What God Requires (Micah 6:6-8) - 5/15/22
What God Requires
THE POINT: God is more concerned with humble obedience than proud sacrifice.
INTRODUCTION - Commentators' view of Micah 6:8's importance:
G.L. Robinson: “This verse stands as the motto of the alcove of religion in the reading room of the Congressional Library in Washington.”
J.M.P. Smith calls it “the finest summary of the content of practical religion to be found in the OT.”
L. Boadt: “The rabbis who commented on this verse in the early centuries of the Christian era called it a one-line summary of the whole Law.”
I. God Rejects Fake Sacrifice.
A. God rejects fake sacrifice, even if it is exact.
(“with what shall I come before the Lord?”)
1. The Israelites have turned worship into a matter of doing.
2. The Israelites assumed they need to gain God’s favor. They had rejected grace.
3. The Israelites had reduced their relationship with God to a transaction.
B. God rejects fake sacrifice, even if it is exemplary.
1. “Calves a year old”
2. From a human standpoint, this would have been acceptable.
YET God is not impressed with form only.
C. God rejects fake sacrifice, even if it is extravagant.
1. “thousands of rams…ten thousands of rivers of oil.”
2. From a human standpoint, this would have been abundant.
YET God cannot be bought.
D. God rejects fake sacrifice, even if it is extreme.
1. “my firstborn…fruit of my body”
2. From a human standpoint, this would have been appeasing.
YET God is not devoid of grace.
3. “for my transgression…for the sin of my soul”
4. From a human standpoint, this would have been authentic.
YET God is not naïve.
E. God accepts holy obedience, especially because it is selfless.
1. St. Augustine—“You ask what you should offer: offer yourself.
For what else does the Lord seek of you but you? Because of all
earthly creatures he has made nothing better than you, he seeks
yourself from yourself, because you have lost yourself.”
2. E.B. Pusey—“They would offer everything…excepting what alone
He asked for, their heart, its love and its obedience.”
Understand that obedience is Better than Sacrifice. (cf. 1 Sam. 15:22-23)
Offer yourself as a holy sacrifice by doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God!
Offer sincere worship, and do not attempt to bribe God. - Bruce Waltke—“”False worshipers think God’s davor, like theirs, can be bought.” They “offer the Lord everything but what he asks for: their loving and obedient hearts.” - H. Vorländer—“Offerings are no substitute for obedience to God’s will.”
TRANSITION TO VERSE 8:
God has made His Word clear & sufficient! “He has told you.”
God has made His authority clear! “O man” (or “mortal one” as translated in the NASB 2020)
God has made His ideals clear! “what is good” Same Heb. Word “tob” used here as in Gen. 1 to describe creation. God created the ideal world. Here, he expresses ideal behavior and holiness.
J.P. Lewis: “Worship and morality cannot be divorced from each other. They are two sides of the same coin.”
II. God Requires Justice toward Others.
A. What is justice?
1. By definition—Doing what just (or right, fair, etc.)
2. By nature—Reflection of God’s character.
3. God sets the terms:
a. God defines what is just.
Micah 6:8—“He has told you, O man, what is good.”
b. God demonstrates what is just.
Genesis 18:25—“Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?”
B. What does justice look like personally?
1. Treat everyone justly in relationships.
a. Owe others your honesty. (Cf. Zech. 8:16)
b. Show no one favoritism. (Cf. James 2:2-4)
2. Be fair in your business dealings. (Cf. Lev. 19:36; Prov. 11:1; 16:11)
C. What does justice look like societally?
NOTES: While not Social Justice Warriors, the prophets did address treatment of marginalized groups: the poor, widows, orphans, aliens, etc.
So, the concern of Micah is not modern “social justice” but a “just society.”
1.Make sure everyone is treated justly in the eyes of the law.
a. This is reflected in the Imago Dei. (Cf. Gen. 1:27)
b. This is reflected in the Census Tax. (Cf. Ex. 30:15)
c. This is reflected in Old Testament judicial law. (Cf. Lev. 19:5)
2. Understand the purpose of the law to ensure a just society.
a. Just law must be based on truth! Honesty and justice are intrinsically linked!
b. This is stated clearly in The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more
perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
c. The law is not designed to favor the poor or disadvantaged,
although it does protect them.
We fight for justice in society.
We oppose certain tenets of CRT, not based in truth.
We oppose racism. Consider following truths: - There is only one race, the human race. - There are multiple ethnicities. - Different ethnicities are not naturally at war with each other. By and large, we peacefully co-exist. - So, we must be concerned when we see certain ethnicities treated unfairly in word or deed. - So, we must recognize our society is hyper-politicized. - The left tends to over-emphasize race and make so many issues racialized. The left, especially due to Marxist influences, tends to create enemies due to an emphasis on “class struggle.” - The right tends to neglect the effects of past racism and the existence of current racism in our society & churches. - Overall, speaking against racism can get you branded as “woke”; while rejecting CRT can get you branded as “Alt-right.” - Therefore, we must be concerned about being biblical first and foremost!
We oppose abortion. (Cf. Prov. 24:11)
We support marginalized groups - Fight for equal access for Deaf, blind, physically handicapped, etc. (Cf. Lev. 19:14)
We fight for justice in the church. - Church discipline - Insistence on holiness - Maintaining just standards
We fight for justice in family life - We must protect the abused/victims. We encourage prosecution of sexual predators or perpetrators of spousal abuse. - We attack the scourge of drug use, legal & illegal.
