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…the powerful dictate what they desire—[1] When the prophet Micah wrote these words, the context in which he was writing them was about the ungodly who were among the Jews of his day[2] and it was his observation that the powerful dictate what they desire.

That statement is absolutely true because God who is all powerful, and is as it is written, in Heaven; He does whatever pleases Him,[3] and does dictate what They, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, desire. And God’s desire is for mercy, for so He stated in His word: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”[4] The closest God comes to showing us what He wishes is when He told us His desire, which is much deeper than a wish. Therefore, any of us who want to seek out the deeper things of God must go forth and, as Jesus commanded, “Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”[5]

Mercy is given by the strong and victorious, and received by the weak and defeated; therefore, no one can give God what He desires unless they are strong and victorious. Everyone can receive mercy from God because He is merciful, but to give mercy, particularly mercy to God, who can do that? Only Jesus Christ, for Jesus alone was strong enough and victorious enough to give to God the mercy He desired so that through Jesus, all who would otherwise be condemned and destroyed can be saved.

It is the one and only perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which in itself was so powerful that it condemned all other powers and authority including the powers of Satan, of Death and of the Law that through Jesus, God can receive the mercy He desires. Not that God is in need of mercy from anyone, but rather God desires mercy so that it can be given to and shown to His creation that He loves. The sin and the rebellion by creation, first by Satan, then by the angelic host and then by man, meant that in the realm of God’s justice and righteousness, no mercy could be shown unless the sin was atoned for. Indeed, it is written: “This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come.”[6] The gravity of the rebellion was so great that God’s image was exposed and naked, and the Lord had to make coverings of skin for Adam and Eve by shedding blood, the blood of a lamb that was sinless. In order that the sin committed could be paid for, it required from God the blood of a sinless man, Jesus Christ, the sinless blood of His exact Image and Representation.

Because the victory through Jesus Christ was so complete, not only for the salvation of men, but Jesus Christ also destroyed Satan and Death, even taking from them the keys of Hades and death as He came out of the prison He preached in during the three days He was in the bowels of Earth, now through Jesus, God can show the mercy He desires to all creation in the Name of Jesus. Just as those godless men of Micah’s time were dictating what they desired because of their power, now God can dictate what He desires, and anyone who has learnt to be truly responsible with the power given to them by God can do likewise.

Jesus’ sacrifice was exactly what God had in mind for Him to do, and having done it, Jesus’ obedience was proved once and for all to be perfect, but when He was made alive by the Spirit through whom He went and preached to those spirits in prison from the days of Noah, Jesus took obedience and sacrifice into the realm of mercy, and turned His personal sacrifice into producing that which God desired—mercy. By preaching to those spirits held in prison[7] once He was made alive by the Holy Spirit instead of leaving them to their judgement, Jesus overcame judgement with mercy. That is why James declared the good news to the Jews: Mercy triumphs over judgement.[8] If James had truly understood what Jesus did to cancel the Law for us by fulfilling it, James 2:13 could have been his gospel. Unfortunately, there is no mercy in the Law, only judgement, which is why the power of sin is the Law. The Law dictates what is and what is not sin, and as such gives sin the parameters it may exist in and therefore work through the very Law that defines it.

In going the extra mile and going to prison to preach to those spirits from the days of Noah, Jesus took His sacrifice and used it to show mercy to those who had already been judged and gave God what He desired more than sacrifice—mercy. What you need is a necessity—what you desire is a luxury. God needed Jesus’ sacrifice of His blood to atone for the blood shed to cover up the nakedness of His image caused by Adam’s sin, but Jesus’ use of the power, the power of His exceeding righteousness through His obedience and forsaking by God to preach the good news to those spirits held in prison, brought about the luxury of mercy for God.

It is a pity that James the Younger did not fully appreciate the fullness of God’s mercy in the sacrifice of Jesus and that this mercy flows when one so listens to Jesus and obeys Jesus even to the extent of breaking the Law of Moses by the eating and the drinking of His flesh and blood. Jesus may have made Himself least in the Kingdom of Heaven by teaching us to break the Law by eating and drinking His blood, but He made Himself the greatest in the eyes of God when He gave God what He desired for His creation—mercy.

