He will again have compassion on us; He will vanquish our iniquities. You will cast out all our sins into the depths of the sea.
Exodus 15:4, 10).
I. THE ENTIRE SUBJUGATION OF ALL SINS. "Sin," says Henderson, "must ever be regarded as hostile to man. It is not only contrary to his interests, but it powerfully opposes and combats the moral principles of his nature and the higher principles implanted by grace; and, but for the counteracting energy of Divine influence, must prove victorious. Without the subjugation of evil propensities, pardon would not be a blessing. If the idolatrous and rebellious disposition of the Jews had not been subdued during their stay in Babylon, they would not have been restored." Sin is the enemy of all enemies. If it is in us, it sets the holy, happy heavens against us. Take it from us, and hell becomes our minister for good. This God subdues. In truth, Divine forgiveness is the destruction of sin in us, nothing else. It is not something outside; it is all within.
II. THE ENTIRE SUBMISSION OF ALL SIN. "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea? Forgiveness is deliverance from sin. How strong is the imagery employed in the Bible to represent the completeness of this deliverance! It is as the blotting out of a thick cloud." See that dark mass of cloud up yonder; how it hides the sun and chills the air! A breeze has sprung up, and it is gone - the sky is azure, the scene is bright, and the flowing air warm with life. That cloud can never come again; no more may thy sins. It is as the throwing of them behind God. "Thou hast cast all my sine behind thy back." Who knows where the beck of God is? I see his face in nature. His smiles are the beauty of the world. I see his face in Jesus, "the Brightness of his glory." But where is his back? It is the fathomless abyss of nothingness. It is a separation as far as the east is from the west. Tell me the distance from the east to the west, and I will tell you the distance which the pardoned. sinner is from sin. It is a casting them into the "depths of the sea." Not on the shore, to be washed back by the incoming waves, but into the "depths." Into the abysses of some mighty Atlantic, where no storms shall stir them up, no trump shall wake them from their graves. "In those days, saith the Lord, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and shall not be found." But where are they buried? In the forgetfulness of infinite love. "I will remember their sin no more." Can Infinite Intelligence forget? Yes, and his forgetfulness is one of the radiant attributes of his character. Does not all true forgiveness involve forgetfulness? Those who say they forgive and cannot forget, lack the faculty of forgiveness; as yet, Heaven has not endowed them with the power of granting absolution. It is of the very nature of love to hide injuries. Charity covereth sins. God has the power of forgetting injuries, because he is Love. I see the power of love in hiding injuries working everywhere in nature. The sea hastes to cover up the wounds which ruthless ships have ploughed into its noble besom. The tree, bleeding with the sores which the woodman has inflicted, loses no time in its efforts to conceal the marks of violence it has received. Day by day goes on, until the year comes round, when, amidst its luxurious foliage you look in vain foe the old scars. And thus, as the waves of the sea and the flowing sap, love ever works. It hastes to cover up from the eye of memory the injuries it has received. How soon the love of a wife buries in forgetfulness any injuries she has received from the man she loves too well! The countless pains which the thoughtlessness and waywardness of children in their early days inflict upon the parental heart are soon buried in the sea of parental love. Love digs in the heart of parents a grave for the wrongs, and builds a museum for the virtues of their children. All this is of God, God-like. Infinite love "passeth by the transgression." He leaves it behind him as he proceeds, in the majesty of his goodness, to diffuse wider and wider forever the blessedness of his own being. - D.T.
And Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea
(Edmund Lilley, M. A.)
I. THE DIVINE ONE AS EFFECTING THE CONQUEST OF HUMAN SINS. "He will subdue our iniquities"; that is, He will tread them down, will trample them in triumph under His feet. The very sound of the words suggests that it is no easy enterprise, this managing of our sins. We are apt to think lightly of sins. We underestimate the terrible capacity of wrong and death which lurks in them, and in each one of them. We yield them quarter, rations, parole, friendship. They swarm round us, and we cannot subdue them. Give your welcome, then, to Him who conquers this haunting throng on your behalf. Here He stands, at your side and mine. With Him beside us the whole matter passes beyond mere hopefulness into utter assurance. "But," it may be asked, "is it not an arduous and a daring task for any one to undertake for me?" It is so much this, and so much more this than you can think, that only the One need attempt to undertake it. You may safely entrust the great task to Him. See the comprehensive completeness of the conquest. Christ not only conquers all the bad legions that had mustered around us during bygone years, but He tramples down the up-springing legions as they venture to arise, — thinning their ranks and enfeebling their energy, and impoverishing their condition, with the sure prospect for us that soon the hour will have struck when He can look back upon nothing but conquest, and forward upon nothing to conquer.
II. THE DIVINE ONE AS EFFECTING THE DESTRUCTION AND OBLIVION OF HUMAN SINS. The new figure substantially repeats the sense of the other; yet it advances further, and is more vividly full of the gracious truth upon this subject. "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." "Sins," not "iniquities" only, but the gravest as well as the lightest violations of Divine law. "Into the sea," and into the deep places of the sea; far to seaward, where the sounding line descends in miles — buried, without resurrection, for evermore. Some who have entrusted themselves to God's grace are still timid and doubtful as to whether it can really be all, and once for all, and irrecoverably, settled about those sins of theirs. Be sure that when God pardons at all He pardons altogether, The sins of a Christ-trusting man are not only lost, but are what may be called securely lost. A thing is most safely gone, not when it is banished we know not whither, but when, knowing where it is, we are sure that it is absolutely irrecoverable. Apply. Never dream of managing your sins yourself. When God has put our sins into forgetfulness we ought ourselves no more to remember them.
