What does God want us to do, and how are we supposed to live in a way that is pleasing to Him? Is it for us to do big, extravagant actions to demonstrate our faith?
Or are small acts of devotion what God requires?
This week, we’ll look at what God says is the way of life that pleases Him in our lesson from the Prophet Micah.
I trust you’ll find the message encouraging as God’s demands are not difficult or unreasonable. He simply wants us to act as He does with His people, with justice, mercy, kindness, and humility. And yes, our God is humble and demonstrated that in the ultimate act of humility when Jesus, “who was in very nature God, humbled Himself, became human and died on the cross.”
Below are the podcast, video, and notes on it.
MICAH: How can we please God?
The eternally important question
A focus on Micah 6:8
teacher, Yvon Prehn
This lesson was motivated by a Question asked
• In my Sunday School class, a member asked, “What does God expect from us?—and specifically, in response to some who said that we should “live beyond the expectations of the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount.”
• Granted, I’m not sure what “living beyond the expectation of the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount” means as both of those are pretty high standards and I’m not sure we ever live up to, let alone surpass them, but one thing I do know is that the heart’s desire of many of us is to please God.
• With that in mind, I have a passage I want to look at in depth that I trust will give us some guidance.
He has shown you, O mortal, 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.
• In this lesson, we’ll look at each term and what the words mean
• Then at additional verses related to the key terms
• I’ll suggest applications, that will help us be “doers of the Word”
• With the goal to help us know how to act in our current world and always
• I find this very restful and possible
• But first a little history and the setting of the book it comes from
Historical setting of Micah, one in a long history of prophets to God’s people
• Prophesied the same time as Isaiah, about 773 A.D.
• Previously the Kingdom under David and Solomon had split in two and the Northern Kingdom, Israel had turned to worshipping other Gods around 930 BC
• Elijah and Elisha preach to Israel 870-842
• Amos, Jonah, and Hosea prophesied during approx.
785-722 BC primarily to Israel.
• Warned them of God’s judgement because of their sins, which were clearly defined in the early books of the Bible and his covenant with them
• But they didn’t listen and judgement came when Assyria conquered them and led them off as captives in 722 BC.
Judah SAW what was happening to Israel
• As if in CA, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara Counties were destroyed and Ventura and LA were left
• Israel was destroyed because of their sin, blotted out as a nation; taken captive.
• But knowing and seeing all they did, did that change them?
• No—nor did it change God’s love to them.
God didn’t give up on them—more prophets sent
• Isaiah, Jeremiah, Zephaniah
• All warning them, challenging them to live as God wanted them to.
• I won’t go into the political and historical specifics here but look at…
• What matters most to the Lord, no matter what is happening
• And that is to remember that, we are all responsible for how we as individuals act.
• History moves on – God’s requirements stay the same.
Overall Pattern in Obedience
• Little things mean a lot to God—Micah 6:8, not about extravagant actions, similar to
• The New Testament words of Jesus, when He said,
• “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. Luke 16:10
• Little habits of life and work show what is truly in our hearts
• Navigator’s (and military) emphasis on life disciplines is foundational to spiritual discipline.
• Habits can be changed for good—never easy, but possible.
• ALSO foundational to remember….
God is not impressed with big things if not done in His will and His way
• Matt. 721 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
• What is the “will of the Father in heaven?”
• There is always the temptation to think it is a BIG sacrificial action that will please God, but that isn’t it.
• The same question and God’s answer is in Micah.
What does God want?
• People asked petulantly it seems
• Micah6:6 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 olive oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? (as a current pagan practice required, that many participated in)
• God’s answer
8 He has shown you, O mortal, 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.
• Let’s look more closely at each requirement.
To act justly
• TWO WORDS: `asah “act” “to do” KJV
– 1) to do, work, make, produce (action, don’t just think it)
• מִשְׁפָּט “justly” mishpat
• 1) judgment, justice, ordinance
• b) justice, right, rectitude (attributes of God or man)
• e) right, privilege, due (legal)
• f) proper, fitting, measure, fitness, custom, manner, plan
• Beyond thinking it is a good idea, actually doing something, doing what is right, aligned with the attributes of God—all actions in line with God’s laws
Acting Justly—a way of life, not a singular action
• Contrasted with tsĕdaqah usually translated “justice” in the OT, which means righteous
• Mishpat in contrast, has to do with ALL God’s laws
• Leviticus 18:4(KJV)Ye shall do my judgments, (mishpat) and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.
• The idea also is that justice is for ALL people, not just the rich and powerful
• Care about that was/is to distinguish God’s People
Additional notes on Justice,
from Christianity Today
• Justice flows from God’s heart and character. As true and good, God seeks to make the object of his holy love whole. This is what motivates God throughout the Old and New Testaments in his judgments on sin and injustice. These judgments are both individual and corporate in scope.
• Biblical justice involves making individuals, communities, and the cosmos whole, by upholding both goodness and impartiality. It stands at the center of true religion, according to James, who says that the kind of “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). Earlier Scripture says, “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern” (Prov. 29:7).
Justice and peace
• One of the clearest and most holistic words for justice is the Hebrew shalom, which means both “justice” and “peace.” Shalom includes “wholeness,” or everything that makes for people’s well being, security, and in particular, the restoration of relationships that have been broken.
