Habakkuk Chapter 2

Habakkuk walked slowly to his favorite alone place just outside the city.

“I’ll just sit down here on this rock and wait for the Lord to show up.  When He speaks, I will listen and think about how I might reply.”

A short time passed, and God showed up.  He sat down on the rock next to Habakkuk.  Neither spoke, but each kept his eyes on the other one.  Then God stood up.

“Habakkuk write what I will tell you.  Better yet, write my words on a stone tablet.  Then if anyone in Judah still remembers Me, he can read my words.”

God chuckled then continued, “It won’t surprise me if he runs away as fast as he can. I have some plans for these people, and everything will happen when I decide. But mark My words, it will happen.

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Habakkuk Chapter 1

The once united nation of Israel became two kingdoms.  The northern kingdom Israel was conquered and taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 BC.

It is now around 620 BC.  The southern kingdom Judah is now precariously close to an end.  God has had it.  There will be no more ‘if my people repent, I’ll save them.’  The cycle of rebellion then repentance then rebellion then repentance is over.  The people of Judah are all fat and happy.  And wicked.

The prophet Habakkuk sadly observes the conduct of his countrymen and wonders why God has not stepped in.

Chapter 1 begins with a question.

Verse 2 Habakkuk is speaking.

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and You will not hear?”

In verses 3 and 4 Habakkuk summarizes his distress. Don’t you see what your people are doing? Violence. How long? Wickedness. How long? Strife and contention. How long? Why isn’t God taking care of this? 

The wait is almost over, Habakkuk.

In verse 5 God is speaking.

“Look among the nations! Observe! Be astonished! Wonder! Because I am doing something in your days you would not believe if you were told.”

At last. I wonder if a smile slowly travels across Habakkuk’s face. Yes, astonish me, God!

Hold on, Habakkuk.  You may not like what you are about to hear.

In verse 6 God continues.

“For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that fierce and impetuous people who march throughout the earth to seize dwelling places which are not theirs”

The Chaldeans?  No, God, not the Chaldeans!  Although the Chaldeans were a specific people group that lived in the southern part of Babylon (present day Iraq), in this passage the name refers to Babylonians in general.  They were not nice people. Read verses 7 through 11 to get an idea of their conduct.

“They are dreaded and feared; their justice and authority originate with themselves.

“Their horses are swifter than leopards and keener than wolves in the evening.  Their horsemen come galloping, their horsemen come from afar; they fly like an eagle swooping down to devour.

“All of them come for violence. their horde of faces moves forward.  They collect captives like sand.

“They mock at kings and rulers are a laughing matter to them.  They laugh at every fortress and heap up rubble to capture it.

“Then they will sweep through the wind and pass on.  But they will be held guilty, they whose strength is their god.”

Self-centered and evil, they are a gang of bullies playing by their own rules.

Verse 12 Habakkuk speaks.

Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct.

Although Habakkuk is speaking to God he seems to be reminding himself of what He knows about God. 

  • God is eternal.
  • God is the true Holy One.
  • God will not let them destroy us.
  • God is just using the Babylonians to judge Judah’s wickedness.
  • God is using them to correct the people of Judah.

In verses 13 through 17, with confusion Habakkuk directly speaks to God.

Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor. 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?

Why have You made men like the fish of the sea, like creeping things without a ruler over them?

The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, drag them away with their net, and gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.

Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net; because through these things their catch is large, and their food is plentiful.

Will they therefore empty their net and continually slay nations without sparing?

Does this seem very God-like to you?  Does it seem almost impossible that God who is pure and holy and perfect would use an evil nation to judge and correct His people in Judah?  Isn’t there some other way?

To answer my last question, yes, because God can do anything there is always another way. 

My take-aways from chapter one:

  • The people of Judah were not acting like people of God are expected to act.
  • God is patient, but He will tolerate only so much.
  • It is God’s choice how He will respond to man’s disobedience.
  • I see America in the description of Judah in verses 3 and 4.

Next week we look at chapter 2 where God has a few things to say.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Copyright by The Lockman Foundation. www.lockman.org

Sunset in America

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I just finished reading Night by Elie Wiesel. Rarely does a book impact me emotionally. Night did. It’s a true story of a 15 year old Jewish boy who, along with his family, was forced by the Nazis to leave his home. He endured a year of hardship and survival in Nazi concentration camps.

The book is an account of separation from his mother and younger sister and the declining health and death of his father.

It was sad. I felt its effect for several days after reading the last words.

But it was sad on another level. Until the day the German troops marched into Mr. Wiesel’s village the citizens were in denial they would be affected by the war. In fact, they were sure defeat of the German army by the Russian Red Army was imminent.

And we, the Jews of Sighet, waited for better days that surely were to come. Spring 1944. Splendid news from the Russian front. There could no longer be any doubt. Germany would be defeated. It was only a matter of time, months or weeks, perhaps.” Page 8

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Ah, God Is in Control

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Yes, fellow Christian, just sit back and relax. God is in control.

You want to end a conversation about the chaos in the world today? Utter these soothing words, “God is in control.”

Case closed. Go on to the next subject. Crab grass. Vacation. Car shopping. Whatever.

Then sit back and do absolutely nothing.

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Was It Worth the Price?

It takes from 8 to 10 hours to travel the 50 mile passage that connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Was it worth the price?

It was first thought of in the 1500s by King Charles I of Spain. Actual construction did not begin until 1880 by France. Faced with mudslides, malaria, and yellow fever, it was abandoned in 1888. American president Theodore Roosevelt purchased the French assets in 1902. Construction by the Americans began in 1904.

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Still Under Construction

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“Be patient. God’s not finished with me yet.”

That’s right. God began changing you. It probably began with a change in your habits. He prompted you to change your attitudes about people. He made you aware of needs in others that you may not have even noticed.

When did this change begin?

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. – 2 Corinthians 5:17

At the moment you asked Jesus to forgive your sins and come into your life you became a new creation. When I did that, although I sensed something different, I did not feel like a completely new creation. Why not?

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What Exactly Is the Kingdom of God?

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“Passport, please.”

I handed the officer my passport and anxiously waited for him to motion me through the gate.

“What is the purpose of your visit?” He asked.

“Vacation.” I answered.

“How long will you be staying?”

“Four days.”

He handed my passport to me. “Next.”

I was in.

A citizen? No. Just a visitor.

How can we seek His kingdom unless we understand what His kingdom is?

Recall the words of Jesus.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 New American Standard Bible

The Greek word for kingdom is basileia. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words notes that this is primarily an abstract noun, denoting sovereignty, royal power, or dominion. It does not refer to a physical territory but to the reign of God.

To seek His kingdom is to seek His reign over our lives. A king demands full authority over his subjects and expects absolute allegiance from them.

Although a visitor must follow all the rules, citizens are expected to be loyal.

Unlike an earthly king, God does not force His authority over us. It’s my choice to submit to Him, and submission must include every part of my life.

I can’t claim God as my King if I have not given Him full authority over all areas of my life.

Consider these steps:

  1. Prayerfully ask God to reveal those areas that have not been submitted to His reign.
  2. Write those areas down.
  3. Begin with one area and ask God to tell you how to turn it over to Him.
  4. Follow His direction.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for each area on the list.

If we’re serious about putting Jesus first in our lives, we need to quit playing around with our relationship with Him and do what He said. Seeking God’s reign in my life is not an option.

Until next time, #Jesusfirst2016.