Truth and Mercy Must Marry
- John Moore
There is a wedding that must occur which precedes the banquet between the Lamb and the Bride. It is the marriage of truth and mercy. Psalms 85:10-11 says: "Mercy and truth have met together; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth shall spring out of the earth, and righteousness shall look down from heaven."
Throughout Scripture you find the yoking of truth with mercy. Proverbs 16:6 says: "In mercy and truth, Atonement is provided for iniquity." And Psalms 25:10: "All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth to such as keep his covenant and His testimonies."
This pattern is often found in human marriages. We hosted a wonderful pastor recently who told me: "I look for the good in everyone and sometimes I'm deceived. My wife discerns people instantly and she tells me exactly what she thinks."
The husband here is Pastoral. He may see the shortcomings in people but chooses to concentrate on their potential. The wife is prophetic. She warns of possibly dangerous character flaws. Which one is the better shepherd?
I know a similar couple where the husband's pastoral anointing graces a gentle nature. His two rambunctious children do much as they please under his watch. The wife is prophetic. She disciplines with a firm hand and a stern eye. Which is the better shepherd?
The answer is that neither is complete in itself.
The embrace in Psalm 85 is a clear picture of the need for the prophetic and the pastoral to come together. Must of us know this but few of us see it occurring. Verse 11 gives us a clue as to why.
"Truth shall bring out of the earth," it says. The root word of "humility" is humus, which Webster's defines as "the dark organic material in soils produced by the decomposition of vegetable or animal matter." Truth should be earthy and humble.
Humility is the decomposing of the arrogance of the flesh. While it's not good to be worldly, it is good to be "down-to-earth." The prophet John Sandford often expresses his thankfulness for growing up on an Oklahoma farm because it made him "earthy'.
Unfortunately, few pastors think of prophets as being humble and earthy. They often see prophets as mystical and ethereal. Air-heads, in other words.
The young prophet is often unstable because his "earth" is still the red clay of the Adamic nature. The fierce windstorms of testings force him to anchor himself in Christ. As he dies to the flesh the soil beneath him becomes enriched with nutrients. Rich soil, once watered by mercy from above, can produce life! While it is misperceived that the prophetic is ethereal, there is a mercy that is far more mystical and less earthy than the prophetic.
The pastor who always looks for the best in people may be operating with a mercy born from false hope. This is sensual and natural and comes from the unredeemed areas of his soul. If a prophet were to prophesy from this realm we would use the terms "soulish", "mixture", and even "psychic." If he persisted his way would be bent into manipulation and control. This we call witchcraft.
False mercy is no better.
The pastoral person operating in unsanctified mercy simply seems like a nice guy. He fits our worldly idea of what a "pastor" should look and sound like. "Love, Acceptance, and Forgiveness" was a hugely popular book born from the pastoral and teaching outpourings of the 60s and 70s. This title symbolizes the ideals (idols) of false mercy: Love. Accept. Forgive. It neglects the severity of God, the chastening of sons, and yes, even the Scriptural shunning of false brethren. It allows for wolves to enter sheep pens and it shelters sin with a false covering. False mercy is as surely from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil as soulish prophecy. There is nothing good in the natural human heart, including innate goodness.
Once human mercy is offered up as a sacrifice Godly mercy can come down from the heavens. It is this mercy -- not mercy that strains to find virtue in wickedness -- that triumphs over judgment.
False mercy will drive the prophetic from a congregation. It sees truth as unkind and intolerant. "We do not see our signs, there is no longer any prophet, " reads Psalms 74:9. Without road signs people lose their way. "Righteousness and peace have kissed each other," says Psalms 85, but Proverbs 24:26 adds that "He who has a right answer kisses the lips." The right answer is often released through the prophetic spirit while mercy without truth is simply flattery. Conversely, truth is likened to wisdom and wisdom is related Scripturally to honey. His truth is sweet.
Truth without mercy causes people to wither. Mercy without truth grows weeds. For the prophet and pastor to marry there must be a spirit of reciprocality . This denotes mutual respect, a giving that comes from both directions. Completeness. Balance. An equivalent counterpart. A reciprocal in mathematics means "the ratio of unity to a given quantity or expression; that by which the given quantity or expression is multiplied to produce unity.'
Math was never my subject, but it seems evident that the combining of separate but equal powers causes multiplication and unity.
In physical marriage, two become one flesh. My wife's tenderness and pastoral spirit has softened and smoothed my rough edges. My boldness and defense of truth has strengthened her. Yes, she is still who she is and I am still me.
In a spiritual marriage there is also an impartation of one to the other. It can be expressed with nouns and adjectives. The Pastor (noun) becomes Prophetic (adjective) producing a Prophetic Pastor. The Prophet (noun) receives an impartation of the Pastoral (adjective) to become a Pastoral Prophet. An adjective "qualifies" its subject. Consequently, the prophetic qualifies the Pastor and the pastoral qualifies the Prophet.
Throughout Scripture the wedding of mercy and truth produces healing in the land and a paved way before the Lord. Proverbs 2:3 even warns: "Let not mercy and truth forsake you," while Psalm 89 says: "Mercy and truth go before Your face."
Yokes are not designed to place one ox ahead of the other. They are designed side-by-side so that two can pull as one. Even when yokes are multiple as with Elijah and his 12-yoke team (24 oxen) the importance is not the placement of the ox but the plowing of the field.
There can be much disputing about which is the "set man", or senior elder in a congregation where there is multiple ministry.
In all truth, the "set man" sits at the right hand of the Father. He who performs the ceremony is greater than those being wedded.