WORD STUDY – WHAT IS GOOD?
Micah 6:8: “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?”
It is what is not said in this verse that intrigues me more than what is said. What is not said is your reward for doing what is required of God. The context seems to suggest that people were bringing offerings, sacrifices and expensive gifts to God as they would to pagan gods and God is saying that He does not want any of this, He only wants us to do what is right, to love mercy and walk humbly with Him. We do that and then what do we have? Basically, you have pleased God.
There is no promise of eternal life, of healings, of restored relationships, of victories or all the other reasons a person would try to please God. Your only reward is that you have pleased God. In our Western culture we just can’t end it there. There has to be some blow back, some sort of return for all our efforts. I mean it takes a lot of effort to do the right thing, to love mercy and walk humbly with God. So what is in it for us?
There is some clue in the words what is good? The word good in Hebrew is tov which is to be in harmony with someone or something. This is verse is saying that God has shown us what it is that is in harmony with Him. It is doing the right thing, loving mercy and walking humbly with Him. That is our reward, we will be in harmony with Him?
I wonder how many people go to church on Sunday, teach Sunday school, serve in the church, do good works, pay their tithe because they want to be in harmony with God? I saw a photo of Mecca and the literally thousands and thousand of faithful Muslims worshipping God. I wondered how many are worshipping God because they just want to please Him? How many are going through these motions hoping it will win favor with God so they can have prayers answered or go to heaven and avoid hell? It is, of course, not for me say or know, only God knows the true motives behind people, but I wonder just how many people would show up to church on Sunday if it was proven beyond doubt there was no heaven or hell. This short life we have on earth is all there is. But there is a God who loves them and all they will get for their religious efforts would be just the knowledge that God is pleased with them. If there was no promise of a heaven, no fear of a hell would you still devote your life to God? Only you and God knows the answer to that one.
I am going to assume that everyone who reads this would love and serve God even if there were no heaven or hell, they just want to please God and be in harmony with Him. So what will it take to be in harmony with Him?
Do what is required. I hate that word required. It makes it sound like a demand or an order, as if God needs to be appeased and satisfied. God needs no appeasement. At least I do not want to believe in a God who is so self centered that we have to appease him if we are to get anything. . The word that is used for required is not really the word for required, this word is dresh. It really should be tavo’ which is a requirement, a demand, a claim or a right. I am not saying that you cannot imply require from dresh, but dresh has a much greater meaning. The idea of require in dresh is not a demand, laying a claim to something. It is more of the idea of doing what it takes to make a discovery. I believe that is why you don’t see any indication of a reward.
It is sort of the like the old story line where a child tries to please his parent by being an A student, an athlete, or doing something that he is really is not capable of, but tries anyways thinking that is the only way to please his parent. In the end the parent always says: “But I don’t want you to do anything that will make you unhappy, all I want is for you to be happy and do what you enjoy.”
I would render this verse this way: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what it takes to be in harmony with the Lord; and what does it take? You must do justly or what is right, and to love mercy and kindness and to walk humbly with thy God?” Doing what is right is easy enough to determine, and loving mercy and kindness is easy enough to understand, but what does it mean to walk humbly with God? Again practically every modern translation walks in lock step rendering this word tsana as humble. I suppose it could be, it really means to be modest, and lowly. But this modesty and lowliness is only to accomplish the root meaning of tsana which is to draw as close and as possible. You cannot draw close to someone if you feel superior to them. You have to lower yourself and be modest, that is not consider yourself better than the other person and maybe even inferior and then that relationship becomes very close.
To walk closely is something better understand in those days than today. We spend very little time walking these days, let alone walking with someone. It is difficult to walk with someone, you have be in step with them and walk a common pace. It is sort of like marching. In fact that is why soldiers march. By marching in step with each other they are like one, in tune with each other aware of each other. Without that unity there would be no discipline in battle. So soldiers spend a lot of time marching, getting used to the idea that they are part of a group and not a loner. If we truly walk with God we will draw closer to God for the more in step we are with Him the more in tune and in harmony we are with Him. The closer we get to Him, the less our demands for rewards become. Then we desire heaven, not for the pearly gates and escape from hell but because we are with the one that we have bonded so closely with and love more than life itself.