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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

11/16/11 Micah 6

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?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 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.

(Micah- Ghent Altar Piece- Jan Van Eyck 1432)

Thoughts: First some context: Micah 6 begins with God saying that He has a case against His people.  His case is that He has done nothing to merit their forsaking Him.  He saved them from Egypt, and blessed them (what Balaam told Balak-Nbs. 23-26).  The journey from Shittim (where Israeliets committed sexual immorality with the Moabites) to Gilgal (where they entered into the promised land and renewed their covenant in circumcision) is the journey from sexual immorality to circumcision. God is saying that He did nothing to merit their rebellion.  Now they are looking for a way back to God (that's found in verses 6-8).
     Micah asks a rhetorical question.  Basically it is how can we get back to making God happy, and come into His presence in worship?  It is not the most expensive burnt offerings that make God happy.  It is not thousands of sacrifices and millions of dollars of offerings.  Moabite worshipers believed that the worst kind of sin is mollified when we offer our firstborn as an offering to God.  The King in Micah's day, Ahaz, had in fact offered his only son (Probably Rimnon) as an offering to God.  The people felt their guilt, distance from God, and His displeasure and wrath.  Micah says the way back to God is to act justly.  "Justly" means fairness and equitableness.  It includes honesty and integrity- not taking bribes or treating the rich differently from the poor in court.  "Mercy" means to be considerate and kind; helpful to those who do not deserve it or cannot help themselves.  "walk humbly with your God" in this context means faithfulness to God (not the rebellious pride Ahaz had). 
     It is the same way today.  People are trying to find peace with God.  But it is not found by following any religion.  It is not found by simply giving a lot of money to charity.  It is not found by sacrificing for our children or sacrificing our children for ourselves.  Peace with God is found in a life of justice, mercy and humble faithfulness.

Prayer: God, too often I have trusted in my gifts, my sacrifices to make peace with you.  Give me grace to live justly, mercifully and in humble faithfulness with you.

John Calvin Abridged: If God's purposes were simply to destroy the peope then they would have not asked questions. But whenever God chides his people, He opens a door of hope provided those who sinned repented.  The people were religious but ignored the Law.  They knew what it said, but were fiegning ignorance in a childish way.  The first two requirements were to obey the second table of the Law- to love neighbor.  The idea to walk humbly with God  is from the first table of the Law and involves sincere, humble worship.  Condemned here is pride and arrogance.  The beginning of worship is human humility. 

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