I was reading from the book of Micah this week and ran across chapter 6:1-8 which has a couple of interesting messages. But some of the back story first - the prophet Micah is reminding the house of Israel who God really is - the almighty Lord who hates sin but loves the sinner. This message has been watered down for us however, because we've managed to erase the true meaning of LOVE and HATE in our language through overuse. "I LOVE fresh corn on the cob, but I HATE broccoli!" (you get the idea). God's hatred is real - burning, consuming and destroying. He hates sin and he stands as the righteous judge, ready to mete out just punishment to all who deny his rule. God's love is also real. So real that he sent his son, the Messiah, to save and accept judgement in the sinners (our) place.
So in Chapter 6 Micah is making the Lord's case against Israel:
"Listen to what the Lord says: Stand up and make 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. (By-the-way, he's undoubtedly lodging the same complaint against us...). 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 Balaam son of Beor answered.Remember your journey, from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord." From the Helps in my Bible... God continued to be kind to his forgetful people, but their short memory and lack of thankfulness condemned them. When people refuse to acknowledge how fortunate they are and begin to take God's gifts for granted, they become self-centered. Regularly remember God's goodness and thank him. Remembering God's past protection will help you see his present provision. In other words, taking the time to reflect back on how God has come through for us time and again will help us recognize the many ways that he provides for us today and tomorrow!
Continuing with Verse 6: "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? (clearly Micah's trying to drive home a point here!) Shall I offer my first born 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". This is the "don't over-complicate it" part. From the Helps in my Bible... People have tried all kinds of ways to please God (but it doesn't matter how many "rivers of oil" you bring before him - or dollars you put in the offering plate), but God has made his wishes clear: he wants his people to be just, merciful, and to walk humbly with him. In your efforts to please God, examine these three areas on a regular basis. Are you fair in your dealings with people? Do you show mercy to those who wrong you or who you disagree with? Are you learning true humility?
There you have it, it's not nearly as complicated as we thought...
- John E