Habakkuk 1 & 2 – Our Approachable God

Posted: 20 March 2011 in Sermons

C Pent19   03 Oct 2010
Prince of Peace – HC

GMP – Text from the Holy Spirit through the Prophet Habakkuk in Chapters 1 and 2 of his writing.

Intro

As you all know, the Lord has led me to proclaim His Gospel within the internet gaming community.  Through this ministry I have the pleasure of telling folks of the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified for the sins of the world.  Of course, it also offers opportunity to hear people complain of how God seems to have forsaken His flock, how God seemingly punishes His children for their wrong doings and is unfair to those who strive to do His will while rewarding those who obviously strive to violate almost every one of His commandments.  Yes, some spend an incredible amount of time and energy moaning ABOUT God, without actually going to the source of their angst.  Yet, Habakkuk, a man of God, a prophet, seems to have the correct idea.  His example would be helpful for us to follow, for

GOD HAS MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR US TO APPROACH HIM PERSONALLY:

[I. God wants to hear directly from each of us]

Habakkuk 1:1The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet saw.
2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?
3 Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.
4 So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous; so justice goes forth perverted.

Where many, perhaps each one of us, tend to talk of the evil around us, the sin others do, and then complain to our neighbor of how God does not punish them, the prophet Habakkuk goes directly to God with His heart-wrenching questions.  We can look upon ourselves as being more righteous than THOSE folks who don’t strive to live as God has commanded.  We ask others why God would allow such practice.  If God would give us just some of His strength, we could bring the world into a better understanding of His blessed promises.  Why, even without our involvement…He could bring about great change in the world, if He would just SMITE a few dens of inequity!

Yet, as we moan and complain amongst ourselves (and inflict our friends with our lament), we are in fact ignoring the one who could answer our questions.  We seemingly ignore the ONLY one who can do anything about them.  We are ignoring the important fact that Jesus died so that we could approach the Heavenly Throne and ask our questions of the ONLY righteous one.  God.

For you see, when God caused Habakkuk to have this oracle, the people of Israel had wandered far from the path which God had laid before them.  They had wandered far from their Holy purpose given them by God.  The people of Israel had been scattered by internal strife and by external forces as well.  Since the people Israel had decided that a Heavenly King was not good enough and demanded a earthly king (Saul, David & Solomon), God had allowed them to demonstrate their inability to follow.  As time progressed, they came to the time of Habakkuk, when God had used Assyria to punish Israel – to conquer them with an evil, ruthless, multi-god people who enslaved them and denied them their purity.  Thus, the people of Israel were in anguish, they moaned amongst themselves of how God was using these evil ‘unchosen’ people to punish His Chosen Israel.  They felt that, due to their lack of success and lack of wealth, their decline from being a conquering nation, God had forsaken His promise to them to “always be their God”.  In other words, they believed that they were already lost in the eyes of God.  This feeling of being forsaken caused them to again, to doubt the promise of God, to heed those words of the serpent spoken in Genesis 3, “God did not surely say….”  God did not surely promise to be with them always??  Yet, they mumbled amongst themselves ABOUT God about how terrible He was making their lives.

And as the prophet heard this, he was drawn to speak directly to Yahweh, the God of Israel, the One True God.  Rather than lamenting of how God no longer cared for him, Habakkuk and for His people Israel, he directly confronted God with the same questions people were asking each other.  Habakkuk offers the example of trusting in the promises of God.  The promise of always being the God of His Chosen People.  The promise of always hearing their petitions offered to Him as the One God who will hear them, just as He heard them in Egypt.  Habakkuk knew that He was still their God – as He had promised.  And just as a child knows he can approach his earthly father with a problem, Habakkuk knew that he could approach the God of his fathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  [PAUSE]

What of us?  Are we like Habakkuk?  Or are we like Israel.  Do we know that we can approach God with all our problems?  Or do we mumble about our ‘lot in life’ ?   Do we give thanks to God for the blessings of life, sustenance, shelter, worldly freedoms and relative health?  Or do we moan about how He allows us to be sick, poor, have a leaky roof or overly controlled by our secular government?  Do we see that He loves us and demonstrates this through the good things?  Or do we assume that all the bad things happen because we have sinned?

Is THAT it?  We have sinned, so just as He used Assyria to punish Israel in the seventh century BC, He uses the forces of the world to punish us until we are sinless.  Until we, under our own will and strength, stop our sin and become more like Him?

