Click here for the reading: Micah 7:18-20.

These final verses of Micah’s prophecy are the faithful response of the Israelite who has seen the salvation of God. The injustice of God’s people and their wanton disregard for coming disaster prompt the remnant to cry aloud to their God. Promises abound, including the promise of a ruler in Israel from ancient days. But before those promises are fulfilled, the Lord’s case is made against his people. They are cut off and the wicked are rooted out. Anger and wrath are prepared and delivered. The mounting turmoil and destruction discipline the faithful to put their trust in God, to wait for his salvation.

The righteous person must have an understanding of God’s indignation over sin. He cannot imagine that God’s steadfast love and pardoning compassion have overridden his righteousness and justice. These are not at odds as they appear to be among men. Rather, God’s mercy impels him to seek justice in some other way than by vengeance against his children.

As God passes over the transgressions of his remnant, as he treads them underfoot and casts them into the depths of the sea, he is also in the land bringing judgment. That means that Jacob and Abraham must trust that there will be shelter in the midst of the storm. Just as the children of Israel trusted that their first-born sons would be spared even as the cry went up in Egypt, so also must the faithful believe that there is blood that has been shed to cover their sins while wrath is poured out on the sons of disobedience. They must believe that they are the ones whom God has sought, whom he has called, and for whom he seeks vindication against the wicked.

Their security rests on the pledge of God to their fathers from days of old. The oath that he swore to their father Abraham is the cord that holds their history and future together. If he is not a God who keeps his word, then they of all people are to be pitied for having trusted and been put to shame. But if He is a faithful God, who keeps his word and fulfills his promises, then they are blessed among men, for God has shown them favor. There can, however, be no uncertainty about which is true of God. He has already demonstrated his faithfulness to promises even as he displayed his glory before the nations. He kept his word, risking his name by offering it to a people who would be wayward and impious. He has held nothing back, sending judges and prophets to keep his people within the bounds of the covenant. He is the good shepherd, whose goodness is manifest in his will to lay down his life for his people.