17/05/20 Micah 6:6-8
Micah 6:6 – Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, [and] bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
This passage may be seen as God’s people asking just what it is that He requires of them in order to be acceptable to Him. In Micah 6:1-5 Judah is challenged to come before God and plead their case with the hills and mountains as their witnesses. Now Micah asks what Judah should have been asking God: How may we be found acceptable when we come before you?
shall I come before (twice) – to meet; confront; come to meet; receive; go before; go in front; be in front; lead; be beforehand; anticipate; forestall.
“come before” would be a reasonable translation. While it can mean “confront”, that would be too strong a word when used in this context.
high – height; elevation. It is derived from a word meaning “to rise; rise up; be high; be lofty; be exalted”.
Note the following:
Isaiah 6:1 – In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.
It can also apply to people who think they should be exalted (made lofty)!
Isaiah 2:12 – For the day of the Lord of hosts [shall be] upon every [one that is] proud and lofty, and upon every [one that is] lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
It can be applied to raising children in a family.
Isaiah 1:2 – Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
Instead of exalting themselves with their own self-importance, Judah should have submitted themselves before God.
1 Peter 5:6 – Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
burnt offerings – whole burnt offering; ascent; stairway; steps. It has the idea of rising up toward God or heaven. Note Revelation 8:4 – And the smoke of the incense, [which came] with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out of the angel’s hand.
Translated “ascent” in 1 Kings 10:5. (“…. and his [Solomon’s] ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord ….)
(The LXX for “burnt offerings” in Micah 6:6 uses the Greek word ολοκαύτωμα = olokáftoma or holokautóma = “holocaust” = “a whole burnt offering”.)
Wherewith – With what (shall I come before Him?) Should I come with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? What does God desire of me? (This leads into Vs 8 below, where it states what exactly God requires of him.)
Note David in Psalm 51.
Psalm 51:16-19 – 16For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give [it]: thou delightest not in burnt offering. 17The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. 18Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem. 19Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.
Hosea was a contemporary of Micah. His ministry (~750-725 BC) was to Israel, ending not long before Israel went into captivity to Assyria in 722 BC. (Israel’s captivity commenced in ~740 or 733 BC until 722 BC.) Micah told Judah what Hosea had already told Israel, so why couldn’t Judah see the “writing on the wall”?
Hosea 6:4-6 – 4O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness [is] as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away. 5Therefore have I hewed [them] by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments [are as] the light [that] goeth forth. 6For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
If they are to come before God in humble submissiveness, then they must offer to God that which is acceptable to Him. It had to be the best, not just what you could afford to spare. There’s the idea of sacrifice here, that if it costs you nothing, then it isn’t worth anything to God either.
2 Samuel 24:24a – And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy [it] of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.
The animal had to be young and heathy, without blemish.
Leviticus 9:3 – And unto the children of Israel thou shalt speak, saying, Take ye a kid of the goats for a sin offering; and a calf and a lamb, [both] of the first year, without blemish, for a burnt offering;
And they learned nothing from the captivity, it seems, for after they returned …..
Malachi 1:8; 13-14 – 8And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, [is it] not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, [is it] not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.
13Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness [is it]! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the Lord of hosts; and ye brought [that which was] torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the Lord. 14But cursed [be] the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the Lord a corrupt thing: for I [am] a great King, saith the Lord of hosts, and my name [is] dreadful among the heathen.
So Micah asks the rhetorical question: Are not burnt offerings of young healthy calves acceptable? Will God accept us if we follow the order of sacrificial service? If we sacrifice exactly according to the law, then is that not acceptable? Or, perhaps, is it a case of deciding the right amount of sacrifice, or is it an inward giving such as our worship of God?
Psalm 51:6 – Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden [part] thou shalt make me to know wisdom.
Micah 6:7 – Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, [or] with ten thousands of rivers (or “torrents”) of oil? shall I give my firstborn [for] my transgression, the fruit of my body [for] the sin of my soul?
If God has required sacrifices and we give them, how are they not acceptable to God? How much do I have to offer to be found acceptable?
Or, if God is not satisfied with some sacrifices, are more sacrifices actually the answer? Or does God seek something other than your blood sacrifices?
shall I give my firstborn for my transgression – While human sacrifice was considered abhorrent to Israel, (although many did indeed do it), other nations did so quite happily, and it was the other nations who did so who seemed to be winning the battles.
