WHO IS A FORGIVING GOD LIKE YOU – COMPASSIONATE IN LOYAL LOVE?
DESPITE THE PRESENT SPIRITUAL BANKRUPTCY, THE PROPHET EXPRESSES CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S FUTURE BESTOWAL OF FORGIVENESS, RESTORATION AND BLESSING
The prophet has the perfect balance between facing the harsh realities of the present (no matter how bleak and how painful) and yet maintaining his unshakeable confidence that God will ultimately accomplish the victory he longs for. The link between these two widely divergent views is the character of God Himself who demonstrates a heart of compassion and loyal love in remaining faithful to His promises. It is the unique forgiveness of God that is magnified in this closing summary section.
Some interesting parallels can be found in the business theories of Jim Collins in his book aimed at executive management: From Good to Great.
All good-to-great companies began the process of finding a path to greatness by confronting the brutal facts of their current reality. Collins found that when a company starts with an honest and diligent effort to determine the truth of its situation, the right decisions often become self-evident.
This vision, Collins goes on to explain, must be balanced with an unwavering confidence in ultimate success. Of course in the business model the objectives are met by resolve and focus to stay on track with regards to the most basic core competency of the organization (the hedgehog principle). When it comes to the kingdom of God, the Messiah Himself will bring it about according to God’s timetable.
I. (:1-6) PERSPECTIVE #1: THE PROPHET LOOKS AT HIS NATION –
BANKRUPT OF GODLINESS
A. (:1-2a) No Godly Person Can Be Found
Endangered Species Has Become Extinct
1. (:1) No Godly Fruit on the Vine
“Woe is me! For I am like the fruit pickers, like the grape gatherers.
There is not a cluster of grapes to eat,
Or a first-ripe fig which I crave.”
2. (:2a) Total Extinction of the Godly
“The godly person has perished from the land,
And there is no upright person among men.”
B. (:2b-4) Universal Corruption and Exploitation
1. (:2b) Everyone Attacks Everyone Else
“All of them lie in wait for bloodshed;
Each of them hunts the other with a net.”
2. (3) All the Leaders Are Corrupt
“Concerning evil, both hands do it well.
The prince asks, also the judge, for a bribe.
And a great man speaks the desire of his soul;
So they weave it together.”
3. (:4a) Everyone is Worthless and Hurtful
“The best of them is like a briar,
The most upright like a thorn hedge.”
4. (:4b) Judgment is Coming
“The day when you post your watchmen, Your punishment will come.
Then their confusion will occur.”
C. (:5-6) No One Can Be Trusted
1. (:5a) No Loyalty From Friends or Neighbors
“Do not trust in a neighbor;
Do not have confidence in a friend.”
2. (:5b-6) No Loyalty From Family
“From her who lies in your bosom Guard your lips.
For son treats father contemptuously,
Daughter rises up against her mother,
Daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.”
MacArthur: Christ used v. 6 as an illustration when He commissioned the twelve (Mt 10:1,35,36).
II. (:7-10) PERSPECTIVE #2 — THE PROPHET LOOKS AT HIMSELF –
CONFIDENT ANTICIPATION OF DELIVERANCE AND VINDICATION
A. (:7-8) Confident Expectation of Deliverance
1. (:7) Assured of Coming Deliverance – God is my Salvation
“But as for me, I will watch expectantly for the Lord;
I will wait for the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.”
2. (:8) Assured of Ultimate Victory – the Lord is My Light
“Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.”
B. (:9-10) Confident Expectation of Vindication
1. (:9) God Will Execute Justice in Raising Me Up
a. God Disciplines Me Now For Sin – Short Term Pain
“I will bear the indignation of the Lord
Because I have sinned against Him,”
b. God Acts as My Advocate – Justice Will Prevail
“Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me”
c. God Restores Me Ultimately to the Light – Eternal Fellowship
“He will bring me out to the light,
And I will see His righteousness.”
2. (:10) God Will Vindicate Me in Devastating My Enemies
a. Mocking Enemies Put to Shame
“Then my enemy will see;
And shame will cover her who said to me,
‘Where is the Lord your God?’”
b. Spectacle of Their Devastation
“My eyes will look on her;
At that time she will be trampled down
Like the mire of the streets.”
III. (:11-20) PERSPECTIVE #3 — THE PROPHET LOOKS AT HIS GOD –
HEART OF COMPASSION AND LOYAL LOVE TO BESTOW FORGIVENESS, RESTORATION AND BLESSING
A. (:11-13) Messianic Kingdom Expansion and Domination
1. (:11) Kingdom Expansion – The Reign of the Messiah Takes Hold
“It will be a day for building your walls.
On that day will your boundary be extended.”
2. (:12) Kingdom Sovereignty – Nations Will Come to Bow Down
“It will be a day when they will come to you
From Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
From Egypt even to the Euphrates,
Even from sea to sea and mountain to mountain.”
3. (:13) Kingdom Domination – Resistance Will Mean Destruction
“And the earth will become desolate because of her inhabitants,
On account of the fruit of their deeds.”
B. (:14-17) Messianic Shepherding
1. (:14) Challenge to Shepherd – Protect, Prosper, Feed the Flock
“Shepherd Your people with Your scepter, The flock of Your possession
Which dwells by itself in the woodland, In the midst of a fruitful field.
Let them feed in Bashan and Gilead As in the days of old.”
2. (:15) Commitment to Shepherd – Impressive Deliverance and Provision
“As in the days when you came out from the land of Egypt,
I will show you miracles.”
3. (:16-17) Cringing Response of the Nations – Trembling in the Fear of God
“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 You.”
Martin: When God miraculously regathers Israel the nations will see it and be ashamed (cf. 3:7; 7-10) for His power will be greater than theirs. Overwhelmed, they will be speechless and will refuse to hear about Israel’s victories. In humiliation they will lick the dust like snakes (cf. Ps. 72:9; Isa. 49:23), and like animals coming out of their hiding places (dens) they will surrender to the Lord and will be fearful of Israel. These facts must have greatly encouraged the righteous remnant in Micah’s day.
C. (:18-20) WHO IS A GOD LIKE YAHWEH? – Climax of the Book
1. (:18-19) Excelling in Forgiveness and Loyal Love (chiastic structure)
a. (:18a) Excelling in Forgiveness
“Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity
And passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession?”
cf. Es. 15:11; Deut. 33:26,27; I Kings 8:23; Ps 35:10; 71:19; 89:6;113:5,6; Is. 46:5
b. (:18b) Excelling in Loyal Love
“He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in unchanging love.”
c. (:19a) Excelling in Compassion
“He will again have compassion on us;”
d. (:19b) Excelling in Forgiveness
“He will tread our iniquities under foot.
Yes, You will cast all their sins Into the depths of the sea.”
2. (:20) Blessing His People with Truth and Unchanging Love
“You will give truth to Jacob
And unchanging love to Abraham,
Which you swore to our forefathers From the days of old.”
Feinberg: The last three verses of this book are joined to the book of Jonah for reading in the synagogue on the afternoon of the Day of Atonement. Once a year on the afternoon of New Year, the orthodox Jew goes to a running stream or river and symbolically empties his pockets of his sins into the water, while he recites verses 18-20. The service is called “Tashlich” after the Hebrew word meaning “thou wilt cast.”