Michah 6:8 – A reflection

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.

He

This signifies the LORD, God almighty.

Has told

Shows that God interacted with creation and spoke to

You , O mortal

us. The creator of all has spoken to us which means that we should listen to what has been said for we are mortal beings. The implication is hat we are inferior to God, also that God is not mortal as it seems to be a different ontological category therefore we could suggest that God is eternal.

What is good

God has given us a moral standard. As he is eternal and he has declared what is good we can treat this goodness as objective. It comes not from man but from God! This places an emphasis upon the value or worth of an action and, by necessity, shows that what is good is not arrived a by human justification or reasoning but stands apart from ourselves and is therefore revealed by God.

And what does the LORD require of you

Having been told the standard of goodness we are asked, rhetorically, what was it that we were told. Have we understood? Has the significance of the almighty creator and sovereign LORD over all creation speaking to us meant that we have taken what he revealed to us about the nature of goodness, that goodness that we cannot arrive at by our own puny attempts of reason or deduction but that stems from The majesty of the eternal being revealing to contingent, subsistent, mortal creature the nature of goodness that reflects his holy character? Require of you? We have not only been told what this holy standard of goodness is but we are in turn expected, required, to live up to it. We are expected to practice this standard of goodness that has been revealed to us. The LORD of all creation is entering into loving relation with us by allowing us an insight to the nature of his very being, the being that by its very nature should be un-knowable to us as mortals. Having bridged the divide between eternal, timeless God and contingent mortal, God enters into relation with us and allows us knowledge, however limited, of himself and in return we are expected to live by his standards for no other reason than because he has said it. This is not an egotistical God who wants to command our every move but a God of grace who has allowed us to know, to grasp at the possibility of knowing, that which is unknowable. In response to this revelation, obedience is the only proper response and that obedience is demonstrated through behaving according to his standard of goodness that he has told us, though we be but mere mortals.

But to

But to, the to signifies a verb such as ‘to do’ or ‘to run’ or ‘to live’. It presupposes an action. The but begs the question as to whether there is anything else other than what follows. The question is, what are we required to do but…? Is there anything else that we are to do other than what follows in the next phrase? The indication is that the next phrase/s will be sufficient. The standard of God has been revealed and it is, in and of its self, complete with no extra rules, regulations or requirements necessary.

Do justice

Do is a verb, in fact the very verb that was tantalisingly hinted at by the ‘to’. We’re we are commanded ‘to do’ we are commanded ‘to act’. And what are we to enact? Justice. Justice, properly understood, is the administration of consequence as determined by the morality of an action. When justice is spoken of we must always hear the silent command of inspection and judgement that is hidden behind the word justice, for without inspecting and judging an action how are we to know what consequence to administer? That the first thing God demands of man is justice is a truly terrifying thought! For just as we are to, presumably, look at our fellow man and inspect and judge their actions and administer the consequence where appropriate, we are also called to be inspected and judged by our fellow man and in that situation, would we desire the consequences of our own actions and choices to be administered to ourselves? In the interest of the fulfilment of gods requirements the answer is aye, but in respect to our own well being and desires it is inevitable that we shall be found lacking in good and shall suffer the consequences for the bad. However:

And to love kindness

This verb stands alongside the first one as one that is required of God and is not to be treated as extra to his requirements but as integral. It is in this verb that we find hope. ‘To love’ is not to feel fuzzy emotions, after all how might fuzzy emotions towards the concept of kindness be understandable in terms of revelation for that which is eternal to that which is temporal? At once we state the situation of fuzzy feelings towards kindness as a divine requirement of the almighty it is obvious that it is absurd and ridiculous. To love something is to cling with perseverance to the upkeep and well being or maintenance of the object of that love. Here it is kindness. Although we are called to do justice, we are called to strenuously enact and uphold kindness. There is no temporal significator in this phrase, this is an imperative that stands true as the revealed desire or will of God today, just as it did when he said it in the past (he has told) and it will remain true in the future throughout any and every situation, even those in which we are to perform, to act out, justice. It is here that the profound theological tension that often seems to authenticate genuine revelation of God, shines through. We are called to ‘do justice’ but equally we are called to ‘love kindness’ in that order! So having obeyed the hidden command of inspection and judgement that is intrinsically bound up in the command

do justice’ we must then ‘love kindness’. That is not to say that the person is free from judgement, far from it, but when it is in our power to do so we should pass judgement and then graciously waive the consequences in order that we might obey the last element of the command that has been revealed as conforming to the standard of goodness that God desires us to live by.

To walk humbly with your God

To walk suggests a journey, a journey of unspecified length or destination admittedly but a journey none the less. This journey is something that is not optional. It is part of the requirements of God that are essential and not extracurricular, as it were. We know not where the journey will go or how long it will take but we know three things for sure. Firstly, that it is commanded by God (again I quote, He has told You); secondly that it is to be done humbly. This means that we walk out of obedience to the revelation of God’s command because he has commanded it. As the command finds its origin wholly within God, not within any reason or logic of man, we are to do it in the sight of God and not of man. If we were to do it for man we would do justice and love kindness and be tempted to do it as a performance for the sake of human praise and adoration. Indeed many do precisely this and as they perform for man, they are inspected, judged and suffer the consequences at the hand of their fellow man. However, if they walk in the sight of God it is to be hoped that God will be the one to inspect and judge and it is also to be fervently hoped that the good God, who has made known to man what is ‘good’, will remain faithful to his own revelation and that God might see fit to cling with all of his eternal and sovereign might and power to uphold his own value of kindness and be disposed to look upon us with kindness also in order that we might be disciplined to walk humbly before him and

With your God

The fact that we walk ‘with’ God reinforces the concept that, having had God reveal his standard of goodness to us by his own volition, we are to respond to the relational expectations that action places upon us. The act of requiring suggested relationship and here we find that relationship qualified; Shockingly so! Although we are to respond in obedience as the appropriate response to the unknown making himself known and our instruction in his value of goodness, here we are called to walk ‘with’ God. We walk humbly in the sight of God as a consequence of the understanding of the acts of inspection and judgement and the mercy of kindness, we walk humbly in the sight of God as an act of obedience and faithfulness and through that obedience and faithfulness we walk not only in the sight of God, but along side him. We are still mortal and he eternal, but by his power and will he has made himself known to us and expressed to us his goodness by which we live, by which we can relate to him and in relating to him the relationship changes from that of no-thing: some thing; creator: creature; eternal: temporal; judge: judged; LORD: mortal into one of equality. By lowering himself into our comprehension and by being submissive to his will in obedience we, in turn, are lifted up and the gap between the unknown and known, the gap between God and mortal shrinks until the divide is no longer present. God is still God, eternal and unknowable and gloriously hidden and Man is still Man, temporal and known and obviously seen but the relationship is that of person to person.

Your God

Your, our, human’s. By living in obedience to the will of God which was revealed by God, and which has its origins in God and in God alone because the revelation is that of the goodness of God, not of the self justification and logic of man, God permits himself to become our God. Make no mistake, through our obedience God has not been tamed or subdued! Indeed as it is through obedience our relationship places us eternally as subordinate to the LORD. But he is our LORD! His person is knowable to our person and our person is known to his. He has chosen us to be his and allowed himself to be ours. Ours to have knowledge of through his revelation, ours to obey, ours to walk along side with on our journeys, no matter how long they may be or where they are headed we can now travel them in the knowledge that when we live in obedience to his standard of goodness, we live and travel with him: our God.

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God.


An old piece of mine from September 2013

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