The NASB entitles this section of three verses:
What Does the Lord Require?
But if you read the words to gain understanding, there is something more here than oppressive demands.
Micah 6:6-8 NASB With what shall I come to the LORD And bow myself before the God on high? Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? (7) Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams? In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (8) He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?
I am not a fan of poetry, but as I looked these three verses, this is what I saw. (NLT)
What can we bring to the LORD?
Should we bring him burnt offerings?
Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves?
Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil?
Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins?
No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good,
and this is what he requires of you
to do what is right,
to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your God.
If I dissect the passage, the first thing I am confronted by is this:
- “ What offering should I bring when I bow down to worship the LORD God Most High?” ( CEV)
I should not apply human attributes to God in trying to understand this because human characteristics have greed and selfishness attached to them, and these are things that have nothing to do with God’s character. In my desire to comprehend a sentence like this, what if I compare to people who think they have everything. There are always those who, when you think about what to buy for them, you struggle because they have the resources to buy anything they want, and therefore open the gift you gave them, feign a smile, and quickly set it aside because they already have at least one.
The reality is, we, outside of what God makes us, have nothing to offer him.
The association we should be able to make is that the Jews in this scenario, are religiously bringing the sacrifices/offerings that God ordered.
[I have often thought about why God put such heavy demands on these people, and here is what I came up with. By the time Moses leads them out of Egypt, they are nothing less than Egyptians. Oh sure, there are a few that still remember their oral history; this fact is obvious because Moses was raised by his mother until she deemed it ridiculous to having him suckle on her anymore. That amount of time was long enough to impart to Moses who he was – a descendant of Abraham. To prove my point, when Moses saw the Egyptian, who was beating “one of his own people”, Moses killed the man; but this does not mean that everyone held tightly to any moral standard, for there was none. Remember, every man did what was right in his own eyes. Not long after escaping from Egypt Moses comes down off the mountain after forty days and finds “God’s people” roasting their children to the god Molech, one of the many gods these people brought out of Egypt. God had to straighten them out. I sort of see it as if you trying to control a massive street riot; sadly, in most cases, extreme and severe actions are necessary to restore order, and that is what we see.]
Typically, the Jews would be coming with a sacrifice, but in this verbal exchange, there is a sense of sarcasm as though God is reading their minds, and merely saying what they are already thinking.
- “Shall I come to Him with burnt offerings, With yearling calves? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts?”
God challenges the whining of Israel with a question, and then answers the question with,
“Does the LORD take delight in thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil?” No, He does not, however, projecting into the future, God will sacrifice his son in one final act of salvation for the entire world.
- “He has made it clear to you, mortal man, what is good and what the LORD is requiring from you—“ (ISV)
This idea that He has made what is good and what the Lord requires, clear to us, makes me think. Before the law came, humans, it seems, were a law unto themselves. That lack of interaction with written law, or the voice of God, doesn’t seem to have been an excuse for them. That sin, now incorporated within us, made humanity responsible. [Read Romans 5:13-15, and see if you agree.]
We can take this logic and responsibility all the way back to Adam and his son, Cain. With nothing more than an assumed knowledge of good, God holds Adam responsible for the entrance of life-altering sin, into the world. There is much to this statement, and I don’t have the space to cover it all now, suffice it to say that Adam had been given inside information on how everything was to play out. So when Adam gives up the rights to the earth through his tacit consent with Satan, the battle for control of the planet was on. Now God quietly tells the man about the damage he had done, the consequences of his actions, and the only way the damage would be undone.
But what about Cain?
In the story of Adam, we never see God speaking directly to Eve at any point. Therefore, we can only assume that information and instructions were passed through Adam. This would have been the same method passing information to Abel and Cain. Abel, as we see, knew how to make a sacrifice; therefore, we can logically assume that he knew what that sacrifice required and why. We know this because God gave Abel His approval, saying, “he had done what was correct;”
Genesis 4:4 ISV while Abel offered the best parts of some of the firstborn from his flock. The LORD looked favorably upon Abel and his offering,
Cain, on the other hand, chose to bring whatever he wanted. It wasn’t even the first fruits.
Genesis 4:3 ISV Later, Cain brought an offering to the LORD from the fruit that he had harvested,
Again, I want to point out that this all happened, “before the law of Moses.” So what then governed people like Adam and Cain?
Adam enjoyed something none of us have experienced, direct contact with God. In these direct conversations, is it possible that God told Adam how to live? Perhaps another way to understand this would be to say; God taught Adam what was right, and instilled a moral baseline and authority in him. Indeed that is a possibility. A very revealing scenario is played out in Genesis chapter three.
Genesis 3:7-8 ISV As a result, they both understood what they had done, and they became aware that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. (8) When they heard the voice of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden during the breeze of the day, the man and his wife concealed themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
Previously, they knew good, but now both had the knowledge of evil. If you paid attention to the wording of verse 7, you saw that there was a process, for they became aware.
The word evil that we find in Genesis 2:9, a part of the description of the fruit they were not to eat, has a rather broad definition. The Hebrew word is rā‛āh:
It is “an adjective meaning bad, evil. The basic meaning of this word displays ten or more various shades of the meaning of evil according to its contextual usage. It means bad in a moral and ethical sense and is used to describe, along with good, the entire spectrum of good and evil; hence, it depicts evil in an absolute, negative sense, as when it describes the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary)
Note what Genesis 3:7 says, “they both understood what they had done.” I present this as evidence that they now knew both good and evil. Since this is the first occurrence we see of them wearing any coverings, then where did they get the ones they were about to wear?
Genesis 3:21 ISV The LORD God fashioned garments from animal skins for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
Most assume making clothes was all God did; it was not, and Cain is our evidence for that.
Question: was Cain physically there when God made clothes? NO, and therefore knowledge of what he was supposed to do – in following the law, must have come through Adam. Look at what Genesis 4 tells us about Cain and his sacrifice.
Genesis 4:5-7 ISV but he did not look favorably upon Cain and his offering. When Cain became very upset and depressed, (6) the LORD asked Cain, “Why are you so upset? Why are you depressed? (7) If you do what is appropriate, you’ll be accepted, won’t you? But if you don’t do what is appropriate, sin is crouching near your doorway, turning toward you. However, you must take dominion over it.”
The NIV says, “If you do what is right.”
So, we really cannot escape this idea of “law” being a part of who we are. Every human is born with the knowledge of good and evil. Just as Cain had to take dominion, so do we.