That is why the only thing that Jesus ever told the Pharisees to go and add to their learning was the meaning of mercy. If the King of kings and the Lord of lords is merciful and commands us to learn it, then you can see that the utilisation of the power He has given us is for mercy. As much as the power allows us to be His witnesses on Earth, which is the opportunity that we may come to know His love and is the purpose of the power given us, the utilisation of that power must be defined in its highest refinement in mercy. Though you may now understand what the opportunity for the use of His Divine Power is and the purpose of that Divine Power, your practice in the use of that power must be guided by mercy as much as it is inspired by love.

Thus, there are always the deep and the superficial to the things of God. On the surface, the power of God to perform signs and wonders will satisfy many, and indeed, signs and wonders have their place in helping people believe that Jesus is the Christ, for our Lord Himself said, “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe.”[9] So the power of signs and wonders, as Paul wrote, leads the Gentiles to obey God by what [is] said and done—by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit.[10] You may have and will have a ministry filled with signs and wonders, and you may feel satisfied not to go deeper into God until you yourself feel the need for more because things in your life are not working out, and so you search deeper.

However, a better way, and it is Jesus’ way, is to be in search always of the deeper things of God even when signs and wonders are manifesting in abundance. An apostolic mistake by the alpha apostles was this: When the signs and wonders were manifesting and the Jews and Gentiles were turning to Jesus, they became distracted from searching the deeper things of God and remained superficial in their knowledge of God, the manifestation of which in Acts 21 saw the elders of Jerusalem being more concerned about offending the Jewish believers than ensuring that which Paul had to say and do was done. Even Paul fell at this point as he was buoyed along by the superficial observance of God’s revelation of Christ through James and the elders. Let’s not make the same mistake. If the power of God is used to achieve superficial means only and not used to dig deeper into God’s love, we have also missed our opportunity and God will have to raise up another generation.

The power of God is given to us to learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice,” for mercy belongs to the Powerful and They, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, dictate what They desire. Without power, true overwhelming, almighty power that could conquer even Death, the church has rarely ever been merciful to those in need of God’s mercy. Because we did not show it, indeed, we could not show it once we lost the Divine Power of God, we ourselves rarely received it, for “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy; they will be shown mercy.”[11] Being shown mercy in one sense is to receive mercy as it is being allowed to live when one should die or like the victim of the robbers being helped by the good Samaritan.[12]

However, a deeper meaning of “being shown mercy” is being taught what mercy is, that is, mercy with all its wondrous treasures and riches is revealed to you that you may know it, understand it and use it properly. Above all else, being shown mercy will allow you to understand why God desires it and being able to understand what another person desires is really coming to know that person. I doubt if there is more to knowing a person than when one comes to understand what that person desires and why he desires it. Thus, the utilisation of power for those who have it, will dictate for themselves their own eternity. As Micah said, “The powerful dictate what they desire…” As those ungodly ‘powerfuls’ of his day dictated what they desired out of their greed, sinfulness and cruelty, they received what they wished and mapped out their eternity of estrangement from God.

If you use your power that God has given you through the Holy Spirit and with signs and wonders do many mighty miracles, drawing men after yourself or even building up a large and well known ministry and no more, then by your power you have dictated what you desired, but the eternity you have dictated for yourself may well include: “I never knew you, away from Me you evildoers…”[13] For the truth is this: The power of God has been poured out that we may be His witnesses whilst we live on this Earth, but the proviso of its utilisation lies in mercy, not sacrifice.

Jesus gave us the power to witness and power so extraordinary and abundant that it is enough for all and any who believe in Him to live and never die and to do the things that He has been doing, even the greater things, in order that we might learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” Our Lord told His enemies, the Pharisees, to go and learn it. What an insult we must have become to Him when those who claim to believe in Him and are His servants themselves failed to understand what mercy is and killed those who would not convert at their preaching. Thus, not only has the world not seen the church at full power, but it has never seen the church at full mercy. But then, the church could never exercise the mercy God desired for because it had lost its power.

