Micah 6:1-81NIV New International Version Translations
1 Listen to what the LORD says: “Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. 2 Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. 3 “My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. 5 My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” 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 lived about 2750 years ago, in about 750 BC, during the time of Isaiah. Micah spoke of how Israel and Judah would be punished for hypocritical worship, injustice and immorality. He also spoke of redemption. He also foretold, in detail, the destruction and plowing of Jerusalem, which took place about 1900 years ago, in 135 AD.
This is the preparation for the case in court. God tells Micah to stand up. It is God who is actually making this protest, not Micah. Micah is speaking on behalf of God. Micah calls the mountains to be God’s witnesses. Verse 2 tells the reason why the LORD is accusing the people in Israel. This is the reason: Israel is not obeying God’s covenant.
In order to start his defence, the LORD asks two questions. First, he asks, ‘Have I done anything wrong to you?’ He tries to prove that he has not done anything wrong. The second question is ‘How have I made life too hard for you?’ The people in Israel think that they have a good explanation. They think that God’s actions have not helped them. They have worshipped him. They have sacrificed (killed) animals to give honour to him. They have thought about what things would satisfy him. And they have done those things. But God has not accepted any efforts that they have made. So they think that they have a good reason to complain. But the truth is that Israel has done wrong things. So God has the right to complain.
The next question also shows that God loves the people. ‘How have I made life too hard for you?’ He may also be saying, ‘You do not speak to me. You do not think about me. You have become tired of me.’ Probably they do not answer him. So he shouts at them, ‘Answer me!’
God’s people have not answered him. So again he accuses them. But God speaks with great love for his people. His speech is full of kindness and truth. God’s purpose is to bring his people, the nation called Israel, back to himself. He wants them to remember his covenant with them. God wants his people to obey their part of the agreement. He speaks to them about two main subjects.
Secondly, God reminds them about his other wonderful deeds. These were acts that he did with great power. They happened when Israel was still a weak nation. God protected the people from evil political leaders.
God is also reminding the people about a journey from Shittim (Numbers 22:1; Joshua 2:1; 3:1). They knew that many wonderful events had happened to them then. God had already rescued his people from Egypt. Then he helped them on the journey from Shittim to Gilgal.
God has reminded his people about his wonderful acts in the past. Micah speaks on behalf of God’s people. He recognises that they do not obey God any longer. God’s people need to understand this. They need to start obeying God again. They need to stop living as they do now. They need to start again in a new way.
That wrong way to think is like business. It is like a contract, an agreement that people make in business. It has rules and regulations. Yes, God has made a covenant with his people. But it is not about business and money. It is about one person’s relationship to another person. It is about each person’s relationship to God.
That wrong way was not what God wanted. This was the instruction that God gave to Israel. ‘Listen, people in Israel. The LORD is our God. The LORD our God is one LORD. You must love the LORD your God. You must love him with all your heart. You must love him with all your soul (the inner part of a person which can contact God). You must love him with all your strength’ (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).
God ordered Israel’s people to agree to his covenant. So the people must do this. They must practise the deeds that are in the covenant. They must believe in God. They way that they live should express their belief in him.
This is how God’s covenant requires people to live:
- You must do to your neighbour (to other people) what is fair and right. Israel’s leaders had taken things that belonged to the people. They had killed people. Their desire was to get as much as possible for themselves. And the rulers did not punish those that did these crimes (Micah 2:1-2; 3:1-3, 5-7, 9-11).
- You must love kindness. Some people are weaker than you are. Some people are poorer than you are. You should be kind to them. You should help them. You should do that because you want to do it. You should be happy to do it.
- You must walk (live) humbly with your God. It means that moral behaviour is more important than the rules and traditions of religion. Only when we walk humbly with our God can we practise the first two things.
Items for Discussion
- Why is God’s covenant and its requirements so effective when it is applied in a society?
- What kind of justice is God requiring of each person?
- Why is loving mercy or being merciful so important to a Christian life?
- In what ways does humility improve our ability to hear God?
28 One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” 29 “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.] 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'[b] 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'[c]There is no commandment greater than these.” 32 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him. 33 To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” 34 When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions.
Why was Mark written?
- The author of Mark likely wrote this Gospel for a community of Christians who was experiencing persecution and suffering (see e.g., 4:16-17; 8:34-38; 9:42-48; 10:17-31, 38-39; and 13:9-13). The Christology of the Gospel According to Mark is corrective insofar as it aims to demonstrate the necessity of Jesus’ suffering, as well as that of the community itself. “Jesus is presented as a paradigm of the way in which his disciples, including the Markan audience, should endure suffering” (Marcus, 29). Whereas so many people of the period were anticipating a powerful and victorious warrior-Messiah who would overthrow the Roman Empire, Mark presents Jesus as the Son of God whose destiny it was to suffer the fate of the Son of Man, i.e., to die. However, Jesus suffers innocently and is therefore vindicated by God. Likewise, although believers suffer unfairly at the hands of their oppressors, God will vindicate them as well.
Those who sincerely desire to be taught their duty, Christ will guide in judgment, and teach his way. He tells the scribe that the great commandment, which indeed includes all, is, that of loving God with all our hearts. Wherever this is the ruling principle in the soul, there is a disposition to every other duty. Loving God with all our heart, will engage us to everything by which he will be pleased. The sacrifices only represented the atonements for men’s transgressions of the moral law; they were of no power except as they expressed repentance and faith in the promised Savior, and as they led to moral obedience. And because we have not thus loved God and man, but the very reverse, therefore we are condemned sinners; we need repentance, and we need mercy. Christ approved what the scribe said, and encouraged him. He stood fair for further advance; for this knowledge of the law leads to conviction of sin, to repentance, to discovery of our need of mercy, and understanding the way of justification by Christ.
Items for Discussion
- How would you describe loving something “with all your mind, heart, soul and strength?
- Where is this behavior most prevalent in our society today?
- Why is it so difficult to apply this to our neighbors?
- Where do churches struggle with Christ’s most important commandment?
- Name three things each of us can do to honor God by following this commandment?
- 1NIV New International Version Translations