The Prophesy of Micah
Study by Bob Burridge ©2019
Study 13: Micah 7:14-20
Who Is a God Like You?
Bringing together the great themes of his book Micah concludes by turning attention to the great God of Scripture. Before we look at verses 14-18, the last part of this book is an amazing look at amazing grace.
18. 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 underfoot. 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.
Micah is a book of contrasts and comparisons.
The prophet began chapter seven by looking at his own guilt. His response was, “Woe is me!” But now, looking away from himself to God he says, “Who is like you?” By turning his eyes to the incomparable God of Scripture, his grief is replaced with wonder.
Man’s god’s are no match for the Creator of all the universe. The deities invented in man’s mind are like the people themselves, frivolous, weak and petty. When they looked at Israel, struggling and weak, they laughed at her claim to be the people of the Almighty God, who they said was the King of Kings.
The problem wasn’t with Israel’s God, it was with Israel. Though blessed and privileged, the Jews rebelled. They fought each other for power and wealth. They broke God’s laws and lived to satisfy their desires in perverted ways.
God’s long-suffering had come to an end. His patience had served its purpose and the time of judgment had come. He will not bless forever where his ways are ignored.
But the pagan nations shouldn’t get too proud and cocky. And Israel shouldn’t get too discouraged. One thing had remained the same — God always blesses those who humbly come to him in repentance and his long range plan never fails.
What pagan god does that? With the god’s invented by man there is no hope or consolation. But that’s not the way it is with the God of Scripture, Who is a God like that?
It’s very likely Micah was thinking of what David had written in Psalm 40:5, “You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you! I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.”
What makes the God of the Bible so different? What is so wondrous about Him? Micah shows us …
God pardons the moral guilt of his people.
Unlike the invented god’s of human culture, the Bible doesn’t divide humanity into good people and bad. Scripture teaches that there is no one good, not even one (Psalm 53:3). God told Moses that Israel wasn’t chosen because she was better. He chose the undeserving and made them worthy to show his power, mercy, and grace. Instead of claiming innocence God’s true people admit their disobedience.
The amazing thing about our God is the way he deals with our sin. Notice the verbs used here: God pardons iniquity, passes over the rebellious acts of his people, treads underfoot our iniquities, casts them into the depths of the sea. Psalm 103:12 says, “as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” God made spiritual sons out of moral criminals.
The foundation of God’s forgiveness is his steadfast love.
This “steadfast love” is mentioned twice in this paragraph. The Hebrew word translated that way is “khesed” (חסד) which is usually translated as “mercy” or “kindness”. It appears in this section first at the end of verse 18. God doesn’t retain his anger forever because he delights in this merciful kindness toward his people. He loves them unfailingly. It’s also used in verse 20 where Micah points to God’s mercy toward Abraham. He didn’t choose Abraham because he was so good, but because this merciful love of God moved him to save Abraham. This amazing love of God is revealed to us in his gracious covenant.
Some ask, “If God doesn’t ‘retain his anger forever’ does that mean he changes? Isn’t God unchangeable?” The context clarifies this. To move his people to repentance, God for a time reveals his anger which they deserve. When he moves them to repentance he reveals the pardoning of their iniquity. Both the showing of his anger, and then of his mercy are part of the one eternal and unchangeable Plan of the Creator. It is all done consistently to manifest the nature of God, the seriousness of sin, and the amazing grace of redemption.
This pardoning grace isn’t granted to everyone descended from Adam. No human deserves God’s blessing. He would have been totally just if he let all of the fallen human race pay for their own sins. To reveal both his attribute of mercy and his attribute of justice, in this amazing act of love he determined to rescue some undeserving people and pardon them.
God made that love known by giving his ancient covenant promises. Verse 20 also tells us that God demonstrated his faithfulness to Jacob, and gave his solemn word to the forefathers. God made his plan known. He pledged by a solemn oath to carry out His plan.
In the New Testament, the writer of Hebrews 6:13-14 explains: “For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, ‘Surely I will bless you and multiply you.’ ”
Hebrews 6:17-19 tells about the certainty of God’s word and promise, “So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,”
The promises to Abraham were a hope to Micah, and they are still a hope to us today, because the God who made them remains faithful to his word.
But how can God do that? How can he forgive sin without violating justice? If a judge today just forgave criminals and let them loose we would be appalled. We would wonder if the judge had any compassion for the victims of their crimes. The answer is profound. It’s another reason why there is none like God. He satisfied justice by the work of Jesus Christ. He did not set justice aside.
His pardon is just and fair because of his plan to send the Messiah.
The real victim, the one offended by our immorality and idolatry, is God. Yet his steadfast mercy moved him to love the morally repulsive. That love moved him to swear an oath to the ancient fathers that God himself, the injured party, will pay their debt.
Jesus was born as the promised Messiah to save His people. This Christ suffered and died to meet the demands of God’s justice. On the cross He took their place. He satisfied the demands of the divine court. Pardon could be made for all those given to the Son by the Father. As Jesus said in John 6:39 “And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
“Who is a God like you?” There is none that compares!
Toward his redeemed people
God is their shepherd.
14. Shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance, who dwell alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land; let them graze in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old.
15. As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them marvelous things.
Like needy sheep Israel had a shepherd, their God. He provided and cared for them. As God’s flock, Israel was separated out from the other sheep. Good shepherds kept their flocks where they are safe from dangers, and free from the spread of infectious diseases.
Gilead and Bashan were rich pasture lands on the East of the Jordan. That’s the kind of field where God makes his sheep to lie down. In fruitful fields he feeds them and watches over them. Just as God cared for them when he brought them out of Egypt, when he used the miracles of plagues to convince Pharaoh to let his people go.
