Author: Ron Graham
In Micah 6:6-8 the questions are asked, “With what shall I come before the Lord?” and “What does the Lord require of you?” The passage shows that God requires your dependence, your attention, and your righteousness.
¶“6With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?
7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6-7).
¶“8God has told you, O man, what is good. What does the LORD require of you?
Simply do justice; love kindness; and walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).
The poet asks what the Lord requires of humanity. But first he puts the question in this form: "With what shall I come before the LORD?" (Micah 6:6). Is there anything that we can bring to God to appease him and be forgiven of sin?
The poet asks whether the sacrifice of thousands of rams could make atonement? What about an offering of oil —10,000 rivers of it? Or would one's firstborn child be a sufficient sacrifice?
The poet’s hyperbole is telling us that no matter what extremes we went to in making a sacrifice for our sins, it wouldn't work. There is no way that we can expiate our own sins by our own efforts.
You could feed ten thousand hungry people, say ten thousand prayers, preach in ten thousand cities, gather ten thousand asteroids for a monument to God. No matter how sublime or ridiculous, nothing you can do for God can pay for your sins.
The good news is that God paid the price that we cannot pay. He paid it for us on our behalf. He did not ask for your firstborn. He gave his own Son for you.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace" (Ephesians 1:7).
We must realise that we depend upon this gracious act of God. “Nothing in my hand I bring; simply to Thy cross I cling” —Augustus M Toplady.
The poet says, "God has told you, O man, what is good..." (Micah 6:8). The Lord has spoken. In his word the Lord has shown us what he has done for us, and moreover what he requires of us. We must listen!
Jesus said, "Whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken that person to a wise man, who built his house upon a rock" (Matthew 7:24). We have to listen, and we have to do what God says.
The world is divided into the wise who pay attention to God, and the foolish who ignore God. We must carefully hear Jesus and do his bidding. He requires our attention. If we are wise, we will give him our undivided attention.
On the Day of Pentecost, when the apostles of Jesus preached the message of forgiveness, there were those who "mocking said, 'These men are full of new wine'" (Acts 2:13). But others "welcomed the word with joy" (Acts 2:41).
On that day the listeners who welcomed God’s word were saved. Those who were deaf to God’s word were not forgiven of their sins. So whilst forgiveness depends upon God paying the price of our redemption, it also depends upon our listening to the message, believing it, and obeying it.
"God has told you, O man, what is good..." (Micah 6:8). Have you paid any attention to what he has told you?
The poet now rephrases the question. He asks, "What does the LORD require of you?" (Micah 6:8). That is much the same as asking, “With what shall I come before the LORD”?
However the poet is not now enquiring as to what is required for the redemption price, because he has made it clear that we have nothing to offer that could pay it. So God, in his grace and mercy, paid it himself with the life of his only begotten Son.
The question is whether God requires anything of us as a response in order to gain and maintain the redemption he has purchased for us. The poet says yes, "do justice; love kindness; and walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8).
So, although redemption has been secured for us by Christ’s death, it is not granted to us unless we respond appropriately, like those who were saved on the Day of Pentecost.
John writes, "Jesus Christ the righteous is himself the atonement for our sins —and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world" (1John 2:1-2). The price has been paid, and propitiation made, for everyone’s sins.
However John goes on to say, "By this we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments... Whoever keeps his word, truly the love of God is perfected in him" (1John 2:3-5).
Although for the world the price has been paid, and atonement made, not all the world is forgiven. Why? Because not everyone keeps God’s word.