Because I have sinned against him, I will bear the Lord’s wrath, until he pleads my case and upholds my cause. He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.
Micah is a minor prophet who prophesied during the chaotic era of kings before the destruction of Israel and Judah. Like most other prophets of that time, he prophesied largely about the judgement of God and the destruction of Israel and Judah, without leaving out the idea of restoration of God’s people to God – it is a great trend for prophets, especially of those times, to first be utterly brutal and harsh in reprimanding the people and speaking of punishment and destruction, and then subsequently, when all seems bleak, to prophesy about hope. By and large the theme of the book of Micah was about judgement now, blessings later. In Micah 7, we see the prophet lamenting for Israel before speaking on the promise that Israel will rise again. The first 7 verses speak perhaps for the remnants of the faithful in Israel and the plight that besieges them. In the next 6 verses, however, Micah changes his tone and warns the enemies of Israel not to rejoice, for though I have fallen, I will rise. He will bear the indignation of the Lord, and he knows that eventually the Lord will plead his case and execute justice for him. In this study, we will examine what it means to bear the Lord’s wrath as sinners, and explore the promise that Micah speaks of.
There are consequences to bear upon sinning
It was lamented, Why should the living complain when punished for their sins? [Lam 3:30]. Often, we do not even realise that we have sinned, and because we do not realise it, we complain. Punishment of sins exist in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Some are severe. Some are mild. Some last for generations. Some are instantaneous. When we are punished for our sins, we suffer. When we suffer, there are two options left to take – to repent and come before the Lord; or to, as Job’s wife so famously put it, ‘curse God and die’ [Job 2:9|Article]. There are many different kinds of suffering, and it is certainly not fair to compare one to another, but somebody told me recently that the worst suffering of all is to be without God. If you’re already in pain, and you choose to turn against God at that point, it’s like adding salt to your own wounds – the suffering of sufferings. There is reason to turn to God in spite of your pain – for God’s wrath do not last forever. When you turn back to him, confess your sins and seek for forgiveness, deliverance will come.
But God’s wrath do not last forever
If God bears a grudge forever, it would have been meaningless to turn to God in our pain and suffering. If God’s anger lasts forever, we’ll be doomed eternally the moment we commit our first sin – can you even recall when that was? Because God’s wrath doesn’t last forever, we have hope for the future. We are given the chance to repent. We are given the chance to be led out of the darkness and brought into the light. Our God cause grief, but even more so, he is filled with mercy and grace. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love [Lam 3:32|Article]. Even in his wrath, he remembers mercy [Hab 3:2].
In this passage, Micah warns the enemies of Israel not to gloat, because while they fall and suffer, it is only temporary. They will repent, and God will forgive them. Indeed they have sinned, but the iniquities of their enemies against them have not been forgotten – God will eventually serve justice for them. We Christians believe that after Friday, Sunday will come. Even though it is night now, daybreak is approaching. Even though it is dark now, God will bring us into the light. It’s like we’ll be brought out of the dungeon, the cave, the prison and bask in the glory of God. And when we are in the light, we’ll see clearly the glory of God. That is when we can only exalt his name and praise him for he is good, righteous and right – whether his punishment or his vengeance; be it his forgiveness or his faithfulness.
Sin is not the only cause of Suffering. The book of Job teaches us that. But there are indeed times when we suffer and we know that we’ve brought that misery and trouble upon ourselves through our own foolishness or wrongdoing. In times like these, what would you do? Would you repent? Or would you not? If you would not, why would you not? Let’s put this into a narrower perspective:
Imagine you robbed somebody and got caught. You go through trial, and was sentenced to some time in the prison. You become terribly bitter against the court, the country and its laws for sending you to jail, for carrying out a punishment against you, and you refuse to cooperate while serving your time, causing as much trouble as you possibly could. When you finally are released, you begin to ignore the laws and statures of the nation and do your best to break as many laws as you can get away with. You get caught again with a bigger crime, and the cycle repeats again and again.
It doesn’t quite make sense, does it, if you do not repent? Maybe I am too innocent, or maybe my scenario was too simplified. But if you really think about it seriously, isn’t it complete foolishness on our own parts to not repent for our sins?
I know, it’s easy to say that now, but difficult to truly, genuinely come before the Lord in repentance. Well, practice makes perfect?