Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over the transgression
of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in showing clemency.
My choices this morning were between “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer” (Rev. 2:10) and this passage from Micah. Frankly, I’m kind of tired of thinking about what we are about to suffer, or in the middle of suffering, or any kind of suffering. Just for a moment, it feels really good to remember that God does not hold on to anger forever, and delights in faithful love.
If we were having a sort of Biblical Marco Polo game, I think maybe that if someone were to say “Micah” everyone would respond “6:8.” We know that one. We like that one. We sing songs about that one. That one comes in the middle of an accusation God makes against Israel, that she has deserted him - again. And started doing things that were evil in God’s sight - again. Micah is filled with a description of all the things that Israel is doing wrong, what kind of punishment will be meted out to her, and then, at the very end, Micah lifts up his voice to speak to God, and about God . . . Praising God and explaining God.
Prophets hold a strange place, standing between God and God’s people. Speaking to the people on God’s behalf, and speaking to God on the peoples’ behalf. They stand as mediator between an understandably unhappy God, and a suffering people. When we read the prophets aloud, we really should read with three different voices - the voice of God through the prophet, the voice of the people through the prophet, and the voice of the prophet, assuring the people that God loves them, and is happy to “pardon iniquity and pass over transgression . . . because he delights in showing clemency.”
It is good for my soul to know that God forgives. That God will get over understandable anger at our misdeeds. That God prefers forgiveness over taking revenge. This is not the God of my upbringing, but it is the God of my understanding today. And today, on this particular morning, I needed to be reminded of that . . That no matter how far we might stray, God will welcome us back when we are ready, as he welcomed Israel back time after time.
Because God loves us, no matter what.
Merciful and loving God, we are so grateful for your steadfast love, for the knowledge that no matter what you still love us, even if we have wandered off. It doesn’t matter whether we deliberately rejected you or just stopped paying attention. You will always welcome us back to your loving arms, because you delight in loving. And for this, we give thanks. Amen