I was struck by two different examples of the mercy of God in Genesis. The first is the mercy shown to Lot and his family:
As morning dawned, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Up! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, lest you be swept away in the punishment of the city.” But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city.
(Genesis 19:15-16 ESV)
Lot is hesitant to leave Sodom, even though he has been told of its destruction. He seems to be unable to take the necessary action to get up and leave, so the angels physically got him up and dragged him and his family out of the city because of God’s “mercy” to him.
I think if we’re honest, we can all think of times when God has had to grab us and pull us out of our sin or away from temptation. We are weak, and often waver between two opinions, but God in his mercy can, and often does, remove us from the scene of our own destruction as he did with Lot.
In the second case, Abraham lied to Abimelech, telling him that his wife (Sarah) was actually his sister, and consequently Abimelech took Sarah into his harem. Abimelech comes to discover this as the Lord had plagued his household with infertility. Though he had taken Sarah, he did not have sexual relations with her. He protests his innocence to God in a dream and God’s answer is remarkable:
Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her.(Genesis 20:6 ESV)
Thank God that he is merciful enough even to restrain us from potentially devastating sin, as he did with Abimelech. Also, this knowledge should bolster our humility. We may think we’ve been strong and get proud of our ‘sin-busting’ record. Let’s not forget, that it is only God’s mercy that restrains us from acting out the full depravity of our sinful nature!