How Great the Wisdom and the Love

So I was sitting there in Sacrament meeting, and I’m singing along with the song- How Great the Wisdom and the Love. You know the one – it’s a Sacrament hymn that at the bottom has a little statement that verses 1,2,5, and 6 are especially appropriate for the Sacrament. So of course we are singing verses 1,2,3, and 4. The bread was blessed, and I looked at the scripture reference at the bottom while I waited for a deacon to come by.

“And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also.” (Alma 42:14-15)

So we have a couple forces going on here:

“the justice of God” – and the people are described as being in the “grasp of justice.” So picture God as the judge in the courtroom – maybe an old-west courthouse, just for show. He’s got his badge on that says “Justice” and his gavel is in his hand. This kind of judge has to be tough, dispensing “justice” that is thorough, complete, and unrelenting. No room for wiggle-room here – if the defendant deserves it, the judge has to give all to him with both barrels.

But God, our Heavenly Father, is not like that. He is “a personal, living God, who knows our names, hears and answers prayers, and cherishes us eternally as children of His spirit” (Jeffrey R. Holland). His love, concern, and caring, is immeasurable. So enter into his plan, mercy.

“the plan of mercy” – “Do ye suppose that mercy can rob justice? I say unto you, Nay; not one whit. If so, God would cease to be God” (Alma 42:25). So He provided a way that Jesus, the Son who was like His Father in love immeasurable, volunteered to do His Father’s will, and step inbetween us, the defendant, and the justice of God, taking the punishment – anguish of soul, and pain that we still cannot not comprehend – upon Himself.

Listen, and you can hear the exchange as He acts as your advocate with the Father, pleading your cause before Him, saying: “Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” (See Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5)

So then I read verse six, and sung it quietly to myself, and wished everyone in the congregation could understand the words with the insight I had just gleaned:

How great, how glorious, how complete
Redemption’s grand design,
Where justice, love, and mercy meet
In harmony divine!
(Hymns, How Great the Wisdom and the Love, no. 195)

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