Sneak Peak of Chapter 13: Jehovah’s Good Requirements in Micah: Proclaiming the Incomparable God
7. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8. He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:6–8)
In chapter 6, Micah, in the name of Jehovah, announces Jehovah’s controversy with his people. In that controversy Jehovah cries out to his people: “O my people, what have I done unto thee?” (v. 3). Jehovah even declares: “Testify against me!” (v. 3). In so doing, Jehovah strongly protests his righteousness and the people’s treachery. Then Jehovah proves from history that he has always been faithful to Judah. He brings as “Exhibit A” his deliverance of his people from Egypt, his sending them Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, and his protection of them in the wilderness. Jehovah’s “Exhibit A” to us is the cross of Jesus Christ. Surely, then, neither they nor we have any excuse for ingratitude toward God.
The text contains a kind of dialogue between the prosecution and the defense in Jehovah’s controversy or lawsuit. Judah responds to Jehovah in verses 6–7. She shows in her response that she recognizes the majesty and holiness of God, for she speaks of him as “the high God” (v. 6) and she confesses sin: “my transgression…the sin of my soul” (v. 7). But her response to Jehovah is false: she does not know (or claims not to know) how she should approach God. Micah, in Jehovah’s name, responds to Judah’s question (whether it is a sincere question or not, or whether it is a question designed to escape blame or not). “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee” (v. 8).
JEHOVAH’S GOOD AND CLEAR REQUIREMENTS
Before we look at the three requirements, we need to ask and answer some questions. The first question is: what are these requirements generally? The text says two things about them: they are good, and they are clear.
First, they are good. “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good” (v. 8). We are not interested here in what seems good to us, or even in what seems good to society. We are interested in what is good to Jehovah. Good in the Bible is defined by what is pleasing to God, not what is pleasing to us, and not what is pleasing to the greatest number of people. Because God is the good God, what is good and pleasing to him will also be good for us: it will be good for us spiritually and will bring us blessedness.
13. To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? (Deut. 10:12–13)
Second, they are clear. “He hath shewed thee, O man” (Mic. 6:8). Jehovah is not a God who is impossible to serve because we do not know what he requires. He has shown us (each of us) what is good and what he requires. Jehovah has declared that to all of his people, not just to a select few. One does not require great insights, learning, or degrees in theology to know it. Jehovah’s requirements are clearly recorded for us in scripture that we might know them. Our calling is to do these things in thankfulness to him.
The second question we need to ask is: for whom are these requirements, or from whom does God require them? The text explains that these are what God requires from us, his people. “He hath shewed thee…what doth the Lord require of thee… thy God” (v. 8). This text is not directed to the Philistines, the Moabites, or the Babylonians. It is directed to the people of God: “my people” (vv. 3, 5).
This text is therefore not directed to the modern society in which we live, for God does not call all the inhabitants of the world in general to live the Micah 6:8 life. That would be impossible. God calls the church (believers, Christians) to live this way. For one thing, how can unbelievers walk humbly with their God? The calling of an unbeliever is not Micah 6:8 but repent and believe in Jesus Christ. Only then will you be able to live according to these requirements.