Who is a God like You?
“Who is a God like You, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; You will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea” (Micha 7:18-19).
Take a moment to think about all the gifts you have ever received. You will probably remember many fine presents people have given you. Then think of all the mighty gifts God has given you. He gave us so much! Not long ago, I also thought about everything the Lord gave me. And one gift kept coming back to my mind again and again: the gift of his forgiveness.
Sin, Transgression and Iniquity
These three words from the verses quoted above describe the attitude of man. When we translate them more directly from Hebrew their meaning becomes clearer.
“Sin”, for example, means: “To miss the target”, “to fall short of” a certain standard or norm. This standard is God’s ideal intention for man’s life. And, as the letter to the Romans teaches us (3:23), everyone sins, or falls short of this glorious intention.
“Transgression” indicates that we “rebel deliberately”, “purposely go against something.” The Lord has shown us clearly how He wants us to live, but everybody purposely moves in the opposite direction. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities (…) have been clearly seen, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (Rom1:20-21). Instead, every man says in his heart: I am my own boss. I will decide for myself what is right or wrong and how I must live!
The word “iniquity” means: “Taking that which is straight and bending it.” So, man has taken God’s straight laws and has bent and twisted them, adjusting them to his sinful desires.
The Character of God
Micha the prophet describes the exalted character of God. Micha’s words show different character traits of Yahweh. He wishes to “pardon” and “forgive”, which means to “lift up and carry away.” He literally wants to lift the heavy burden from our shoulders and “tread it underfoot”, “hurl it into the depths of the sea”. And once our sins are forgiven He does not dwell on them. “He will not stay angry forever”, but “delights to show mercy”. He desires to forgive, to forget and to give us a completely clean start.
Nothing a man does can make him more acceptable to God. The forgiveness God wants to give us is based exclusively on the nobility of his own character. Deeply aware of all man’s sinfulness and overwhelmed by God’s merciful character, Micha eventually just had to ask this question: “Who is a God like You?”
Receiving and Giving
People who become deeply aware of God’s great mercy also start realizing what a privilege it is to pass on this mercy to others. The Lord puts his wonderful gifts into our hands and says: Take this and also pass it on to the others. “Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death” (Jas 5:20). Take a moment to think of a wonderful gift to receive and to give. Isn’t that the gift of God’s mercy?
Lord, help me to become more deeply aware of your great mercy and the richness of all your gifts. Teach me what a privilege it is to be allowed to break the news of this mercy to others; and for those lands where I cannot go myself, for India where so many are deceived by false religions, to support your work in dedicated and earnest prayer. Amen.