“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 rives of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 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.”
One of the great benefits of committing ourselves to a program of regular Bible Reading that takes us through the whole of scripture on a regular basis is that bit by bit we find ourselves growing in our understanding of the message of the Word of God. Even more wonderfully we find that we become increasingly alert to the key questions that Scripture forces us to ask ourselves, and of the Biblical answers that are given to those questions. I believe that the Bible has at its core an evangelistic purpose. Its intent is to bring us into a living, saving faith in God’s Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore I am committed to encouraging as many people as I can to read the Bible for themselves.
One such key question and answer which encounter in the Bible is that which we find in Micah 6:6-8 where the Prophet leads us to ask just what kind of sacrifice we can offer in order to make ourselves acceptable to God. For many of us we assume that we are good people and that God will accept us on that basis. We assume that until we find ourselves confronted by God’s true holiness. When we see Him as He is we also see the corruption of our own nature. Others think that if they can only offer some great sacrifice that that will deal with their sin and make God accept them. It is to this question that the Prophet Micah brings us. It is vital to our eternal life that we ask and answer this question. How can I make myself acceptable to the Holy God? How great a sacrifice must I offer?
As Micah leads us to wrestle with this question He shows us how to answer it as well. God has given us the answer. “He has showed you, O man, what is good.” It is as if Micah is calling us to task for not knowing the answer because it is contained in the Bible. God has revealed it to us. A few references to the Scriptures will suffice to show us what God has revealed.
1) In Deuteronomy 10:12-13 we read this. “And now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all of His ways, to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands which I am giving to you today for your own good?” Moses here goes on to show what the real love and worship of God look like.
2) At its heart this text, in fact the whole of the Scriptures confronts us with the perfection of God’s Holiness, the depths of our sin, and the fact that there is no sacrifice which we can offer which will ever be great enough to cover our sin, but still we are not hopeless because God is gracious. In Genesis 22 we read about Abraham and Isaac as they are on their way to offer Isaac as a sacrifice in response to God’s call. When Isaac asks about their failure to bring along a lamb for sacrifice, Abraham answers with one of the key Old Testament testimonies to faith. “God Himself will provide the Lamb.”(Genesis 22:8) Looking centuries ahead this is exactly what God did in giving His Son for our redemption.
3) In the key Suffering Servant Song in Isaiah 53:4-6 God’s Word makes this even clearer for us. “Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. We all like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Here is the only sacrifice that is adequate to atone for our sin. God Himself has offered it on behalf of us. His word then calls us to repent, to turn from our reliance on anything of our own that we could offer for our sin, so that we can embrace the sin offering that God has given. We are commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ so that we can be saved. (Acts 16:31)