“Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”
In the first five verses of Micah 6, the LORD challenged the Israelites about their situation. In verses 6 and 7 Micah wondered about how he could come before the LORD, and bow before Him? What would he bring? He mentioned his transgression and sin which stood between him and God. This is the point of Micah’s question. Would the sacrifice of his firstborn remedy that? How could he approach God? We have the same problem. Our own transgressions and sins stand between us and God.
Micah pondered the extremes of what he might do. “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” What an expense this would have been to Micah, beyond what he was able to spend. Thousands of rams? Ten thousand rivers of oil? His own child? By which of these would he be able to gain access to the LORD? In asking is revealed the answer. All of that would not be enough. It would not gain him access to God.
In verse 8 the LORD said, “He has shewed thee, O man, what is good.” God had revealed to Micah the answer to his question, just as He has revealed to us what He wants us to know about Himself. If He chose not to reveal Himself, we would be without hope. Hebrews 1:1,2 tells us, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds…” The revelation of God had been through His prophets. But now He is revealed through His firstborn son, Jesus, Who was given for our transgression and sin. God told Israel, Micah, and us what He wants us to know.
“…and what does the LORD require of thee but…” to do justly. God is just, and to do justly is to act like Him. In John 8 the religious leaders brought a woman to Jesus who had been caught in adultery. The leaders said that the law said she should be stoned. But what the law said is that both should be stoned. The leaders did not represent the law rightly. Jesus stooped and wrote on the ground. He then arose and said that he that was without sin should be the first to cast a stone at her. We read in verses 9-11, “And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” He did justly because both partners were condemned under the law, not one over the other.
“…and what does the LORD require of thee but…” to love mercy. Quoting from Jeremiah 33:8, the writer of Hebrews told his readers in Hebrews 8:12 that God says, “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.” This is how He shows mercy. He doesn’t short circuit justice. But His justice was satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Now He is able to be merciful. We can be hurt or offended by others, and we are inclined to hold this against them. But, in Matthew 18 Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive. In verses 21 and 22 we read, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” God doesn’t expect more of us than He does of Himself. He loves mercy.
“…and what does the LORD require of thee but…” to walk humbly with thy God. Many scriptures speak of the value of humility. Philippians 2:7,8 says of Jesus, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Micah expressed humility in Micah 7:9, “I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.” He expressed his situation before God, leaving the end of it to the Lord. It is better to walk humbly with Him now. Jesus humbled Himself under His Father’s hand to reconcile us with the Father.
These things please God. They were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, “I do always those things that please (the Father).” (John 8:29). God’s justice was appeased by His sacrifice. On the cross, for them who were crucifying Him He mercifully said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) And, He walked humbly on this earth and before God. Jesus did what Micah was told. Believers on Jesus, are indwelt by His Holy Spirit, and they are enabled to do justly, to love mercy, and walk humbly with their God. And, we are being made to be like Him, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29)
God told Micah the things that please Him. It is obedience to God that honors and glorifies Him, not sacrifice. This is true for all of mankind. God told us to believe on Jesus.
O To Be Like Thee! – Thomas O. Chisholm
O to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
O to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.