Thursday, August 13, 2009

Habakkuk, that's the stuff they make cigars out of right?

Wrong! Habakkuk is a small book found between Nahum and Zephaniah and if I'm not mistaken is commonly referred to as one of the "minor prophets." Of course, the term "minor" is no indication of the weight of the words but rather the amount of words. Anyway, this short, three chaptered, book was my Bible reading this morning and though I'm sure this is not the first time I've read Habakkuk I'm equally as sure it can't be any more than the second. Thus, I was amazed at the meat and potatoes that were available from this so-called "minor" prophet.

First we have those rascals the Chaldeans who are going to be used to punish the Israelites for their continued disobedience. There was one verse in particular that struck me in the first section of this book and it was 1:7 which says, "Their justice and authority originate with themselves." Now you may or may not have read my other posts about Jeremiah being an American but I would like to add Habakkuk to the list. Justice and authority, if it does not originate with God, must originate in the human mind, in ourselves. Well there is big business in trying to rid people in the westernized world of that pesky, moral compass known as "God." I would venture to say that in many democratic nations justice and authority originate with popular opinion, as does most everything else. God does not need a Gallop Poll to determine what is the right decision or what is right and wrong. Our opinions are of very little importance to an omnipotent and omniscient God. Now, that may sound overly harsh and with that truth I don't want anyone to lose sight of the fact that God does care for His creation and His children. One only has to look as far as Calvary to see that. But remember, if God has asked Israel what type of Messiah they would like to have they would not have asked for Jesus (I only single out Israel because they were the only ones looking for a Messiah. I think no human would have dreamed of Jesus being the Savior of the world so I'm not condemning the Jews because we are all equally guilty in that respect).

The second thing that struck me in this book was found only a few verses later in 1:13 where Habakkuk askes, "Why do you look with favor on those who deal treacherously? Why are you silent when the wicked swallow up those more righteous than they?" In these questions we see the age old question of, not why do bad things happen to good people but rather, why do good things happen to bad people? This is a reverse of the typical questions of "theodicy" and a plea for justice in an unjust world. If we were to take a poll my guess would be that very few people would consider politicians to be trustworthy or "good." Everyday we see another elected official being brought up on charges of adultery or some kind of mismanagment of funds. Furthermore, we see the stars of Hollywood and sports arenas driving drunk, beating wives and dog fighting. The moral fiber of our famous elite is thin on most accounts. Yet, these are the people that seem to be "blessed," or to use another term "charmed." Why are these people allowed so much when the honest, good and seemingly righteous Mother Teresa is given a life of poverty? Then the Lord answers the prophet in chapter 2 and I will paraphrase His answer, "Wait for it. Just wait for it. Their time is coming. I've got it under control." The truth of the matter is that God's justice time-table runs slightly different than ours and His vision and plan are eteranal, not temporal.

The third and final thing I want to point out comes to us from chapter 3. This is a point that has become something of a thinking point for me lately due to my wife and Erwin Lutzer. It is the fear of the Lord. The chapter opens with these words in verse 2, "Lord, I have heard the report about You and I fear." Habakkuk has heard about God and he is fearful. He then spends the next 17 verses listing all the reasons why he is fearful of God. These are terrible and frightful things such as, "Before Him goes pestilence, and plague comes after Him (v.5)," and "The mountains saw You and quaked (v.10)," and "In indignation You marched through the earth; in anger You trampled the nations (v.12)." Then comes verse 18, "Yet I will exalt in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of our salvation." The book of Proverbs is famous for telling is that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (1:7). I would also say that fearing the Lord is where we begin so that we can be truly reverent and truly filled with awe in the presence of a mighty God. I must say, there is nothing awe inspiring or worthy of worship about the Care Bears or Barney the big, purple dinosaur that allegedly loves me. To know that they "love" me is nothing short of anticlimactic. But, when a terrifying, awesome and infinite God who makes the earth tremble and measures the heavens in the span of His hand says that He loves me, there is something to write home about. That is a God worthy of falling on my face and praising. That is the God that I can say, " I am unworthy because I have unclean lips," and fall prostrate before in total reverence. That is the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The God that focused His wrath on His only Son so that I could have forgivness and eternal life and His justice would be satisfied. In the words of Louis Giglio, we don't worship a "namby pamby God." We worship the God who spoke creation into being. One who poured out His wrath on His Son so that we could have the opportunity to live with Him forever.

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