Micah 7:18
Who is a God like to you, that pardons iniquity, and passes by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retains not his anger for ever, because he delights in mercy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18) Who is a God like unto thee?—Micah, with an allusion to the significance of his own name, concludes his book with a burst of enthusiastic homage to the God of gods. The gracious character here ascribed to Jehovah is unparalleled in the Bible in human utterances; it is the response of the prophet to the glorious words spoken by Jehovah of Himself (Exodus 34:6-7). The promise there made to Moses is here extended by the inspiration of the prophet to the Gentiles. The “remnant” refers to the returned from the captivity.

Micah 7:18-19. Who is a God like unto thee — That is, there is no God like unto thee; that passeth by the transgression of the remnant, &c. — That pardons the offences of the remainder of his people, namely, of those that shall survive the various punishments and destructions brought upon their forefathers for their sins. He retaineth not his anger for ever — Though in his just displeasure he suffered their enemies to destroy their city, and lay their country desolate, and sent them into captivity; yet will he restore them again, and raise them to a state of great prosperity. He will chastise, but not consume his remnant. Because he delighteth in mercy — Because it is his nature to delight in pardoning the penitent, and communicating blessings; whereas to punish, or inflict evil, is contrary to it. He will turn again, he will have compassion — Or, he will again have compassion upon us. He will subdue our iniquities — He will deliver us not only from the guilt, but also from the power of them, so that they shall not have dominion over us. Thou wilt utterly destroy them, as thou didst destroy Pharaoh and his army in the Red sea: a victory this, which can only be obtained by the merits of Christ, and the grace of the gospel. And therefore the remnant, here spoken of, to which God will show such mercy, seems to be chiefly those Jews which should be reserved to be made partakers of the benefits which should be conferred on that nation, upon their conversion to Christianity. Then especially shall God make manifest his mercy toward them, in pardoning all their former stubbornness and disobedience, and receiving them into his favour as formerly; and that in a degree greater than was ever experienced in the preceding ages of their church.7:14-20 When God is about to deliver his people, he stirs up their friends to pray for them. Apply spiritually the prophet's prayer to Christ, to take care of his church, as the great Shepherd of the sheep, and to go before them, while they are here in this world as in a wood, in this world but not of it. God promises in answer to this prayer, he will do that for them which shall be repeating the miracles of former ages. As their sin brought them into bondage, so God's pardoning their sin brought them out. All who find pardoning mercy, cannot but wonder at that mercy; we have reason to stand amazed, if we know what it is. When the Lord takes away the guilt of sin, that it may not condemn us, he will break the power of sin, that it may not have dominion over us. If left to ourselves, our sins will be too hard for us; but God's grace shall be sufficient to subdue them, so that they shall not rule us, and then they shall not ruin us. When God forgives sin, he takes care that it never shall be remembered any more against the sinner. He casts their sins into the sea; not near the shore-side, where they may appear again, but into the depth of the sea, never to rise again. All their sins shall be cast there, for when God forgives sin, he forgives all. He will perfect that which concerns us, and with this good work will do all for us which our case requires, and which he has promised. These engagements relate to Christ, and the success of the gospel to the end of time, the future restoration of Israel, and the final prevailing of true religion in all lands. The Lord will perform his truth and mercy, not one jot or tittle of it shall fall to the ground: faithful is He that has promised, who also will do it. Let us remember that the Lord has given the security of his covenant, for strong consolation to all who flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before them in Christ Jesus.Who is a God - (and, as the word means, A Mighty God,) like unto Thee? He saith not, "Who hast made heaven and earth, the sea and all that therein is" Exodus 20:11; nor, "Who telleth the number of the stars; and calleth them all by their names" Psalm 147:4; nor, "Who by His strength setteth fast the mountains and is girded about with power" Psalm 65:6; but who forgivest! For greater is the work of Redemption than the work of Creation. "That pardoneth", and beareth and taketh away also, "and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage", that is, His heritage, which is a remnant still when "the rest are blinded" Romans 11:7; and this, not of its merits but of His mercy; since it is not His nature to "retain His anger forever"; not for anything in them, but "because He delighteth in mercy", as He saith, "I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger forever" Jeremiah 3:12. "I am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for Mine oum sake, and will not remember thy sins" Isaiah 43:25. : "For although God for a time is angry with His elect, chastening them mercifully in this life, yet in the end He hath compassion on them, giving them everlasting consolations."

