DEVOTIONAL READING: Deuteronomy 10:12–22
BACKGROUND SCRIPTURE: Micah 6
Photo: Monkey Business/Thinkstock
3 O my people, what have I done unto thee? and wherein have I wearied thee? testify against me.
4 For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.
5 O my people, remember now what Balak king of Moab consulted, and what Balaam the son of Beor answered him from Shittim unto Gilgal; that ye may know the righteousness of the LORD.
6 Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He hath shewed 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?
He hath shewed 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?
GOD’S PROPHETS DEMAND JUSTICE
Unit 2: Micah Calls for Justice Among Unjust People
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. Tell what God reminds His people that He did for them and the response He requires.
2. Give examples of how the three criteria of a God-honoring life of Micah 6:8 are emphasized elsewhere in Scripture.
3. Identify his or her weakest area in acting justly, loving mercy, or walking humbly, and make a plan for change.
A. More Than Spectators
B. Lesson Background
I. The Lord Summons (MICAH 6:3–5)
A. Challenging the People (v. 3)
“What Did We Do Wrong?”
B. Charting History (vv. 4, 5)
II. The People Speak (MICAH 6:6–8)
A. Pivotal Question (v. 6a)
B. Possible Answers (vv. 6b, 7)
C. Plain Response (v. 8)
The Common Good
A. Start Here
C. Thought to Remember
HOW TO SAY IT
Gil-gal (G as in get).
Sigh-nye or Sigh-nay-eye
Redford, Douglas et al. “What the Lord Requires.” The KJV Standard Lesson Commentary, 2014–2015. Ed. Ronald L. Nickelson and Jonathan Underwood. Vol. 62. Cincinnati, OH: Standard Publishing, 2014. 395. Print.
Lesson for July 19, 2015
What the Lord Requires
This treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson is written by Sam E. Stone, former editor of CHRISTIAN STANDARD. It is published in the July 12 issue of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.
By Sam E. Stone
During the first two weeks of our study of Micah, we have considered chapters 2 and 3. Micah soundly condemned those prophets who were leading the people astray (3:5-7). They were much like the nation’s leaders whom he also condemned. The prophets would say to the people, “Is not the Lord among us? No disaster will come upon us.”
C. F. Keil pictured the scene as a judicial contest between the Lord and his people. “The prophet holds up before the Israelites their ingratitude for the great blessings which they have received from God (Micah 6:1-5), and teaches them that the Lord does not require outward sacrifices to appease his wrath, but righteousness, love, and humble walk with God (vv. 6-8), and that he must inflict severe punishment, because the people practice violence, lying, and deceit instead (vv. 9-14).”
The Lord Summons | Micah 6:3-5
God challenged the people, asking what he had done to cause them to turn their backs on him. “What have I done to you?” he demanded. In contrast then, he reminded them of his providential care of the people of Israel, as shown when he brought them back from Egyptian bondage. All of their deliverers were people whom he selected, prepared, commissioned, and directed. He also reminded them of the time when Balak king of Moab tried to have the people cursed, but Balaam blessed them instead. All of this was accomplished through the Lord’s almighty hand. James E. Smith correctly pointed out that “the Lord’s tone here is not that of an outraged plaintiff, but one of a wounded spouse or parent. Many years later the Lord Jesus would ask his auditors, ‘Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?’ (John 8:46).”
The People Speak | Micah 6:6-8
God challenged the people to plead their case before the mountains (v. 1) as he brought his charges against the people of Israel (vv. 2-5). Here the people responded, asking what they needed to do. They spoke of bowing down—literally prostrating themselves before the Lord. Interestingly, even as they inquired they showed that they had missed the Lord’s point. With what shall I come before the Lord? was their question. They were willing to bring things, but not themselves. E. B. Pusey called this “hypocritical eagerness.”
The questions continued. The people suggested that a right relationship with God might come by their making even more expensive offerings. But is God impressed by big numbers? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of olive oil? They even suggested an obviously pagan idea: Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression? The practice of using human sacrifices was a part of some pagan religions (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 19:5; 32:35). Such practices were strictly forbidden by God (Deuteronomy 12:31; 18:10).
The people had responded first by asking about those sacrifices actually included in the Mosaic requirements—offerings of animals and oil. Then, in their attempt to sound pious, the people suggested another possibility—sacrificing a firstborn child, a practice specifically condemned in the Old Testament (Leviticus 18:21).
Micah summed up the Lord’s answer saying, He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. The answer to their question should not have been hard, Micah observed. It is what God had commanded in the law (Deuteronomy 10:12, 13). What God expects from all his children is simply obedient faith. All are to live out his requirements—treating others fairly, showing mercy and grace, and walking in humble obedience with the Father.
The prophet did not introduce some new theology to Israel. Other similar announcements are found in Isaiah 5:7; Hosea 4:1; 6:6; and Amos 5:24. Micah did not replace the altar but emphasized that sacrifice must be accompanied by obedience.
The controversy was closed by the Lord’s declared answer. A. Fraser said, “Ritual offerings, even the Levitical ones, are valueless unless they express a sincere movement of the heart towards God, of which the true outward symbol is an honest character and a humble bearing in the sight of men . . . The value of a ritual offering does not consist in its amount or in its excess, but in the state of mind with which it is accompanied, and which may exist without it.”
Harold Shank concluded, “Against a human race that is self-centered and self-serving, Micah calls for hearts humble enough to submit to the Lord. Micah’s challenge anticipates the ‘Follow me’ of Jesus. Later Paul urges his readers to ‘look carefully then how you walk’ (Ephesians 5:15, Revised Standard Version).”
*Lesson based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2009, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2015 | PENTECOST
EIGHTH SUNDAY AFTER
Old Testament Amos 7:10–15
Psalm Psalm 78
New Testament Ephesians 1:3–14
New Testament 1 Timothy 3:1–7 (Supplemental)
Gospel Mark 6:7–13
Christian Worship Three Year Lectionary (with Supplemental Lectionary). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.
SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2015 | AFTER PENTECOST
Old Testament 2 Samuel 7:1–14a
Psalm Psalm 89:20–37 (UMH 807)
New Testament Ephesians 2:11–22
Gospel Mark 6:30–34, 53–56
Vanderbilt Divinity Library. United Methodist Revised Common Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.
SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2015 | ORDINARY TIME
SIXTEENTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
YEAR B | ROMAN MISSAL
First Reading Jeremiah 23:1–6
Response Psalm 23:1
Psalm Psalm 23:1–6
Second Reading Ephesians 2:13–18
Gospel Acclamation John 10:27
Gospel Mark 6:30–34
Catholic Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.
SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2015 | PENTECOST
Old Testament Jeremiah 23:1–6
Psalm Psalm 23
Epistle Ephesians 2:11–22
Gospel Mark 6:30–44
Lutheran Service Book Three Year Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009. Print.
SUNDAY, JULY 19, 2015 | AFTER PENTECOST
PROPER 11, SUNDAY
Psalms (Morning) Psalm 63:1–8 (9–11) 98
Psalms (Evening) Psalm 103
Old Testament 1 Samuel 23:7–18
New Testament Romans 11:33–12:2
Gospel Matthew 25:14–30
The Episcopal Church. Book of Common Prayer Lectionary. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010. Print.