m Who is a God like you,
n pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression n for the remnant of his inheritance?
o He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will p again have compassion on us;
q he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
r You will cast all our 1 sins into the depths of the sea.
s You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
t as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.
68 g “Blessed be the Lord h God of Israel, for he has i visited and j redeemed his people 69 and k has raised up l a horn of salvation for us m in the house of his servant David , 70 n as o he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old , 71 p that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 q to show the mercy promised to our fathers and r to remember his holy s covenant , 73 t the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies , might serve him u without fear, 75 v in holiness and righteousness before him w all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called x the prophet of y the Most High; for z you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people a in the forgiveness of their sins , 78 because of the b tender mercy of our God , whereby c the sunrise shall d visit us 1 e from on high 79 to f give light to g those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into h the way of i peace.”
God’s Steadfast Love and Compassion 18 m Who is a God like you, n pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression n for the remnant of his inheritance? o He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love . 19 He will p again have compassion on us ; q he will tread our iniquities underfoot . r You will cast all our 1 sins into the depths of the sea . 20 s You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham , t as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old .
18 τίς θεὸς ὥσπερ σύ ἐξαίρων ἀδικίας καὶ ὑπερβαίνων ἀσεβείας τοῖς καταλοίποις τῆς κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ καὶ οὐ συνέσχεν εἰς μαρτύριον ὀργὴν αὐτοῦ ὅτι θελητὴς ἐλέους ἐστίν 19 αὐτὸς ἐπιστρέψει καὶ οἰκτιρήσει ἡμᾶς καταδύσει τὰς ἀδικίας ἡμῶν καὶ ἀπορριφήσονται εἰς τὰ βάθη τῆς θαλάσσης πάσας τὰς ἁμαρτίας ἡμῶν 20 δώσεις ἀλήθειαν τῷ Ιακωβ ἔλεον τῷ Αβρααμ καθότι ὤμοσας τοῖς πατράσιν ἡμῶν κατὰ τὰς ἡμέρας τὰς ἔμπροσθεν
68 Εὐλογητὸς κύριος ὁ θεὸς τοῦ Ἰσραήλ, ὅτι ἐπεσκέψατο καὶ ἐποίησεν λύτρωσιν τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ, 69 καὶ ἤγειρεν κέρας σωτηρίας ἡμῖν ^ ἐν οἴκῳ ^ Δαυὶδ παιδὸς αὐτοῦ, 70 καθὼς ἐλάλησεν διὰ στόματος τῶν ^ ἁγίων ἀπ’ αἰῶνος προφητῶν αὐτοῦ, 71 σωτηρίαν ἐξ ἐχθρῶν ἡμῶν καὶ ἐκ χειρὸς πάντων τῶν μισούντων ἡμᾶς, 72 ποιῆσαι ἔλεος μετὰ τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν καὶ μνησθῆναι διαθήκης ἁγίας αὐτοῦ, 73 ὅρκον ὃν ὤμοσεν πρὸς Ἀβραὰμ τὸν πατέρα ἡμῶν, τοῦ δοῦναι ἡμῖν 74 ἀφόβως ἐκ χειρὸς ^ ἐχθρῶν ῥυσθέντας λατρεύειν αὐτῷ 75 ἐν ὁσιότητι καὶ δικαιοσύνῃ ἐνώπιον αὐτοῦ // πάσαις ταῖς ἡμέραις \\ ἡμῶν. 76 καὶ σὺ ^ δέ, παιδίον, προφήτης Ὑψίστου κληθήσῃ, προπορεύσῃ γὰρ ^ ἐνώπιον κυρίου ἑτοιμάσαι ὁδοὺς αὐτοῦ, 77 τοῦ δοῦναι γνῶσιν σωτηρίας τῷ λαῷ αὐτοῦ ἐν ἀφέσει ἁμαρτιῶν αὐτῶν, 78 διὰ σπλάγχνα ἐλέους θεοῦ ἡμῶν, ἐν οἷς ^ ἐπισκέψεται ἡμᾶς ἀνατολὴ ἐξ ὕψους, 79 ἐπιφᾶναι τοῖς ἐν σκότει καὶ σκιᾷ θανάτου καθημένοις, τοῦ κατευθῦναι τοὺς πόδας ἡμῶν εἰς ὁδὸν εἰρήνης.
