FORGIVENESS FOR THE RIGHTEOUS REMNANT


The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf; they shall lick the dust like a serpent, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their strongholds, they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God, and they shall fear because of thee.

Who is a God like thee, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance?

He does not retain his anger for ever because he delights in steadfast love.

He will again have compassion upon us, he will tread our iniquities under foot.

Thou wilt cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.

Thou wilt show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as thou hast sworn to our fathers from the days of old.

Micah 7:16‭-‬20 RSV

The great hallmark of the New Covenant lies in the promise of God to forgive the sins of his people, a promise that simply did not pertain to the old covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-35); and, therefore, in Micah 7, we have a certain indication that the passage is Messianic.

Note that the promise of forgiveness here is not to the whole of apostate Israel, but to the “RIGHTEOUS REMNANT,” the true Israel to be revealed in Christ and from which no person, either Jew or Gentile is excluded.

This identification of which Israel would be the recipient of the glorious promises appearing again and again in Micah is the key to understanding the whole prophecy.

Most of the commentators attempting an explanation of these verses apply them to “the abject surrender” of the Gentile nations to Israel in the days of Israel’s coming glory, or to “their prostration before Jehovah with fear and trembling, and their recognition that in none other name under heaven is there salvation.

That latter view is preferable to the other; but we incline to view this passage as eschatological, referring to the final humiliation of all the unbelieving world in those days immediately before the Second Coming of Christ.

The low estate of mankind (crawling … licking dust … deaf … the great fear) does not appear to represent the triumph of Christianity, but a final rejection of it that is prophesied to occur shortly before the end of the age.

The entire 18th chapter of Revelation gives a more elaborate picture of the same conditions in view here.

“Compassion upon us …” This is a promise of forgiveness to the righteous remnant, to all that are “in Christ Jesus.” These last two verses are in no sense “a doxology.”

It is not a prayer for God to do the glorious things mentioned, but a promise that “HE WILL DO THEM.” The ASV should be followed here.

God never cancelled or abrogated the glorious promises made to the patriarchs, like Jacob and Abraham.

The promise that he would “bless all the families of the earth” in Abraham is now being fulfilled in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Messianic age is clearly identified here as the time when those precious promises would indeed be fully and completely realized.

The casting of sins into the sea indicated that they would be put completely out of God’s sight, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalms 103:12), and remembered no more forever (Jeremiah 31:34), and “blotted out” (Acts 3:19).

Before concluding this study of Micah, we again call attention to the “remnant” concept which appears on every page of it.

The idea of a remnant is an extremely important one, it helps to solve the dilemma of how to reconcile the absolute righteousness and the everlasting love of God.

God could judge his people, and destroy them, but nevertheless save enough of them (the remnant), penitent and purified, to serve as the nucleus of a renewed Israel.

Therefore, instead of reading the alternate passages of doom and blessing as the blundering result of some “editor’s” rearranging of the text of this prophecy, may men read the one as applicable to the disobedient, and the other as glorious encouragement for the “righteous remnant.”

Unto Jesus Christ our Lord be the glory, and the power, and the dominion forever and ever. Amen!


Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for establishing all that God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

Acts 3:19‭-‬21 RSV

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