Moses, after the completion of his people's deliverance at the Red Sea, used the like appeal to God, in unmingled joy. Then the thanksgiving ran, "glorious in holiness, awful in praises, doing wonders" Exodus 15:11. Now, it ran in a more subdued, yet even deeper, tone, taken from God's revelation of Himself after that great transgression on Mount Sinai "forgiving iniquity and trasgression and sin". With this, Micah identified his own name . This was the one message which he loved above all to proclaim; of this, his own name was the herald to his people in his day. who is like the Lord, the Pardoner of sin, the Redeemer from its guilt, the Subduer of its power? For no false god was ever such a claim made. The pagan gods were symbols of God's workings in nature; they were, at best, representatives of His government and of His displeasure at sin. But, being the creatures of man's mind, they could hot freely pardon, for man dared not ascribe to them the attribute of a freely-pardoning mercy, for which be dared not hope. Who is a God like to Thee, mighty, not only to destroy but to pardon? is the wondering thanksgiving of time, the yet greater amazement of eternity, as eternity shall unveil the deep blackness of sin over-against the light of God, and we, seeing God, as He Is, shall see what that Holiness is, against Which we sinners sinned, The soul, which is truly penitent, never wearies of the wondering love, who is a God like unto Thee?

18. Grateful at such unlooked-for grace being promised to Israel, Micah breaks forth into praises of Jehovah.

passeth by the transgression—not conniving at it, but forgiving it; leaving it unpunished, as a traveller passes by what he chooses not to look into (Pr 19:11). Contrast Am 7:8, and "mark iniquities," Ps 130:3.

the remnant—who shall be permitted to survive the previous judgment: the elect remnant of grace (Mic 4:7; 5:3, 7, 8).

retaineth not … anger—(Ps 103:9).

delighteth in mercy—God's forgiving is founded on His nature, which delights in loving-kindness, and is averse from wrath.

Lest what hath been spoken of this wonderful change in the affairs of the Jews should on one hand be thought to be made for the righteousness or worthiness of this people, or else on the other hand should seem too great to be done for a sinful people, and so any should doubt whether it should be done at all, the prophet, in this and the two following verses, proposeth the ground of all this, laid on the unparalleled grace of God toward his people, who pardoneth their unrighteousness, and then of free mercy delivers them from their afflictions and distresses, changing their darkness into light.

Who is a God like unto thee? some observe that El here used signifieth the mighty God, and so render it thus, the French, le Dieu fort; none but the sovereign, mighty God can or doth forgive iniquity, it is a flower of the crown of Heaven, Exodus 34:6,7 Num 14:18 Mark 2:7. This interrogatory and admiration is a strong negation.

Pardoneth iniquity; taketh away the guilt and punishment too by his pardon.

Passeth by; a from of speech used amongst us when we promise not to pursue an offence, or not to exact the punishment of it, or as if we either saw it not, or voluntarily winked at it, being resolved that we would not make it a cause of quarrel or breach.

Transgression: it will not suit our brevity to inquire the difference between iniquity and transgression, or whether they are here synonymous. and explicatory of each other; God passeth by the forfeits we make, and strips us not of our mercies.

Of the remnant of his heritage: this intimateth the reason why God doth, as well as to the person to whom he doth, pardon sin; that grace which made them his heritage, and reserved them to himself in the common destruction, the same grace doth as freely pardon and pass by, that it may do them good. No worthiness in them to whom it is done, and yet greatest certainty it shall be done, as Romans 4:16.

He retaineth not his anger for ever; though in his just displeasure God did send them into captivity, yet because he doth not retain his anger for ever, their captivity shall not be for ever, he will chastise his remnant, but not consume them, Zechariah 1:3.

