Summary: When Micah wrote these verses, Israel’s southern kingdom, Judah, had become corrupt. The people there were faithfully bringing sacrifices to the Lord, under the false impression that this would satisfy His demands. However, God corrected His people . . .
Title: What Is It That Pleases God?
Text: “He has showed 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).
Bible Reading: Micah 6:6-8
6 “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?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
8 He has showed 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?
When Micah wrote these verses, Israel’s southern kingdom, Judah, had become corrupt. The people there were faithfully bringing sacrifices to the Lord, under the false impression that this would satisfy His demands. However, God corrected His people through His prophet Micah. Micah let them know that God demanded justice, not burnt offerings; mercy, not calves and oil; humble obedience, not sacrifice. Then again, justice, mercy, and obedience were precisely those qualities lacking in Judah. The verses that I read, actually sum up the messages of the 8th century B.C. prophets. The prophet Amos called for justice; Hosea emphasized kindness; and Isaiah urged the people to obey God, or in other words, to walk humbly with God.
In these verses, the people expressed their desire to be at peace with God, on any terms. They asked this question, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord?” Micah responded by making them aware of the reason why God was angry with them, and so, they were frightened of what the consequences might be. They wanted to know what they could do to be reconciled to God, and to make him their friend. They were asking the right person, when they asked Micah, because he was God’s messenger.
The next question for Micah was, “Wherewith shall I come?” It wasn’t a general question, such as, “What can any man do?”, instead, it was personal; “What shall I do?” It is only when we become aware of our sins and we feel guilty, that we begin to seek peace with God and pardon for our sins. Only then is there any hope for us. The Jews asked how they could come to the Lord. They believed there is a God, that he is Jehovah, and that he is the high God, the Most High.
You and I know that we must come before God. We must come as His subjects, to worship to him, and as beggars, to ask Him for those things we need. And we must even come before him, as criminals, to accept His judgment. When we come before him we should bow our heads, because it is our duty to be very humble and reverent when we pray.
They also asked Micah, “What will the Lord be pleased with?” There it is! That’s our subject today, “What Is It That Pleases God?” I want to know, “What do I have to do to please God?” Well, we know one thing for sure, and that is, in order for God to be pleased with us, our sin must be taken away, and it must be atoned for.
The question here is, “What shall I give for my transgression, for the sin of my soul?” Notice, that the transgression we are guilty of is sin. So the next question is, “What shall I give for my transgressions?” In other words, “What will satisfy the Lord?” And we also want to know, “How should I come to the Lord?” We must not appear before the Lord with empty hands. What shall we bring with us? In what way should we come? In whose name must we come? We don’t have anything ourselves that would recommend us to God. So what is the righteousness that we need, to appear before Him. The Jews have all these questions, but they don’t have the answers, so they make proposals, but their proposals betray their ignorance. Let’s examine those proposals.
First, they made a high bid for God’s favor. They offered something that was very expensive—thousands of rams. God only required one ram for a sin-offering; yet they offered flocks of them, all that they had. They were willing to make themselves beggars, if that would buy them peace with God. They offered to bring the best of their flocks—thousands of them. Their animals were a treasure to them, and they would have hated to part with their precious rams. It would have been easier for them to part with their first born, if that would be accepted as the atonement for their sins.