Do What Is Required Of You
6 With what shall I come before the Lord
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
A rhetorical question is asked by the prophet Micah. What sacrifice is acceptable to God? What can be offered for the sin of the soul? The sacrificial system was set up in Levitical Law to show that there was a price that needed to be paid for sin. The price was originally the life-blood of a creature – it’s very life was demanded. These sacrifices pointed to the final, substitutionary sacrifice of Jesus’ perfect blood.
But God’s people had become prosperous, and the impact of the sacrifices were lost on the people. After all, if you sinned, all you needed to do was to offer your sacrifice, and everything was OK. The breaking of one’s heart over sinning against God had been dulled. Even in the Christian churches today, we lean heavily upon the grace and mercy of God. The impact of sinning against a Holy God doesn’t seem to grasp us as it once did when we were first saved from our sins. It is only as we recognize the Holiness of God, and His view of sin, that we again realize the impact that sin has in our lives.
Micah even puts forth as a type of sacrifice something that was loathsome to God – the sacrifice of the firstborn. This was a type of sacrifice that was required by false gods. This was egregious to God, and should have startled those who heard and read these words. But the Israelites had often worshiped both God and false gods. We must always remember that God has required a specific sacrifice from us – Obedience.
Micah now points out the sacrifice of obedience:
- To Act Justly
- When we act justly, we are not taking advantage of our neighbors, but rather we are doing all things with them in mind.
- Justice is one of the recurring themes in the Bible. The people of God seem to lack the ability to give justice to those who need it most. We have been warned by God to mete out justice, or the One who is Just will judge us.
- To Love Mercy
- The first inclination of human nature is to retaliate when we are wronged. But God’s mercies renew every morning. We need to adopt the character of God as we grow in our faith. Mercy is a Godly characteristic that integrates with justice. It is the tempering force that encourages peace and tranquility in relationship between two people. It is the olive branch that helps to mend relationships and encourages friendship. To withhold mercy is to promote the eventual severing of the relationship. This does not mean that we should enable wicked people by excusing their behavior; we are to show mercy to help them see the goodness of God.
- Even within marriage, God allowed divorce only in certain circumstances, and only because of the hardness of human hearts.
- To Walk Humbly with your God
- God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. When we are humbled before God, He is able to shape us, guide us, and use us for His purposes. Humbleness is a Godly characteristic that is antithetical to western culture, which now promotes self over all. Western culture promotes pride in advertising, music, literature, art, and just about every facet of the human experience. Humble people are looked upon as doormats by others who seek to elevate themselves at the expense of those who will not (or cannot) do the same.
- Only in humility are we able to be in right relationship with not only God but with man as well.
Each of these points towards relationship with God – Justice, Mercy, and Humbleness. If we seek to draw close to God, we should embrace these and put them into practice. Since Christ is our final and complete sacrifice for sin, we have nothing else to present to God for our sin, for nothing else is needed. Let us embrace these Godly characteristics as we draw close to the One who sacrificed His one and only Son to reconcile us to Him. It is only proper that we offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, as our spiritual act of worship.
A Qualifying Question
Let’s ask a question: Am I broken by my sin, or do I take the blood of Christ for granted?
A short prayer of preparation:
Father in Heaven, I thank You for the sacrifice of Your one and only Son on the cross for my sins. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Help me to see my sin in the same way that You see it. Help me, Father, to be broken when I sin, that the hardness of heart that comes with sin would not infect me. Help me to love justice, mercy, and walk humbly before You. May Your character be found in me as I am on display for the world to see. Strengthen me as I walk with You today. Help me to draw close to You through Your word and Your spirit. Guide me in all that I do. This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.