Thursday, October 2. Nahum 2, 3; Habakkuk 1

Throughout the Bible many have challenged God. Abraham did it when God said he was going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Moses did it when overwhelmed with the burden of Israel (Numbers 11:12). Korah did it in Psalm 44:23-24. The list of God’s challengers is not a short one.

As long as Judah had Israel to compare herself to, it was easy to overlook her own sins. But after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, Judah was left to contemplate her own situation. Other prophets decried the injustice and materialism of Judah. At this time however, Habakkuk arose, not to condemn his people, but to ask God why He wasn’t condemning them. “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?”

God replied (Habakkuk chapter one) that he was going to punish Judah by bringing against her the Babylonians, “that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own.”

That put a new twist on things. The Babylonians!? Why in the world would God punish Judah with people worse than Judah? Habakkuk was indignant. “I will stand at my watch,” he wrote, “and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me . . .”

Remember: Habakkuk is not observing something he thought was bad. He was observing something God said was bad – and was going to get worse. How often we think God is unjust when it is only our observation! If only we knew the mind of God!

Thursday, September 5. Habakkuk, 1 Chronicles 1 – 3

Habakkuk is not the first person to challenge the Lord’s actions – or His plans. Abraham objected to such a lengthy wait for a child. Job objected to his suffering and blamed God. David and Jeremiah object a lot to God’s treatment of them. And of course Habakkuk objects to Israel’s punishment.

God doesn’t seem to mind the objections. They’re certainly not going to change His plan. God seldom objects to the complaints. But He does want the complainers to remember who they are talking to, and that is the purpose of chapter two.

Habakkuk, properly rebuked, spends chapter 3 of his book in prayer. He reviews God’s power, but also God’s faithfulness to his people. Habakkuk understands Judah must be punished for her sins. He knows the punishment will be inevitable. No matter who does it, however, God will not desert his people, and in that, Habakkuk can find hope. “I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

God has no problem with His people questioning Him, or even disagreeing with Him. But he insists, that at the end of the day, His people trust Him. He is God. We are not God. Those who stand “right” in the sight of God are those who, in the end, trust God and demonstrate it with the life they live. Being “right” with God is supremely a matter of trusting that Lord, and His way, is right – and acting accordingly.

Monday, September 3. Obadiah and Habakkuk

    It was unjust of God, Habakkuk thought, for God to use sinners worse than Judah to punish Judah.  Frankly, Habakkuk believed God had gotten himself in a moral bind on this one and Habakkuk was determined to hold God accountable.

    In a lengthy reply (chapter two), God speaks to the arrogance of Habakkuk, which is very much like the arrogance of Judah and Babylon.  It is very much like our own arrogance. Habakkuk is a product of his times.  God affirms that he will hold both Babylon and Judah responsible for their sins.  No one is getting a pass.  The Lord ends his speech with a proclamation of His sovereignty.

    Habakkuk, properly rebuked, spends chapter 3 of his book in prayer.  He reviews God’s power, but also God’s faithfulness to his people.  Habakkuk understands Judah must be punished for her sins.  He knows the punishment will be inevitable.  No matter who does it, however, God will not desert his people, and in that, Habakkuk can find hope. “I heard and my heart pounded,  my lips quivered at the sound;  decay crept into my bones,  and my legs trembled.  Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud  and there are no grapes on the vines,  though the olive crop fails  and the fields produce no food,  though there are no sheep in the pen  and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD,  I will be joyful in God my Savior.

    God has no problem with His people questioning Him, or even disagreeing with Him.  But he insists, that at the end of the day, His people trust Him.  He is God.  We are not God.  Those who stand “right” in the sight of God are those who, in the end, trust God and demonstrate it with the life they live.  Being “right” with God is supremely a matter of trusting that Lord, and His way, is right – and acting accordingly.