God, Can You Hear Me? (Habakkuk 3:1-19)

WW2015-wk17“God, where are you?  Why are you doing this, allowing this pain to happen?  I thought you loved me.  I thought you were in control.” Have you ever thought these things, prayed these prayers?  I certainly have before.  Sometimes life blindsides you with brute force, situations shake you and leave you anxious and hurting.  The prophet Habakkuk, a messenger to the southern kingdom of Judah, wrestled with this. His people were committing egregious sin, worshiping false idols and even sacrificing their own children to them! As seen before, his book is comprised of his two honest complaints, God’s responses, and his joyous prayer. God was angry and he would bring judgment upon his people.

We pick up in chapter three where the prophet responds to his covenant God. Overwhelmed with praise, he proclaims, “O Lord, I have heard the report of you, and your work, O Lord do I fear. In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (v. 2). Then he recalls God’s past faithfulness to Israel: deliverance from Egypt, the Red Sea rescue, and the conquest of the Promised Land (vv. 3-15). The transformed prophet declares, “His were the everlasting ways” in verse 6. The same God who rescued His people in days past will surely do so again. The Lord’s purpose was this:  “You went out for the salvation of your people, for the salvation of your anointed” (v. 13). By crushing His enemies, the Lord brought salvation.

Then, the stark reality of it all settled in. The Babylonian judgment was coming swiftly. His response: “I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me. Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us” (v. 16). Then, with joy, he rejoices! Calling God’s people to worship, he ends with expectant hope. “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength” (v. 19). Grim circumstances were divine plans in disguise. Our faithful God desires our full trust and confidence. Habakkuk is a powerful model for us to follow.

Ultimately, the Messiah, coming deliverer, would bring restoration and redemption. This was future hope for present pain. First, Judah was judged for their sin, then they were rescued by their God. Today, we trust in Christ, who bore God’s wrath for our sin. His judgment brings us salvation (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Jn. 2:2; 4:10).  Just as Judah was delivered from bondage, Christ delivers us from our present sins and struggles. Our response is joyous praise! Do you trust in him for your needs today?

Reflection Questions: 

  • Do you believe Christ has delivered you from your sins?  If so, do you believe he is in control of your circumstances?  Is fear keeping you from trusting God?

This week’s devotional was written by Steve Sering. He leads worship with Circle City Canvas Church in Indianapolis and is a student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Trusting in the Sovereign (Habakkuk 1:12-2:20)

WW2015-wk16Habakkuk brings his complaints unto the Lord and has many questions concerning
the evil brought upon Israel by the Babylonians.  His heart wrenches at the social injustice he sees at the hands of a ruthless and pagan nation. His complaints are legitimate from man’s point of view and his call out for justice to the one true God shows his understanding of Who the Lord is and of His concern for justice in His creation.

Habakkuk shows his knowledge of the Holy (1:12-17) by reminding God he knows Who He is and this is important for us as well whenever we begin our petitions directed towards the Most High. Where Habakkuk seems to fail is when he doesn’t listen to his own understanding of God. He speaks of His intolerance for evil and passion for justice and even reminds God that He knows He is using the Babylonians as “your instrument of punishment” for the sins of an adulterous Israel. Though he declares to understand and know the Lord and His plans, his human position limits his view of God’s whole plan of destroying evil and redeeming all things.

How many times are we like Habakkuk? How many times do we proclaim all of the knowledge we understand concerning God and His plans and fall short of His working behind the scenes?  God replies to Habakkuk, reminding the prophet that evil will never reign supreme and righteousness will prevail, always and forever.

In every generation this narrative plays out. “How long, Lord” pleads the captives in Egypt waiting for the deliverer to come, the Psalmist throughout the Psalms, and the Saints beheaded who are beneath the golden altar (Rev. 6:10). We too cry out “How long, Lord” till You come and destroy evil and restore all things by righteousness? Our sight is limited and our faith is then activated and grown.

As we look around at the evil that seems to be permeating our culture today, inciting us to act in haste, not wisdom, we must stop and trust in the promises of God. We are to be the salt and the light of this world as Jesus teaches, even in the face of losing what we perceive as our rights and persecution on many levels. Our strength to do so comes from the Spirit of the One Who has promised His justice in His timing according to His purpose. Our only remaining response should be, “Your perfect will be done. Amen!”

This week’s devotional was written by Nelson Poynter. He is married to his wife Chris, is a graduate of Crossroads Bible College, and has a heart for God and for His people. He writes at http://www.nelsonpoynter.com

Bringing Our Questions to God (Habakkuk 1:1-11)

WW2015-wk15Have you ever looked around at the world and wondered what in the world has happened? Do you ever see the injustice taking place and ask, “God, where are you?” If you were completely honest, I am sure the answer would be “Yes!” We look at the world, see the sufferings and the persecutions of Christians, and in our hearts we inquire God as to what He is up to. This is not anything new. The prophet Habakkuk posed this question, “O LORD, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (verse 1). Habakkuk sees the injustice and violence going on and does not understand what is going on. Yet, in his loss, he turns to the LORD. While he doesn’t understand where God is at work, he goes to Him. And the LORD answers him. In His answer, the LORD shows He is not indifferent to what is occurring nor is He uncaring. God is, indeed, doing a work (verse 5). The astounding truth, however, is the work itself. Verse 6 tells us, “For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, who march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own.” God will use the Chaldeans, enemies of Judah, to bring judgment upon Israel for their sin (vv. 5-11). They are not innocent. They are being given their due judgment for participating and rebelling against God. Not all is without hope, though. As will be seen throughout Habakkuk, God responds to Habakkuk and brings him to the reality that He uses painful experiences for His sovereign purposes. This is seen most clearly in the gospel. God’s judgment, His wrath, was satisfied in the suffering of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. His sovereign purpose because of His justice is to rightly punish sin. Because He is just and justifier, He can save (Romans 3:26). Jesus Christ took our sin, took God’s judgment, and we can be forgiven and saved. So, when we see evil around the world, may we look into our lives and pray for God to open our eyes to repentance and to pray the same for others.

Reflection Time:

  • How do you respond to the injustice around the world, especially toward those of faith? What do you learn from God’s response to Habakkuk?