You don’t see it every time, but there’s a pattern in the prophets that’s unmistakable. Amidst the prophets’ warning of judgment there is the promise of reconciliation. Though God, in a sense, was “done” with His people after there persistent, stiff-necked determination towards idolatry and rebellion, and would demand the wages of their sin, yet God was not “done” with His people. Though there would be consequences for their self-determination, there too would be assurances of their national restoration.
And that, because of grace.
Chewing on Micah’s closing words and awash in the grace of God. Whispering to myself this morning the prophets words, “Who is a God like You?”
Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as You have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
(Micah 7:18-20 ESV)
What does our God delight in? He delights in steadfast love. He is pumped by showing mercy. Faithful love, unchanging love — that brings pleasure to our God.
And so, He looks upon a people who, for the most part, had rejected Him, and He still sees within them a remnant of His inheritance. A remnant to be contended for. A remnant to be rescued. A remnant, to be sure, who needed their iniquity pardoned and the transgressions passed over, but a remnant nevertheless. Because that’s what steadfast love is all about. And God delights in steadfast love! Who is a God like our God?
No doubt, a holy God, and a just God, is a God who must divinely bristle at sin and be angered by iniquity. But our steadfast love God does not retain His anger forever. He will again show compassion. He will always be faithful to His promise. That’s the nature of our God. Who is a God like our God?
But take your righteous judgment and your remnant inheritance; take your ebbing anger and your overriding compassion; take your pardoning iniquity and your passing over transgressions; and, in a sense, it pales somewhat when held up against the implications of “treading our iniquities underfoot” and “casting all our sins into the depths of the sea.” Because our God is not an arbitrary God.
By His very nature, a holy and just God, can’t just ignore sin. Though God writes all the rules, His rules cannot violate who He is. Thus, sin cannot just be ignored. It cannot just be given a pass, even for steadfast love’s sake. It must be dealt with. The wages must be rendered. The penalty must be borne.
So for God to be able to tread iniquities underfoot, for Him to justly cast sins into the depths of the sea and still be holy, holy, holy, iniquity and sin had to be dealt with. Sin and iniquity had to be atoned for if it is going to be disposed of.
Cue the cross. Hear again the Victor’s cry, “It is finished!” Behold the Man. Enter the Child born to save His people from their sins. Who is a God like our God?
He delights in steadfast love. So how pleased was our God on that first Christmas Eve when His love was manifest in a manger? Pretty pleased, I’m thinking!
Who is a God like our God? No god!
For His steadfast love and His wondrous grace.
For He is worthy and glory is due forever.