18 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 underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old.
Several years ago, my sister Holly wrote these verses for me on the back of a leftover welcome card from her wedding reception. It was a precious gift from her, coming just after a difficult period in my life, when the Lord was restoring me and showing me just how loving and gentle He is. The card has stayed in my Bible since then, and its edges are creased and curled from where the paper has jutted out just so from my pocket-size NIV. Having broken loose and spent the last several weeks floating around in my purse, the poor thing was begging to be rescued, so I pulled it out and placed it in my gratitude journal, but as I did, I paused to read the words again…words now familiar but still so cherished. Tonight, I saw them new.
A fresh wind so needed, I read that He delights in steadfast love. The lovely thing there is that it allows me to stop thinking about all of my junk – all of the things that I think make me so ridiculously difficult as a person – and I get to relax into something that does not depend on me. He delights in steadfast love. That’s honestly just such a relief. Slow reading, I see: He will again have compassion on us. Compassion. Again. Not just this one time. One word: again. And subsequently, our iniquities are tread underfoot. Trampled. By Him. Whether we choose to realize it or not, sin always threatens to enslave and embattle us. So I imagine myself, in a helpless heap on the battlefield, and I think of Trampling Feet, warrior-stomping to my rescue. Again.
Three verses earlier in the prophecy, God references the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. Then here we see that He promises to cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. That ring any bells for you? It didn’t for me at first; not until I started doing some digging (read: Googling). Think Red Sea. Pharoah’s army. Enemies literally vanishing into the bottom of the sea while the Israelites are free to run onward, away from captivity, away from slavery, into a life of liberty, rescue.
Now, I think I can say with some confidence that the Exodus story, while I believe it fully, probably does not resound with me the way that it would have resounded with an 8th century BC Israelite. So from my modern day viewpoint, I consider: He doesn’t promise to stand on the shore, carelessly toss our sins into the waves and see what happens…we’d be scooping those same things up just as soon as the tide came back in. No, He will cast them into the depths of the sea. Where they will sink. And stay. Never to be found, thought of, or relevant…again.
Finally, Micah reflects on the faithfulness God has shown His people from the beginning. He has not forgotten His promise to Israel’s fathers; it is as alive today as it was when Abram gazed at stars and Jacob used a stone for his pillow; as alive as when Sarah laughed and Jacob wrestled and Israel and Judah rebelled. As alive as when I sang wandering songs and lifted my soul to another.