Nations will see and be ashamed, deprived of all their power. They will put their hands over their mouths and their ears will become deaf. They will lick dust like a snake, like creatures that crawl on the ground. They will come trembling out of their dens; they will turn in fear to the Lord our God and will be afraid of you. Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea. You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.
I took an extended hiatus from my float through the Bible to prepare and lead a group of students on a study abroad trip to Haiti. I enjoy doing these trips, but they consume most of my energy and it takes a few days to recover once I get home. I am back on the water today, and this is the last water-related passage in the book of Micah. I have been stuck in the Micah “eddy” for some time now and I am looking forward to moving ahead into the next stretch of river, the book of Nahum.
This passage starts with a rebuke of sorts, “Nations will see and be ashamed, deprived of all their power.” So although the nations know that they are running from God and His ways, “they will put their hands over their mouths and their ears will become deaf.” This self-imposed blindness and deafness reminds me of our current culture and what is happening in the world today. People refuse to see or listen to one another and to God. I have never been blind, but as I get older my hearing is definitely not what it used to be. When we lose the ability to see and hear we lose the ability to understand.
In the middle of the passage is a prophetic “reflection of Him“. It says “Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?” Who indeed! This sounds like a clear reference to Jesus and His coming forgiveness and grace. He came to bring site to the blind and hearing to the deaf, but only those who are willing to accept the forgiveness He offers will have eyes to see and ears to hear.
The water reference comes toward the end of the passage when it states that God will “hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.” The depths of the sea is a very dark and cold place. A place separated from all of the light and warmth that gives us life. The more I chew on this word picture the more I realize that the “depths of the sea” is an appropriate place to send our sins. In some ways it seems like a better metaphor for our separation from God than some of the images of Hell that populates our culture. It is not a place I would choose to dwell.
I am not sure why many of our images of Hell tend to involve fire and brimstone. This image of a cold dark place riddled with sin and separation sounds in many ways more horrible than eternal flames. It also fits with the way it seems we can become separated from God. God allows us the freedom to choose our own path in this world, to float away from Him if we choose and sink into the depths of our own transgressions. Thankfully it is God’s “delight to show mercy”. We just have to accept it.
Prayer: Thank you God for separating us from the Cold dark place that contains our transgressions.