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“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8
Israel was a mess throughout much of it’s history regarding its covenant faithfulness to God. They were recipients of God’s promises and blessings and yet they so quickly turned away from Him time and time again. The prophet Micah was called by God to prophesy against Israel in the 8th century BC. Micah promised Israel God’s future blessings in chapter 4:1-5. He also foretold of the coming of Jesus, the Son of David, the one who would be born in Bethlehem (chapter 5:1-2). Micah also spoke of wonderful things that would be true of the Messiah to come. I encourage you to take a few moments and consider them. He is the one from everlasting (v.2). He would shepherd and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord. He would be great to the ends of the earth (v.4). He would be their peace (v.5). Yet, Israel had fallen into sin. They had fallen into idolatry. They were found to have been unfaithful to God.
So, in the immediate context of Micah 6:8, we find the prophet Micah issuing an indictment, truly an indictment from the Lord, against Israel (6:1-5). Last week, we considered God being just. You can read that here. As God is just, He will punish those who sin. He will chasten His people. In Micah 6:2, God said He would contend with Israel. In these verses, we find courtroom language. We find God telling His people that if they think they have a case against Him to plead it before the mountains (v.1). We also find God summons the mountains, as it were, to hear His indictment against the people. John Calvin wisely says, “the mountains were summoned, that they might understand God’s pleading, not against them, but against the people. Hear then, ye mountains, Jehovah’s controversy, and ye strong foundations of the earth, that is, the very rocks. There is nothing so hard in the world, he says, that shall not be inane to hear; for this pleading shall reach the lowest depths.” Further, God called on the people to testify against Him, for what had He done to them? (v.3) God demanded an answer. He had done nothing wrong and only what was good for them.
The people had forgotten. They had forgotten His redeeming them from the house of bondage and slavery in Egypt (v.5). God accuses them of ethical forgetfulness, as they had forgotten their ethical obligations before Him. So, Micah 6:8 is really the answer to the questions of, What did God require of them? How should they come before the Lord? Should they attempt to bargain for God’s favor by offering sacrifice to avert disaster? No. They couldn’t purchase God’s favor. God taught them what was good. God told them what He required of them. They needed to humbly repent, confess their sins to God, and seek His pardon. God called them to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him. God’s moral law (the 10 Commandments) is in view here, as is true repentance and reconciliation as well.
How often do we forget the goodness, faithfulness, and deliverance of our God? What does He require of us? The same- to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. As we consider them, we recognize that all three of these areas are against the desires of our flesh, against the world, against the desire and work of Satan. So therefore, as we walk in obedience, we are different. We face challenges on all sides.
- Contrary to the world, even our state and nation, where injustice and lawlessness is rising rapidly all around us, we are called to do justly. We are called to render to all their due, according to our obligation to them. We are called to not wrong others, but rather do right to all- to their persons, goods, and good names. We need to cling to what is good. Shun what is evil. (Romans 12:9)
- Contrary to ruthlessness and cruelty, we are called to love mercy and kindness. We need to delight in mercy, as God does. (Micah 7:18) We need to not only be just to those we deal with, but kind to all who need us. Notice that we shouldn’t only show mercy, but we must love mercy.
- Contrary to the serpentine head of pride that is all too often raring up in our own hearts and in those we observe in many around us, we are called to walk with God in humility. Note this today, believer- walk humbly with your God! Every thought within us must be brought down and brought into obedience to God. We need to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We need to make pleasing God our constant care and business.
It’s good to remember daily that God has taught us what is good. We need to remember what God commands us to do, praying that God will give us much grace and strength to obey. As we think about obeying God’s commands, we know we can’t do them without His Spirit’s work in us. He calls us to keep His commandments. But as sinners, just as those in Israel of old, we are lawbreakers. We have been unfaithful to our God. Praise the Lord for the person and work of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ! We are called to turn to our Savior in sincere repentance and confession of our sins, seeking His forgiveness. We are called to walk in the newness of life Christ lived, died and rose from the dead to give us (Romans 6:4). May God give us all grace to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him today and in the days ahead. Praise God for His Word!