(J. A. Kerr Bain, M. A.)
I. PARDON. "Pardoneth iniquity." While in everything God is incomparable, He is most unrivalled in the "matter of forgiving. The glory of God is His ability and willingness to forgive. The word "pardoneth" in the Hebrew means "to lift up and carry away." Do not run away with the idea that pardoning is only a matter of uttering a word. God cannot forgive at the expense of His own righteousness. He is a God that lifteth up the iniquity. The Soil lifted the sin up on His shoulders, and He walked away with it.
II. PASSETH BY. "And passeth by the transgression." Transgression here means "rebellion." "Passeth by," — that is, as if He did not see it. God deals with sin as if He did not see it. He has seen it once. He saw it on Christ. He does not see it on me, because He saw it on Him.
III. SUBDUE. The R.V. has, "He will trample under foot our iniquities." When God forgives the guilt of a sinner's sins He breaks their power. Have you ever tried to trample on your own iniquities? When God forgives the guilt He says: "I will do more — I will put My foot down on the neck of your iniquities."
IV. CAST INTO SEA. God provides that His act of grace shall never be repealed. He will never take back the pardon He has once bestowed. "Thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea." That is how God puts away the sins of His people. When God pardons a man's sins He takes the sins, and drops them into the deepest place He can find, and there they lie, forever forgiven, forever forgotten. Micah may have had the drowning of the Egyptian host in his mind when he penned this passage. When God pardons, the tablets of His memory, if I may so put it, are wiped, and there is no remembrance forever made of this sin. When God buries our sin He takes it right out into the mid-ocean of Divine pardon and Divine forgetfulness, and it is forever forgotten.
(Archibald G. Brown.)
Eta, in "Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons. "Though the Almighty is absolutely incomprehensible, and cannot be found out to perfection, yet He has explicitly revealed Himself as a God "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and ready to forgive." And this propitious character of the Deity is peculiarly appropriate and interesting to mankind. Infinite mercy has graciously provided a way of salvation, by faith in Jesus Christ, which is perfectly consistent with Divine justice, and admirably suited to the necessitous circumstances of the "world that lieth in wickedness."
I. THE BLESSINGS PIOUSLY ANTICIPATED. "He will subdue our iniquities," etc. There may be an allusion to the deliverance of the Israelites from the Egyptian bondage. As the Lord then literally subdued Pharaoh and His host, so He will spiritually "subdue the iniquities" of His faithful servants, and by His pardoning mercy "cast all their sins into the depths of the sea" The prophet evidently anticipates —
1. The absolution of the guilt of sin. As "all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" we must certainly either be pardoned or punished. When sinners return unto God with penitent and believing hearts, He graciously forgives their transgressions, and heals their backslidings. This inestimable blessing is called in the text, "casting all our sins into the depths of the sea," which is a mode of expression that intimates both the extent and completeness of pardon.
2. The subjugation of the power of sin. We are not only guilty, but depraved. Sin is frequently personified in. Scripture, and described as a vile usurper and destructive tyrant, reigning in the hearts and lives of the disobedient. Hence it is not only necessary that the guilt of sin be mercifully cancelled, but that its power be effectually subdued. Omnipotence alone is equal to this glorious' achievement. He principally accomplishes this work of grace by His Son, as the Saviour of sinners, by His Word as the instrument of salvation, and by His Spirit as the agent of personal religion.
II. THE SOURCE DISTINCTLY SPECIFIED. "He will turn again; He will have compassion upon us." The prophet attributes the pardon and destruction of sin to the Lord Jehovah. These blessings are Divine in their origin. God only can forgive sin, and save the sinner. It is His sole prerogative to absolve our crimes and purify our souls. And this perfectly harmonises with the perfections of His nature.
2. These blessings are propitious in their medium. We have no natural right or claim to the Divine mercies, and can only receive them by way of sovereign favour, "through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus." For this purpose He assumed our nature, died for our sins, and ever lives to intercede for sinners.
3. These blessings are gracious in their bestowment. We cannot receive them on the ground of personal worthiness or human merit. Nor does the Lord require any previous goodness or moral fitness to render us worthy of the blessings of salvation. He freely and graciously pardons and saves the truly penitent, for the glory of His name, through the merits of the Redeemer.
III. THE CONFIDENCE DEVOUTLY EXPRESSED. "He will turn," etc. This is not the language of enthusiastic presumption, but of inspired and rational assurance; it is founded on —
1. The character and covenant of God.
2. The atonement and intercession of Christ.
3. The doctrines and promises of the Gospel.We may infer from this subject —
1. The necessity of repentance and faith.
2. The possibility of pardon and holiness.
3. The felicity and duty of the saints.
(Eta, in "Sketches of Four Hundred Sermons. ")
Homilist.Three ideas involved in figures of Divine forgiveness.
I. AN ANTECEDENT LIABILITY TO PUNISHMENT. All the terms imply something wrong, and the wrong is moral. It is crime, and crime must ever expose to punishment. Because of this moral wrong there must be a liability to punishment.
II. THE EXERCISE OF A MERCIFUL PREROGATIVE. God is disposed to forgive. Two things connected with this pardoning prerogative which marks it off from its exercise in human governments.
1. In human governments it is exercised with most cautious limitations.
2. In human governments forgiveness is invariably valued by those to whom it is exercised.
III. AN ACTUAL DELIVERANCE FROM ALL LIABILITY TO PUNITIVE SUFFERING. The forgiven man is delivered from punishment.
(W. L. Watkinson.).
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