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The Scriptorium

What God Requires

Not what we choose to give Him. Micah 6.6-8

The Case against God’s People: Micah 6 (3)

Opening Prayer: Psalm 50.1-4
The Mighty One, God the LORD,
Has spoken and called the earth
From the rising of the sun to its going down.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God will shine forth.
Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent;
A fire shall devour before Him,
And it shall be very tempestuous all around Him.
He shall call to the heavens from above,
And to the earth, that He may judge His people…

Sing Psalm 50.1-4

(Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)
God, the Lord, the mighty Savior, summons all from east to west:
Out of Zion, rich with favor, shines He, of all things the best.
Come, O God, and keep not silence; fire devours before Your way!
He His Church, steeped in defiance, comes to judge this awful day.

Read Micah 6.6-8

Preparation
1. What did the people think was most important in coming before the Lord?

2. What did God expect of them?

Meditation
We do not worship or serve God merely with the formalities of public worship. That’s what God was saying to His people through Asaph in Psalm 50, and it’s what Micah was reminding them of here.

The people of Israel and Judah were fairly careful about observing the outward details of worship. Even after they fell into idolatry, they continued “worshiping” God according to the prescriptions of His Law (v. 6). But the more they mixed in pagan ceremonies and practices, the more their hearts strayed from the Lord into a form of self-serving religion that even saw them sacrificing their children (v. 7).

That’s not what God had shown them. What God required is that they should fear Him, obey, serve, and love Him (Deut. 10.12, 13), and live justly and uprightly in love for Him and their neighbors (v. 8). Once they adopted pagan practices in worship, living pagan morality and embracing pagan values was not far behind. Their continuing “worship” of God meant nothing, either to them or Him. Indeed, it became the focal point of His wrath and judgment.

Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
God, in His grace, gave the people a choice. Micah wrote them a list of really bad ideas, and then a list of good ones. We can either “worship” Him hypocritically or truly. As Paul penned for us in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor. 13.1-3). Surely that would be a Christian with star-power. In some people’s eyes. But not in God’s.

As Micah and Paul both wrote, God wants a person who loves Him and others. That’s it. That’s all. These other things are nice additions, but not essentials. In fact, God has shown us what is good; and what He requires of us. Here it is:
1. Behave justly.
2. Love mercy.
3. Walk humbly with God.

God has shown us, in Jesus, what this life looks like in action.
And Jesus has told us: “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jn. 14.15).
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love” (Jn. 15.10).

“For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hos. 6.6).
Jesus quoted this same Scripture when He excoriated the Pharisees: “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Matt. 9.13).

Let us take to heart what God requires of us; and rejoice that He is not expecting eloquence, prophetic visions, outstanding knowledge, extreme faith, overwhelming generosity, or martyrdom. If we only do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him, we will be pleasing in His sight.

Reflection
1. How can we know when our worship of God is being mixed with pagan or unbelieving ways or practices?

2. How would you define each of these terms: justice, mercy, humility?

3. Why do God’s people so often become distracted from what He requires to offer Him what we think He’d like? How can we resist this tendency?

Forget about burnt offerings, countless sacrifices and oblations of firstborn, he is saying. If you are concerned to appease the divinity, practice what God ordered you in the beginning through Moses. Theodore of Mopsuestia (350-428), Commentary on Micah 6.6-8

Closing Prayer: Psalm 50.5-23

Give thanks to God for His many benefits. Praise Him for His greatness. Seek His Presence to go with you for righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit for the day ahead.

Sing Psalm 50.5-23

(Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)

“Gather now My children holy, those bound close to Me by blood.”
Let the heav’ns declare His glory, for the Lord Himself is Judge:
“Hear, My people, I will charge you; I alone am God, your God!
I will bring a solemn charge to gain you to Me for your good.

“Not for rituals I accuse you – let your worship to Me rise.
Naught to Me is any use, Who dwells in glory in the skies.
All is mine throughout creation; I your help do not require.
Offer Me no vain oblation: hear what I from you desire:

“Sacrifice of thanks now render; pay to God your solemn vows;
Let the troubled, each offender, seek Him in the midst of woes.
In the day of strife draw near Him; He will hear, and He will save.
Honor God, rejoice, and fear Him, give to Him your grateful praise.

“All of you My Word despising, who are you to claim My grace?
Praise may from your lips be rising, but you scorn Me to My face.
You approve of all transgressions, scheme against your mother’s son!
I will crush your vain aggressions and destroy what you have done.

“Reckon this, My sinful people, lest My wrath consume you whole:
None shall thwart Me when I seek to crush and break your sin-stiff soul.
He who thanks to Me addressing, follows after what is good,
He shall know the way of blessing coming from the hand of God.”

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

 

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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