Micah 6 – What God requires!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 13, 2016
There hasn’t been a single person when faced with a difficult situation, choice, or hardship who hasn’t at some point asked what either God or life requires from them. This is a normal reaction when faced with life’s difficulties. And when faced with difficult choices how one responds speaks volumes as to what they believe and in what they place their trust.
Micah asks this question and answers it for Israel and for us today and in fact gives to his listeners exactly why they are experiencing the difficulties they were. God was going to judge them as a nation and the people began to understand the outcome of their life choices. So here in Micah he asks and answers for us what God requires. Let’s discover what that means for us in our day and age…
When you think that your life is going nowhere and it seems as if your prayers are not getting through it is good to take a moment and ask, “What does God require?” We discover that…
I. God requires that we listen to him! (Vv. 1-5)
Listen to what the LORD says: “Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.”
1. When we are faced with difficulties we do not understand I have learned to listen to what God has to say. Here we discover Micah telling the Jews, “Listen to what the Lord says”. This is good advice. Far too often we would rather babble on than listen to what God has to tell us. God relates that the Israelites were to “Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth.” I am reminded of what Paul related in Romans that he considered “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” and that “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” because of our sin and salvation through Jesus! Now creation would judge Israel: “For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.”In bringing his case God asks, “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you?” And he demands, “Answer me.” The Hebrews often complained over and over to God about their condition, that it was burdensome to follow all of his commands, but few of them ever truly listened to what he said! If they had listened to God they would have done what he told them to do! He reminds them, “I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery.” In fact he also reminds them that “I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.” But did they listen to them either? Nope. God then asks them if they remembered “what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered.” If a pagan king could listen to a false prophet who listened to a talking donkey, certainly they should now listen to God! And didn’t they remember their “journey from Shittim to Gilgal”? They should have, after all it was their first journey into the Promised Land! God did all of this so they would “know the righteous acts of the LORD”! But again, they had not listened and now they would have to listen to the one who had rescued them! God requires that we listen to him!
EXAMPLE: Far too often when we pray we are not really listening to what God has to say to us but rather how we can plead our case before him hoping against hope that he will ignore our sinful lives and miraculously do what we ask! We forget that good listening skills take time and preparation. God had tried over and over to prepare the Israelites to listen and obey him but they did not. What about you this morning? What does God have to do to you in order to get you to listen to him? God requires that we listen to him!
I have heard over and over in the decades I have pastored people asking what the will of God is for their lives. Not only do they not listen well they do not learn well either. God has made it abundantly clear what requires of us, we just refuse to do it! What does God require? We discover that…
II. God requires that we respond to him! (Vv. 6-8)
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? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, 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.
1. Answering for the Israelites Micah now asks, “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God?” Micah is now speaking as a righteous person who understood his people’s guilt. He was not like the many leaders who had refused to shepherd the people properly. How then should Micah or the Israelites come before a righteous and exalted God? Micah asks, “Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?” These are the guilt offerings God had required of his people when they had sinned; is this now what God asked them to do? Micah knew that these sacrifices were meant to be outward expressions of their inner trust in God’s mercy and grace. If they sacrificed their best for their sins he would forgive them. This is why Micah continued by asking rhetorically “Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?” Things have not changed much; they thought that more is better, kind of like we often do. But of course bringing more offerings was not the answer so Micah continued by sarcastically referring to the Israelite’s ungodly proclivity to mix the paganistic practice of child sacrifice with their worship, “Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” Micah knew this was not the answer either and God finally gives them the answer to what they should do by first making the statement: “He has showed you, O man, what is good”, and then by asking them: “And what does the LORD require of you?” The Israelites did not know the answer or they would have done it all along. God tells them that they were “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” God’s asks his people to be “good” (beneficial), which involves three things: that they “act justly” (be fair), “love mercy” (hesed – grace), and to “walk humbly with… God” “Humbly” translates the verb ṣāna‛ (which occurs only here in the OT); it means to be modest. God requires that we respond to him!
EXAMPLE: We have heard this as believers over and over but few follow the advice of God. It has not changed from Micah’s day. What does God require of you? He has already shown you what is good and beneficial for your life! So why do you continually refuse to do it? You are to act fairly with others in your actions and words. Never cheat, steal, or desire that which is not your own earned by your own hands. You are to love mercy, which is God’s grace because he gave it to you through his Son Jesus! You are to be therefore gracious to others around you because of God’s grace extended to you! And you are to do that toughest thing in many of your lives; you are to walk humbly with God! Being modest in your words, actions, and in what you wear or do to you bodies, in what you read, watch, or listen to and how you behave daily. God requires that we respond to him!
We have forgotten that what we have in this life we owe to the Lord. Every blessing is from God who causes the rain to fall on the both the sinner and the saint. Especially with what occurred with this recent election we need to ask anew, “What does God require?” Micah related that…
III. God requires we act with integrity! (Vv. 9-16)
Listen! The LORD is calling to the city– and to fear your name is wisdom– “Heed the rod and the One who appointed it. Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights? Her rich men are violent; her people are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully. Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine. You have observed the statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab’s house, and you have followed their traditions. Therefore I will give you over to ruin and your people to derision; you will bear the scorn of the nations.”
1. Again Micah tells them to “Listen! The LORD is calling to the city– and to fear your name is wisdom”! We are told over and over that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Proverbs 7:1 NIV) So, they were to “Heed the rod and the One who appointed it.” Israel was going to be disciplined by the Lord for their sin. God sarcastically asks them, “Am I still to forget, O wicked house, your ill-gotten treasures and the short ephah, which is accursed?” They were a wicked house full of ill-gotten gains through illegal and ungodly measurement. So God demands, “Shall I acquit a man with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?” The Law of God taught them, “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight or quantity.” (Leviticus 19:35 NIV) God knew without a doubt that Israel’s “rich men are violent; her people are liars and their tongues speak deceitfully”. Since they had gotten rich through dishonest scales, God tells them, “Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins. You will eat but not be satisfied; your stomach will still be empty. You will store up but save nothing, because what you save I will give to the sword. You will plant but not harvest; you will press olives but not use the oil on yourselves, you will crush grapes but not drink the wine.” God had warned them, “A people that you do not know will eat what your land and labor produce, and you will have nothing but cruel oppression all your days.” (Deuteronomy 28:33 NIV) Instead of following the Lord, the people “observed the statutes of Omri and all the practices of Ahab’s house”. These were considered two of the worst kings in the Northern Kingdom. “Therefore I will give you over to ruin and your people to derision; you will bear the scorn of the nations.” They would now know poverty and starvation! God requires we act with integrity!
EXAMPLE: As sad and awful as I have felt after some Presidential elections in past years I have never ever in my entire life thought about rioting, shouting vulgarities, or asking others to shoot the person who won. It shows me and many of us in the mature middle class that far too many of our children are way too pampered and ill-prepared to handle any kind of loss. In everything in life there are always not only winners and losers, but there is always another day. It is how one handles the losses in life that true character is displayed. Perhaps sparing the rod has actually spoiled the child? It had with Israel. Micah relates that they would now know the outcome of their pampered ill-gotten lives. God requires that we act with integrity!
God requires that we listen to him! God requires that we respond to him! God requires we act with integrity!
This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.