The promise of the good shepherd is most completely fulfilled in the coming of Jesus Christ.
There is great hope in this promise: our God is like no other.
There’s hope for the lonely and discouraged. It’s tragic when we feel isolated and alone. When we feel that there’s no hope and things couldn’t get worse.
That’s how the prophet Elijah felt in 1 Kings 19.14. He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”
Yet God didn’t reject his discouraged prophet. He came to him, reminded him of how powerful his God was, then the Lord called him to get to work on a few projects. Having remembered who his God was, and by getting to work for him, Elijah found his answer: “Who is a God like you?”
There is hope for those who suffer when someone they trust and love turns against them. These things happen in our sin infected world. If it wasn’t for God’s grace any of us would do the same.
King David knew the God who is unlike any other. When his son Absolom rebelled David was devastated. Absolom lied to the people, then revolted making himself king. He made his father into a fugitive in the caves of the wilderness hunted by armies led by his own son’s commanders.
Yet David remembered that his God was like no other. While he hid from Absolom David wrote Psalm 3. In verse 3 he said, “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.”
In God’s promise, there is hope for those betrayed by those they trusted. “Who is a God like you?”
There is also hope for those who face a terrifying future. When we anticipate surgery, a job loss, or threats against us, where do we turn for hope?
One of the best examples in Scripture is when three captured Hebrew teens were being forced to worship an idol during the Babylonian captivity. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were told that if they didn’t bow down and worship the golden image they would be cast into a blazing furnace. Since there was no way they could act against their God and conscience, they would not bow down. So they faced a torturous death. God had not given them any special message that they would not die.
They said as it’s recorded in Daniel 3:17-18, “If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
There is no reason to think they weren’t terrified of what was about to happen to them. They understood that they might be burned to death. But they knew one more thing — their God was not like any other god. He would be with them, even in the fire. And he was!
In a way they hadn’t expected. They were delivered physically! But first, they were delivered spiritually, comforted by God’s promise that even in suffering or death, they would not be alone.
Who is a God like that? There is no other.
But what about those who are NOT God’s people?
God will judge the nations.
16. The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf;
17. they shall lick the dust like a serpent, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their strongholds; they shall turn in dread to the LORD our God, and they shall be in fear of you.
“Nations will see and be ashamed of all their might. They will put their hand on their mouth, their ears will be deaf. They will lick the dust like a serpent, like reptiles of the earth. They will come trembling out of their fortresses; To the Lord our God they will come in dread, And they will be afraid before Thee.”
Judgment is a terrible reality. Those who mock the people of God will one day witness God’s deliverance of those they attacked. They will see those they treated so cruelly again blessed by God.
Notice the contrast between these two groups of people in this section of Micah 7. God feeds his people in fruitful fields, but the nations that persecuted them lick the dust. God brings miracles to deliver His people, but to the nations he brings dread. The unbelieving nations have no hope in times of trouble. They experience shame, trembling, dread, and fear. Their gods are nothing like the God of Scripture.
But it’s too narrow to just distinguish between the Jews and gentiles. Micah’s message was to warn disobedient Jews that God would withdraw his blessing from them if they didn’t humbly turn to Him. He also taught that when Messiah comes he will establish a new Zion. It’s not just the physical Zion, the hill of Jerusalem, It’s a spiritual hill that will become a refuge not only for Israel but also for believers from all the nations. Even gentiles who repent and trust in God’s promise are counted as sons of the true God. This prophesy is fulfilled in the New Testament church. One day all will know that there is no god, like the God of scripture.
Micah was “no prophet of doom”. He brought a message of great hope. Though Israel, in her disobedience, will fall for the moment, she will be restored and become a greater, more glorious Zion. Though her people will be scattered in captivity, she will be reconstructed and multitudes from all nations will come in. Though her foolish king will be overthrown, the throne of David will be restored and remain forever in the person of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.
John Calvin, offered a prayer following his lecture on Micah 7, “May we daily solicit thee in our prayers, and never doubt but that under the government of thy Christ, thou canst again gather together the whole world, though it be miserably dispersed, so that we may persevere in this warfare to the end, until we shall at length know that we have not in vain hoped in thee, and that our prayers have not been in vain, when Christ shall exercise the power given to him for our salvation and for that of the whole world. Amen”
We live in that greater age! We have seen the hope of Micah fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. “Who is a God like you?” There is no comparison.
We have reason to dare to take God at his word. Today we sing the hymn, “Great God of Wonders” based on this passage from Micah. The tune was written by John Newton (author of “Amazing Grace”). In his comments on God’s promises in the prophets he once wrote, “… it is our duty to believe the promise, so to expect the good things promised. To be continually in a waiting frame, looking and hearkening after the accomplishment of this excellent work of his, spying if we can see the daybreak, and the Father’s name shine forth to other nations who never had a glimpse of it by any gospel revelation, till in the end, ‘from the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same, his name be great among the Gentiles,’ according to the prophesy relating to these latter times and ages of the world.”
Micah is long dead, but we have his message. The hope and promise of God that he delivered was based on the most ancient promises, carried on through the time of Abraham, Moses and King David, applied in the last days of Israel and Judah, and pointed to the last of the ages, this church age.
We live in that age! The hope and assurances should be more clear to us. If they’re not, its no fault of God’s. As John Newton told us, we have a duty to believe God and expect the good things He has promised us.
When lonely, discouraged, afraid, terrified — hope in God for there is no other God, like the God of scripture.
(Bible quotations are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)
Index to the Studies in Micah