This post will be the end of our journey through Micah’s prophecy.
The NLT translation headlines this section as,
God’s Steadfast Love and Compassion
If you have been following my study on Micah, then you will agree that what Micah had to say was hard to hear. Much applies to our lives although we don’t want to admit it, but pay attention to the last three verses.
Where is another God like you, who pardons the guilt of the remnant, overlooking the sins of his special people? You will not stay angry with your people forever, because you delight in showing unfailing love. Once again you will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean! You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago. (Micah 7:18-20 NLT)
- Where is another God like you? Many translations say it like this, Who is a God like you, as though there was something out there to compare Him to.
An acquaintance of mine, vehemently said, Jesus cannot come back because not everyone has heard the gospel, and yet those same people who have not heard the gospel serve a multitude of gods, many of which are carved out of the trees or palm branches near them. So then, what is the distinction?
- [It is God] “who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” (NIV)
The ERV translation puts it this way – You take away people’s guilt. What other god, if there is one, does that? Ponder this statement, “You take away people’s guilt,” for a moment. Where else do we see this theme? For most of us, our minds look to the New Testament, but it is a theme repeatedly found in the Old Testament; one example is found in Exodus. Sadly, in the Old Testament, forgiveness was only temporary and required the death of a sacrificial animal, but with the New Testament, Jesus was that lamb, and He too was sacrificed once for the sins of the world. Jesus alone had that authority. Luke’s gospel tells us that this forgiveness would be proclaimed to all. This process we see in Luke’s gospel, how that Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead on the third day, is critical in God’s plan to regain His creation, humankind, back again.
- The CEV translation phrases verse 18 like this, “We are all that is left of your chosen people, and you freely forgive our sin and guilt.”
I have sat in a Bible study, led by a man who is willing to tell you that no Jews advance into the millennium. In light of Micah’s statement, and what Luke tells us, everyone who believes receives this forgiveness and therefore obtains eternal salvation and life with the Father. Religion constantly berates us for sin, almost as if the cross did not exist. But the cross indeed happened, and sins were forgiven. That is one of the reasons why both the Gentile and the Jew are forgiven. The burning question then will be, what did you do with the Son, the Messiah I sent to you? If you are a student of the Bible, then you know that there is a time of wrath coming. Sadly, we the church improperly call this time, the Great Tribulation when it is a time of wrath and judgment. An aspect of that judgment is against Israel for their rebellion and rejection. God told them it would come, and it will, but during this horrid time, many will come to understand that Jesus is the longed-for Messiah God. Understanding and believing are the requirements to obtain this eternal salvation, but once you are in the time of wrath, you must endure what that period holds.
- Many ask, what is God’s character, and how can I know that? Well, here is one of those examples that tell us what His character is – “ because you delight in showing unfailing love.”
How did Micah know that? Because he and others like him were taught an oral history; a history that spoke of examples of God’s love and mercy. There is no doubt that these stories were all intertwined with what seemed like perpetual war, but then that is what this community, called God’s people, has been done since they left Egypt. Why call Israel a community at war? Because their mission, under God’s orders, was to take the land God promised, and there was no way of doing that without conflict; that is why practically every story we read has a thread of bloodshed in it. I could not help but think about Jonah when I read this statement. The majority of the story we get on Jonah shows us a man, without reason, doing his best to escape God’s directive to go to Nineveh. Bypassing all the details in-between, Jonah arrives at Nineveh and exclaims, 40 days and you are dead! This judgment is precisely what Jonah wanted; however, they repented, and God relented – showing them mercy (for the time being.) Where we find Jonah’s real motive is at the end of the story where he says, I knew you would do that! What did God do? He delighted in showing His unfailing love to these barbaric Assyrians.
- “Once again you will have compassion on us.”
While God is always looking for ways to show compassion, the reality is that this will happen after Jesus comes back as the warring Messiah. Then compassion will be seen for not just God’s people, but all who accept Him. 1000 years of peace, a time I have a hard time picturing.
- “You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”
This verse has a familiar theme for me. Compare this statement above with a couple of others. Psalms 103:9-14 speaks of God’s love for all who worship Him, and, how far He has separated us from our sins. Look at what Isaiah says. Jeremiah also speaks of God forgiveness. And lastly, Daniel reminds us that there is a price to be paid for sins – we have laws that uphold those penalties, but God, for reasons not explained in this verse, will put an end to their sin, atone for their guilt, and bring in everlasting righteousness? My opinion is somewhat irrelevant, but I see much of this happening on the cross. The requirement, on our part, is to believe in the Son. I suppose that means that I, in time, comprehend all that He did, but for now, to believe is enough.
- Micah 7:20 NLT You will show us your faithfulness and unfailing love as you promised to our ancestors Abraham and Jacob long ago.
