We don’t need to carry a whole lot of guilt as believers, yet many people do. The truth is that God has removed our sins from us so that we don’t have to carry guilt any longer. We see that even in the Old Testament and especially in these verses from Micah 7:18, 19 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. 19 He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities under foot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
There are tremendous truths in just these two verses. They speak of God’s steadfast love and compassion. They speak too of how His love is able to bestow forgiveness. He pardons (Hebrew = nasa) iniquity and passes over transgression. (“Nasa” is used for “forgive” in several of the 600 plus occurrences of that word in the Old Testament. It refers to the lifting up or removal of sin leading to forgiveness.) [see my articles on “nasa” in articles 008 and 009.]
In God’s compassion He deals with the sin of those who turn to Him for pardon. Micah used figurative language to describe what God does with sin. He will tread our iniquities under foot. Kabash is the word for “tread under foot” and means to “subdue, to remove, to crush” iniquity. God destroy its power in His people. He takes it away. Pardon is available as a result.
The other expression in 7:19 “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea” powerfully describes the magnitude of the grace of God in forgiveness. There are a couple of ways of looking at this verse. One is that God takes sins from penitent people and buries them in the depths of the sea, totally out of sight. He takes them away to a place where they can no longer be seen. In the expressive words of Matthew Henry, He casts them into the sea, not near the shore-side, where they may appear again next low water, but into the depth of the sea, never to rise again. All their sins shall be cast there without exception, for when God forgives sin he forgives all.
Another way of looking at this verse comes from seeing how the phrase depths of the sea is used elsewhere. There is an interesting passage in Psalm 68 that has similarities with Micah 7:18.19. Psalm 68:22 The Lord said, “I will bring them back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea, 23 that you may strike your feet in their blood”. The Egyptians had once pursued Moses and Israel into the Red Sea but the pursuers were buried in the depths of the sea and God saved His people. Now in Micah 7, the enemies of Israel who sought to hide from the judgment of God could not escape from Him. He would bring them out from the depths of the sea (where they were trying to hide from God) to face His judgment. His people would have victory over their enemies as their feet “struck” or “waded” in the blood of their enemies. This would be an expression of His pardon in forgiving His people and enabling them to have victory over their enemies. The theme of freedom from enemies could also be seen in the only other reference to the depths of the sea, in Isa 51:10, with its allusions to the crossing of Red Sea. Was it not you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep, who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over?
What wonderful truths we see in these 2 verses in Micah 7. Notice how 3 words for sin are used in the passage, iniquity, transgression and sin. These signify the breadth and depth of His forgiveness. God pardons iniquity. He passes over transgression. In His compassionate love He gets rid of sin by crushing it underfoot and by casting into the depths of the sea. Someone once said that when God cast our sins into the depths of the sea He also erected a sign saying, “No fishing!” We are not to focus on our sins by dragging them up from the depths of the sea where God has buried them in order to focus on them again (a self-imposed guilt trip). Rather we are to focus on Him, recognising that He has done something about human sin in His forgiving love. As forgiven people freed from guilt we should look to Him for the grace to have ongoing victory over temptations to sin as we seek to live for Him day by day.
Blog No.110. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Saturday 26th January 2013.