March 13th 2010

In Wrath Remember Mercy

10th of a series of studies from Habakkuk

“In wrath remember mercy.”

Habakkuk 3:2 NIV UK

Is God’s wrath stronger than his mercy?

The predominant message in the Bible is summed up in the phrase, “God is love” (1 John 4:16). Nowhere in the Bible does it summarize God’s essence by saying that God is anger or hate. Habakkuk understands this, but sees the results of his nation’s rejection of God as an expression of God’s wrath. “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil”, he says to God, “you cannot tolerate wrong” (1:13).

Old theories about God suggested that God was always angry and needed to be appeased through sacrifices and rituals. The prophets, however, began gradually to realize that the true God was not like that. He was a God of grace and mercy and love more than anything else. “I will show my love” Hosea says of God (2:23). Micah asks, “Who is a God like you, who pardons and forgives the transgression…? You do not stay angry for ever but delight to show mercy” (7:18).  God’s desire, Zechariah notes, is to pour out “a spirit of grace” (12:10).

Isaiah prophesied that “in love a throne will be established” (16:5), referring to how Jesus, the descendant of David, will rule. The writer of the book of Hebrews takes up this thought. God’s throne is a throne where “we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need” (4:16).

God’s mercy, not his wrath, wins the day. What about us? Is our anger stronger than our love? Would you rather shout than speak softly? If you are upset with your partner or child or friend or colleague, what wins your day? Your wrath or your mercy?

In your wrath remember: mercy comes first.


Great Father, thank you that you are ever merciful to me. Help me please to show your mercy through me to others. In Jesus’ name.


Study by James Henderson

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