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Wednesday: What Does the Lord Require? — 11 Comments

  1. Some time ago I mentioned that the Christian view of judgement if often based on our view of a criminal court, where we are in the dock being tried for breaking the law and seeking a pardon. Whereas, the Hebrews view a court more as a civil court where we are seeking for a wrong to be put right. It is probably useful for us not to see these two views as diametrically opposed but rather providing a balance.

    The notion of civil justice starts in Deuteronomy and continues right through the Bible and Micah, the study for today is just one instance of where this is apparent.

    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 olive oil?
    Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
    the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
    He has shown you, O mortal, 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 6:6-8NIV

    Perhaps it is time for some soul searching. If we are saved by a just and merciful God, how are we at transmitting these values to the people we interact with; our families, our colleagues, our workers, and our acquaintances?

  2. Over the past 2 years there has been, and continues to be, a notable increasing use of regulation, mandating and compliance-breach-enforcement. Reputable commentators are discussing this with some concern, noting the accompanying rise in authoritarianism. Is this resulting in a widespread awakening of compassion amongst humanity? Is it lifting people up with hope and courage in their daily lives?

    The thoughts expressed in today's lesson are, as the lesson notes, based upon the premise that "central to the covenant was law" - and to a particular view of what kind of "law" that is referring to - the kind of law that our legal systems are based upon. Hence the lesson presents the notion, advanced by some Bible scholars, that God is essentially bringing a lawsuit against His people for their failure to uphold their part of the covenant deal. This description paints a particular picture of God that perhaps aligns with the title drawn from Micah 6:8 - "what does the Lord require?"

    The Hebrew word translated require in Micah 6:8 is dores. This particular form of the word is used a total of 11 times throughout the Old Testament and is only translated as require in 2 instances. The remaining 9 times it has been translated as seek or express care for. While most translations of Micah 6:8 have selected require, the Contemporary English Version has escalated this word to "demand" while the NET Version has softened it to "wants from you". However, I would propose that the more common rendering of the word as per the other 9 translations is closer to truth - what does the Lord seek from you because He cares for you. This connotation is best illustrated in Esther 10:3 where it states that Mordecai was highly regarded by his fellow people because he was "seeking" (dores) the good of his people. This is referring to seeking for the benefit of the other and well aligns with God's core nature as beneficent (other-focussed, other benefiting love and care).

    If this is who God is and what He is about, it places a different slant upon the concept of God and His concept of covenant. If this is who God is and what He is about, is He really bringing a lawsuit against his people? Or, is He doing exactly the same thing He did with Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden when they went off-track - having a very personal conversation with them as their authoritative yet at the same time deeply caring/compassionate Creator who was trying to discuss their situation with them to help them.

    Mordecai was highly regarded by his people because he sought their best interests (dores). I believe Modecai reflects how God is toward us - that He approaches us as one who personally desires to work with us to fix things, rather than as someone who is bringing a lawsuit against us because we have not held up our side of the deal.

    If viewing God as someone who "'sues' or brings a case against His people for violation of the covenant" helps draw you closer to God and be more compassionate to others, then I do not want to take that away from you. But if such a view does not, I want to encourage you by sharing that I find robust evidence of very different scenario/dynamic within scripture.

    Regardless of whether you agree with what I have outlined or not, may God be with each and everyone of you during these very challenging days, weeks and months ahead and may you draw strength, hope and courage from knowing that He is right there with you and for you - regardless of what seems to be happening with you or going on around you...

    • Hi Brother Phil,
      I agree with all that you said. Thank you for your inspiration.

      Here's what I wrote about today's lesson, in my preparation to teach Sabbath School.


      Micah 6: 1-8
      "Hear now what the Lord says:
      'Arise, plead your case before the mountains,
      And let the hills hear your voice.
      2 Hear, O you mountains, the Lord’s complaint,
      And you strong foundations of the earth;
      For the Lord has a complaint against His people,
      And He will contend with Israel.'
      3 'O My people, what have I done to you?
      And how have I wearied you?
      Testify against Me.'"

      I like how our Sabbath School lesson says: “Bible scholars have seen in these verses in Micah what is known as a “covenant lawsuit” in which the Lord “sues” or brings a case against His people for violation of the covenant. In this case, Micah says that the Lord “has a complaint against His people” (Micah 6:2), in which the word “complaint” (riv) can mean a legal dispute. That is, the Lord was bringing a legal case against them, imagery that implies the legal (besides the relational) aspect of the covenant. This shouldn’t be surprising because, after all, central to the covenant was law.”

