The Heart of Micah (7:18-20)

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Micah 7:18-20 ESV

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. 19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. 20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.

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We have been spending some time among the Old Testament prophets. God gave us the messages of the prophets because their messages were intended to outlast them. The Old Testament poetry expressed the heart of the people of God, but the prophets expressed the heart of God. They showed God’s reaction to the world that he created.

We should expect to get a clear picture of what God is like by reading the prophets. Nowhere is that more obvious than the writings of Micah.

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Micah can be dated from “probably before the fall of Samaria in 722/21 B.C. to Sennacherib’s march to Judah in 701 B.C.” The prophet Micah lived during the times of three kings of Judah–Jotham (750-732/35), Ahaz (735-713/16), and Hezekiah (716-687) (David Malick).

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That makes Micah a lesser known contemporary of Isaiah. He was probably quoting Isaiah 2 in his mountain prophecy of Micah 4. Both prophets spoke for God during a time when the nations all around Judah were gaining prominence. It seemed like God’s people were in danger of being lost. The mountain prophecies encouraged God’s people to live by the light of his word, because some day all the nations would come to Jerusalem to be taught God’s word. This was also a time of warfare and bloodshed, but both prophets spoke of a time of peace, when the weapons of war would be turned into instruments of agriculture.

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Micah concludes his prophecy by highlighting one characteristic of the LORD. It is his steadfast love (18,20). This is that special term chesed that I have mentioned before. It refers to God’s loyalty to his covenant people. I think that God had this word in mind when he instructed his people to make a sign on their doorposts at the Passover. That sign would look like the Hebrew letter Chet, which is the first letter in Chesed.

Micah proclaimed that God’s steadfast live is like the Passover. He forgives our sins by passing over them because of the blood of the Lamb. That Passover lamb represented Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

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Micah also predicted that God would again have compassion on his people and tread their iniquities under foot. The picture, I believe, is that of the conquest, when God went before Israel and gave them victory over their enemies. But the enemies of which Micah speaks are sins. These are our true enemies. There are three categories of sin: 1) transgressions, 2) sins against conscience, 3) sins of omission. God loves us so much that he does not want to just pass over our sins, he wants to defeat them – to tread them under his feet. This life – this Christian life – is the time in which he wants to do that for us.

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Micah proclaims that God’s steadfast love will yet do one more thing to put an end to sin in our lives. He will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. I think Micah is harking back to the time when Israel was leaving Egypt and they were being pursued by Pharaoh’s armies. God drowned the enemy’s troops in the Red Sea, but let his people pass through the Sea. Casting sins into the depths of the sea is a way of getting rid of them forever. They are not on the shore for us to see again every low tide. They are drowned, forgotten, forgiven. This is what God is going to ultimately do for us.

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What has God’s steadfast love done for you today? Perhaps you are here today, and you cannot even say that you know that you are forgiven. You can have forgiveness today, and you don’t have to do anything for it. Christ was the Passover lamb. Accept God’s forgiveness today.

Perhaps you are here today, and you have been struggling with some personal sin. God wants to tread your iniquities under his feet. Give him free reign over your life, and let him defeat your real enemies.

Perhaps you have some regrets. You know you are forgiven, and you no longer commit those sins anymore, but you just can’t quite forgive yourself. God wants to take those sins and drown them in the depths of the sea.

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LORD, we want to experience the fullness of your grace today.

For those of us who have never come to you before, give forgiveness.

For those of us who are struggling with personal sins, give us victory.

For those of us who are hanging on to past regrets, give us the courage to forget what you promised to forget.

There is no God like you, LORD. Thank you for your steadfast love.

Time Travel

2011-calendar-800 I have always been fascinated by the concept of time travel. Among my favourite movies are those in which the characters travel through time in some way. These include Frequency, Deja Vu, Timeline, and the Back to the Future series. Who among us would not like to go back to our past to correct some oversight, or to let someone know that you care about them who is no longer here to hear it.

Of course, there is usually a twist in the movie plots. Fixing one problem winds up causing several other. In Frequency, the hero saves his father from a fire, and inadvertently causes many others to die. In Back to the Future, Doc Brown regrets that he ever made that infernal time travel machine, and orders Marty to destroy it.

I think my fascination with time travel is actually growing as I get older, even though I am not as much a fan of sci-fi as I have been.  I have almost lived five decades and along the way I have made some decisions which have mapped out my life for me. Some of those decisions I cannot undo. Time travel movies let me toy with the idea of “what if I had…”

Movies like this are also a reminder for me to take advantage of the time that I have. It is a precious resource, and must be used wisely. I hate the thought of spending heaps and gobs of time on things that do not really matter – things that are insignificant.

It isn’t that I am afraid of death. I am angry at death. Death is an end. And, even though I am a Christian, and I believe in a resurrection unto eternal life, I resent the fact that I must keep losing friends and relatives along the way – and that someday my friends and relatives are going to lose me. The Bible calls death an enemy. If they read a poem at my funeral, I want it to be “rage against the dying of the light.” 

Time travel movies are exciting to me because they represent an attack against the status quo of life – a rebellion against the tyranny of time. I would love to go back to the time of that first kiss, that first paycheck, or that chance  that I had and blew it. But I cannot go back. The best that I can do is keep going forward in the right direction.

OK, 2010 is history. I do not like it, but it is there. I begrudgingly take down one calendar and put up another. And while I do that I say a prayer to the LORD that this year I waste less time, and invest my time on more important things.