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Micah 7: God, Man and the Gospel Print E-mail
Sunday, 28 January 2007

I want to begin this morning by breaking our text up into four sections: v.1-7, v. 8-13, v. 14-17, and v.18-20.  I want to summarize what Micah is saying each of these sections before considering what he is saying about God, man, and the gospel.

In verses 1-7 Micah offers a hopeful lament.  I call it a lament because of what he writes in verse 1, namely Woe is me!  From there he proceeds to grieve over the sins in Judah in poetic fashion.  As we have seen before, he makes it clear that Judahís leaders have rebelled against God and led the people astray.  He even talks about how their sin has led to a situation where people cannot be trusted and even good relations have grown sour (see v. 5-6).  Yet, it is a hopeful lament because of verse 7.  Look at that verse with me.  Even in the midst of horrible sin and judgment, Micah keeps his eyes fixed on the God of His salvation.

Then, in verses 8-13 we see an honest confession.  Here, it seems that the speaker is Israel and she is addressing her enemies.  She freely admits that she has sinned against God and that she will bear the indignation of the Lord, which is probably a reference to the Assyrian crisis and the coming exile to Babylon.  Even the faithful in Israel recognize her sins and understand that judgment will come.  Yet, they also know that God will ultimately vindicate them before the wicked nations.  They will gloat over her for a time, but there is coming a Day when the Lord will restore Zion and judge the nations.

Verses 14-17 contain a prayer of deliverance.  This section begins with the Prophets plea on behalf of the people for Yahweh to shepherd your people with your staff, the flock of your inheritance.  Again, Micah looks to what the Lord has done for Israel in the past and faithfully expects His deliverance to come for them in the future.  As the nations trembled before Israel after God rescued them from Egypt, so will they again when He restores His people.

In the last section, verses 18-20, Micah closes with a hymn of praise.  His words here remind the reader of Godís love and compassion towards His people, especially the remnant.  Yes, God will judge all sins justly and Micah has repeatedly taught us this truth, but this does not mean that He is not compassionate, kind, or loving.  Even though men deserve His wrath for their sins, through faith in God, and ultimately faith in His Son, the remnant will be lavished with grace in fulfillment of Godís promise to Abraham and Jacob.

Thus, I think this chapter can be broken into these four sections: a hopeful lament, an honest confession, a prayer of deliverance, and a hymn of praise.  What I would like for us to do for the rest of our time together this morning is to consider the similar message that each of these sections reveal.  In a very real sense, I think each of these sections speak to us of the gospel.  Thus, as we finish up our series on Micah, I want us to spend some time considering the gospel in Micah 7.  Let me break this up into a statement about man, a statement about God, and a statement about the gospel.

First, mankind is sinful before God.

In every section we have listed above, we see the sinfulness of man.  Micah begins the chapter with his lamenting over the sins of Judah.  Look at verses 1-4.  Micah uses the analogy of wandering through the fields in the summer when the fruit should be ripe on the vine.  Yet, there are no grapes and no figs remaining.  He goes on to conclude in verse 2: The godly has perished from the earth, and there is no one upright among mankind.  Thus, Micah in his speaking against the leaders in Judah in this context reveals to us the despairing truth of mankind, namely we are sinful, we have all turned aside, we are all guilty before God.

In the honest confession of Israel, we see her freely admit her sin before God.  She states in verse 9: I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him.  She is not saying to her enemies that she does not deserve what she is receiving from them.  Rather, she knows that she has transgressed against the Lord.  She knows her sins are real and the judgment that she receives is just.  She also knows that the sins of her enemies will receive just judgment as well (see v. 13). 

In Micahís prayer of deliverance we see the theme of Godís judgment against the nations continued.  Look at verses 16-17.  Their pride and arrogance will be judged by the Lord.  When the Lord judges them they shall come trembling out of their strongholds; they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God, and they shall be in fear of you.  In this context, Micah is not talking about repentance or holy fear.  Rather, he is speaking of the fear that will overtake Godís enemies when they realize that they cannot escape His just judgment.

Once again, in the hymn of praise, we see Micah freely confessing on behalf of the people their sins before God.  Their iniquities, transgressions, and sins, are all in need of Godís forgiveness. 

