With what shall I come before the Lord [to honor Him]
And bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With yearling calves?
Will the Lord be delighted with thousands of rams,
Or with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I present my firstborn for my acts of rebellion,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has told you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
Except to be just, and to love [and to diligently practice] kindness (compassion),
And to walk humbly with your God [setting aside any overblown sense of importance or self-righteousness]?
In this piece of Scripture, Micah is responding to the Lord’s condemnation of the people of Israel. Once again, they grew astray from the presence of God and this would be costly for them. Their sins were about to bring the wrath of God upon them. However, here and now, the prophet Micah stood humbly before God as a righteous person. He knew the people’s guilt and he knew their sins against God. Micah just needed the people to understand their sin and what their sin was going to cost them. Micah asked what it would take to regain God’s good favor for the people. He asked if he could approach the Lord with thousands of rams or 10,000 rivers of oils or even his firstborn son to atone for their transgressions and sin. He stated this to exaggerated his point because he knew that nothing could appease God’s wrath of the nation.
The prophet understood that even the most extreme sacrifices could never atone for the nation’s sins against God. He knew that the sacrificial system was not a legalistic system. It was created by God to give the people a way to atone for their sins against Him. It was always meant to be an outward expression of their inner trust and dependence on God for His grace and mercy of their sins. Micah was teaching the people that they could not “buy” God’s mercy. Instead, they needed to change their actions and attitudes towards God. God did not want the people to be ritualistic or legalistic, He wanted them to inwardly obey, love, and trust Him and Him alone.
This lesson is as true now as it was then. In fact, the message of our transgressions against God has always been this simple. There are three things that allow us to have a beneficial relationship with God in spite of our sinful natures, and all three have been revealed to us by God Himself. First is to act justly by being fair with our dealings with other people. Second is to love mercy, which means to have a loyal love that allows us to carry through our commitments to meet others needs. Lastly, we need to walk humbly before God. God revealed this teaching to us in this Scripture and in Deuteronomy 10:12 and 18. This lesson is also seen throughout the Gospels.
Even so, the problem lies within us just like the people of Israel. We understand the problem of sin in our lives and the cost of having sin in our lives. We are willing to part with anything in our life rather than the sin itself. We justify the sacrifices of possessions or even people to the Lord but hold on to the very problem that places a wedge between us and God’s grace. Nothing but our sins will ever be acceptable to God. This was true then and it is true now. In order for God to be pleased with us, our care must be an interest in the atonement and salvation that is only found in Jesus Christ. This is the only way to remove the sin in our lives that displeases God. What else will satisfy God’s justice? Who do we plead our own sins to? Is there another way that can we trade our transgressions for righteousness? The answer to each of these questions is no, nothing but in the name, Jesus Christ can do it.
You see, the good that God wants us to do is to not pay the price for our sins but to love Him, and what about this is unreasonable? Every thought within us should be brought down, it should be brought into obedience to God if we are to walk humbly with Him. We must do this as penitent sinners, independence of the Redeemer and his atonement. To do this we need to do three simple things that God wants from us all. We need to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly before God, and nothing else. This is what God wants from us and this is what we must all focus on to have a beneficial relationship with Him. Anything else will bring His wrath upon us.
Father, I pray that we can all walk humbly with you. I pray that our arrogance and legalism can be placed at the foot of the cross. I am humbled that you have always provided a way for your people to atone for our sins and that you show love and mercy for people who deserve nothing but condemnation. Father, please take mercy on us and allow the Holy Spirit to convict our hearts for any unrepentant sins that we may have. Father, I pray that our people can learn the lesson you had Micah teach us and allow for an inward change. Let our sacrifices are pleasing to you and the remissions of our repented sins are pleasing to your Son who died for each and every one of us. In Jesus name, we pray, Amen!