“Who is a God like You, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression….”
Think for a second about the gods of the ancient world that you know of. Zeus, Odin, Baal, Neptune. They aren’t exactly the most peaceful or patient of fellows, are they? In fact, the general idea was that there were mighty, powerful gods all over the place, and you had better keep your nose clean or they would kill you flat.
In fact, if we want to be blunt and honest, this is still how many people think about God today. There’s a lot of people who think of the LORD first and foremost as a fire and brimstone sort of God. And while it is true that the LORD is a mighty warrior, and if it became a contest of who smites best, God would certainly win, that’s not really who the LORD is.
Jesus doesn’t default to destruction. No, He doesn’t want the disciples to call down fire from heaven. He didn’t come into the world to condemn the world, but to redeem it. And this isn’t just a “New Testament Truth” – this is Who God was all throughout the Old Testament – showing mercy and patience over and over and over.
We forget how prevalent God’s patience and mercy is in the Old Testament. We forget how quick God is to pardon iniquity and to pass over our transgressions. Micah knew that the LORD was different, and so did all the people who listen to him. Of course, being patient and showing mercy is frankly boring. Fire and Brimstone are more “exciting” – but Jesus isn’t interested in adrenaline rushes or explosions. He really is much more focused on forgiving folks, forgiving you. That’s why He goes to the Cross for you – not because of some random quirk, but because that is precisely who He is. He is the God of steadfast love, even steadfast love for you.