      It is always about God’s Law, and it always will be about God’s Law, which is why many has tried to change God's Law.

      Here in Micah, The Lord is speaking, and says in verse 3, asking them (the children of Israel) to state their legal dispute against Him, “What have I done to you? And how have I wearied you? Testify against Me.” There is silence.

      Then the Lord answers, and states His legal case, stating what He has done from them, for us, verse 4-6:
      "4For I brought you up from the land of Egypt,
      I redeemed you from the house of bondage;
      And I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
      5 O My people, remember now
      What Balak king of Moab counseled,
      And what Balaam the son of Beor answered him,
      From Acacia Grove to Gilgal,
      That you may know the righteousness of the Lord.”

      And finally, Micah tells them that if you don’t have a complaint against your God, then this is what God requires of you, verse 8:
      "8 He has shown you, O man, what is good;
      And what does the Lord require of you
      But to do justly,
      To love mercy,
      And to walk humbly with your God?"

      As you state, it is the same conversation that God had with the first sinners, Adam and Eve. He told them what He would do to reconcile them back to Him, and told them what He requires of them. It's simple; but we make it hard, because as Jesus said, in Matthew 15:8 - "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me." It is the condition of our hearts (our minds) that we need our Lord to work on; God wants our heart. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will "cleanse our hearts and renew a right spirit within us".

    • Hello Phil,

      My wife and I homeschooled our son until high school. In one of the social studies segments of the curriculum, we spent several successive days (spaced out a month apart) observing sessions of circuit court in our small town courthouse. The older judge who presided had spent decades on this circuit and it was interesting to see his application of justice. Kind and concerned—one might even say loving—but firm. (Justice is love out loud.)

      I remember one case in particular where a young couple came before him to recover custody of the woman’s young daughter. The young woman’s previous life had gone “off the rails” and she had lost her child to protection services and she had lost hope. Because of her lifestyle, this young woman had had to make several appearances before the judge.

      The judge had discerned something in this young woman’s character and her situation, and worked to mete out restorative justice. The young woman had taken heart, made hard choices, worked to make changes in her life, and this was the result.

      This judge’s decisions reminded me a lot of how God works. God is not some hard hearted judge before whom we must beg for mercy. Oh no! He loves us dearly and is working with our Advocate to help us through the hard choices that must make to be delivered from evil and restored to true life.

      I was touched by this judge’s encouraging words to this young woman and her husband as he approved the legal documents to make their family whole. To me, this was the Gospel in action—making people whole—a revelation of the character and work of God.


  3. What thoughts were brought to my mind from Michah 6:8?

    My relationship with the LORD is a partnership based on love, He leads me in His way and I follow.
    Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?
    It is fascinating how often human's relationship with the LORD is discribed as walking before/with the LORD as in Micah 6:8, also it was said of Enoch, Noah and Moses they were perfect/blameless and walked with the LORD. Gen 5:22-24; Gen 6:9; Gen 17:1

    Secondly I notice the balance and partnership of justice and mercy which are character traits of the LORD which are found throughout His Word.
    Gen 3:15; Ex 34:6-7; Rom 3:26; Ps 37:1-40.
    2Peter 3:9 The LORD works with each individual drawing them to Him to be transformed into His likeness, however as Ruler of the Universe He will ensure justice is done and in the New Earth there will only be righteousness. 2Peter 3:13

  4. Micah 6:8
    The Message
    8 But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
    what God is looking for in men and women.
    It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor,be compassionate and loyal in your love,
    And don’t take yourself too seriously—take God seriously.Now that is WHAT IS GOOD.

  5. Micah 6:8 is such a liberating starting point for those who feel weighed down by legalism. When we embrace the Lord we are a new creature, and the legalistic mindset that we often accidentally get trapped in can rob us of the joy of truly worshiping our Savior.

    In some church communities, there seems to be this unspoken attitude that God plays hard to get, and that at any given moment we can "lose our salvation"... The only way I would lose my salvation is to deliberately reject it. God wouldn't pull a fast one on me. Being saved is a conscious choice, but so is being "not saved" ...

    That's where "watch and pray" comes in. And where we follow God's sacred morals because we are magnetically drawn to it from the heart. But all of it is God's work.

