From an early age we have learned to ask “why?” Human curiosity is constant onward from childhood to the teen years challenging authority, and into adulthood of questioning God’s control over the world. The question of why can lead us to wander away from God or it can lead us to worship a God whose thoughts and ways are greater than we can fully comprehend.
The Bible helps us to begin answering the questions of why.
– Genesis 50:20 – God can turn evil into good.
– Job 38-40 – God is great with purposes and plans that we must simply trust.
– Psalms 10; 13; 22; 74; 77; 80; etc. – why leads to worship
– Ecclesiastes – “fear God and keep his commandments”
– Gospels – In the cross we see God transforms our suffering into hope.
– Revelation – God is judge and victor.
Today we’re going to begin a series and look at how God teaches us the answer to why questions from the book of Habakkuk – 1:1-11
– Habakkuk is in between Nahum and Zephaniah. Doesn’t help? Use your TOC.
– Habakkuk has 3 chapters but only 56 verses, and is known as a “minor prophet” – among 12 total Minor Prophet books in contrast to 5 Major Prophet books. The difference between minor and major prophets are not significance but the size of material, with the minor prophets each being shorter books.
– Habakkuk name means embrace,
Why Habakkuk: Trusting God In Trying Times
– God’s people need to be reminded that
o faith is a foundation for frustration. – wedding/divorce; healthy/sick; wealthy/poor & unemployed
o doubts can lead to developing faith with God or drifting away
o A nation in trying times needs a timeless word from God.
o For the church, God’s word must always stay fresh, even those books that seem unfamiliar to us.
– Habakkuk could be written today. If you haven’t asked God “why?” then you aren’t dealing with reality. Therefore, we need to hang with Habakkuk to learn what it truly means to have our only hope not in self salvation or political promises, but in the grace and power of God.
– Habakkuk was written likely early 600’s during the setting of Israel’s decline and fall to Babylon in 586BC. Israel was a nation with prosperity and promise but continued depravity and disobedience to God led to its doom, with God judging it with invading armies of Assyria and Babylon.
o Israel was like the car headed for the cliff that instead of slowing down, speeded up to see how far it could go. Indeed, the immorality and idolatry were significant.
- Billy Graham used to say similarly of USA, “If God doesn’t judge America, he’s going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Now, God has no need to apologize or account for any of His actions. Yet, Billy’s point has merit as one reflects how far our nation has drifted from God.
o If this timing is correct, young Josiah was king of Israel (2Ki 22-23). Josiah is a rare godly king and seeking to reform Israel nationally and revive it spiritually. Josiah refocuses the temple to worship God and finds a scroll of God’s laws. The people weep because they look in the mirror and see how different they look from God’s image and how far they’ve run from God.
o The 3 superpower nations of the day are battling against each other. Egypt, Assyria, and Babylon. Egypt marched through Israel to battle against Assyria and kills Josiah (2Ki 23:28-30). One of Josiah’s sons, Jehoahaz, becomes king. He’s a bad and ungodly king. After 3mo, Egypt knocks him off the throne and Josiah’s other son, Jehoiakim becomes king. But, he’s even more ungodly and undoes all the reforms and spiritual renewal of Josiah.
o All the while, Assyria is declining but Babylon is developing to become the next great empire under King Nebuchadnezzar (2Ki 24:1).
o Enter Habakkuk.
– Habakkuk has honest questions to God. The prophet Habakkuk was unique from the other OT prophets because he is not directly speaking God’s message to the people but instead directing questions to God about the people.
– Habakkuk overview is two sets of his complaint with God’s response and the last chapter him writing a song of acoustic worship to God.
– Habakkuk is more psalm-like than prophetic.
o He’s writing a psalm of lament, journaling to God his faith journey.
o In this, we can not only read Habakkuk for history but reflect for hope.
o 2 introductory reflections
When we doubt God’s presence we must pursue Him more deeply.
– Habakkuk has minimal introduction and gets right to the frustration.
– Habakkuk’s questions: “How long?” “Why?”
– Trials will transform us to either worry or worship.
– Hard times cause us to evaluate our foundation.
o Circumstances crushing your confidence.
o Trials attack your hope.
o Grief grinding on your mind.
o Pains punching you in the soul.
o Suffering shredding your heart.
– And when these time enter you will hear some people, and be tempted yourself to either be
o Superficial, trite, and cliché; which will leave you empty and fake.
o Sincere and confess your struggles. So be honest and don’t hide from God.
- Psalm 10:1, 16 “Lord, why do you stand so far away? Why do you hide in times of trouble?… The Lord is King forever and ever; the nations will perish from His land.”
- Psalm 13:1-2, 5 “Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long will I store up anxious concerns within me, agony in my mind every day?… But I have trusted in your faithful love; my heart will rejoice in your deliverance.”
