The people of Israel knew they had failed God. And here they wanted to make God happy once again. They fretted over what might appease an angry God – worship, offerings, sacrifices? But God told them it was not that complicated. What God wanted was not praise and worship showered upon God – God wanted justice and kindness for others, and to walk alongside God.
How can we please God? By doing the same. By fighting for justice. By treating others as well as we treat the people we love the most. By walking with God, talking with God, and being fully present in the world God created.
Hear what the Lord says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the Lord, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the Lord has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel. “O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the Lord.”
“With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, 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?” 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?