And what does the Lord require of you but to do what is right to other people, to show constant love, and to walk in humble fellowship with God. Micah 6:8 b
“With what shall I come before the Lord” is the question for all people of every age. Following on from yesterday’s post, today we take a deeper look into God’s expectation of His people. Here, in one of the greatest passages of the Old Testament, the Lord summarizes the nature and requirements of true religion.
Micah 6 begins with several admonishments against the wickedness of Israel, contrasting their sins with the simplicity of pleasing God. With simply acting justly, loving mercifully, and walking humbly with God. The values of the possible sacrifices for their sin escalate in an attempt to discern the price for entering God’s presence. The way in which the proposals increase in absurdity is intended to expose an attitude that wrongly sees sacrifice as an entry fee, rather than as an avenue for God to administer His grace and forgiveness.
To fully understand this passage, we must first understand the condition precedent to “coming before the Lord.” No one can come before the Lord without being surrendered to Him. Like the Israelites, it is insufficient to say my life displays this good attribute or that. Or let me just increase the sacrifice for my sin. One must first have fully surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
Micah 6:8b represents a summary of the law. The Talmud (Note 1) indicates that, in Psalm 15, King David reduced the requirements of the Mosaic Law from 613 to 11. Micah reduces the 11 to 3. And Christ reduced the 3 to 1 (Matthew 22:36-37). Here, in the Old Testament, God wanted Israel to manifest three characteristics, two toward man and one toward God: (i) justice in dealings with other human beings (the equity and moral rectitude of God); (ii) loyal love to the community of fellow believers (absolute faithfulness to covenantal relationships, a kindly abatement of what we might justly demand (mercy)), and a hearty desire to do good to others; and (iii) to walk humbly with God (obedience, contrition, and modest reserve).
Walking with God indicates an active habit, a communion in the common movements of the day. Some bow humbly before God in the hour of prayer. Others sit humbly in His presence during corporate worship, and others work themselves up to draw near to God in seasons of religious excitement. But all this falls short of truly walking with God. Walking with God means being with God always. Being with Him in common things. Being with Him on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, as well as on the Sabbath. It means being with Him in the shop, in the kitchen, feeling His presence in buying and selling, in weighing and measuring, in plowing and reaping. Doing all things, including the most common acts of life, as unto the Lord.
And then there is the qualifying word “humbly.” In our walk with God we must be overwhelmed with adoring wonder at the condescension that permits us to think of speaking with the Creator of the universe. To this reverence must be added a constant sense of dependence in the sense of daily drawing all supplies from Him and gratefully admitting that it is so. We are never to indulge a thought of independence from God, as if we were anything, or could do anything apart from Him. Humility before God requires a profound respect for His will and a glad submission to it. Both active obedience and passive surrender. Humbly walking with God requires, under the most cutting of afflictions, crying “It is the Lord! Let Him do what seems good to Him.”
So with what shall I come before the Lord? Simply, righteousness and love toward others, and humble fellowship with God.
Note 1: The Torah is the Jewish equivalent of the Bible. The Torah is comprised of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. In Jewish tradition, Moses received the Talmud as a commentary alongside the Torah. It explains the written texts of the Torah so that people know how to apply it to their lives.