Micah 6: 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.
Here in the prophet Micah we find a wonderful summary of what Christian living is all about. In weeks to come we are going to study the first and second parts of God’s command – to act justly and to love mercy. In particular we will be thinking about what it means to act justly in all kinds of practical issues, from international justice to social action, from debt relief to fair trade, and what it means to adopt an ethical lifestyle. But before we come to these practical outworkings of our Christian faith, we should not forget the context and the climax of the verse.
God calls us all to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Walking with God. That is the life Adam and Eve enjoyed in Eden before they rebelled against the only commandment God had given them. Genesis tells us that God is Almighty and eternal, beyond time and before time and outside time, That Creator God who is good and pure made everything from nothing and to begin with everything He created was good too; it was very good! God created human beings and placed them in Eden The word “Eden” means ’delight’ and ’pleasure’ and that is exactly what God intended for Mankind. In Eden, God provided Humankind with everything necessary for his happiness and well-being. Physically, he had abundant food and drink. For his heart, God gave man a companion so as not to be alone. For his spirit, God gave him purpose and responsibility of caring for creation and becoming a creator too. God also surrounded Man with beauty. And to satisfy their souls, the greatest privilege God gave to human beings created in God’s image was the ability and opportunity to walk and talk with His Maker, each day, like good friends.
Genesis 38 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”
God is a God of relationships. The whole purpose of creation was so that human beings could walk with God and have a relationship with God. God was walking in the garden. Enjoying the beauties of all He had created. But in the garden specifically because He wanted to walk with Adam and Eve – the crown of his creation. That was why human beings were created – to enjoy relationship with their Creator. How wonderful that must have been like! For Adam and Eve to walk in the Garden side by side with the Living God. To talk face to face with God. That was what God intended for human beings – and the Bible tells us about just a few since who have had that amazing experience.
Genesis 5:22 Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. ,,, 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.
Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.(Genesis 6:9)
Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.
Enoch, Noah, Abraham walked with God. And of Moses it was said he TALKED with God, face to face.
Ex 33:10 10 Whenever the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance to the tent, they all stood and worshipped, each at the entrance to his tent. 11 The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.
Numbers 12:6 “When a prophet of the LORD is among you, I reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams. 7 But this is not true of my servant Moses; he is faithful in all my house.8 With him I speak face to face, clearly and not in riddles; he sees the form of the LORD.
God walking and talking with human beings. That is why he created us, in his own image. If we want to know a bit about what God is like we can look at ourselves, as human beings created in God’s image. We are created for relationships. Relationships with the rest of Creation, relationships with the animals, relationships between man and wife created to complement each other, relationships with God.
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD) wrote, “You awaken us to delight in your praise; for you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
Human beings were designed to have a walking talking relationship with Almighty God. That was God’s purpose for his chosen and redeemed people Israel.
Leviticus 26:9 “ ‘I will look on you with favour and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. …11 I will put my dwelling-place among you, and I will not abhor you. 12 I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.
God walking among human beings. He is our God – we are His people. That is what it means to be truly human. The Westminster Catechism reminds us that the Chief End of Man, our destiny as human beings is, “To Glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” God created us for a relationship with Himself. And the good news is that one day we will all enjoy that relationship. We will be even closer to God than Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. That is the wonderful promise we have received in Christ, the promise we heard about before Christmas in the Book of Revelation – that one day all of God’s people will see God face to face and walk with Him.
REVELATION 21:3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
Revelation 22:3 The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.
This privilege of seeing God face to face and walking with Him is God’s gift to us through Jesus who came to share the relationship the Son of God has with the Father even with us. We thought about that last week when we heard the words Jesus spoke to Mary on the morning of His resurrection.
“I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)
As we said last week, Jesus came to share with us the relationship He has with His Father. In the Gospels we find God referred to as Father with different frequency. 4 instances in Mark, 44 in Matthew, 15 in Luke, and 109 in John. An even more remarkable variation appears if one considers only the occurrences of the absolute form, “the Father”: once in Mark, twice in Matthew, three times in Luke, seventy-three times in John. It is almost always only Jesus who calls God Father or the Father or my Father. In John only Jesus is “the Son”. Yet Jesus comes to share with us that relationship He has with the Father.
John 17 20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me.
“just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us” “one as we are one: I in them and you in me.”
Knowing God as our Father and knowing that I am His child. Jim Packer wrote, “You sum up the whole of New Testament religion if you describe it as the knowledge of God as one’s holy Father. If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.”
–J.I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1973/1993), 201-202
Knowing God as our Father. That is what eternal life is all about – knowing God and knowing Jesus – a relationship which not even death can take away! And we can enjoy that eternal life in all its fulness very simply. By walking humbly with our God.
But what does it mean? To walk humbly with our God?
Some commentators and preachers take the view that this phrase simply sums up what the first and second parts of the saying command. We will be walking with our God when we are acting justly and loving mercy. And it is certainly true that we cannot be walking with God if we are acting unjustly and neglecting mercy and lovingkindness. But I believe this third phrase is about more than simply obeying the commandments. I think walking with God includes much more than God pointing us on the right path. When Ruth and I go for a walk together we don’t just follow the same path. We enjoy being together and sharing the experience by talking together.
So “walking humbly with our God” will surely involve communication with God. And not just once a day and twice on Sundays but all the time. Turning to the Bible to listen to God speaking to us. And then praying any time, any place, anywhere, praying without ceasing. In the words of Brother Lawrence, Practising the Presence of God throughout the day. God does not just send us out by ourselves to act justly and love mercy. God invites us to walk in love with Him every step of the way.
There is a danger that Christians can be too busy getting on with living life to fit God in. We can even be too busy doing God’s work in the church or too busy reaching out to witness to the world to fit God in. Most Christians need to give much more of our attention to walking with God. I don’t have the exact quote but I remember hearing some challenging words from a letter written by the evangelist and preacher David Watson shortly before he died. He said something like this.
“I have loved the Lord’s work more than I have loved the Lord Himself.”
“I have loved the Lord’s people more than I have loved the Lord Himself.”
“I have loved the Lord’s word more than I have loved the Lord Himself.”
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
I have quote before these words of the seventeenth- century Roman Catholic Frenchman Francois Fenelon.
“Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, that He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you to conquer them, talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; show Him the wounds of your heart, that He may heal them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, your instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and to others.
If you thus pour out all your weaknesses, needs, troubles, there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject… People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back, neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say just what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved conversation with God.”
Familiar, unreserved conversation with God. That is “walking humbly with our God”.
MICAH 6:8 He has showed you, O man, 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.