Then he (the king of Moab ~100 years before Micah) took his eldest son that should have reigned in his stead, and offered him [for] a burnt offering upon the wall. (2 Kings 3:27)
The law of God strictly forbade any such sacrifices.
Leviticus 18:21 – And thou shalt not let any of thy seed pass through [the fire] to Molech, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I [am] the Lord.
King Ahaz of Judah saw human sacrifice as a necessary requirement of his religion.
2 Kings 16:3 – But he (Ahaz) walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord cast out from before the children of Israel.
Even just before their captivity, Judah was still trying to appease false gods with human sacrifices of their own children
Jeremiah 19:4-6 – 4Because they have forsaken me, and have estranged this place, and have burned incense in it unto other gods, whom neither they nor their fathers have known, nor the kings of Judah, and have filled this place with the blood of innocents; 5They have built also the high places of Baal, to burn their sons with fire [for] burnt offerings unto Baal, which I commanded not, nor spake [it], neither came [it] into my mind: 6Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter. Also note Jeremiah 32:35.
Of course, God required that Abraham sacrifice his only son Isaac, but then rewarded Abraham’s obedience by providing a substitute ram in place of Isaac. And, this is a figure of the sacrifice of God’s son which was to be made for all mankind.
Isaiah told Judah that no matter how much they followed the sacrificial law, no matter how much blood they shed, God would not accept their sacrifices.
Isaiah 1:11-15 – 11To what purpose [is] the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. 12When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? 13Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; [it is] iniquity, even the solemn meeting. 14Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear [them]. 15And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.
The pharisees were no better. They were the ultra-puritans of their day, demanding absolute adherence to the rules and regulations which they claimed were God’s law, yet were really the laws of man. But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9)
One of the factors that distinguished the Pharisees from other groups prior to the destruction of the Temple was their belief that all Jews had to observe the purity laws (which applied to the Temple service) outside the Temple. …. Fundamentally, the Pharisees continued a form of Judaism that extended beyond the Temple, applying Jewish law to mundane activities in order to sanctify the every-day world. This was a more participatory (or "democratic") form of Judaism, in which rituals were not monopolized by an inherited priesthood but rather could be performed by all adult Jews individually or collectively; whose leaders were not determined by birth but by scholarly achievement. (Wikipedia) Sounds like a Jewish form of calvinism!
The answer to their questions is in the next verse, where God makes it clear that it is not what they offer, nor how much they offer, but the attitude in which they offer anything to Him. It’s how they offer sacrifices that matters here. God demanded moral requirements of the law, not physical requirements!
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?
hath shewed – told; declared; made known; announced; reported; published; proclaimed; acknowledged; confessed. That is, they had been told; there was no excuse to get it wrong.
God had made known to them what He considered to be good, and what did God require of them? To do justly (to show justice to others), to love mercy (to be merciful to others) and to walk humbly with their God (to live their lives in submission to the authority of God).
Isaiah taught that those who could not walk humbly with their God would be brought down by force because God was to be exalted in their presence.
Isaiah 2:11-12 – 11The lofty looks of man shall be humbled, and the haughtiness of men shall be bowed down, and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. 12For the day of the Lord of hosts [shall be] upon every [one that is] proud and lofty, and upon every [one that is] lifted up; and he shall be brought low:
In the desert Israel was taught clearly what God required of them. Micah was not telling them anything they hadn’t already been told, only in different words.
Deuteronomy 10:12-13 – 12And 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, 13To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
If God has to choose between justice and sacrifice, He prefers justice every time.
Proverbs 21:3 – To do justice and judgment [is] more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.
No matter how much they sacrificed (or rather, tried to “buy” God’s favour as was the case with other gods), God simply said that physical sacrifice was unacceptable if it weren’t a part of an inward spiritual sacrifice. You can’t pay God for favours!
Even Paul taught clearly that the outward physical claims of the Jew had to be backed up by an inward spiritual change or else the outward claims would be dismissed.
Romans 2:28-29 – 28For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.
And it was God who would always have the final say on your life.
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 – 13Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this [is] the whole [duty] of man. 14For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether [it be] good, or whether [it be] evil.
2 Corinthians 5:10 – For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things [done] in [his] body, according to that he hath done, whether [it be] good or bad.