Who is a God like you?
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. 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.”
This passage links the uniqueness of YHWH, the one true God (“who is a God like you?”) with His forgiveness of sins. One of the ways that YHWH towers above the false gods of the world and of other religions – one of the ways He declares Himself to be the “I AM” before whom there is no other – is found in His passing over transgressions for the remnant of his inheritance.
But – do other gods not forgive sins? Is there not forgiveness in Islam? In Hinduism? In Shinto? In Animism? Are there not other gods who have avenues of forgiveness/appeasement open to mankind? Indeed, there are. So then, why is YHWH distinguished by His forgiveness of sins?
The answer is at least two fold. The first part is that YHWH alone is the one who has been sinned against by mankind (Ps.51:4). False gods are either imaginations or demons, and in either case, they have no more right to forgive one human sin than I have to forgive the US national debt. So, the first reason YHWH is distinguished in His forgiveness of sins is that He alone has been sinned against and therefore He alone has the right to forgive.
The second thing is what I want to focus on, and that is how He forgives sins, namely, through the cross of Christ. In examining the cross and how it reveals the uniqueness of the YHWH, let’s look quickly at two elements of it from this passage in Micah. First the rationale of the cross and secondly the achievement of the cross.
The Rationale of the Cross
“He does not retain His anger forever because He delights in steadfast love.”
How is it that God – who has righteous anger toward our sins (Ps.7:11) is able to not retain this anger forever, especially if we continue to sin in this life? The answer is that the anger of God toward His people does not last forever because it is spent on His beloved Son at the cross….and what this verse tells us is that the cross happened because of what God delights in.
“because He delights in steadfast love.”
The Triune God delights in steadfast love. He delights in His own unshakable, un-breakable, ever faithful covenant commitment to His people. He delights in this. He rejoices to keep His faithful love to those whom He has chosen. And it was this delight, this joy, that led to the cross.
So, the cross was born out of delight….it was born out of the delight of God to manifest His love to His wayward people. Christ’s crucifixion is not a sad, last ditch effort to save a people gone wrong…it is not a wicked turn of events against God and for Satan….it is not the only means by which God could have saved us, constrained as He was by some outside law….NO – The cross of Christ happened because YHWH, Father, Son, and Spirit, DELIGHTS in steadfast love.
It should also be noted that steadfast love is merely an aspect of God’s own nature, Exodus 33:6-7. Therefore, by delighting in steadfast love, He is delighting in His own character, i.e., in His glory. This also is crucial to grasp. God forgives because it manifests His glory…..and there is no greater manifestation of it, no greater communication of steadfast love and faithfulness, than at Calvary.
So – the cross proclaims that there is no God like YHWH because the cross was born out of and perfectly displays the Triune God’s infinite pleasure in His own covenant commitment to undeserving sinners.
The Achievement of the Cross
“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.”
A second way that the cross proclaims that YHWH is God and there is no other is by what it achieves (and how it achieves it).
At the cross, the Holy God obliterates the sins of His people. He throws them to the ground, tramples them underfoot, and drowns them in an ocean of wrath – the cross is, without putting it too severely, the eternity of Hell localized in space and time. And yet this outpouring of judgment is also compassionate. How? Because it is not His people who bear it, but God Himself in the person of Christ.
All the gods of the world stagger backward and are exposed as frauds at this! What god has ever carried the sins of His people!? What god has ever laid down His life for His people!? What god has ever been trampled under divine wrath and cast into the depths of abandonment, embodying He peoples’ sin!? ….all because He delights in steadfast love and mercy…? What god is like YHWH, Father, Son, and Spirit?
The answer is, there is no god like Him….there is NO GOD like the One True God of scripture, and He declares this climactically on Calvary, where our sins are trampled and banished to the depths – utterly forgiven by the only one who has the right to do so.
And He does this because He is “YHWH, YHWH, a God merciful and gracious, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exodus 34:6).