Soteriology of Micah 7

Micah ends with promises of deliverance from sin. “I” bear Yahweh’s indignation because of my sin, but He will deliver me (7:9). Yahweh will have compassion and “tread our iniquities under foot” (7:19).

It’s a new exodus, as in the days when Yahweh performed signs in Egypt (7:15). Exiles will return (7:12). It’s like the protoevangelium outside Eden, as Israel’s enemies lick the dust like serpents (7:16) and are trampled under Yahweh’s feet (7:19).

The specific contours of this soteriology are worthy of attention. Deliverance from sin is described as Yahweh pleading “my case” and executing “justice for me.” When He executes justice, “He will bring me out to the light,” which allows me to “see His righteousness” (v. 9). This is a way of describing justification – Yahweh reveals righteousness. But it is clearly Yahweh doing righteousness on behalf of a humbled sinner. 

This revelation of righteousness entails victory over enemies, as verse 10 makes clear as it moves from “I will see His righteousness” to “my enemy will see, and shame will cover her who said to me, ‘Where is Yahweh your God?’” That “her” is probably Assyria. Whatever it means for Yahweh to reveal righteousness, it is something that “she” sees. When Yahweh reveals His righteousness, the taunts of “my” enemies will fall silent, since she is “trampled down, like mire in the streets.” That day will be a day of rebuilding (v. 11) and return from exile (v. 12). In short, the revelation of Yahweh’s righteousness is His act of raising up and restoring Israel. This is justification as deliverdict.

The final verses of Micah point to another dimension of Micah’s soteriology. Yahweh is the God revealed to Moses who pardons iniquity (v. 18; cf. Exodus 34:7-9), and so He will have compassion on Israel. He does this as a gift of truth, emeth, faithfulness to Jacob, as an expression of His commitment to fulfill His ancient oath to Abraham (v. 20). 

His compassion will be revealed in delivering Israel from sin, an act of forgiveness that is described as a conquest: “He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (v. 19). Salvation is deliverance from sin, portrayed as victory over enemies. Sin, like the taunting enemy, like the serpent, will be trampled down (vv. 10, 19).

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