Because he delighteth in mercy; all from the exceeding riches of his mercy; it is his delight to show mercy, and we need inquire no further: our God is so wonderfully merciful that it is his pleasure to show mercy, and if a man sometimes may give this as a reason why he doth a thing, surely our God may well expect that we should acquiesce in this account of his doing so. He delighteth to do it, Psalm 103:8,9 Isa 43:25 57:16 Jeremiah 3:5,12 Kings 4:11. Who is a God like unto thee,.... There is no God besides him, none so great, so mighty, as he; none like him for the perfections of his nature; for the works of his hands; for the blessings of his goodness, both of providence and grace; and particularly for his pardoning grace and mercy, as follows:

that pardoneth iniquity: that "lifts" it up, and "takes" it away, as the word (t) signifies; thus the Lord has taken the sins of his people off of them, and laid them on Christ, and he has bore them, and carried them away, as the antitype of the scapegoat, never to be seen and remembered any more; and whereas the guilt of sin lies sometimes as a heavy burden upon their consciences, he lifts it up, and takes it away, by sprinkling the blood of Christ upon them, and by applying his pardoning grace and mercy to them: pardon of sin is peculiar to God; none can forgive it but he against whom it is committed; forgiveness of sin is with him, promised by him in covenant, proclaimed in Christ, by him obtained and published in the Gospel:

and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? the people of God are his portion, his lot, and his inheritance; they are a remnant according to the election of grace, chosen of God, taken into his covenant, redeemed by Christ, and called by grace, and brought to repent and believe; these God forgives, even all their transgressions, sins, and iniquities of every kind; which is here expressed by another word, "passing them by", or "passing over them": sin is a transgression or passing over the law, and pardon is a passing over sin; God taking no notice of it, as if he saw it not; not imputing it to his people, or calling them to an account for it; or condemning and punishing them according to the desert of it; but hiding his face from it, and covering it:

he retaineth not his anger for ever; that which he seemed to have against his people, and appeared in some of the dispensations of his providence, is not continued and lengthened out, and especially for ever, but it disappears; he changes the course of his providence, and his conduct and behaviour to his people, and, hews them his face and favour, and manifests his forgiving love; which is a turning himself from his anger; see Psalm 85:2;

because he delighteth in mercy; which is natural to him, abundant with him, and exercised according to his sovereign will and pleasure, very delightful to him; he takes pleasure in showing mercy to miserable creatures, and in those that hope in it, Psalm 147:11; this is the spring of pardon, which streams through the blood of Christ.

(t) "tollens", Montanus, Tigurine version, Calvin; "aufercus", Drusius; "qui aufers", Grotius.

Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and {s} passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.

(s) As though he did not see it, ignoring it.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
18–20. A lyric passage, concluding the whole book. The prophet revels in the thought of the Divine goodness. Comp. Isaiah 12:1-6, and still more Exodus 15:1-18 (especially Micah 7:11). The form of Micah 7:18 naturally reminds us of the name of Micah (‘Who is like Jehovah?’). The prophet does not mean that other gods have a real existence, but speaks from the point of view of the other nations who believe that they do really exist. The divine attributes spoken of are those which had an increasing fascination for the Jews, the deeper their sense became of their national sins. Comp. Exodus 34:6-7, Joel 2:13, Psalm 103:8-9; Psalm 130:7, Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 54:8; Isaiah 55:7, Psalm 105:8; Psalm 105:10.

subdue our iniquities] Sins are personified as enemies, as in Genesis 4:7, Psalm 65:3.