We talk of others as if we could do better.  We expend our finances on things which will be gone in no time.  We over indulge on food and leisure.  We avoid thinking of Him when we KNOW we’re involved in things He does not approve of – in business and in personal lives.  We forget to place Him above all things.  We raise other gods before Him in such a way to obscure His promises.  Yes, we are very capable of displeasing Him.  Is THAT why our bodies fail?  Is THAT why our finances seem to dwindle?  Is THAT why we are not gifted with apparent gifts like those who make no attempt to live as God has commanded? [PAUSE]

Let us not get too wrapped up in our self-pity.  Let us not sit here and think that, since we sin God has forsaken us.  Let us not mumble amongst ourselves of how BAD and EVIL we are that we forget that God does understand.  He knows of our inability to meet His expectations.  For after all, just as God spoke to Israel through His servant David (Psalm 14, 53), God has spoken again to us through the Apostle Paul in Romans 3[:10-12]:

“None is righteous, no, not one;  no one understands; no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.”

[II. God has & will respond to our requests.]

Habakkuk 2:1I will take my stand at my watchpost and station myself on the tower,
and look out to see what he will say to me, and what I will answer concerning my complaint.
2 And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.
4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

Habakkuk proclaims that he is standing guard.  He’s on the lookout for God’s answer to his laments, his complaints.

The Prophet knows that if he directly asks God for answers the He must patiently and diligently await the response.  He knows, as we should, that God always answers prayer which are offered.  The ONLY difference between Habakkuk’s time and now is….(in the words of the Order of Evening Prayer) “In many and various ways, God spoke to His people of old by the prophets, but now in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.

And Yahweh answers Habakkuk. Even without the details of the remainder of Chapter Two, God warns the evil one and encourages Habakkuk in these four verses!  God states that if His words are written down, the evil one may run away when he reads it….God then states that the evil one has a soul which is ‘puffed up and not upright”.  The evil one knows he is done for, that he has lost.  God also tells Habakkuk and Israel that the vision awaits it’s appointed time, the promise is hastening and shall not lie.  But wait!  How does a promise “not lie”.  Well….simple!  The Promise is…the Holy One of God, the Anointed, the Son of God, the Prince of Peace….Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World is that Promise!

Times were hard in Habakkuk’s time.  Times are hard now! In other words…..Times haven’t changed!!  If you and I think the promise of God is slow….”wait for it, It will surely come”  The one whose soul is puffed up – self-righteous, will not be able to strengthen himself, he will fail.  Yet, the righteous shall live by faith.  Faith in the promise.  Faith that God has fulfilled His promise and opened the door so that ALL may come into His Glory.  The Promise was that God would save the world from the necessary payment for our sin.  Just as He provided a ram rather than have Abraham sacrifice Isaac, God has provided His Son, Jesus the Christ, such that the righteous may live by faith.

When we speak directly to our Father in Heaven, He answers us directly.  Each and every one of us is able to respectfully approach and speak with God, thanks  be to the gift HE has given us in the death and resurrection of Jesus .  Jesus paid the price for your sin with His very body and blood.  Since our Baptism, you and I are clothed in the righteousness of Christ such that you and I may approach the Holy Throne of God seeking His council and, yes, even demanding answers.  When God looks upon you, He seea the One whom He loved before the beginning of time.  When you call out to Him for explanation, it is the Holy Spirit living within you who speaks with God.

So what of the answers?  Why don’t we lie awake at night and hear God whispering to us?  I would never suggest that God does NOT speak in words, although I DO know that He “speaks to us by His Son”.  And that message, those answers are recorded in Scripture.

When we ask “How can I deal with this illness?” – He answers in Isaiah 41:10b

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

When we ask “Why must our loved one(s) die?” – He answers in John 11:4

“This illness does not lead to death, It is for the glory of God,
so that the son of God may be glorified through it.

When we ask “How can we meet our financial needs?” – He answers in Philippians 4:12b-13

“I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

You see?  God hears.  He understands.  Let us not moan about how God has laid trials out in our lives.  The evil one, the Liar is doing everything he can to weaken our faith, to strike and claw out our trust that God has and will provide for our needs.  Let us have faith that we can approach God personally. Go to Him in confidence that He loves you and cares for you and wants only what is best for you.  Have faith.  Your sins are forgiven.  And the Promise will return to bring you to your heavenly home.  To live with God the Father, God the Promise and God the Holy Spirit – for all eternity.  – Amen

[STAND]
At any time you and I cry out in anxiousness or fear – He hears and responds in  Philippians 4:6-7

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Amen.

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