“I may forgive, but I don’t forget!” “That’s unforgivable!” As humans we struggle with the idea of forgiveness. What does it mean when God forgives? The prophet Micah shows you that forgiveness is part of God’s character, Micah 7:18–1.

Who is like your God? Who is a God like you who pardons? Micah puns on his own name, “Who is like the Lord?” Prophets for pay have proclaimed peace when there is no peace, Micah 3:5. But Micah is not making empty promises. Micah focuses on the character, the nature of God.

The Lord is faithful to his remnant. He has preserved, and will preserve a remnant. “Remnant” does bring to mind the punishment that God has brought upon his disobedient people. Remember that Micah’s prophecy included the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C., and the near fall of Jerusalem in 701 B.C. Judgment came because of the sin which Micah has recounted. Yet the term also speaks of God’s faithfulness. Even in all of this, he does not abandon his people. He preserves a remnant. God remembers his inheritance. His people belong to him. He has purchased them. They are precious to him. God’s forgiving character is connected with the church. His church is made up of forgiven sinners. His faithfulness grows out of his covenant relationship with his people, verse 20.

Understand the character of your God. Your God delights in mercy. He is not angry forever, see Psalm 103:9. He delights in steadfast love (mercy). God has compassion. This is not just a feeling, but is part of God’s character. It is not that God’s justice is overcome by his mercy, but rather, he satisfies his perfect nature.

“The heartfelt appreciation of divine grace that impassions this finale is an emotion that can be experienced only by those who have come to see sin through God’s eyes.”

Leslie C. Allen, The Books of Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, and Micah (NICOT), p. 401

In Christ your sins are removed! They are pardoned and passed over. A substitute has been offered to provide atonement. There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul, even as a Christian, as an apostle, struggled with the sin in his life, Romans 7. But he ends up rejoicing in the forgiveness that God provides in Christ. The entire sacrificial system of the Old Testament pictured the payment for sin. Though the priests might be teaching for a price, Micah 3:11, though the people may have become corrupt in their understanding of the sacrifices, Micah 6:6, 7, they still could not get away from the purpose for which God had instituted them. Of course these were symbols, pictures, things which in themselves could not remove sin. But God was using them to point to the perfect sacrifice which could and did take away sin.

“Certainly here can be no peace of mind and conscience, no joy in one’s heart, no buoyant moral activity, or a blessed life and death, before the guilt of sin is removed, all fear of punishment has been completely eradicated, and the certainty of eternal life in communion with God fills one’s consciousness with ts consolation and power. But this benefit — the complete forgiveness of sin — is so immense that the natural human intellect cannot grasp and believe it.”

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 4. p. 179

God treads your sins under foot. The power of sin is broken. It is a defeated enemy. You have been set free to serve your God. Your sins are taken away—cast into the depths of the sea. In the ancient Middle East, if there was any place that was inaccessible, it was the depths of the sea. That is where your sins are—gone forever. The imagery is picked up in the New Testament in Revelation 20:14. Do you know the blessedness of being forgiven? Only one person can provide that — Jesus Christ.

Reflect with Micah on the character of your God. Ask, who is like the Lord–and trust his pardoning grace in the Son he provides. God assures you that your forgiveness rests, not on who you are or what you do, but on his character.