  6. The author in his final sentence and many making comments have it right, God is more interested in our holding to the Spirit of the Law over the letter of the law. Historically speaking, many Christians have focused on keeping the letter of the law in their own lives and while evangelizing. This approach has helped create the haughty, “holier than thou” image of the Christian looking down at the “sinner”. Living in Spirit of the Law should point us towards a humble recognition of our own need of grace while looking in the mirror of the law and lead us to reaching out to those in need where they are both physically and spiritually.

    • The law, including the 10 commandments, was designed to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24-26 KJV). Using the law to judge or condemn others or save ourselves is misusing it and constitutes legalism.

      This was Paul's warning (Galatians 5:2-4). To wit, if we use the law for any other purpose than to lead us and others to Jesus, then Christ will be of no benefit to you... you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

  7. “What does the Lord require of me” is, in my opinion, the most important question needing to be answered in a Christian's relationship with the Heavenly Father. How we answer this question depends on how we see ourselves in our relationship with Him. I see myself as His Child taking my Creator’s hand, extended to me to lead me out of my mortality into immortality, offered to be lived forever in His presence. He promises His ‘Spirit of Life’ to be present with me in this life and in the life to come.

    His Path of Salvation needed to be explained to His People because it was a spiritual ‘New Way’ for man to live their lives by - introducing ‘love as the basis to interact with ones fellow man’; the ‘spiritual basis of Life’ by which ones own life ought to be governed by.
    It is man’s choice to believe this Truth - disinterest, unbelieve, or applying the Truth for worldly gain, all are “dead ends”, (pun intended); Scriptures give ample prove of that.
    I see the fulfilling His promise of Salvation of mankind to be the Creator's goal; it is for the true believer to wholeheartedly, steadfastly hold onto His Hand and live the Light and Truth provided to him if he desires to live such a life of Love offered to him.

    God’s Plan of mankind’s Salvation is a plan of practical actions to engage in – the ‘Way of life’ lived by faith. Therefore, the love in the believer’s heart is the extended hand of a child; it reaches out in trust and faithfulness to take hold of the Father’s hand to be lead along His Father’s Path of Light and Truth.
    His child cannot let go of the Father’s hand; walking with Him, holding on to His hand, ‘requires’ trust and Faithfulness! The Father teaches us that, should we let go of His hand, dangers will assail us against which we cannot protect ourselves; we cannot do anything in our own strength to reach the Promised Land other than to have faith in the One who leads us!
    Yes, from the very beginning, our heavenly Father laid out His Path of Life for His children to live by. His Faithfulness to fulfilling His Covenant-promises made to all who believe will last forever.

  8. Deuteronomy 10:12-- "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul"

    Micah 6:8-- "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?"

    Half of the problems that the children of Israel had, and they had many problems, was that instead of being a "Light to the world", they were a very arrogant people. They knew who the true and living God was, because they heard the voice of God for themselves, and they knew that God chose them, the nation of Israel, as His chosen people. They also knew that they had the knowledge of God, His written and spoken Word, that none of the other nations around them had. Instead of being Grateful, and Zealous to share this knowledge with others, this made them the more arrogant, even to the point, that they did not believe that God would punish them, and remove them from the Promised Land. They thought that they were above everyone else, that somehow all other nations were unclean. But secretly, in their hearts, they wanted to be like the Gentiles. This should said familiar to us.

    We, SDA, sometimes are very arrogant people, just because we have more insight into the Word of God. Also, we think that because of our understanding of prophecy that this put us in some kind of elite group of God's people. We are to always "walk in all of His ways", and "to walk humbly with thy God". It doesn't matter to God if you have 50 degrees in Theology, or you know every word in the 66 books of the Bible. What matters to God is the same thing that David asked from Him, in Psalm 51:10-- "Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me."

    Sisters and Brothers, these lessons of Deuteronomy are talking to us in this generation. Let us not get distracted, or desire to follow after other gods. Just because we don't have graven images in our homes or in our churches doesn't mean that we are not following after other gods. As I said above, some of us, desire to have what the world has, other gods.

    Let us not fall into the trap of the enemy, but keep our eyes upon Jesus Christ.

    There's a gospel song that says:
    "I believe in Jesus,
    I believe in God,
    I believe in Mary's baby,
    I believe in Jesus Christ.
    by Angie and Debra Winans

    God bless, and Happy Preparation and Sabbath day!


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