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  • Chad Werkhoven

Deuteronomy 7:7-10 - Fully Merciful and Fully Just

Don't fall in the trap of thinking God's mercy will negate His justice!


Deuteronomy 7:7-10 (NIV)

The LORD did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your fathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. 10 But

those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction;

he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 16: The Doctrine of Election

We believe that—

all Adam’s descendants having thus fallen

into perdition and ruin

by the sin of the first man—

God showed himself to be as he is:

merciful and just.

He is merciful

in withdrawing and saving from this perdition those whom he,

in his eternal and unchangeable counsel,

has elected and chosen in Jesus Christ our Lord

by his pure goodness,

without any consideration of their works.

He is just

in leaving the others in their ruin and fall

into which they plunged themselves.



God's chosen people. What a way to think of ourselves! Often the word 'choice' conveys quality and superiority, as in the USDA's grade of 'choice' for meat or a 'choice' bottle of wine. So it's easy to begin to think that there was something that set us apart from the common herd of humanity that God saw when choosing us for Himself.

But God quickly snuffs out any notion that people like us are any better than people in general. He makes plain to His newly freed covenant people as they began their trek to the Promised Land not to think that they "were more numerous" than other groups, because the were actually "the fewest" (literally: the smallest). In other words, God didn't choose Israel because they were the biggest, strongest, most advanced nation in the world, because they were actually the smallest, weakest and nothing more than a bunch of escaped slaves.

Fast forwarded to the book of Acts, which chronicles the early development and growth of the church, and you'll see that God followed the same pattern as He called an eclectic, but in no way impressive (as least according to the world) group of people to salvation. So you need to continually stuff away any sort of pride that sneaks into your psyche trying to convince you that somehow you were more worthy of saving than others.

God tells us here exactly what His criteria is for whom He elects to salvation: His own faithfulness to the covenant. He is faithful to save those He's obligated Himself to, as by His grace they love Him and keep His commandments (v8-9).

Dig Deeper

It's popular to pit God's mercy which brings people to salvation against His justice by which He will repay those who hate Him with eternal destruction. Somehow, His merciful, covenant love will strengthen as His anger towards sin diminishes until all that's left is His gracious mercy and blessings.

But this is not at all the message of the Bible. God reveals Himself as both fully merciful and fully just. There are countless accounts in scripture and in our own histories in which God demonstrates His merciful, covenant love to His people, as He had just done for the Israelites in today's passage. Yet at the same time, He remains true to His justice by repaying sin (notice the word 'repay' was used twice in v10 - sin must be paid for, either by the sinner or a substitute).

The Heidelberg Catechism, which we used as our Bible reading road map last year, says it the best. Question & answer 11 says,

God is certainly merciful,

but he is also just.

His justice demands

that sin, committed against his supreme majesty,

be punished with the supreme penalty—

eternal punishment of body and soul.

This is why in His endless mercy for His covenant people, God sent His one and only Son to pay with His life to fully atone for your sin and fully satisfy God's justice. This means that all those who are in Christ will forever experience the never ending mercy of God, and all those who remain in sinful Adam will experience nothing but God's holy wrath and justice.

Make sure, by the profession of your mouth and the belief in your heart (Romans 10:9) that you are in Christ!

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, the Lord your God, is God; He is the faithful God who keeps His covenant of love;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for choosing you to belong to His covenant and showing you His mercy in Christ, and pray that His election will humble you rather than stir up false pride;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Matthew 28


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