Q&R with Brad Jersak – “What are the limits to God’s mercy?”


A friend of mine insisted, “God is merciful, but even his mercy has limits.”
And I remembered a talk that you gave.
You: and his Mercy lasts how long?
Crowd: forever
You: how long?
You: How long?
No response necessary, but I wanted you to know that many of us have that voice of mercy in the back of our heads when we hear some “wonk.” Thank you.


Thank you! And while you didn’t require a response, I’ll just add a few beautiful texts to that antiphonal chorus. Of course, I was leading the crowd to join me in proclaiming the refrain of Psalm 136 in the NKJV, which proclaims “His mercy endures forever” twenty-six times!

Other translations of the same verses are likewise beautiful, such as the ESV that says, “The steadfast love of the Lord endures forever,” or in the NASB, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” 

But it has its limits, right? Does it? 

I think of Lamentations, Jeremiah’s heartbreaking description of the siege, conquest, and destruction of Jerusalem. God had warned them again and again, “If you don’t follow my guidance, if you wander from the path the Shepherd has forged, Babylon will come, and desolation and destruction will follow.” And then it did.

If ever anyone could have inferred from their own self-destruction that God’s mercy has its limits, it would have been Jeremiah, the weeping prophet. And at first, he seems to believe God is inflicting the pain, he writes as if God’s mercy has given way to God’s wrath.

But right then, in the midst of the rubble and the ruin, what does Jeremiah say?

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness”

—Lamentations 3:22-23 (ESV)

Unreal. I know that it can feel like God’s mercy has a terminus, because when God warns us not to touch the fire, and yet we still touch the fire, we think God’s mercy ran out.

But nope! His mercy, his love, and his kindness have not once been withdrawn. God is not one to abandon the flock. In fact, right there in the darkness of our ashes, we find the gentle Shepherd, reaching into hades itself to retrieve us.

God’s mercy has its limits? Oh no, my friend. They never come to an end.

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