• Justice, therefore, is about repairing broken relationships both with other people and to structures — of courts and punishments, money and economics, land and resources, and kings and rulers.
Other verses on Justice—many, many throughout the Bible, many in connection with the less fortunate
• Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute, Psalm 82:3
• Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart. Zac.7:9-10
• Hate evil, and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph. Amos 5:15
• Blessed are they who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times! Psalm 106:3
• But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream! Amos 5:24
To love mercy
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice” Matt. 12:7
• TWO WORDS 1) אַהֲבָה love‘ahabah
– a) human love for human object
• 1) of man toward man
• 2) of man toward himself
• 3) between man and woman
• 4) sexual desire
• 2) God’s love to His people
• חֶסֶד mercy checed
– 1) goodness, kindness, faithfulness
• COMBINED meaning to love mercy, kindness in the same way God loves us (that’s a lot)
Other places, OT, love‘ahabah
used, examples of love
• Genesis 29:20 So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel, but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her.
• Deuteronomy 7:8 But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your ancestors that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
• Hosea—continuing to love, show mercy even to an unfaithful wife
• And Hosea is one of best examples, showing mercy when treated very badly.
How we are to love mercy, kindness?
• With the same intensity that Jacob loved Rachel and served 7 years for her.
• With the same passion the Lord loved his people and redeemed them.
• Loving as Hosea loved an unfaithful wife.
• Loving mercy in this way goes far beyond tolerating the sins and irritations of others.
• From passive to active actions for their good.
Verses on Mercy
• Characteristic of God: Deuteronomy 7:9 therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;
• A source of our help: Psalm 59:16 I will sing of thy power; yea, I will sing aloud of thy mercy in the morning: for thou hast been my defence and refuge in the day of my trouble.
• Required if we want mercy: James 2:13 Judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
• Part of wise living: Proverbs 3:3 Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart:
• Reminds of us of the description of what should characterize us in
Eph. 4:15 on “speaking the truth in love.”
• Without mercy, God’s covenant, his power, his laws and his truth can be unbearably harsh.
To be like our God
• Doesn’t mean to be harsh and demanding.
• That is a distorted idea of spirituality and strength.
• NO ONE is impressed with how right you are or will thank you for grinding them down with accusations of a wrong done.
• We are to be kind and merciful.
To walk humbly
• TWO WORDS 1) yālaḵ to go, walk, come
– 1) to go, walk, come, depart, proceed, move, go away
– 2) live, manner of life b) to lead, bring, lead away, carry, cause to walk
• tsana` צָנַע Humbly
– 1) to be humble, be modest, be lowly
• a) to show humility
– 2) modest
Walking is active, intentional, continual—with consequences
• A way of life toward, away from or with God
• Negative examples
• Ps 78: 10 They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law;
• Psalm 89:30 30-33 If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; 31If they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; (results of that walk)Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my loving kindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail.
Walk, positive examples
• Genesis 5:22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: (and one day he simply walked into the presence of God)
• Genesis 6:9 These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.
• Genesis 17:1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (meaning to be complete)
What does walking humbly mean? What does humility mean?
• What does walking humbly mean? What does humility mean?
• Often misunderstood
• True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.
• Contrast with Pride—see C.S. Lewis
• The vice I am talking of is Pride or Self-Conceit: and the virtue opposite to it, in Christian morals, is called Humility. You may remember, when I was talking about sexual morality, I warned you that the centre of Christian morals did not lie there. Well, now, we have come to the centre. According to Christian teachers, the essential vice, the utmost evil, is Pride. Unchastity, anger, greed, drunkenness, and all that, are mere fleabites in comparison: it was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind. . . . . . .
Why it is the anti-God state of mind, Lewis continues
• As long as you are proud you cannot know God. A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.
• That raises a terrible question. How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God.
• Phil. 2 tells us what the true God is like
• 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
• 6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
On walking humbly
• Ultimate example was Jesus
• “Who in very nature God” humbled himself to become human and then died on the cross.
• Humility, service, putting others first is a core characteristic of our God.
• Satan is always the one who says, “I will ascend.”
• If position is our primary concern, we are reflecting the enemy, not God.
Active godliness a distinctive of the Christian faith
• In contrast: Deepak Chopra (and the teachers who influenced him) believe: “Saintliness becomes realistic by seeing it as a state of higher consciousness.”
• That is NOT true. Saintliness, becoming “set apart” like our God is the pursuit of the active lifestyle reflected in Micah 6:8–KEY on all –not just that we understand the words, but we live them
• “act justly” act in line with ALL of God’s law for all people
• “love” mercy—as intensely as romantic love, we should care about being kind to others
• “walk” humbly—a way of life, understanding who God is and walking worthy in response to it
Conclusion—God wants us to live the lessons learned
• This week, focus on Micah 6:8 in your lives.
• Take time to pray, journal, plan how you can put those commands into practice.
• Remember it is the little things—acting justly, loving mercy/kindness, walking humbly with your God that is important to our Lord.
• No matter how chaotic, sad, or challenging the world might be, in the circle touched by our lives, we can represent our God as we live justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.
That’s all for now,
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