- 7:8-20 The Confession and Forgiveness of Sins
a. 7:8-13 The People Confess Their Sins
b. 7:14-20 God Forgives and Removes Their Sins
Following the great statement of his faith in God in the transitional verse, 7:7, Micah concludes his prophetic writings with two significant theological lessons. The first, recorded in 7:8-13, is the confession of sins. Verse 8 is a summary statement of his conclusion from vss. 8-20. Micah speaks in the first person (I, me, my), but speaks as a representative for his generation. Micah knows the realities of life and recognizes that falling and sitting in darkness, both physically and spiritually has and will happen. But in those situations, God will be a guiding light. This will happen because of confession of sins, and God’s response, vs. 9 which involves the role of God as both his advocate and defender. Those who have been the enemies of God’s people, vs. 10, will be put to shame because their mocking will be proven wrong. Restoration of the fallen walls will begin along with an expansion of the nation’s borders, vs. 11. Also the nation will be bolstered by those who will come from distant lands, even those who were former enemies, vs. 12. However, the lands of those nations will experience desolation as judgment for their sins, vs. 13.
The second theological lesson, vss. 14-20 is that God will forgive their sins and show His loyal covenant love to those, the remnant of His possession, who remain faithful to Him. Micah pleads with God to be a loving shepherd who will faithfully feed and care for His covenant people, vss. 13-15. When God does this, the nations will be ashamed of their self-assumed power and be humbled. They will come trembling in reverent awe to the LORD and even fear the power of God’s covenant people, vss. 16-17. Micah concludes these theological lessons with his astonishment of how God’s forgives the sins of His people. These sins will be forever removed, and God will bless His people by being loyal and faithful to His covenant with Abraham, vss. 18-20.
a. 7:8-13 The People Confess Their Sins
Vss. 8-10: Confession and Confidence
8 Do not gloat over me, O my enemy.
When I fall,
I will arise;
when I sit in darkness,
the LORD will be my light.
9 I must bear the LORD’s anger,
because I have sinned against him,
until he pleads my cause,
and executes judgment for me.
He will bring me out into the light,
and I will see his righteousness.
10 Then my enemy will see it,
and shame will cover her who said to me, “Where is the LORD your God?”
My eyes will see her demise.
Now she will be trampled like mud in the streets.
It is most likely that Micah in vs. 8, was speaking for Jerusalem10 (Zion) although at least one scholar suggested that Micah is speaking on behalf of the remnant.11 The people of the city will experience a fall, (be conquered), Micah 3:12 and sit in darkness (be in exile out of the land, Micah 1:11, 16; 4:10a). This is undoubtedly a prophecy (1) of the coming destruction of Judah and Jerusalem by the Babylonians, aided by the people of Edom, Psalm 137:7; Obadiah vss. 10-14, and (2) of the restoration of Jerusalem and Judah when God’s people return from exile and rebuild the city and reclaim their nation. 4:10b. Babylon, the perpetrator of their demise was also itself to be destroyed, Psalm 137:8-9. Micah in his prophecy described the fall of the city and the nation: 1:10-16; 2:3-5; 10, 3:12; 4:9-10a and 6:13-16. See the much earlier warning by God given to Moses in Leviticus 26:33-45. Micah also described the rescue, return and restoration of the city and the nation: 2:12-13; 4:1-8; 4:10b-13; 5:3-15; 7:11-12 and 14-20.
In saying “do not gloat (rejoice) over me,” Micah may have been quoting the words of David recorded in Psalm 30:1. The prophet may also have been re-emphasizing his earlier comment regarding the enemies of Zion in Micah 4:11, “let our eye gloat over Zion.” The English word “gloat” is the Hebrew śâmaḥ, translated as “rejoice” in the ESV, KJV, NASB, NKJV, (NIV has “gloat”). This word has the meaning of gladness and merriment. It occurs in the minor prophets: Hosea 7:3; 9:1; Joel 2:21, 23; Obadiah vs. 12; Jonah 4:6; Micah 7:8; Habakkuk 1:15; Zephaniah 3:14; Zechariah 2:10; 4:19 and 10:7 (twice).
The English word “fall” is the Hebrew nâp̱al; which usually has the meaning “to fall in battle.” Judges 20:44. It also refers to the “fall of a city,” Jeremiah 51:8 and Ezekiel 33:21. The English word “rise” is the Hebrew qûm, which has the meaning to rally from defeat. See Proverbs 24:16. Micah therefore is describing the future defeat of Jerusalem during a military battle and the predicted future restoration of the city. Micah’s lament of “when I sit in darkness” is most likely a direct prophecy of those who will sit in a dark and depressing prison in exile in Babylon.12 See Isaiah 42:7. To sit in darkness can be understood as a comparison with being blind. See Job 12:25; Isaiah 29:18; 42:6-7 and 49:9.