III. God Requires Mercy toward Others.
A. What is mercy?
1. Heb. CHE-sed. Encompasses many concepts and has been translated as:
a. Kindness (ESV, NASB)
b. Mercy (KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT)
c. Faithfulness (CSB)
2. Bruce Waltke—“It connotes at one and the same time faithfulness, love, mercy, and grace; it describes the unfailing love, the keeping of faith between related parties.”
3. Waltke goes on to describe this kind of mercy as part of a covenant between
a weaker and a stronger party: "The superior party is absolutely free not to
respond to the weaker’s appeal, and for that reason the word also involves
the notions of mercy and grace. Should one fail to bring relief, however, the
honorable badge of proclaiming someone as characterized by hesed would
be stripped off.”
B. Mercy has the effect of tempering our justice with love.
C. What does mercy look like on a personal level?
1. Mercy should cause us to overlook faults. (Cf. Prov. 19:11; 1 Cor. 13:7)
2. Mercy should cause us to forgive. (Cf. Eph. 4:32; Matt. 18:35)
3. Mercy should come from the heart.
4. Mercy should be a genuine disposition of the heart.
While justice is an action, we are commanded to “love mercy.”
5. Mercy should cause us to be compassionate.
a. Toward the lost. (Cf. Rom. 10:14)
b. Toward the vulnerable. (Cf. Jer. 22:3)
D. What does mercy look like on a societal level?
1. Just as with God, it does not mean that judgment no longer matters.
a. We must still be firm!
b. Alistair Begg: “It is because God’s wrath is real that His mercy is relevant.
Unless you have a real wrath, a real anger, the biblical concepts of long-
suffering, of mercy, and of grace are robbed of their meaning.”
2. We must ensure that mercy is directed in the right direction. (Cf. Prov. 12:10)
3. We must engage with kindness. (Cf. Eph. 4:15; Col. 4:6)
In your pursuit of justice, reject a burn-it-all-down approach. This is often a danger for we who are theologically conservative.
We must not begrudgingly show mercy.
Since mercy is harder to gauge due to being more of an attitude than action, ask yourself these diagnostic questions: - How do I act on Twitter or Facebook? - Would others say I hold grudges? - Am I tender-hearted toward children or those who make frequent mistakes? - Am I more concerned about being right or making things right? - Would others say I’m kind and patient?
IV. God Requires Humility toward Himself.
A. What is humility?
1. This word may actually be translated as “wisely, circumspectly” (Hyatt &
Stoebe) or “carefully” (Kenneth Barker).
2. The phrase can mean “be careful to live the way your God wants you to.”
3. Could be paraphrased: “As you walk with God, stay in your lane!”
Recognize your place as a humble one in submission, and act accordingly!
B. What does it mean to “walk humbly with your God?”
1. “Walk” signifies time and direction. Spend time with the Lord.
2. “Walk humbly with” signifies submission.
a. We’re not running in pride of effort or fear of being left behind.
b. We’re humbly submitted to Him and enjoying His fellowship.
3. “Your” signifies relationship.
4. “God” signifies pursuit.
a. We’re walking with purpose.
b. We’re walking in agreement.
c. We’re walking in joy. We’ve already reached our destination: God Himself!
A.W. Tozer—“To have found God and still to pursue Him is the soul’s
paradox of love.”
C. Walking humbly, overall, implies a life of worship, a living sacrifice.
1. Cf. Romans 12:1-2.
2. God is not asking for something as small as “thousands of rivers of oil”, what He demands goes further. He demands you to give yourself in service to Him!
3. C.L. Feinberg: “The piety that God approves consists of three elements:
a strict adherence to that which is equitable in all dealings with our fellowmen; a heart determined to do them good; and diligent care to live in close and intimate fellowship with God.”
Reject a haughty spirit. Christians must not view God as a genie or ourselves as entitled.
Pray for a closer walk with God!
Seek the Lord! (Cf. Isaiah 55:6)
Know that disobedience is inexcusable!
Know that we're not trying to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God to earn His favor. Walter Kaiser, Jr.—“Thus this saying is not an invitation, in lieu of the gospel, to save oneself by kindly acts of equity and fairness. Nor is it an attack on the forms of sacrifices and cultic acts mentioned in the tabernacle and temple instructions. It was instead a call for the natural consequences of truly forgiven men and women to demonstrate the reality of their faith by living it out in the marketplace. Such living would be accompanied with acts and deeds of mercy, justice and giving of oneself for the orphan, the widow and the poor.”
Consider the perfect example of holiness—Jesus! - He exemplifies justice. (Cf. Rev. 20:12-13) - He exemplifies mercy. (Cf. Matt. 12:20) - He exemplifies humility. (Cf. Phil. 2:1-8) Cf. Phil. 2:1-8 - When we do justice, love mercy & walk humbly with God, we’re pointing others to our Savior!
Douglas Stuart gives 2 final applications: 1. Faithful participation in worship is not enough. It must be accompanied by faithful, proper living. 2. A good look at the past reminds us of God’s loyalty, and of our responsibility to be loyal to him in return.
“O for a Closer Walk with God” by William Cowper
O for a closer walk with God,
a calm and heav'nly frame,
a light to shine upon the road
that leads me to the Lamb!
The dearest idol I have known,
whate'er that idol be,
help me to tear it from Thy throne
and worship only Thee.
So shall my walk be close with God,
calm and serene my frame;
so purer light shall mark the road
that leads me to the Lamb.