Summary: What does the LORD require of you?


Micah 6:1-8

It is tragic when God has to serve a summons upon His own people. The “prisoner in the dock” is Israel herself, and the LORD is ready to submit His case.

The witnesses are the mountains and hills (Micah 6:1), and strong foundations of the earth (Micah 6:2). This is terminology which is familiar from the second telling of the law of the LORD (Deuteronomy 4:25-26; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 31:28). All creation can testify to His mercy and goodness towards His covenant people, and groans at the mess we have made of things (Romans 8:19-23).

The LORD is not beyond pleading with His people. Despite the offences which they have committed against Him and against one another, He still refers to them as “my people” (Micah 6:3; Micah 6:5). Love is not easily provoked (1 Corinthians 13:5).

In fact, the LORD demonstrates a willingness to take their place in the dock. “Testify against me,” He says (Micah 6:3). This perhaps anticipates a day when another would be judged in our place?

The fact is that God’s people soon grow weary with Him (Micah 6:3). They forget all His gracious acts, and accuse Him of not loving them!

So we are called to remembrance:

Remember the Egypt of your sins;

Remember Passover and Easter;

Remember your redemption and baptism;

Remember the songs that you sang at the Red Sea;

Remember those who led you in the faith in days of yore (Micah 6:4).

[Moses, Aaron and Miriam represented an ideal in leadership which had been lost by Micah’s day:

The princes were corrupt and corruptible (Micah 3:1-3);

The prophets prophesied lies (Micah 3:5);

Judges, priests and prophets plied their trade for financial gain (Micah 3:11);

The business world was rife with corruption (Micah 6:11-12).]

Remember what Balak devised;

Remember what Balaam answered (Joshua 24:9-10);

Remember God’s saving acts from Shittim to Gilgal;

Remember Joshua’s sending forth of the spies;

Remember the crossing of the Jordan;

Remember the first camp in enemy territory;

Remember, and know the righteousness of the LORD (Micah 6:5).

At the Last Supper Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). The sacraments are remembrances by participation: a vivid focussing of our senses into the thing conveyed. When we remember God’s history of faithfulness in our own lives (1 Samuel 7:12), we will see God’s mercies new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Such an impassioned appeal moved someone, in Micah’s rhetoric, to respond on behalf of the people. Since there was price on everything else, then perhaps the LORD could be bought off with thousands of sacrifices (Micah 6:6-7). No doubt Micah had his tongue in his cheek when he brought child sacrifice into the equation, for that would be more likely what people would expect from the false gods which they were so keen to set up in place of the LORD.

Nothing and nobody can pay the price of soul sin, apart from God Himself. Mercifully He has now done that in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. The only sacrifice that we are required to make is, ironically, known as a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).

Addressing man as “Adam,” the LORD makes it clear that what He requires is what He has always required: justice, mercy and humility (Micah 6:8). We must love God first, and our fellow human beings next (Mark 12:29-31).

As opposed to the haughty spirit denounced in an earlier chapter (Micah 2:3), the mark of true humility towards God is seen in our attitude towards others. Instead of abhorring justice (Micah 3:9), we embrace it. Instead of exploitation (Micah 6:11), we show kindness.

Good deeds do not make us Christians, but Christians will do good deeds. James 1:27 brings just two things to our attention as marks of true spirituality: the care of orphans and widows, and personal purity. It is our attitude to such as these that is the measure of our Christianity!

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