The reason for Micah’s great confidence that his people will rise from defeat and overcome their period of living in darkness is expressed in the last line of vs. 8, “the LORD is my light.” This wonderful truth of the faithful guidance the LORD gives is expressed often in the O.T., see Exodus 13:21; 2 Samuel 22:29; Psalm 18:28; 27:1; 36:9; 56:13; 118:27; Isaiah 2:5; 9:1; 42:6-7; 49:9; 50:10; 60:19-20; 61:1and Micah 7:9. In the N.T. see John, 1:1-13; 3:21; Acts 13:47 (light to the Gentiles); 26:18; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Ephesians 5:8; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 1:5; Revelation 21:23 and 22:5. Not only does the LORD give guiding light to His covenant people but the Messiah is light, dispelling the darkness and revealing the way of salvation which is by faith in Him alone.
Micah in vs. 9, reveals the proper attitude the sinful people of Jerusalem must have towards God. Speaking on behalf of God’s covenant people, the prophet confesses their sinfulness and acknowledges God’s righteous wrath in response to their sin against Him. The word “anger” in the DASV is translated as “indignation” in the ESV, KJV, NASB and NKJV; and as “wrath” in the NIV. This word is za‘ap in the Hebrew, having the meaning of indignation, rage, and wrath. It occurs just six times in the O.T., 2 Chronicles 16:10 (a king’s rage); 28:9 (the LORD’s anger); Proverbs 19:12 (a king’s wrath); Isaiah 30:30 (the LORD’s fury); Jonah 1:15 ( a raging storm) and Micah 7:9 (the LORD’s anger). Micah states that his sinful nation must “bear” Hebrew nâśâ’, (to accept with understanding), the LORD’s anger/wrath.
The prophet understands that the LORD will deal with His people’s sinfulness justly as appropriate in a divine lawsuit, as indicated by Micah’s use of the Hebrew word rîyḇ (to plead, to defend) and a similar word rîyḇ, translated as cause (case). Micah has confidence that the future of these sinful people rests in the advocacy on their behalf by a righteous and just God. Jeremiah declared, “this is what the LORD says: “I will plead your case, and will avenge you.” Jeremiah 51:36.
God is not only their just advocate but also their righteous judge. God will execute judgment in accordance with His covenant promises to His people. The stark reality is that God’s sinful covenant people will have to bear the judgment God will execute, Hebrew ‘âśâ (appoint/deliver) to them. The word judgment is the Hebrew mišp̱âṭ (see also in Micah 3:1, 8, 9 and 6:8). This judgment will be true and merciful. The LORD also expects His covenant people to render the same to each other, as He spoke to the prophet Zechariah, “Execute true justice, and show kindness and compassion to one another.” Zechariah 7:9.
Because Micah understood the fairness and justness of God’s judgment upon His people, the prophet could conclude “He will bring me (the people of God) into the light and I will see his righteousness.” The sinful people must trust their future to God’s merciful judgment. God will not judge them unfairly and most importantly they will be righteously restored to Him following the refining process of God’s furnace of justice. Micah acknowledges that God’s people will be brought out of this time of judgment into the light that he had just described as “the LORD will be my light,” vs. 8. They will finally recognize that the path of holiness and righteous standing before God comes only by faithfully walking in obedience to the light of God’s revealed word. Micah is saying in modern terms that “the end justifies the means.” God will appoint judgment that will hurt them physically as a means to heal and restore them both spiritually and physically. They will be restored to a right relationship with God as the refining process results in true contrition and repentance. They will also be restored to their promised land once again as God keeps His promises to them.
In all this (judgment, forgiveness and restoration), God’s righteousness will be revealed. (See discussion in notes for Micah 6:4-5). The word “righteousness” is the Hebrew ṣeḏâqâ, with the meaning of being straight or conforming to a set standard.13 God’s covenant people are required to be “righteous” in their acts towards each other. God intrinsically is “righteous” in Himself. However, there is a righteousness that humans cannot attain by their works that is essential to have a “right-standing” before God. When people express faith in Christ for salvation, Christ’s righteousness which permits them to have a right standing before God is imputed to them. Romans 3:22; 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9. Old Testament saints were credited with righteousness because of their faith in God, Genesis 15:6; Habakkuk 2:4. See also Romans chapter 4. In the Minor Prophets the word ṣeḏâqâ, occurs in Hosea 10:12; Joel 2:23; Amos 5:7, 24; 6:12; Micah 6:5; 7:9; Zechariah 8:8; Malachi 3:3 and 4:2.