thou wilt cast all their sins] Perhaps an allusion to the fate of Pharaoh (comp. Exodus 15:5; Exodus 15:10).Verses 18-20. - § 8. The book ends with a lyric ode in praise of God's mercy and faithfulness. Verse 18. - In view of the many provocations and backslidings of the people, Micah is filled with wonder at the goodness and long suffering of God. Who is a God like unto thee? The question seems to recall the prophet's own name, which means, "Who is like Jehovah?" and the clause in Moses' song (Exodus 15:11), "Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods?" Such comparisons are made from the standpoint of the nations who believe in the real existence of their false gods. That pardoneth iniquty (comp. Exodus 34:7; Numbers 14:18). Passeth by the transgression; Septuagint, ὑπερβαίνων ἀσεβείας, "passing over iniquities;" Vulgate, transis peccatum. To pass by, or pass over, is to forgive, as Amos 7:8. There is probably an allusion, as Jerome says, to the night of the Exodus. As the destroying angel passed over the Israelites and destroyed them not, so God spares his people, imputing not their iniquities unto them. The remnant (Micah 2:12; Micah 4:6, 7). The true Israel, which is only s remnant (Isaiah 10:21; Romans 9:27). He retaineth not his anger forever (Psalm 103:9). The word rendered "forever" is translated by Jerome ultra, and by the Septuagint εἰς μαρτύριον, i.e. to testify the justice of his punishment. He delighteth in mercy. As the Collect says, "O God, whose nature and property is always to have mercy and to forgive" (comp. Wisd. 11:24). The narrative commences with ויהי, as Ruth (Ruth 1:1), 1 Samuel 1 Samuel 1:1), and others do. This was the standing formula with which historical events were linked on to one another, inasmuch as every occurrence follows another in chronological sequence; so that the Vav (and) simply attaches to a series of events, which are assumed as well known, and by no means warrants the assumption that the narrative which follows is merely a fragment of a larger work (see at Joshua 1:1). The word of the Lord which came to Jonah was this: "Arise, go to Nineveh, the great city, and preach against it." על does not stand for אל (Jonah 3:2), but retains its proper meaning, against, indicating the threatening nature of the preaching, as the explanatory clause which follows clearly shows. The connection in Jonah 3:2 is a different one. Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian kingdom, and the residence of the great kings of Assyria, which was built by Nimrod according to Genesis 10:11, and by Ninos, the mythical founder of the Assyrian empire, according to the Greek and Roman authors, is repeatedly called "the great city" in this book (Jonah 3:2-3; Jonah 4:11), and its size is given as three days' journey (Jonah 3:3). This agrees with the statements of classical writers, according to whom Νῖνος, Ninus, as Greeks and Romans call it, was the largest city in the world at that time. According to Strabo (Romans 16:1, Romans 16:3), it was much larger than Babylon, and was situated in a plain, Ἀτουρίας, of Assyria i.e., on the left bank of the Tigris. According to Ctesias (in Diod. ii. 3), its circumference was as much as 480 stadia, i.e., twelve geographical miles; whereas, according to Strabo, the circumference of the wall of Babylon was not more than 365 stadia. These statements have been confirmed by modern excavations upon the spot. The conclusion to which recent discoveries lead is, that the name Nineveh was used in two senses: first, for one particular city; and secondly, for a complex of four large primeval cities (including Nineveh proper), the circumvallation of which is still traceable, and a number of small dwelling-places, castles, etc., the mounds (Tell) of which cover the land. This Nineveh, in the broader sense, is bounded on three sides by rivers - viz. on the north-west by the Khosr, on the west by the Tigris, and on the south-west by the Gazr Su and the Upper or Great Zab - and on the fourth side by mountains, which ascend from the rocky plateau; and it was fortified artificially all round on the river-sides with dams, sluices for inundating the land, and canals, and on the land side with ramparts and castles, as we may still see from the heaps of ruins. It formed a trapezium, the sharp angles of which lay towards the north and south, the long sides being formed by the Tigris and the mountains. The average length is about twenty-five English miles; the average breadth fifteen. The four large cities were situated on the edge of the trapezium, Nineveh proper (including the ruins of Kouyunjik, Nebbi Yunas, and Ninua) being at the north-western corner, by the Tigris; the city, which was evidently the later capital (Nimrud), and which Rawlinson, Jones, and Oppert suppose to have been Calah, at the south-western corner, between Tigris and Zab; a third large city, which is now without a name, and has been explored last of all, but within the circumference of which the village of Selamiyeh now stands, on the Tigris itself, from three to six English miles to the north of Nimrud; and lastly, the citadel and temple-mass, which is now named Khorsabad, and is said to be called Dur-Sargina in the inscriptions, from the palace built there by Sargon, on the Khosr, pretty near to the north-eastern corner (compare M. v. Niebuhr, Geschichte Assurs, p. 274ff., with the ground-plan of the city of Nineveh, p. 284). But although we may see from this that Nineveh could very justly be called the great city, Jonah does not apply this epithet to it with the intention of pointing out to his countrymen its majestic size, but, as the expression gedōlâh lē'lōhı̄m in Jonah 3:3 clearly shows, and as we may see still more clearly from Jonah 4:11, with reference to the importance which Nineveh had, both in the eye of God, and with regard to the divine commission which he had received, as the capital of the Gentile world, quae propter tot animarum multitudinem Deo curae erat (Michaelis). Jonah was to preach against this great Gentile city, because its wickedness had come before Jehovah, i.e., because the report or the tidings of its great corruption had penetrated to God in heaven (cf. Genesis 18:21; 1 Samuel 5:12).
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