Summary: God is much more interested in our life style then in ceremonies and sacrifaces that we may perform. Its about how we relate to God and one another.
Recently, I had a story about a certain man who was very poor. He really struggled to make ends meet in life. Putting food on the table and taking his children to school was a problem. It so happened that this man becomes sick for a long time and eventually he died. What actually made his health deteriorate rapidly was because he could not afford the special treatment, medicine and food that he so required.
What was surprising at his funeral was that the kind of casket that was bought for him, it was too beautiful and expensive too. At his funeral the kind of food that was served; he never had it when he was alive. His friends and relatives come to sing, pray and preach at his funeral. It became clear that they were not only Christians, but they were rich too. Sadly, when this man was still alive they were never there for him, he struggled throughout all his life alone; but when he died they all come in their big cars to bury him.
After listing to the story, I began asking myself serious questions. One of the questions I asked myself is, what does the Lord require from us as Christians? As I was reading the book of Micah I came across three things that God require from us. Hence, today we are going to reflect on this topic; Three things God requires from us.
In the passage we have read, God brings up a charge against his own people in some kind of heavenly court of law. To start with, the Israelites thought God was happy with them, when in fact, he was not. The problem was that in those days people were very corrupt and they had wandered away from God. So, God confronts them in order to restore them back to himself.
He started by calling them to plead their case before the mountains and the hills. Why before the mountains and the hills? According to the Book of Deuteronomy (4:26), the creation stood there as witnesses when God made a covenant with his people. He personifies the mountains and the hills, speaking about them as if they were people who watched all the historic activities of men.
So people must defend themselves before the creator and his creation. Instead of immediately accusing them, God begins by asking two questions which basically aimed at examining not the Israelites but God himself. In verse 3 he asks, "My people, what have I done to you? (Maybe it is me who is in the wrong here). How have I burdened you? Answer me." Israel was asked to testify against the Creator.
But since God is holy and perfect in all his ways, it means they had nothing to testify against him. To prove his faithfulness, God reminded his people of the great things he did for them. In the Book of Exodus (1-15) we see that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt for over four hundred years and their lives were made bitter with hard labour, working in the fields, making bricks and mortar and building cities for Pharaoh. In their bitter situation, God sends Moses and Aaron to lead them out of Egypt. When they had miraculously crossed the Red Sea on their way to the Promised Land, Miriam the prophetess took a tambourine and she led all the women into signing and dancing, praising the Lord. Indeed, God gave them good leaders.
As they were still on the way (Numbers 22-24), Balak King of Moab called on Balaam to curse the Israelites and whenever Balaam opened his mouth to curse Israel a blessing would come out of his mouth instead. It happened three times, then he realised that one cannot curse who God has blessed. On the journey to Shittim (Joshua 3 and 4), they had to go through the river Jordan and God opened the river for them and they crossed on dry ground. They even took stones and placed them in the middle of the river as a memorial of what God had done. That is not all, in the Promised Land, many nations fought against them, but God won them every battle.
As God did wonders for Israel and continued to sustain his people, he does the same for us; and sustains us by his grace. Sisters and brothers, we can all think of something good that the Lord graciously did for us. We are who we are today because God has been faithful to us. Our faith calls us to remember what God has done. I love the song which says Count your blessings, name them one by one, it will surprise you to see what the Lord has done.
Back to the court case, verses 6 and 7 contain what may be the actual response of the people. Here, they tried to defend themselves, they talked about how they bowed and sacrificed before God in worship. They were doing this because God himself had commanded them to. But then, why was God not happy? What did he require of them? Does he want high quality, expensive gifts? Is it quantity he is looking for? A thousand rams or ten thousand rivers of oil, maybe he wants a precious child, a first-born son like what other nations were doing, sacrificing their children (Leviticus 18:21).