Micah 6:1–8 (NKJV)
6:1 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.
4 For 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.”
The Lord begins this chapter by asking why they have behaved badly toward Him. He reminds Israel of all that He has done for them, citing specifically the examples of their deliverance from Egypt and from Balak. Why would Israel turn their back on Him?
6 With what shall I come before the Lord,
And bow myself before the High God?
Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings,
With calves a year old?
7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
Ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
The Lord then speaks as if for them, asking what they could do to make amends for their sinful behavior. They list different offerings and even the gift of their firstborn child for forgiveness from God. The offer of human sacrifice may actually be a sign of their propensity to idolatry. God’s response is counter to what they would normally expect from Him.
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?
God’s response shows that the sacrifical system is not God’s desire. It is simply a means to forgiveness for imperfect men and women. Instead, God is looking for people who will live holy. Justice, mercy, and humility are hallmarks of the character of God within humanity. The principle here is that the priority for our lives should be obedience to God, not looking for how we can make amends when we sin. However, thankfully, there is a way to forgiveness through Christ. Strive for holiness: that is the priority!