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November 21, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“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? 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? 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.”—Micah 6:6–8 (NIV)
“What do you want from me?!”
Have you ever shouted that phrase at someone in a moment of anger—your spouse, perhaps—or had one of your children yell back at you after making a simple request? If so, it’s a clear indication the relationship is under strain. Someone asks something of you, and you blow up feeling overwhelmed and that life isn’t fair (or vice versa).
That’s the scene being played out here in Micah, except the stage is much larger and the setting is in a heavenly courtroom. Earlier in the chapter, God brings a complaint against His people as both prosecutor and judge with the mountains as witnesses. He asks Israel what He’s done that’s so wrong in their eyes after reminding them of His faithfulness to deliver them from bondage.
As we read Israel’s reply in today’s passage, you can almost hear the sarcasm and contempt they had for the Lord in the series of questions they ask (paraphrased): “Are a thousand rams enough, God? Are thousands of rivers of oil enough to appease You? Do I have to give up my child to satisfy you, Lord?”
They’re basically saying, “God, You ask too much from us! Nothing we do ever satisfies you! You’re unreasonable!”
We can imagine God banging the gavel in the courtroom to restore order and then calmly and lovingly offer His response. As the Enduring Word Bible commentary puts it, God says, “You act as if it is some mystery what I require of you. In point of fact, it is no mystery at all. I have shown you clearly what is good and what I require of you.”
And guess what? There were only three things on His list—and none of them were the same as Israel’s: do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with God. Jesus simplified it even more when the Pharisees questioned Him about what the greatest commandment was, and He reduced it down to two: love God and love your neighbor (Mark 12:30–31).
Bible commentator David Guzik points out that “Israel was afflicted, but it was not because of the neglect or disregard of God. Their own sin brought their affliction upon them. In addition, what God required of them was not mysterious or difficult—they simply didn’t do it.”
In other words, when serving God seems like it’s too burdensome or that He’s unreasonable, it may be time for a heart check. Sin, legalism, and the lies of the enemy have a way of tricking us into thinking God demands too much from us. But Jesus said His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Who are we going to believe?
Pause: Take an honest inventory of how you feel about what God has asked you to do in your life? Does it seem like it’s too much, unfair, or that He seems unreasonable?
Practice: Take a moment to read and meditate on Matthew 11:28–30 and ask Jesus why things feel so heavy when He’s said they’re light. Linger in His presence a while and then go to Him in prayer.
Pray: Jesus, I’m tired and feel burdened, but You promised I’d find rest in You. Forgive me if I’ve made Your commands out to be a burden rather than a blessing and cleanse me. Show me how to take on Your yoke and to walk humbly with You, doing what’s right and loving mercy. Amen.
Rob Nieminen is a seasoned writer and editor who has written devotionals for Calvary since 2015. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. He serves in the Worship Ministry at Calvary Boynton Beach and is an avid reader, an erratic golfer, and an aspiring photographer who loves to cook and spend time with his family.