God Requires Personal Righteousness

MEMORY VERSE: “He hath showed 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?” —Micah 6:8

MICAH 6:14, 6-8

UNDER the influence of leaders who were unfaithful to the Lord, Israel had sinned, and in this lesson the Lord gives them an opportunity to present their case before him and before the “mountains.” No answer on Israel’s part is recorded, for there was no legitimate reason they could give for their disloyalty to God and to his righteous laws.

But the Lord puts the Israelites in an embarrassing position by a question which would remind them of his great care over them. He asks, “O my people, what have I done unto thee?” When Jesus was on trial he was asked, “What hast thou done?” He did not reply, but if he had it would have been simply to confirm that all he had done was to go about doing good, preaching the glad tidings of the kingdom, healing the sick and raising the dead.

So the answer to the Lord’s question as to what he had done to Israel was simply that he had been the greatest benefactor they ever had. The one great blessing the Lord mentioned as having been bestowed upon his chosen people was that he had delivered them from Egyptian bondage. He had brought them out of slavery to be a free people, and had planted them in their own land.

Moses, Aaron, and Miriam are mentioned in connection with this great deliverance. Moses, of course, was the deliverer, and Aaron was his assistant; while it was Miriam who composed the triumphal song of deliverance which was sung after the people crossed the Red Sea and started their journey through the wilderness to the Promised Land.

And Jehovah continued to bless Israel. He gave them a center of worship in the tabernacle, and later the temple. He sent his prophets to them. He was to them as a shepherd to his flock. So the answer to the Lord’s question as to what he had done to his people that they should be so rebellious toward him was simply that he had done nothing but good.

The prophet asks the question, “Wherewith shall I come before the Lord”? In other words, How can I be sure that I am pleasing to him? “Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?” The last half of the Book of Exodus and all of the Book of Leviticus contain listings of sacrifices designed by the Lord for his people.

“Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams?” If one ram was all that the Lord requested, would the offering of a thousand rams cover up, or make good, for sins against his righteous laws? “Or with ten thousands of rivers of oil?” Oil was used in the typical sacrifices offered by the Israelites, but they were not to suppose that they could continue disobeying him and flouting his law and make up for it by offering an abundance of oil over and above that which he had indicated in his instructions.

The prophet continues: “Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” There was at the time an old and established custom among the heathen of offering human sacrifice, and at times this custom crept in among the Israelites. King Ahaz offered his son in sacrifice.

Our memory verse gives the Lord’s answer as to what he requires of his people: “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good.” First there is the observance of justice in our dealings with all—and to be fully just at all times is an exacting demand.

The expression, “to love mercy,” is translated in the Revised Standard Version, “to love kindness.” Paul wrote that “love is kind,” and for the Christian there is never any legitimate excuse for not being kind in our dealings with our brethren in Christ and with mankind in general.

“To walk humbly with thy God.” The word here translated “humbly” implies also modestly and submissively. We walk with God when we direct our lives in harmony with the precepts of his Word, and when we humbly accept the experiences which he may permit to come into our lives.


Had God done anything to his people to warrant their rebellion against him?

Name and explain the three requirements of the Lord mentioned in our memory verse.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |