God, give us a glimpse into the depths of Your grace. Amen.
Text: Micah 7:18-20
Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy. He will again have compassion on us, and will subdue our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and mercy to Abraham, which You have sworn to our fathers from days of old.
This is the glorious outcome of God’s harsh judgment, which Micah proclaims upon Israel. This is the outcome for Israel! “Who is a God like You?” The name Micah means: “Who is like Yahweh?” But the glorious thing with our God, which the prophet marvels over, is His indescribable mercy. He chastens in righteous wrath to make us penitent, so that we put away our sins and go over to Him, but then He “pardons iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage. He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in mercy.” “For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him” (Psa 103:11). So great is His desire for this, that He gave His only-begotten Son that He might have mercy and save us. Don’t we then have to say with wonder and worship: “Lord, who is like You?” “He will again have compassion on us,” says the prophet. “Again!” Take this to heart, troubled soul! If you feel His wrath now, then listen to this little word: “again.” It declares a change. The matter shall be changed again and have a different result. He shall “have compassion.” Our iniquities stand like enemies against us, accusing us, afflicting our conscience, and wanting to kill us. But He shall have compassion and crush them under His feet. Always, when old sins and evil lusts and all kinds of weaknesses raise themselves against us, He shall put His foot on their neck and give us dominion over them. “Into the depths of the sea, Lord God, You will cast the sins of all Your people. You can hide them. You can sink them into eternal oblivion, only You can do it. I will confess them and lay them all in the light before You.” So now, dear Christian, come before God with all the sin you know. Then it is immediately drowned in the bottomless sea of mercy. You shall reveal it to Him. He shall take it away and hide it. And whatever is sunk in this deep – how shall it burden your conscience any more? Can Satan rekindle the spark that is extinguished in this great sea? Never! When he troubles you with thoughts of condemnation, it is a lie, for he is the master liar. But God is true, and His Word shall remain: “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins” (Isa 43:25). Your sin is not only forgiven, but also eternally forgotten.
God, Your oath stands firm. You have saved us from the hand of our enemies, and we shall serve You without fear in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. But soon let mercy toward Abraham and faithfulness toward Jacob come over them “again.” Amen.
And though your sin seems ever more,
It little can be bringing
Against the pow’r of God’s true Word,
His gracious kingdom shining;
All anywhere who do believe,
The grace of God they shall receive,
Of ev’ry land and people.
Can such a one God’s love attain
And enter into heaven?
His wrath indeed He shall retain
If you refuse what’s given;
But come and true repentance show,
You shall His love and goodness know,
As Scripture clearly teaches.
Brorson: Vanmægtig Sjæl, hvi gaar du saa L 51:7-8 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Es ist das Heil (ELH 227); alternate hymn: Praise the Almighty, my soul, adore Him ELH 497