The righteous acts of God on behalf of His covenant people in rendering true justice upon them and then restoring them, Micah 7:9, will also result in the shaming and demise of the enemies of God, 7:10. One of these enemies was Edom, Psalm 83:1-18; 137:7; Isaiah 34:5; Jeremiah 49:7-22; Lamentations 4:21-22; Ezekiel 25:12-14; 35:1-15; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11-12; 9:11-12; Obadiah vss. 1-14 and Malachi 1:2-5.
Micah predicts in 7:10 that his enemies will see the righteous works of God on behalf of His covenant people and these enemies will be covered with shame. See Palm 35:4, 26 and 44:7. These enemies had taunted God’s people by saying, “Where is the LORD your God?” See Psalm 42:3, 10; Isaiah 36:18-20; 37:10-13 and Joel 2:17. The people of God will see the demise of these enemies as God brings judgment upon them. They will be “trampled like mud in the streets,” See Isaiah 10:6; 25:10-12; Joshua 10:4 and Psalm 110:1.
God explains why He will bring judgment upon those nations. He had raised up nations to bring punishment upon His covenant people who had rebelled against Him. Isaiah declared to King Ahaz, “The LORD will bring on you, your people, and your father’s house days that have never been since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah — the king of Assyria.18 In that day, the LORD will whistle for the flies from the remotest part of the rivers of Egypt and for the bees from the land of Assyria.19 They will come, and will settle in the ravines between cliffs and in the crevices of the rocks, and on all thorn bushes and at all the watering holes.20 In that day the Lord will shave with a razor hired from beyond the Euphrates River– with the king of Assyria–the head and leg hair; along with the beard too.” Isaiah 7:17-20. But these nations had overstepped the role God had assigned to them. They came upon Judah and Israel with their own evil intentions, The LORD declared, “I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease. For I was a little angry and they helped – but with evil intent.” Zechariah 1:15 NKJV. Isaiah also records the LORD’s explanation, “I was angry with my people, I defiled my inheritance, and gave them into your hand. You showed them no mercy; even on the elderly you laid your heavy yoke. 7 You claimed, “I will be Queen forever.” So you did not think about these things in your heart, nor did you reflect on the consequences.” Isaiah 47:6-7. See also Jeremiah 50:14-18 and 51:33-40.
Vss. 11-13: Restoration and Retribution
11 It’s A day for building your walls!
In that day your boundary will be expanded.
12 In that day people will come to you
from Assyria and the cities of Egypt,
and from Egypt even to the Euphrates River,
and from sea to sea,
and from mountain to mountain.
13 Yet the land will be desolate because of its inhabitants,
because of the fruit of their deeds.
Following the prophecy of God punishment of the nations, Micah in 7:11 turns his attention to a special day when Judah’s walls will be rebuilt and the nations boundaries will be expanded. This “day” was certainly not a reference to the return from the Babylonian exile as vs. 12 makes clear. The word “walls” Hebrew g̱âḏêr, has the meaning of an enclosure, fence or hedge. It is used of stone walls built around vineyards. See Numbers 22:24; Psalm 80:12; Proverbs 24:30-31 and Isaiah 5:5. Therefore Micah is referring to a “day” when God’s covenant people will live in peace and security when they once again can plant vineyards and enjoy the fruit of the land. In the millennial kingdom there will be no need of protective walls.
Ezekiel 38-39 is a prophecy of a future day which is much debated by conservative evangelical scholars regarding the timing of these events. Within this prophecy is this statement, “This is what the sovereign LORD says: ‘On that day, thoughts will come into your mind, and you will devise an evil plan. 11 You will say, “I will go up to the land of unwalled villages; I will invade those who are at rest, that live securely, all of them living without walls, bars or gates 12 to take spoil and plunder; to turn my hand against the waste places that are now inhabited, and the people who are gathered out of the nations, who have acquired cattle and goods, who live in the center of the earth.” Ezekiel 38:10-12.