Once again, with men like Jeptha, Gideon, and Samson, all you focus on is the violence as they tried to free their people, but maybe that is where the faithfulness and unfailing love is hidden in the background as God is calling Israel back to Himself. A friend of mine seems to be undone by the possibility that God created evil. He heard Radio Pastor John MacArthur say God created evil. At this point, my friend became so inflamed that he turned off the radio and swore never to listen to Pastor MacArthur again. Perhaps created is an entirely inappropriate choice of words, and here is why. I hate when Pastors say, “this is what James is saying,” this is especially redundant and insulting when it is obvious what, in this case, James is telling us. Consider the logic as we learn that:
- “it is not possible for God to be tested by evil.”
Fortunately, we have an explanation, for God spoke about the person who foolishly says, God put me through this test or evil.
- “and He tempts no one.” (MKJV)
That would eliminate Him tempting or testing you and I. My friend, influenced by far too many voices, suggests that God instilled Adam with evil. If you read the creation account, you see nothing that indicates that, and there is definitive evidence that Adam and Eve obtained the knowledge of evil through the consumption of the fruit of the tree that represented that knowledge.
Let’s play out one more scenario. If God, as Isaiah tells us, created evil, and humankind, in the spirit form, is made in the likeness of God, why wouldn’t Adam know evil as well? To answer the question I need to understand what Isaiah said!
“I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” Isaiah 45:7 KJV
Form – yāṣar: A verb meaning to form, to fashion, to shape, to devise. The primary meaning of the word is derived from the idea of cutting or framing. [Word Study Dictionary]
The word create. Heb. bara, Poel Participle, which with “evil” requires the rendering “bring about.” So I can understand the idea of creation, in Isaiah 45:7, as God brought about.
Light – the Hebrew word ’ôr. It is a masculine noun meaning light. In a literal sense, it is used primarily to refer to light from heavenly bodies.
Darkness is the same word we see in Genesis chapter one where we find the creation account. Most innocently read Genesis 1:2 where it says, “and darkness was upon the face of the deep,” and see the earth as a place that simply had no light. But an in-depth look into a simple word like darkness and you find something ominous.
Darkness – chôshek – the dark; hence (literally) darkness; figuratively misery, destruction, death, ignorance, sorrow, wickedness: – dark (-ness), night, obscurity.
Isaiah gives us one more word, evil.
Evil is the Hebrew word ra‛ or râ‛âh. It means bad or (as noun) evil (naturally or morally). This includes the second (feminine) form; as adjective or noun: – adversity, affliction, bad, calamity, displeasure, distress,
But, in speaking through Isaiah, only moments later, we get this:
“For the LORD is God, and he created the heavens and earth and put everything in place. He made the world to be lived in, not to be a place of empty chaos. “I am the LORD,” he says, “and there is no other.” Isaiah 45:18 NLT
He (God) made the earth perfectly, and, inhabitable from the moment of its origination; and yet, something appears to have happened, and because of that we find the earth covered in darkness – chaos. Isaiah distinctly tells us that God brought about evil. Since God cannot be tempted with evil, nor does He tempt any man with evil, then evil must have come from some other direction or source, and God, in time, had to allow it to be brought forth; we see that happening with Adam at the forbidden tree of knowledge. Jesus told us that He beheld Satan fall like lighting to the earth. Since Satan’s one purpose in life now is to usurp God’s authority and position, then it is safe to assume that the evil, calamity, distress, and adversity came with him.
- [What does the BBE translation of James 1:13-17 say?] “But every man is tested when he is turned out of the right way by the attraction of his desire.”
So, are you telling me that Eve was turned out of the right way because of personal desires? Yes. The MKJV puts it this way – “But each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them.” Having struggled most of my life with self-esteem issues, I asked a counselor that used hypnotism about how this is done; this was important to me as I desire freedom from the fear associated with low self-esteem, and, I have seen stage shows where people do odd things like acting like a chicken. On a positive note, I have also seen a hypnotist get a lady past her morbid fear of snakes. When he was done with her, she was comfortable enough to hold a rather large snake. The counselor I spoke with, told me that the people doing odd things have a deeply inset desire to do those things and that these are the same people who drastically change with alcohol consumption. The counselor also told me that there was nothing they could make a person do if it is against their will. So, the hypnotized are only acting out upon their lusts/desires. In the MKJV you can see that they used the word lusts in James 1:13-17. Many perceive lusts as purely sexual, but it is not. Lusts are only desires that you have, like a fast or flashy car. In the case of Eve, she saw that the tree was not only good for food but that it gave you knowledge. The problem is that it was a knowledge that was not beneficial, for so many reasons; nor did she understand or care that her actions included the genetic alteration of the human species from that point forward – this is the best way for me to understand how we could all be born into sin.