous comfort! Abundant and steadfast is the mercy of the LORD. It is so abundant that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that His mercy shall reveal to us.
This mercy is not general but particular, for it is only upon them that fear Him. And it is not upon them that fear Him because they fear Him. It is not our fear of His name that evokes His mercy, but it is His everlasting mercy that is first. That mercy is the everlasting cause of our fearing Him. God is always first, and His mercy is always sovereign.
Yet the truth remains: His mercy is not upon the ungodly, but is confined to them that fear Him. The way is narrow and it becomes narrower as you go on in the midst of the world. Not one step to the right or to the left can you make without forfeiting the taste and the blessed experience of His mercy. That mercy is for them that hate sin, that repent of their sin before the LORD, and that seek forgiveness day by day in the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is for them that love righteousness and pursue it, for them that are indeed still beset with sin and who often stumble because of the operations of sin that are still in their members. It is for them that have a strong and heartfelt desire to be delivered from all iniquity and to be pleasing to Him.
May we look forward in hope to the everlasting inheritance, in which forever we shall perfectly serve the LORD our God in Jesus Christ our Savior. May we fear the LORD and thus experience His everlasting mercy.
Thus, when the Old Year goes out and we wish one another a blessed New Year, it is for us the same as the prayer for you and for me that we may fear the LORD and experience His everlasting mercy.