“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over the transgression
of the remnant of your possession?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in showing clemency.
He will again have compassion upon us;
he will tread our iniquities under foot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and unswerving loyalty to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our ancestors
from the days of old.” NRSV
To be honest, until reading this passage from Micah again, it never donned on me how important Micah’s question is in the first verse of this reading., “Who is a God like you?”
Be definition, God can act anyway or be anything that God chooses to do or be. So, paraphrasing Micah, why would God choose to act in this way towards us? Why would God choose to pardon our sins and not retain God’s anger toward us? We all know we deserve it. Why would God choose to have a constancy of compassion for us when we return such grace and mercy with a constancy of ambivalence towards God? Under the rule of any other god we would be toast, wiped out, and humanity 2.0 would be taking our place.
But the God of Abraham and Sarah; Isaac and Rebekah; Jacob, Leah and Rachel; and, Jesus, chooses compassion over control, multiple chances to get it right with God rather than swift and deadly punishment for all the times we can’t get our preoccupation with self and our self-interest out of the way. Our God is not drunk with power. Our God is driven by love.
In Micah’s day, every religion believed in a pantheon of gods, having a god for every phenomenon that could not be explained or for every desire wanting to be fulfilled. Well, every religion but one. The children of Israel were weird in that they only believed in one God, “a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5) who promised to “show steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Ex. 20:6).
And therein one finds the answer to Micah’s question, “Who is a God like you..?” Answer: none! God’s steadfast love for those who keep God’s commandments and the grace extended to find the way to live out those commandments arises from God’s great steadfast love for God’s creation. God chose compassion and grace over judgment and punishment. And, God chose us to be the subject of God’s devotion and the object if God’s love. Thanks be to (our) God!
Be a blessing to some one today!