A Time to Listen and Learn

Part One

Right now, as I sit to write this blog, my heart is deeply saddened by the state of our current climate.  Division is ruling and it seems that everyone is taking a side and giving their two cents worth.  The future forecast is gloomy, but it does not need to be this way.  I believe now is the time for all Christians to take a moment and assess where they are in their faith, put on the armor of God, and stand up.  Yes, we are in a crisis, but hope is still vital and needed more than ever.

Everyone feels that this is just a political issue and that it will be resolved once the elections are over.  Sorry to disappoint anyone, but the election is a distraction and not the real issue.  We are at war and we, the Christian, needs to see beyond the distraction and prepare ourselves for this war.  It is a spiritual war as the book of Ephesians points out.

I want to first examine the book of Habakkuk in this blog and then, in my next blog of this series, I would like to provide some words of advice from the book of Ephesians.  Habakkuk is full of many lessons, but the most precious jewel to be uncovered is that God is in control and even when we do not understand what is happening around us, He is still in charge and working.  We need to exhibit patience and obedience as the story will entail.

I want to review Israel’s history and then draw correlations from and compare it to what we, as a nation, are currently going through.  However, first we must look at the context of the time in which all of this is based upon.  Habakkuk’s burden is around 650 to 586 BC.  Under the rule of David, Israel the kingdom was united, but during the end of Solomon’s reign the kingdom becomes divided.  The Northern kingdom was Israel, and the Southern kingdom was Judah (which was the lineage that Jesus would be born into).  As we learned due to this time frame and Israel’s unfaithfulness, many prophets were sent to warn them to repent and turn back to God.

Habakkuk was a prophet during King Josiah’s thirty-one-year reign in Jerusalem.  Josiah was a righteous king who walked in the ways of David, unlike his father and grandfather.  He purged Judah and Jerusalem of idolatry and places of worship to false gods.  At the age of eighteen Josiah started the repair of the House of the Lord.  During this time, the Book of the Law was found and brought to Josiah, as noted in 2 Kings 22:8.

            “Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the Lord.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it.”

This broke Josiah’s heart, he tore his clothes, repented, and wept.  He took the book to a prophetess who told him that the curses would happen due to the broken covenant with God as noted in 2 Chronicles 34:21-28.

            “Go and inquire of the Lord for me and for the remnant in Israel and Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that is poured out on us because those who have gone before us have not kept the word of the Lord; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written in this book.”  Hilkiah and those the king had sent with him[b] went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath,[c] the son of Hasrah,[d] keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter. 

She said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people—all the curses written in the book that has been read in the presence of the king of Judah. Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all that their hands have made,[e] my anger will be poured out on this place and will not be quenched.’ Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the Lord, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what he spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you, declares the Lord. Now I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place and on those who live here.’”

During Josiah’s reign, King Nabopolassar reigned in Babylon for nineteen years and then was succeeded by his son Prince Nebuchadnezzar in 605 BC.  Previously in 722 BC the Assyrians had captured the nation of Israel.  Both the kings from Assyria and Babylon worshipped and served idols.  This influenced both Israel and Judah.  During a fierce battle at Carchemish (Megiddo) King Josiah died from his battle wounds from Pharaoh Necho II (Pharaoh of Egypt who had helped The Assyrians fight Babylon).  Around 586 BC the Chaldeans carried away the people in Judah into captivity.  Both the major prophet Jeremiah and the minor prophet Habakkuk were taken into captivity as well.  So, who is Habakkuk? He is believed to be a minor prophet that lived during a revival, but then saw the chaos that arose when the succession of kings did not follow the Lord.  He wrote this book during the 25-year timespan when Babylonia conquered Nineveh and the Assyrian empire – around 612 BC and through the fall of Judah when Babylon captured Jerusalem around 586 BC.

After stating a brief synopsis of the Israelite history, we can understand that through their failure to repent of past difficulties, judgment will come.  God gives us so many opportunities to turn ourselves around and to repent, but our incessant refusal does eventually bring final judgment.  We get complacent and take God out of everything, our schools, our justice system, limiting or restricting our individual rights, and even go as far as having The Bible in some areas, banned, or removed.  His anger is justified.

However, for Habakkuk to better understand this righteous anger, he poses a few questions to God and expects an answer immediately.  First, he asks how long must he keep asking for help before the Lord hears and responds; thus, questioning if indeed the Lord hears him.  Upon doing this he points out the violence and destruction all around him, but justice has not been served because those in charge have failed to act.  The problem is that the people were no longer affected by the Word of God and were apathetic as noted in Psalms 119:126.

                “It is time for You to act, O Lord, for they have regarded Your law as void.”

Today we are paralyzed when we take God out of everything such as: prayer in schools, not able to study the Word, yet those in power are now proposing that Islam being taught in the schools, bibles are removed from hotels and some libraries and it is threatening to take a more drastic turn and prevent Christians from worshipping as we currently are seeing during this pandemic.