- Psalm 77
- SPBC is and needs to be more of a safe place to confess our struggles, all the while pursuing God more deeply. It’s ok to not be ok, but it’s not ok to stay there. If you are in a pit of despair, then don’t sit in the dark but surround yourself with people of light and hope. If you are on the path to destruction, then don’t hit the gas pedal but roll down your window and ask for directions, or even better turn around. You see, it’s ok to not have it all together. Jesus Christ, the gospel, and God’s church is the perfect place for imperfect people.
When you doubt, that is the very moment God is developing you and for you to dig deeper.
è Cry to God like Habakkuk.
o People wonder why I often cry when preaching. I often wonder why others don’t. How can we know the desperation we face on earth and not be moved emotionally and spiritually to cry out to God to do a great work?
o Do you not care?
o Will you not cry to God over the souls of your children and grandchildren – and the next generation of our nation?
è See God in His Word.
o We’re saving v.12 and beyond until next week, but Habakkuk isn’t satisfied with God’s response to his struggles and questions. So, looking at verse 12 we see that Habakkuk begins to consider the character of God.
o In our doubts we aren’t to give up the discipline of searching for God and reading the Scriptures. We must remember that either sin will keep us from Scripture or Scripture will keep us from sin. And so, we must stay in the Scriptures. We must tell God that even if we can’t comprehend our circumstances, we are going to scrutinize the Scriptures to know more of who God is and what He is doing.
- Bible Groups – Read before and use devotional guide
- Sermon – Habakkuk through January / Mark in Feb-April
o God tells Habakkuk to write down His response so others will read, reflect, and respond in faith. Habakkuk 2:2-4 “The Lord answered me: Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies about the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late… But the righteous one will live by his faith.”
When we see the prevalence of sin we must pursue righteousness more regularly.
– Habakkuk saw iniquity, destruction, violence, strife, contention, the law paralyzed, righteous outnumbered, and justice impeded. He was tempted to give up.
o Iniquity: immorality of thought, words, and actions… permeation of sexualized society.
o Destruction & Violence: theft, thuggery, murder, abortion
o Strife: family disintegration
o Contention: media and politics
o Law paralyzed: ignorance and outright insubordination of constitutional laws
o Righteous outnumbered: churches plateau, declining, and closing.
o Justice impeded: the moral are often persecuted and punished while evil are permitted and promoted.
– God’s response to Israel’s sin was to astound and annihilate their pride by raising up an ungodly nation like the Chaldeans/Babylon. This will surprise and shock Habakkuk, and it does us today. We have difficulty understanding why ungodly nations and people succeed while the godly are shamed. Even greater the challenge is to not view earthly success with divine sanction. God uses flawed people and nations to accomplish His purposes. God’s raising up Babylon did not imply His endorsement of the nation. He noted their lack of self-control (bitterness & haste; impetuous; unthinking hotheadedness), and their self-governance, and selfish arrogance (Hab 1:6-11). But, God was chastening Israel’s own attitudes and correcting their actions.
– Ultimately, God was calling Habakkuk not to give up but to keep going.
o Habakkuk stands watch at his post to be faithful to listen to and honor God (Hab 2:1).
o God’s people can be tempted to despair and desertion of the church. Instead, Christians must devote themselves all the more to the things of God (2Tim 3; Heb 10:19-25).
o Instead, we need to know the enemy can never win because he’s already been defeated. God is victorious and God’s people need to keep fighting the battle to be able to see the gospel flag waiving.
- Russel Moore (ONWARD)– “we are not slouching to Sodom but marching to Zion” A gloomy view of culture leads to meanness. If we believe we are on the losing side of history, we slide into the rage of those who know their time is short. We have no reason to be fearful or sullen or mean. We’re not the losers of history. We are not slouching toward Gomorrah; we are marching to Zion. The worst thing that can possibly happen to us has already happened: we’re dead. We were crucified at Skull Place, under the wrath of God. And the best thing that could happen to us has already happened; we’re alive, in Christ, and our future is seated at the right hand of God, and he’s feeling just fine. If the gates of hell can’t hold Jesus back, why would we be afraid of Hollywood or Capitol Hill? Times may grow dark indeed, but times have always been dark, since the insurrection of Eden. Nonetheless, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not, the darkness will not, the darkness cannot overcome it. The arc of history is long, but it bends toward Jesus.
o Thoughts of surrender occur personally too.
- Marriage seems to be hanging not by a rope but dental floss.
- Children are on the brink of squandering life and shattering realities.
- Loved one facing terminal circumstances.
This is where Christian maturity comes. Will you live by frustrations, fear, or faith?
o Habakkuk 2:4 “the just shall live by faith. Faith is for overcoming frustrations and fear.
Ø Write out frustration and find a promise from God’s Word that responds in faith to that issue. Turn your questions into quests of faith in God’s word.
Ø Jesus is Lord…