He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the LORD require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8
Micah 6:8 is a verse I have memorized and even sang many times. Today I was looking in Micah at the background of this verse. Micah was a prophet to Israel during a time when Israel was actually in somewhat of a revival period. But, there were still plenty of problems. In the verses that lead up to verse 8, Micah is rhetorically asking the Lord what he requires
With what shall I come before the LORD,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
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?” Micah 6:6-7
These verses feature a progression from the typical burnt offering to the Lord, all the way to giving up a child. The nation of Israel was very accustomed to ritual sacrifice as a sin offering to become clean before the Lord. It had apparently become such a habit that it meant nothing to these people.
Basically, what God was telling the Israelites is that He didn’t want ritual sacrifices, He wanted their hearts. In Micah 6:8 God says, it’s very simple and requires no rituals. It is a way of life. He didn’t want them to obey Him as a burden, He wanted them to have a relationship and obey with their hearts because they loved Him. Basically, God describes what is a good relationship with Him. They were to act justly or fairly with the people they came in contact with. They were to love mercy by loving people through meeting their needs and lastly, to be in a humble relationship with God. That is, knowing their right relationship with God and walking closely with Him.
So when I break down Micah 6:8 as it applies to us what I see is that what God requires is not burdensome or hard. It doesn’t involve a lot of rules or rituals and really can look very different for each of us. He is asking that we obey Him out of love and carry that into our world. One important thing is that we are asked to reach out to other people to extend God’s mercy and kindness.
There is no room for legalism here and there is also no place for pretense or exclusivism. We are called to be real people loving other people wherever God puts us.
I have written what I think. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!