Thus, in all of these sections we see the horrible state of man.  Mankind is guilty before God because of sin.  Whether it is Judahís leaders, the people, the nations, or us, all have sinned against God and are deserving of His just judgment.  Men must be humbled by this great truth of the gospel if they are ever to see their need for a Savior.

Second, God is compassionate toward mankind, particularly His remnant.

In verse 7, Micah brings his lament to a close by taking his attention off of sinful men and onto the Lord.  Look at that verse with me.  It is only when we have truly grappled with the ugliness of humanity that we can truly turn and appreciate the beauty of the God of our salvation.  Micah turns his attention away from the sinful character of humanity and places His hope in the graceful character of God.

Likewise, we see in the other sections this hope in Godís compassion towards man.  Look at verses 8-9 again, which speak of Godís commitment to sinful Israel.  In verses 11-12 we see that a day is coming when God will restore Israel.  In verses 14-15 we see that God will deliver His people as He has done for them in the past.  He will be their shepherd and lead them with His staff.  And God is praised in the closing hymn as the One who will again have compassion on us, who will tread our iniquities under foot, who will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.  God will have great compassion towards the remnant of his inheritance.  Thus, we see that mankind is sinful toward God and that God is compassionate toward mankind.  It is important for us to note at this point that Godís compassion does not negate His anger towards sin.  No, His compassion is holy and just.  Of course, we might ask how that can be?  How can a holy God be compassionate towards sinful man?  This leads us to our last statement.

Third, God will redeem His remnant by faithfully and justly removing their sin.

Because of Godís character, the Prophet can hope in the coming salvation of God and in the fact that my God will hear me.  Yet, how is it that God will not compromise His character in saving man?  We see a hint of it in verses 8-9.  Notice the phrase: until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me.  For Israel, this phrase referred to the judgment that would come upon Assyria and Babylon.  Yet, does this not point to a greater judgment, namely the judgment that fell upon Christ for our sins.  We do not come to the cross in innocence.  We do not come to Christ telling Him how good we have been and why we deserve forgiveness.  No, in humility we cast ourselves before God, feely admitting our sinfulness and confidently hoping in His grace and mercy. 

And notice how the prophet ends verse 9: He will bring me out to the light; I shall look upon his vindication.  Again, the immediate fulfillment of this verse is Godís vindication against the wicked nations and their sins toward His people.  Yet, the ultimate vindication of Godís character came at the cross.  Paul teaches us this in Romans 3:21-26.  Look at that passage with me.  Here is the answer to how a holy God can be compassionate toward sinful humanity without compromising His character.  All the sins of Godís people in the Old Testament had been passed over.  Yet, they had not been forgotten.  Rather, God Himself, by putting Christ forward as a propitiation, made atonement for their sins and all the sins of His people.  Thus, Godís holy character is vindicated at the cross.  Sin is justly paid for by Christ our sacrifice, making God the just justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.  

Through the cross, God can justly pardon iniquity and have compassion on us.  He has justly tread our iniquities under foot and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.  God has indeed redeemed the remnant through faithfully and justly removing their sin at the cross. 

From these three statements of the gospel, let me close with three points of application. 

First, we humbly and freely admit our sinfulness and need for our Savior.  Like Judah, we have nowhere to hide and by Godís grace, no reason to hide.  As a community we can admit to one another our constant need for Christ and His forgiveness.  There is no reason to pretend or try and keep up appearances.  The Bible tells us that we are all sinful and in need of a Savior.

Second, we expectantly wait upon Godís coming salvation as we remember the work of Christ.  In difficult days of constant awareness of sin and rebellion, may we say with Micah: But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.  Even as we come to the table this morning, may we remember Christís words that a Day is coming when we will eat of this bread and drink of this cup together with Him in the Kingdom.

Third, we proclaim the glory of God by telling others of the glorious redemption in Christ.  The message that Micah wrote over 2700 years ago of manís sin and Godís grace is still needed today.  Men still need to hear that they are sinners and that their only hope is faith in Christ.  They need to hear that Godís character demands payment for sin and His judgment is coming.  Yet, Godís judgment has been met in Christ for all who believe.  May we be faithful to such a glorious message.  Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 February 2007 )

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