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Archive for the tag “Habakkuk”

Praise Abound: A Study of Habakkuk 3

Habakkuk 3:1 – A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet.

As I close out this series on the book of Habakkuk, we realize that in the first chapter, he was very frustrated with what he was seeing around him. In the second chapter, he is waiting patiently for the answer that the Lord provides him. By this third chapter, he is praising God for being completely in control.

In verses 1-2, Habakkuk pleads to God for mercy. He knows that his people, and most likely ultimately himself, are being judged. He asks God to be merciful in light of judgment. Through verses 3-15, he praises God for his power and majesty. What is amazing about verses 3-15 is some of the language Habakkuk uses. The metaphors and similes are amazing to imagine. Picturing God as brighter than light, with rays flashing from his hands just warms my heart, as I can imagine it warmed Habakkuk’s.

Habakkuk 3:4 – His brilliance is like light; rays are flashing from His hand.

In verses 16-19, Habakkuk tells God that he will wait patiently through this judgment. He says that even though God is sending the Babylonians as judgment, he will wait until the day is right to come against them.

Habakkuk 3:16 – Now I must quietly wait for the day of distress to come against the people invading us.

The book of Habakkuk is comforting to those who live in an evil society and 21st century America is an evil society. There are a lot of points that we can take away from this book.

First, there are times when God doesn’t seem like He is there but in reality, He is very actively involved. Look at verse 1:12. God was using the Babylonians to achieve the purpose of judgment.

Next, Habakkuk explains that God is holy. In verse 1:13, he tells us that God’s eyes are too pure to look on evil. It is very humbling to know that God cannot stand evil, especially in our day of constant temptation and self-gratification.

Third, God not only hears our prayers, but He answers them. And when He answers them, we need to be prepared for HIS answer, not necessarily OUR answer. Whenever a person prays, we typically have an idea of how we would like the answer of the prayer to be. Unfortunately, many times, we as Christians feel that if God answered us differently, then He hasn’t answered us at all. Perhaps He is simply giving you the answer you need at the time you pray rather than giving you everything you want.

Habakkuk 2:1 – I will watch to see what He will say to me

Fourth, God is both just and good. He will judge the wicked and has the concern of the righteous always in His mind. While the righteous are not spoiled children who constantly get everything they want, God uses the wicked sometimes to bring the righteous back in line.

Finally, faith and faithfulness is a key to living a righteous life. This means that we live according the fact that God is just and righteous. Think of places in your life, right now, that need you to reconsider how you live. Could it be in your church life? Could it be in your work? Could it be in your marriage or your relationship with your kids? Or could it be simply with your relationship with God?

The book of Habakkuk, although written over 2600 years ago, is just as relevant today as it was then. I we look at Habakkuk and realize that everything God said came true, then we, as the righteous, can look back over our tragedies and realize that God is truly in control.

Habakkuk 3:18-19 – I will rejoice in the God of my salvation! Yahweh my Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like those of a deer and enables me to walk on mountain heights!

And the Oracle Tells Me…

Habakkuk 1:1 – The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.

Pick a topic, any topic. Israel and Gaza? Kids and murderers crossing the borders into America together? How about even more hot topic issues like gay marriage and abortion?

Yep, any topic.

You will most likely have people on both sides of a political, moral, religious, human fence screaming foul.

Only once in my life did I make a stance on politics that put the political story first and I realized that I had made a mistake. Since then, I have done everything I can to try and keep God first.

But a funny thing happens when we take a step back and look at the world. We begin to realize that it really sucks out there. I mean this truly. There is so much evil going on in the world today that it is enough to make Bruce Willis, Sylvester Stallone, and John Wayne cry so much that they would need testosterone injections.

Habakkuk realized, in 620 B.C., that his world was not much different from our world today.

In his time he was sad from seeing all of the sin, violence, and corruption outnumbering the righteous. Sound familiar? Sound like something we are living?

Habakkuk feels that God is not there.

Habakkuk 1:2 – How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen or cry out to You about violence and You do not save?

He starts his cry by saying, “How long, Lord, must I call for help and You do not listen….” A few verses later he even claims that the law is being “ignored. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.”

Heavy stuff!

While we don’t truly know how long it is before God replies to Habakkuk in each of his complaints, the first one seems to come pretty quickly. And God seems to give an answer that even shocks Habakkuk, as it would shock any of us today.

God says that He is allowing the evil army of the Babylonians to gain strength to destroy Judah. God knows what He is saying even tells Habakkuk that he will be “utterly astounded.” He tells Habakkuk that he won’t believe what is about to happen. By verse 11, God does say that they will be held guilty for their actions, but God is going to use the Babylonians anyway.

Habakkuk 1:11 – They are guilty; their strength is their god.

How many Christians have been praying for change to happen? How many times have we cried out to God to allow us to be the change that brings about revival in our land? How many times have we thought it was US that were the agents of that change?

What would happen if God was going to use something else? Many are calling for an economic catastrophe late next year. Or what would happen if, God forbid, a foreign army took over America? Terrorists have been trying to get a foothold here. What happens if we lose our security and it happens?

You know, God does not always give us the answers we want. We spend so much time trying to get God to give us the blessing or the answer WE want instead of the blessing or answer that HE needs to give. And we spend a lot of our time questioning the answer that God does give us because it isn’t the one we want.

How do you respond to God when that happens?

Well, here is what Habakkuk did….

First, when God says He will destroy Judah, Habakkuk reminds God of His covenantal promise for Israel to live on and he says, “My Holy One, we will not die.”

