“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 [NASB]
Micah was a prophet of God during king Ahaz’s reign about 730-700BC. During the reign Ahaz, worship of false gods became popular and accepted in the southern kingdom. Ahaz required the priests of Yahweh to offer sacrifices to the false gods, too . By the leading of the rulers, priests, and prophets, the people of Judah walked away from the LORD God to serve other gods. Micah entered this scene and proclaimed deliverance for the people who would go into captivity to Babylon and exhorted them to destroy the nations who came against her.
In today’s passage, Micah summarized in one verse what God required of His people, Israel. Micah proclaimed God wanted justice and loyalty from His people. In verses six and seven, Micah spoke for the people and asked if the LORD wanted burnt offerings, rivers of oil, or their firstborn children as sacrifice for the sins they committed against God. He told the people what God desired.
Micah told them what Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy as they walked to the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 10:12 explained the LORD wants people to live a manner of life that represents Him, to love Him, to serve Him, and to fear Him with reverence and awe. Moses added to this in Deuteronomy 30:15 by telling what the blessing would be for love and obedience to the LORD and what the curse would be for unfaithfulness to the LORD and their covenant with Him. Obedience and faithfulness brought life and prosperity. Disobedience and unfaithfulness brought death and adversity. The priests of God to Israel knew this. He commanded them to teach it to the people so they would not forget.
When Micah spoke up for the LORD in his time, the people of God as a whole had forgotten these things and walked away from Him. Micah called them back and reminded them what God requires. He told them to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
By walking with God following closely in obedience and awe, the characteristics of God would become part of their own lives. God is righteous and just. The people of Israel would become just and do justice. Isaiah 56:1 and Jeremiah 22:3 give commands to be just and preserve justice in their lives and to the powerless.
The kindness Micah spoke of is goodness and faithfulness to God and other people. As God is the author of goodness, their lives lived in faithfulness to Him would show goodness to other people. Hosea 6:6 says God delights in faithfulness/loyalty rather than sacrifice and knowledge of Him rather than burnt offerings. Knowing and being faithful to God develops a person who is like God and lives out His kindness and goodness.
Last, Micah told the people God requires them to walk humbly with Him. He meant they were to live lives of humility to Him, worshipping and obeying Him as their LORD. When people decide to set up other things as their god, they decide they know better than Yahweh. Those people make themselves greater than the LORD God when they decide they know better than Him. Isaiah spoke for God in Isaiah 57:15 when he said God lives on a high and holy place and the contrite and lowly of spirit live with Him. Besides this, in Isaiah 66:2, God spoke through Isaiah and said He would look to the humble and contrite of spirit. Humility before God is what God required of the Israelites. By the time Micah became a prophet of the LORD, most Israelites no longer revered the LORD and came before Him humbly. God was just another god to them among the multitude of other gods they served.
Micah came to the Israelites calling them to return to exclusive worship of the one God, Yahweh God. He told them what the LORD required – justice, kindness, humility, and loyalty to Him alone. As the Israelites lived their lives in this way, they would take on the characteristics of God once again. Following the LORD requires humility in recognizing He is greater than they. By following Him and obeying Him in their daily lives, they would begin to love other people, which would manifest itself in goodness, kindness, and justice.
One step at a time to return to God requires the first step of acknowledging God is God of all including your life. He is greater than you or anything you think is better. As you make these steps one at a time, eventually you become more like God, more like Christ. The Israelites ended up captives of Babylon, but they listened to God and returned to their home land eventually. They returned to God and walked in His ways.
We can do that, too. We acknowledge God is supreme and the only God. We are nothing compared to Him. Next we accept that Jesus Christ is His Son who died for the death penalty to our sins. We ask forgiveness for our sins and give our lives to Him to be Lord – leader of our lives.
Whether you are already a Christian or not, we each are human and turn away from God. We tend to choose to make our own decisions and make ourselves god of our lives, which usurps God’s role as the Lord of our lives. God is waiting for us to turn back to Him. He promised He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). He waits for each of us to accept His gift of grace through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross. Each time we sin after accept His grace gift, God waits for us to turn back to Him, asking for forgiveness, and giving our lives back to Him to lead.
We can be just and live justly, giving kindness, and live humbly with the Lord. Just decide to give Him your life, ask forgiveness, and walk one day at a time with Him as your Lord. This is what Micah told the Israelites. It is what God continues to call us to do. What will you decide?