Many see these days as a reference to a time during the Tribulation period.14 Others see only a symbolic reference to spiritual warfare between Satan and the Church (many amillennial authors). Some see a continuation of a battle that will begin before the days of the millennial kingdom and will continue at the end of this period.15 Although the exact timing of this prophetic battle is debated it is clear from a literal and historical-grammatical exegesis of these texts that they reference a far future day. God’s people will not fear the final conflict, Revelation 20:7-10 for God will swiftly and supernaturally bring it to an end. Micah, in 7:11 references a far future day when God’s covenant people will be living in peace and security without the need for protective walls surrounding their villages, towns and cities. This will only be possible during the days when Christ will reign on the earth ruling over His kingdom that will last one thousand years. The prophet Zechariah declared, “Jerusalem will be inhabited like unwalled villages, because there will be so many people and cattle in it. 5 For I myself, will be a wall of fire surrounding her,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will be the glory in her midst.” Zechariah 2:4-5.
It is also a day when Israel’s boundaries will be expanded. This is a day in the far future as the extension of the boundaries could only occur during a time of peace and security for the people of Israel. Ezekiel 47:13-23 describes this in great detail. The prophet Amos describes these days as bountiful times for harvest and enjoyment of the fruits of the land, Amos 9:13-15. This is further described as occurring during the days of the LORD’S kingdom, Obadiah vss. 19-20.
In 7:12, Micah describes these events, vs. 11-13 as occurring “in that day.” For an discussion on this phrase and its far future reference see notes on Micah 4:1 and following verses. In the context of 7:11-13, this day could not refer to the return of the exiles from Babylon for this migration to the land of the people of God will originate from all points of the earth, “from sea to sea and from mountain to mountain.” The inclusion of those from Assyria and Egypt in this prophetic far future migration in consistent with other prophecies of this event. Isaiah spoke of these days, “In that day there will be five cities in the land of Egypt that speak the language of Canaan, and swear allegiance to LORD of hosts. One will be called the City of Sun. 19 In that day there will be an altar to the LORD in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar dedicated to the LORD at its border. 20 It will be a sign and a witness to the LORD of hosts in the land of Egypt. They will cry out to the LORD because of oppressors, and he will send them a savior and a defender who will deliver them. 21 The LORD will reveal himself to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day. They will worship with sacrifices and offerings, and will make a vow to the LORD and keep it. 22 The LORD will strike Egypt, striking and then healing them. They will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their prayers and heal them. 23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. Assyrians will come to Egypt, and the Egyptians will go to Assyria. Egyptians will worship with Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be a third member with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth. 25 For the LORD of hosts has blessed them, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.” Isaiah 19:18-25. See also Isaiah 27:12-13.
This understanding of this far future event is also consistent with passages such as, “May he have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth. 9 May those who dwell in the wilderness bow before him, and his enemies lick the dust. 10 May the kings of Tarshish and distant regions render him tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer him gifts. 11 May all kings fall down before him, all nations serve him.” Psalm 72:8-11. See also Isaiah 2:1-4; 11:11-16; 60:11-12; Amos 9:14-15; Zechariah 9:10; 10:8-12; and 14:16-19.
Following the prophecy of the far future migration to the capital of Messiah’s kingdom, Micah, in 7:13 declares that the “land” (“earth” ESV, NASB, NIV) will be desolate, Hebrew šemâmâ, (devastated, waste) because of the “fruit,” Hebrew p̱erîy, (results, reward) of their deeds. The land of Israel in the millennial kingdom will enjoy the “fruit” of the labor of its inhabitants while the other nations of the earth will not have recovered from the destruction of the tribulation period. Also these nations will suffer for not following the command of the LORD to observe the Feast of Tabernacles during the days of the millennial kingdom. “Everyone who survives from all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up every year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 Whichever of all the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, they will receive no rain. 18 If the family of Egypt does not go up or come to the festival, then on them will come the plague of the LORD that strikes the nations that refuse to go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.19 This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” Zechariah 14:16-19. The future punishment of these nations in the future who will be enemies of the Messiah, His people and His land, is prophesized often in the Scriptures. See, Isaiah chapters 13-23; 24:1-6, 21-22; 26:21; Zephaniah 1:17-18 and 3:8.
Notes for Micah 7:8-13
- Robert Chisholm, Interpreting the Minor Prophets, page 157-158. Walter Kaiser Jr. Micah, page 83.
- Thomas E. McComiskey, Micah, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, page 442.
- Bruce K. Waltke, A Commentary on Micah, page 452).
- See Harold G. Stigers, TWOT article 1879; A. H. Leitch, Righteousness, ZPED, volume 5, pages 104-118 and Michael F. Bird, Righteousness, Lexham Bible Dictionary (Logos Software).
- Charles H. Dyer, Ezekiel, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, page 1300.
- Ralph H. Alexander, Ezekiel, The Expositors Bible Commentary, Volume 6, pages 937-940. See also Lamar E. Cooper, Ezekiel, The New American Commentary, page 333.