What does Jesus “require” of His followers?

Devotional thought of the day:

 6 ‘With what shall I enter Yahweh’s presence and bow down before God All-high? Shall I enter with burnt offerings, with calves one year old? 7 Will he be pleased with rams by the thousand, with ten thousand streams of oil? Shall I offer my eldest son for my wrong-doing, the child of my own body for my sin? 8 ‘You have already been told what is right and what Yahweh wants of you. Only this, to do what is right, to love loyalty and to walk humbly with your God.’      Micah 6:6-8 (NJB)

Nunc coepi!—now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve—to love!—our God with a wholehearted loyalty. (1)

If you know the Bible quote above, you are probably wondering why verse 8 just doesn’t sound right, especially if you are used to the KLV, the NKJV, NIV, or other main translations.

There are at least three reasons, at least three very important ones, in my opinion.

The first is that the NJB doesn’t use the word “require”, as in “this is what the Lord requires of you”.   Of the translations in Hebrew dictionaries and lexicons, require isn’t a major term for this.  To seek with care, or simply  to seek is how they translate they translate this.  This verse describes what God desires, it is what He has worked to, and is trying to develop within us.  It is the journey Christ takes, it is the mission of God, to seek this out in us, and to do it with care…

Yet, when the word is reduced to “require”, it becomes what theologians call “law”.  One translation even uses the word “demands”.  In doing so, it makes of God and omnipotent King, a demanding despot, a God who will strike you down, for not meeting His demands.  It is, in many ways, just the opposite of what the passage is trying to communicate, for it nullifies the very work of God, as He seeks out carefully, and He nourishes and develops us into what we are, in Christ.

The second thing that might sound odd is the “loving loyalty,” as we have always heard this as loving “mercy”.  If you’ve read my blogs for a while, or heard a sermon or two, this is my favorire Hebrew word, cHesed.  It contains the thoughts of love, mercy, favor, kindness, loyalty.  As a technical term, it describes a relationship that is so bound together that those in it will constantly work to make sure the other person is not only cared for, but that they will help the person fulfill the obligations they have to the one helping.  It is loyalty above and beyond the call of duty.  It is the loyalty that is so defined in the person of God, that we can see it in His patience with Israel, His work developing the people in scripture, from Moses and Gideon and David and Peter and Paul, to the ultimate example – God wants us in a relationship with Him so much that Christ comes to do what we cannot – to make us righteous – at the cost of His body and blood….

This kind of loyalty, mercy, love, is what God seeks to develop in us.  We can’t impress Him with what we bring to the relationship – but He works within us to help us see His love, mercy, loyalty….. and we fall in love with Him because of it.  That is what He seeks.

The third thing  is the reason I love the New Jersulalem Bible.  It doesn’t replace God’s holy Name with the substitute, “Lord” like every other translation does.   Luther’s explanation of the commandment “You shall not misuse the Name of YHWH (the Lord)” works with the positive as well as the obvious negative.  I roughly  Don’t use God’s name in vain means we should use it!  We should use it to lay our burdens down before Him, We should praise Him and thank Him and adore Him, with the name He has given us to use, to call Him by.

I sort of understand this – I have people I consider friends, people I have relationships with that are not just that I am their pastor, I am their friend as well.  It’s a little awkward when they call me Pastor Parker.  I understand the level of respect they have for me as a pastor, (or more precisely for God putting me in that office)   Some I can get to call me Pastor Dt (what i prefer to be called) or Pastor Dustin.  But there are some still that this is awkward.  I think it is the same thing – people want to humbly walk with God – which means, in their mind – calling Him “Lord” or “Master” or “Gracious Father in Heaven”.  Yet walking humbly with Him means looking for what He wants – a relationship where we call Him by name – where we bring His name and the message of His love to the world He died for, because He loves, He has cHesed for us.

What does God require of us?  What does Jesus “require” of those who are His disciples?

THe question still grates on me, because if this is what He requires, we are all toast, and abject and complete failues.

What does He seek to develop in us?  What is His desire for us? What does He want to develop is us, with all the mercy, love and loyalty that is His?

The righteousness and holiness that is ours in Christ, a relationship where we come to love and adore Him because of His mercy, love, kindness, and complete loyalty that He shows to us, and that we humbly walk with Him, hearing His voice, becoming His people, and realizing what it means to have a God who is so selfless in His desire to be with us.

That is what He seeks, someone to love……

Dearest Yahweh, thank you for the mercy You show to us, each and every day….

AMEN.

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 877-879). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on August 24, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Excellent comments, Dustin. If you look at the LXX in 6:8, it uses ἐκζητεῖ which has only four possible glosses in BDAG:
    1. to exert effort to find out or learn someth., seek out, search for w. acc. of pers. or thing sought
    2. to look for someth. with a view to securing it, desire, seek to get
    3. to look for someone with a view to some kind of association, seek out, visit
    4. to look for in expectation of fixing blame, look for, seek, in the judicial sense charge

    So the LXX translator (rightly) understood the text as you have.

    Interestingly, LXX translates חֶ֔סֶד as ἔλεον (sometimes mercy, pity)

  2. Thanks Rich!

    It’s odd to me that translations can so easily turn a gospel passage into law, especially in the Old Testament. Or overlook such a powerful concept as the Name of God, given for us to use personally, in order to again apply gospel as law…..

    This passage is powerful as law – but it doesn’t compare when translated as gospel.

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