With Mercy Aforethought!
Read Genesis 3:15; Jeremiah 29:1-11; Acts 2:22--24; Revelation 11:15
We learn to say it early, don't we? "You did that on purpose". Even though we are sometimes mistaken concerning another person's motives and actions, there are certainly times when we are intentionally hurt. The term with malice aforethought describes actions that are planned with the intent to do harm, even great harm. Who was the first one to think up such an evil thing? Satan was the initiator of malice aforethought. He planned to bring harm, and he carried out his plan. He showed us what he was like in Eden, as he lied about the goodness of God. In the midst of everything that was beautiful and perfect, Genesis 2:8-9 Satan ascribed malevolent motives to the One Who had provided everything good for Adam and Eve, Genesis 3:1-5. What a way to bring pain to God by enticing His precious ones to doubt His goodness and disobey Him, opening the door to unimaginable grief and pain. No wonder Jesus told the religious leaders that the wicked one was a liar and a murderer from the beginning, John 8:44.
God was there to experience the heartbreak as sin entered the world with its horrifying consequences. What would the Holy One say as Adam and Eve were just beginning to learn about the painful results of their disobedience? Though Satan carried out his wicked lie with malice aforethought, God introduced Hope to His children with the opposite kind of a plan. One that was filled with something different. He introduced "mercy aforethought". Although Adam and Eve wouldn't have known everything about God's plan to put an end to the consequences that had come into the world due to sin, God gave them a promise, Genesis 3:15. The one who had deceived Eve would someday be defeated. God was not taken by surprise, and He had a plan to defeat Satan's malice with His mercy.
We see this same thing in Jeremiah 29:1-11. God's people had been defeated by the Babylonians due to their disobedience. False prophets, motivated by Satan, had told them that they would soon break off Babylon's yoke. They were told to not settle down in Babylon. Satan's plan to entice them to disobey God was given to bring them more pain. Once again, he wanted to harm the ones God loved and perhaps interfere with God's eternal plan. After all, these were the ones through whom God had promised to bring the Promised One Who would undo the curse brought about through Adam's sin, Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16. Yet, with “mercy aforethought”, God sent them hope. He warned them not to listen to the lying prophets, telling them that they were in captivity for His purposes and for His proscribed period of time. It would be 70 years before they would be able to leave. This was part of God's plan, and the Lord wouldn't abandon them in Babylon. In fact, He wanted to give them His blessings there. We so love Jeremiah 29:11. What a precious promise. How wonderful to know that God was overseeing His children's lives. He intended to sustain them where He had carried them. This place that must have seemed so barren to them would not stop God's long-range plan from being realized. God was in charge, and he would bring about the future blessings He had promised. Satan wanted to destroy them by enticing them to disobey God by rebelling against Babylon. In mercy, God encouraged them by reminding them that He had a plan in place, and obedience would bring His blessing.
In Acts 2:22-24, we read an amazing glimpse into God's wondrous plan that we celebrate at Easter. In these few verses, we read about the worst man can do being trumped by God's victorious and merciful Hand. Can you believe Peter? This was the one who denied knowing Jesus, even to a servant girl. Yet, his boldness was evident as he laid out God's plan that included both man's malice and God's mercy. He stated that those who carried out the crucifixion of Jesus were godless. Yet, Jesus was handed over to them because of the predetermined plan of God. What could have looked more out of control than the crucifixion of the Righteous One. The religious leaders plotted and planned to have Jesus put to death, John 11:47-53. Yet, even with this malice aforethought, we see how God planned to use the wickedness of men to bring about the mercy God had promised way back in Genesis 3:15. Whenever we affirm that Jesus is risen indeed, we proclaim His victory over Satan, 1 John 3:8. Although we are not yet enjoying all that God will provide when He is ruling and reigning as King, Revelation 11:15, we treasure the Risen Savior's promise that He will return in the same way that He left the earth, Acts 1:10-12.
Lord, it hurts when people purposely hurt us or those we love. Please bring Your merciful prepared plan into these situations. Happy Easter! He is Risen Indeed!