2 1 Καὶ ὑμᾶς ὄντας νεκροὺς τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ ταῖς ἁμαρτίαις ^ ὑμῶν, 2 ἐν αἷς ποτε περιεπατήσατε κατὰ τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, κατὰ τὸν ἄρχοντα τῆς ἐξουσίας τοῦ ἀέρος, τοῦ πνεύματος τοῦ νῦν ἐνεργοῦντος ἐν τοῖς υἱοῖς τῆς ἀπειθείας· 3 ἐν οἷς καὶ ἡμεῖς πάντες ἀνεστράφημέν ποτε ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις τῆς σαρκὸς ἡμῶν, ποιοῦντες τὰ θελήματα τῆς σαρκὸς καὶ τῶν διανοιῶν, καὶ ^ ἤμεθα τέκνα φύσει ὀργῆς ὡς καὶ οἱ λοιποί· 4 ὁ δὲ θεὸς πλούσιος ὢν ἐν ἐλέει , διὰ τὴν πολλὴν ἀγάπην αὐτοῦ ἣν ἠγάπησεν ἡμᾶς,
FB Live notes (Dec. 8/20): This prophecy is a complex and beautiful tapestry, woven with countless strands of redemptive truth, using the colours of the Exodus, and of the covenants with Abraham and David. ---------- THOUGHTS FOR #3 It was difficult to discern the large-scale structure of these verses. How do you divide up 19-20? Notice the parallels both between 19ab and 19c (relating to sin) and between 19c and 20 ("you" instead of "he"). Thus 19c is at the heart of 19-20. And then how do you divide up the whole passage? 19a-b, with its "he" (like 18d-e and its "will" (like 19c-20c), functions as a transition from who God is to what he will do . This is a division of time and of theme . But notice also that "you" begins the passage and ends it (18a-c and 19c-20c). So you could divide the passage into 18 and 19-20 (who God is and what he will do). Or into 18a-c and 19c-20c as bookends, with 18d-19b as a center section. I chose to do the former. Notice how God's character is the Ground for his destruction of his people's sin. The security of our salvation is based on who God is , out of which flows what he does . ---------- POINTS FOR #4 "The community rise in spirit far above their doleful environment in joyful, lilting contemplation of the grace of God. ... [W]ith an insight born of richer experience, God’s people have come to see that his majesty is most evident in his grace " ( Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah , The New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1976), 401.) And this is true in spite of the many condemnations of Israel's horrible sin throughout Micah! " But if the people of God find themselves in a new and awesome situation, t he language they use is hallowed by long tradition. It echoes the classic characterization of Yahweh in Exod. 34:6f . as the God “who forgives wrong, rebellion, and sin,” who is “slow to anger and full of constant love.” The God of ancient Israel has not changed; he has remained the same down to the present. A new generation take up the old formulation and make it their own by faith. They look away from their wrath-laden situation and affirm again, as they had at the outset in vv. 8f ., that this must be a temporary phenomenon. Now they argue from the character of God: it is grace that better reveals his very heart " (Allen, 402). "The community delve further back into their religious past to find an even deeper foundation for their confidence. They lay claim to patriarchal promises. At the moment they languish in a corner of the promised land, numerically a vestige of what the nation once had been and spiritually victims of divine indignation. Their situation is the very opposite of that envisaged in God’s sworn pledges to the patriarchs concerning the land of promise, posterity as numerous as stars, sand, and dust, and the fullness of divine blessing " (Allen, 403). What is God's character? He forgives the sin of his people instead of being permanently angry, because of how much he delights in covenant faithfulness. There is a balance here, because God does get angry about sin. But we must not go too far with this balance: the Bible emphasizes God's mercy and love more than his wrath. I'd say it like this: God shows anger, but he is not anger; God shows love, and he is love. From eternity past, God has been love, existing in a perfect, triune community. He did not show wrath, because there was nothing to be angry about! God does show anger against sin, but that doesn't reveal the depths of his heart the way his love does. So in spite of the dark reality about us in Ephesians 2:1-3, an echo of the book of Micah's long descriptions of Israel's sin, Ephesians 2:4 calls God "rich in mercy." Dane Ortlund points out that this is the only place God is called "rich" in something (p. 171). God "is a billionaire," as Ortlund says, "in the currency of mercy" (p. 172); he is constantly spending freely, without stopping! Or to use another metaphor, God is like a gushing fountain, never running dry, always pouring out mercy and love and kindness. He is not a fountain of wrath, always pouring out anger and frustration and judgment - no! That is not who he is . To quote from Ortlund again, "the Bible is one long attempt to deconstruct our natural vision of who God actually is" (p. 148). And what if we could not only read about God being like this, but see him? What if this love and mercy took on legs and walked around this earth? What would that look like? It would look like Jesus - healing, forgiving, weeping, embracing, and then dying our death on a cross. By being trampled under the feet of sinners, Jesus trampled our iniquities underfoot. By being cast out of his Father's presence, Jesus cast our sins into the depths of the sea. As promised to Jacob, to Abraham, God showed mercy on us in Jesus Christ. So Zechariah borrowed this language, showing its ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ! His use of this passage highlights the truth that God's grace and forgiveness shines brightest, and is accomplished through, Jesus Christ, the pinnacle of God's revelation, the embodiment of God's mercy and steadfast love. ----------- APPLICATIONS OF #5 So where are you? Are you struggling with some sin? Do you deserve God's chastisement, or have you already been experiencing it? See God's heart for you in Jesus Christ and turn from your sin; you can run into his arms like the prodigal son, for you will surely find them wide open with his heart ready to rejoice at your return.