Habakkuk 1:5 – Look at the nations and observe—be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.

God told Habakkuk that he wouldn’t believe what he was about to hear, and now that is showing to be true. Habakkuk can’t understand why God would use a nation that is so evil to punish Judah. He even tells God that Judah is more righteous than Babylon.

It is very easy to think that our own country, moral standard, denomination, fill in the blank, is more righteous than others, but is it?

Look for a moment at the book of Amos. The message in Amos is that even though Israel thought they were better because of their righteousness, they weren’t. God had given the Law to the Israelites and they rejected it. They knew better than to reject that which God had given them, so that made their sins far worse than those who did not have the Law.

Amos 2:4 – I will not relent from punishing Judah for three crimes, even four, because they have rejected the instruction of the Lord

So let’s give some real world application to this.

Not even looking at countries or political powers, let’s look at individuals for a moment. We each go through times in our lives that bring tragedy and pain. It is simply this life that we live. Rather than giving people a pat on the back and quoting either Jeremiah 29:11 or Romans 8:28-29, we should help that person work through the pain. We may have to cry with them. We may have to hurt with them. We may even have to question with them.

That isn’t a place to stay. No one should stay in indifference indefinitely, but it is part of the process.

Too often we believe that questioning is wrong.

People have feelings and questions. We need to express them. Habakkuk did.

Habakkuk 1:13 – Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot tolerate wrongdoing. So why do You tolerate those who are treacherous?

I do need to say something here though. Expressing questions should be done in a proper manner. All over social media is not the proper choice. Being outright antagonistic and nihilistic toward God is not the right choice. When we have questions, we should bring them up to our elders or pastors or accountability partners. They are the ones who can grieve with us. They are the ones who will help us to understand God’s will in tragedy.

We need to balance between the extremes of self-pity and hopelessness and the other extreme of staying angry at God. Howard Hendricks once said, “Humans only occasionally achieve balance as they are swinging from one extreme to the other.”

So now Habakkuk raised his second set of questions to God.

Habakkuk 1:17 – Will they therefore empty their net and continually slaughter nations without mercy?

Now he waits patiently for God to answer. And so will we. That is Habakkuk 2 and next week’s post.

Habakkuk and the Little Old Lady Experience

Romans 1:16-17 – For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

First, I never know how to spell Habakkuk. I always want to put 2 “b” and 1 “k.” So if I misspell it, please forgive me.

While on vacation last week, I took some time and went to a local park to get in the Word. My morning devotion was Romans 1:16. That verse has become very cliché in recent history because of the Christian hip-hop movement. That has become the rally cry of the movement. There are shirts (I own one), buttons, stickers, and songs all dedicated to “116.”

I knew that Paul HAD to mean more than a Christian song lyric when he penned Romans 1:16, so I decided to make that the focus of my time in the Word.

So I grabbed my handy dandy Bible and started walking to the park. When I got there, it was empty. I was able to read through Romans 1 and trace the 1:16-17 passages back to Habakkuk 2:4. When I got into Habakkuk, I was struck by that guy’s straightforward honesty with God. I made a choice to begin reading the book of Habakkuk.

Habakkuk 2:4 – “See, the enemy is puffed up; his desires are not upright– but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness —

I made it through much of chapter 1 when a group of little old ladies came to the park and sat in the same area I was sitting. They were there to watch their grandkids and boy were they LOUD! They couldn’t walk too well, so they sat on the benches and yelled their commands to their grandkids all over the park. I think even the dead started to open their eyes thinking it was the sound of the trumpet!

I decided to close my Bible and talk to these women.

Almost immediately the woman turned the conversation around to what I was doing in the park. I told her I was studying the book of Habakkuk and her eyes lit up. She started telling me all about the book and the questions that it always brought up in her mind. This woman was amazing! I was so impressed with the knowledge of her the Bible without even opening it that I was almost speechless.

Habakkuk is one of those books that we hear a lot about with regard to injustice. Whenever someone brings up injustice in the world, the book of Habakkuk is readily quoted. Many times unbelievers, and even believers, take many of Habakkuk’s words out of context and use them to attempt to weaken the Christian message of the book.

Over the next few weeks I am going to take us through the book of Habakkuk.

We are not the only generation to realize injustice. Even though we sit in our homes and wonder why the dishonest and wicked people prosper while those who try to live moral, upright lives tend to be used and abused, we are not the only ones who have done so.

In 620 B.C., Habakkuk wrote his message.

Habakkuk 1:2 – How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen?

As has been done many times in the past, the writer’s name has something to do with the meaning of the book. Habakkuk’s name means to “wrestle” or “embrace.” Throughout the book, Habakkuk is wrestling with a significant issue: If God is good, then why is there evil in the world? And if there is evil in the world, why does it prosper?

In the book of Zephaniah, the Israelites thought something similar. Unfortunately in that book they believed that God was neither good nor evil, much less involved in life at all. The Israelites then continued in their sin. But Habakkuk looks at this a different way. He fears God and wants to do what is right, but is getting frustrated when evil prospers and good gets the shaft.

Zephaniah 2:15 – This is the self-assured city that lives in security, that thinks to herself: I exist, and there is no one else.

Spoiler alert: Habakkuk begins by worrying about the world around him and God’s seeming indifference but he ends in worshiping God. Habakkuk moves from questioning God to trusting Him.

Next week I will look at chapter 1 of the book.

This is a great study for anyone who has questioned whether God really cares about our future and the presence of good and evil in the world.

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