As the youngest of three
boys, I often found myself pleading a case before the tribunal of my parents in
order to assert my innocence in some level of alleged sabotage against my
smarter and stronger brothers. I would
call the witness of my G.I. Joes, Masters of the Universe, and Centurions
(anybody remember those guys?!) in order to verify my supposed innocence.
Oftentimes, I wasn’t
innocent but I built a good case. My
adjudicators saw right through my case.
Instead of being found innocent of self-defense, I was found guilty of
the sabotage. I kept trying but my
parents were smarter.
The Lord’s people attempted
a similar tactic in their defense against the Lord Almighty’s accusations. In Micah 6:1-8, we see the Lord’s accusations
and the His chosen people’s paltry defense.
to what the Lord says: “Stand up, plead my case before the mountains; let the
hills hear what you have to say. 2 “Hear, you mountains, the
Lord’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the
Lord has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel.
people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. 4 I
brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent
Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.
people, remember what Balak king of Moab plotted and what Balaam son of Beor
answered. Remember your journey from
Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord.”
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
the fruit of my body for
the sin of my soul?
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 6:1–8 (NIV)
Using legal jargon, this
part of Micah takes on the form of a covenant violation. The Lord’s people were told what was expected
of them and they willingly and maliciously disregarded these requirements and
chose to live the way they wanted to live.
The Lord calls all of creation as a witness of Israel’s encroachment
against the covenant.
After calling the witness
to observe the proceedings, the Lord asks His people their reason for betraying
Him (verses 3-5). After all He had
done—and kept His word through the entire process—the people had quickly
forgotten His blessings and faithfulness.
Their response to Him is a
sad commentary on the state of their relationship with the Lord. They offer everything they can think of to
the Lord: “burnt offerings, calves, thousands of rams, ten thousand
rivers of olive oil” or even
“my firstborn.” Was dead
ritual what the Lord wanted?
He wanted His people
“to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (verse 8).
The Almighty Creator of the Universe and the keeper of His covenants
wanted their hearts. The requirement He
had—the very core of what they’d broken—was their love for Him. Our Lord wanted their loving devotion.
Our Lord wants our loving devotion. He wants to shape us into His image. He wants to make us look, think, and act like
In James 1:27, the half-brother of our Lord writes: “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.”
It was never empty ritual
the Lord wanted and it still isn’t. He
wants hearts that beat for His glory and Kingdom. We tend to gravitate towards the empty ritual
because it’s easier. It’s a lot easier
to go through some religious motions than to give the Lord our hearts. It’s a lot easier to make everything look like we’re deeply Christian than it
is really be deeply Christian. Proverbs
21:3 reminds us, “To do what is right and just is more
acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”
May the Lord grant us the
power to truly be Christians and not
just look Christian.
This is my desire
To honor You
Lord with all my heart
I worship You
All I have within me
I give You praise
All that I adore is in You
Lord I give You my heart
I give You my soul
I live for You alone
Ev’ry breath that I take
Ev’ry moment I’m awake
Lord have Your way in me
“I Give You My Heart”
© 1995 Hillsong Music
Publishing (Admin. by EMI Christian Music Publishing)
For use solely with the
CCLI License # 196315