Thus, the root of the power of God, who is Love, is Love. Love, with its commands of Love – of God, of neighbour, of enemies and of each other – would only find and can only find itself in an expression of mercy if love was poured out onto enemies, not God, nor neighbours or friends and family. “Love your enemies” makes available for disciples first the promise of perfection: “Be perfect, therefore as your Heavenly Father is perfect,”[14] through which power may be brought to its pinnacle of quantity and quality. However, that same command also holds a later promise, a deeper promise. When first Jesus told us the command, He said, “You have heard that it was said… But I tell you…”[15] However, when He repeated it later, not on a high and lofty mountain where He sat down,[16] but at a low and level place where He stood up, He said, “But I tell you who hear Me…”[17] To those who not only listen to Him but hear Him, the promise, the greater promise, greater than perfection, was, “Be merciful, as your Heavenly Father is merciful.”[18]

For mercy surpasses even perfection, and Satan is a good illustration of this, for although he was “the model of perfection” when he was created and even “perfect in beauty,”[19] he is not shown any mercy. He knows nothing about mercy so he can give no mercy and thus receive no mercy. He is not shown mercy in order that he cannot show mercy and therefore will be shown none.

When the Ephesian church lost its first love, so serious was this love that Jesus threatened, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”[20] And He would do it personally. Their loss of the love of their enemies even though they still loved Jesus so much that though Jesus said to them, “You have persevered and have endured hardships for My Name and have not grown weary,”[21] was so serious that even their love of Jesus would not have saved them if they had not repented. Why? …Because they, and you and me, were all once enemies of God and God showed us love, such love that He prayed for us, blessed us and did good to us through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His Only Son. That is why the loss of the love of enemies from the church guaranteed that the Divine Power would be withheld from it corporately and only the Holy Spirit would be the Custodian of it, confirming the gospel the church preached with signs and wonders when she, the church, did preach the gospel and not speak her useless words of homilities, comfort and politics that carried no power to save or comfort the lost. A billion thesis and sermons about Jesus Christ carry less power to save than this one word of Jesus, “Repent.” A billion good works of charity carry less power to help a person believe than one single miracle done with the Holy Spirit’s power. For the love of God, we must bring the love of enemies and the power of God back to the church so that the church truly understands what mercy is.

Therefore, it is up to you and I, individually first and then hopefully, corporately, to search out, to practise, to pray for, and to believe for every ounce of power that God has for us until indeed, we are all, each one of us, individually and corporately at full power through the manifestation of God’s perfection that comes from the love of our enemies so that the mercy that God desires from us may flow as a manifestation of the love we have for our enemies.

In short, in whatever you are seeking to do for the Lord, be guided in the full power of God in order that you may display God’s mercy to all His enemies. Mercy will allow those who are at low places to stand as surely as perfection should cause all who are standing on high places to sit. Perfection without mercy is Satan’s lot— Perfection that leads to the fullness of mercy is God Almighty. Thus, as the powerful dictate what they desire, and you cannot be more powerful than to be found abiding in Jesus and His words abiding in you, I pray you learn to desire to understand what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.”

AMEN


 

[1] Micah 7:3

[2] Micah 7:1-20

[3] Psalm 115:3

[4] Hosea 6:6

[5] Matthew 9:13

[6] Exodus 30:10

[7] 1 Peter 3:18-20

[8] James 2:13

[9] John 4:48

[10] Romans 15:18-19

[11] Matthew 5:7 (NASB, NIV)

[12] Luke 10:25-37

[13] Matthew 7:23

[14] Matthew 5:44,48

[15] Matthew 5:43

[16] Matthew 5:1

[17] Luke 6:17,27

[18] Luke 6:36

[19] Ezekiel 28:12

[20] Revelation 2:5

[21] Revelation 2:3

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