He does not feel that God is moving during this time of chaos.  Haven’t we all been there?  A trial enters our life, and we feel out of control and unable to find answers, let alone closure.  We can hear and relate to the frustration in Habakkuk’s words.  We fill our cups full of fear and let anger mingle with it and then question why it is overflowing?  Could it be that God was tired of pleading for us to learn whatever discipline he was teaching us or tired of us living without a care in the world?  Maybe action had to be taken so that we could get back on the right path again.

God responds and instructs Habakkuk to be prepared to be amazed in Chapter 1:5-11 of this book.  God is not only moving, but He reveals how His plan will be carried out.

                “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. Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. Then they sweep past like the wind and go on– guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”

Judgment indeed is coming.  Habakkuk was not expecting to hear that and was thrown by this response.  He wanted reassurance of God’s intervention, but God had judgment in mind.  He does not see or understand how this is going to help the Israelites let alone resolve the current situation. Remember that God will use whatever tool He needs to accomplish His will.  Again, we can relate to Habakkuk’s confusion.  How many of us have been in a trial and we got an answer, but not the one we had hoped for?  A lump is found, and it is malignant and must be removed.  A payment is due, but the needed funds to do so is not there and now you are sent to collections.  The perfect job appears, but though qualified, they decide to go with someone else which could lead to the possibility of your home going into foreclosure.

Today, we must look at the underlying current and the foreshadowing we see in Daniel 12:1 and Matthew 24:21.  We have been thrown off kilter this past year with one crisis after another.  Many are speculating if these indeed are the last days.  Personally, I believe that we are in the early birthing stages showing us what the end times will look like when they do finally come, but not as magnified.  I think we are being warned to look out and see what is happening right in front of us.  We also are witnessing God’s hand working throughout all of this.  It will be swift and unexpected. We are forewarned to be alert and ready for when those times do appear.

            “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.”

            “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again.

Habakkuk’s question moves from his asking for help for the people, but now he questions the plan, which makes Habakkuk nervous.  Judgment was coming and it would be swift, but he is uncertain if the Israelites will die as a result.  Habakkuk basically wants to know how God can approve of this and why is a nation more wicked than Israel being used to carry out the punishment.  Habakkuk reminds God of His God’s promise to their nation that they would not lose their inheritance completely.  However, he concedes that Judah does require judgment and correction, and asks that God will be merciful during this time due to His faithfulness to His promise.

Sometimes when we cannot see the logic of a trial, we naturally tend to write it off, but sometimes we must continue even though we do not understand why it is happening.  We must trust His will.  It is in these moments of silence that we need to bring all our fears or concerns to God and then we need to rely on our faith to sustain us.  Even though the situation is perplexing, we must be patient. 

Our gracious Father does respond again, and His revelation convicts us of the sins of the nation.  He illustrates this with a set of woes to clarify why judgment is coming.  Mankind has seen to their own downfall when they decided to put themselves ahead of others.  We are arrogant and self-serving, but we seek to be in control.  We refuse to depend on and trust in the Lord.  We steal and exhort others for our material gain.  This leads into our desire for power as we are greedy and aim to exploit those below us to meet those needs.  To achieve this, we next seek out violence.  We overthrow countries or devastate portions of our world regardless of the financial and emotional cost to others.  We also give into our lust and corruption by false statements to obtain it or perversion of justice.  However, the main issue is that we refuse to seek out God and be obedient.  We place emphasis on other things/idols and reject Him.

All of this is going on right now in current time.  We reject God by refusing to believe that He exists, we seek to harm others by any means possible, we spread hate and have lost the ability to be merciful, compassionate, and forgiving.  Do we not deserve punishment for this?  We are asking the wrong question and looking for a quick remedy.  We need to draw near to God, repent and serve Him our sovereign king.  We must depend on Him to get us through whatever the trial may be.  Our remedy is to stop fighting and resisting but submit to Him.  Trust Him.  Keep in mind the lessons being taught and learn from them.  Our history is made up of a lack of commitment and respect towards God.  Do not think you have all the answers because my friend, you do not.  Keep in mind that through this storm we the Christian, can see the hope that comes out of the trial because we leaned on God, not the world.  We are His elect and must put Him first in everything. Situations arise and they eventually end, but how we handle it is of the utmost importance.  Assess the situation, take a look at yourself (where you are and what you need to change/learn about yourself), stay connected with God and learn that we must be patient and persevere while He is moving.  He IS moving.  He was then and is now continuing to move.  Watch and do not fear but trust Him. 

My next blog for this series will be focused on the spiritual journey that awaits us.  We must have the necessary armor to defend ourselves against the darkness of this world.  God bless.

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