I am planning to start tomorrow a moderately in-depth reading and study of Matthew’s gospel. As always, I will let the scripture take me where it will, but I intend to focus on Matthew as a “handbook for discipleship” and post some of my insights, assume I have some. Follow along on my blog.

The Character of God

The Lord Yahweh showed me this: there, he was forming a locust swarm at the beginning of the growth of the spring crop. There—the spring crop after the king’s reaping. When it had finished consuming the grass in the country, I said, ‘Lord Yahweh, please pardon, how can Ya’aqob stand, because it’s small.’ Yahweh relented about this. ‘It won’t happen’, Yahweh said.

The Lord Yahweh showed me this: there, he was calling for an argument by fire. It consumed the Great Deep and it was consuming the plots. I said, ‘Lord Yahweh, please spare, how can Ya’aqob stand, because it’s small.’ Yahweh relented about this. ‘It won’t happen either’, the Lord Yahweh said.
(Amos 7:1–6, The Bible for Everyone: A New Translation)

Amos’ intercession for people who did not deserve mercy and Yahweh’s response to that plea reveals a key factor about Yahweh’s character. Not only is Yahweh a God of mercy, but he is also a God who listens to those who pray to him—and he responds.

(JoAnna M. Hoyt, Amos, Jonah, & Micah, ed. H. Wayne House and William D. Barrick, Evangelical Exegetical Commentary (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2018), 260.)

Simply stated, God is merciful and God can change his mind based on what he hears from us. Even in the Old Testament.

Almost forgot: my seminary-trained pastor told the lovely story in his Palm Sunday sermon about the Passover lamb being taken into the Holy of Holies and sacrificed on the mercy seat on the Ark. I guess that when your stated goal is to “depopulate hell” details aren’t as important as making a good illustration.