Archive for March, 2012

31
Mar
12

God’s Reply #2

The second complaint made by Habakkuk is in regards to God’s seeming tolerance of wicked people.  He questions how God, who cannot be touched by evil, is so patient with those who commit it.  God’s answer is lengthy, but two passages stand out.  First:

“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime!  Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?  For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”  — Habakkuk 2:12-14

In this reply, God assures Habakkuk that justice WILL prevail.  Punishment will be brought to the wicked, in God’s own time.  And more importantly, the entire earth will certainly come to the realization that God is the one and only true God.  If we worry that people will somehow escape this knowledge, this verse tells us differently.

The Lord also addresses the issue of idolatry, which is the main cause of the pending destruction to be brought by the Babylonians.

“Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it?  Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak.  Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’  Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance?  It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it.  But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”  — Habakkuk 2:18-20

I love these verses in the Bible that put idolatry in true perspective.  Real idols of wood or stone are nothing more than that – wood and stone.  How can anything divine come from something that itself had to be carved by a man?  And what is the difference between an idol and the true God?  Well, the earth – the whole earth – will one day be silent before the true God of the universe.  I don’t see that being true of anything that looks like an idol, even in today’s standards.  But God will get the attention of the entire earth, all at once.  I can’t wait for that day!

30
Mar
12

Tolerating Evil?

Habakkuk now moves on to his second complaint, which he addresses to God.

“O LORD, are you not from everlasting?  My God, my Holy One, we will not die.  O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish.  Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous?  Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?  You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler.”  — Habakkuk 1:12-14

He brings up a good point here – if God cannot tolerate evil and wrongdoing, then why does He seem to put up with evil people?  This almost seems like an impossibility – if God’s character cannot bear the presence of evil, then why does He appear to tolerate it?

What do you think He will say?

29
Mar
12

God’s Reply #1

Habakkuk made a complaint to open this prophetic book.  In this first part, he pointed out that the world was injust to those who love the Lord, and that evil people seem to succeed, even though they are seemingly undeserving.  What is God’s reply?

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.  I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.  They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.”  — Habakkuk 1:5-7

Though it may not be the rescue that Habakkuk was looking for, God is preparing the Babylonians to overrun His chosen people, as a punishment for their sins.  But we have seen time and time again throughout the Old Testament that God has a deeper reason for sending his people into captivity.  Each time He does this, it drives His wayward people back to Him.  This is not an easy way to have to learn a lesson, but it is God’s way.

So, when we see our own nation going afoul of God’s ways, and we worry that we may be in for a national downfall, should we think that it is the end?  No, because we know that God can send tribulation in order to purify His people.  Unfortunately, it is not a nice thing to endure – but God’s will be done.  He is in control.  I intend to do my best to keep my path and my family’s path aligned with God’s wishes, regardless of where our nation may go.  I trust in His blessing, and in His long-term plan.

28
Mar
12

Evil and Injustice Abound…Still

The book of Habakkuk is divided into a sensible structure.  Habakkuk makes one complaint – and God answers.  Habakkuk makes a second complaint – and God answers.  The book ends with Habakkuk offering up a moving prayer to honor what God will do.

What is Habakkuk’s first complaint?

“How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save?  Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.  Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.”  — Habakkuk 1:2-4

This paragraph sounds so similar to our own world today.  The news is full of violence and injustice every day.  Christians are laughed at.  Godly morals are ridiculed.  And evil people seem to succeed everywhere.  But this is nothing new!  What will God’s reply be?  What do you expect Him to say?

27
Mar
12

No Nation Is Invincible

Some last words from the book of Nahum – the final warnings given to the great city of Nineveh.

“Are you better than Thebes, situated on the Nile, with water around her?  The river was her defense, the waters her wall.  Cush and Egypt were her boundless strength; Put and Libya were among her allies.  Yet she was taken captive and went into exile. Her infants were dashed to pieces at the head of every street. Lots were cast for her nobles, and all her great men were put in chains.  You too will become drunk; you will go into hiding and seek refuge from the enemy.”  — Nahum 3:8-11

This tale of mighty Thebes is fitting for our country today.  It is clear that Thebes believed that, as a nation, it was virtually invincible against any invading armies.  It had geography and strong allies on her side.  Yet this great city in Upper Egypt fell in 661 B.C. to a conquering invader.  Who was the army who defeated her?  It was the armies of Assyria, where Ninevah is located!  Thus, the prophet is reminding the people of Nineveh that in the same way they can win improbable victories, their own nation can be overrun by another!

We may think that our beloved America is invincible, too.  But if God makes up his mind to teach us a lesson and cause us to be overrun, you can be assured that He can make it happen.  Yet, nations who honor the Lord and who do His will do not suffer this fate.  God make us such a nation!

26
Mar
12

The Silencing of the Messengers

More judgment is cited against Nineveh, the capital of Assyria.

“I am against you,” declares the LORD Almighty.  “I will burn up your chariots in smoke, and the sword will devour your young lions.  I will leave you no prey on the earth. The voices of your messengers will no longer be heard.” Nahum 2:13

I chose this verse out of the many verses proclaiming punishment against this city because of the last sentence.  The messengers of wickedness could be references to false prophets, to the king, or just to average people who proclaim that they know the truth, when in fact they know nothing of it.  It is satisfying to me to know that in the face of this seemingly dominant message, God is still set against these false messengers – and that is enough.

When I try to compare this verse to our modern times, I cannot help but think of our media, and the falsehoods that are spread in that realm.  Sometimes, I get very frustrated over the power that they seem to have in shaping our culture.  And yet this verse should serve to remind me that only one thing really matters – and that is this:  Where does God stand on the issue?  After all, nothing else will endure.

25
Mar
12

God or Government?

The book of Nahum the prophet opens with a stern warning against the city of Nineveh.  As we saw in the book of Jonah, Nineveh is the capital city of Assyria, and this book was probably written around the year 815 B.C.

“The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him, but with an overwhelming flood he will make an end of Nineveh; he will pursue his foes into darkness.  Whatever they plot against the LORD he will bring to an end; trouble will not come a second time.  They will be entangled among thorns and drunk from their wine; they will be consumed like dry stubble.  From you, O Nineveh, has one come forth who plots evil against the LORD and counsels wickedness.”  — Nahum 1:7-11

Who is this evil one plotting agaiinst the Lord?  Modern scholars believe the reference may be to the Assyrrian king Sennacherib, who reigned from 705-681 B.C.  Sennacherib was an evil king, and this prophecy may be against his words that the God of Israel was just like any other earthly god – unable to save His own people.  For that reason, Sennacherib asked people to put their trust in him and his government, rather than in a “powerless”, ethereal god.

Hmmm…that sounds suspiciously like some in our government today.




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