Living By Faith

Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. “See, he is puffed up; his desires are not right—but the righteous will live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:2-4

Perhaps the toughest job of a prophet was to foretell of future events without being able to witness them. Already in the first Chapter God foretold of Babylonia’s conquest, but there was an appointed time for it, and that time was not then (when he was speaking to Habakkuk). God told Habakkuk to write down the prophecy plainly. He is telling Habakkuk to be patient and to have faith that what He has said will come to pass.

It’s difficult at times to wait for God, especially when we know what’s waiting “on the other side.” Sometimes we want Him just to “cut to the chase” and get on with eternity already! But God would have us be patient. He wants us to trust Him, just as Habakkuk had to trust God.

We can trust Him with the Big Things (end times events, new heaven/new earth); we can also trust Him with the little things (everything in our lives).

The righteous will live by faith.

Waiting

I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. Habakkuk 2:1

Have you ever had burning questions that you needed God to answer: who will I marry? What will my career be like 10 years from now? Should I join the military? Which college should I go to? Those answers are rarely cut and dried for us. Unfortunately, we don’t hear a voice from heaven saying “do this!” I’m not even sure we’d want that deep down since part of the fun of arriving at the destination is the journey it takes to get there. Sometimes it would be nice, but most of the time there’d be no satisfaction of knowing you’ve made the right decisions.

So, Habakkuk was waiting for God to respond. He’s not going anywhere for a while. I think we can learn a very simple lesson from this: God will speak to us if we’re willing to wait for his answer. Then, once we have his answer, we’ve got to act on it, regardless of what that means to us.

Where are the Reluctant Leaders?

You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad. Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy? Habakkuk 1:14-17

Habakkuk speaks truth when he states that men (and women) often have a "we want a leader" mentality. They (we) look for a leader far and wide, and when we find one who is promising, we're not discerning about him/her. Granted, we may not have a lot of information initially, but once the person is in power, the individual is difficult to replace.

Leaders who love power (and the benefits and privileges it brings) are all over the place. Rare is the leader, however, who is reluctant to take the leadership reins but passionate enough to make a difference.

Our leaders at every level (federal, state, local) need our prayers more than they know. The power they hold over others can be intoxicating and dangerous. The more power they have over others, the more they want, and the cycle continues.

Pray that your leaders will take their oaths of office seriously.

Every Day

O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? Habakkuk 1:12-13

God's seen and heard it all. That's perhaps the understatement of the year. He was from the Beginning and He'll be in the End. Infinite. Everlasting. Unending. Without respect for days or people or institutions. They will come and go but God will remain.

He formed the mountains and the valleys and all creatures living in them. He holds the oceans in the palm of his hand. The stars are like grains of sand and he created them too. He knows exactly what microbes and microscopic germs are inside your body. Of course we know that He did all of that.

This snapshot in history called "now" will go away. Tomorrow will come and go. God remains. Nations will rise and fall. God remains. If we end up destroying the planet through war or disease, God will remain.

Every day we're alive, we have an opportunity to praise this God.

Strength of a Nation

They [Babylonians] 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." Habakkuk 1:6-11

Many will look at the character trait list above and see America, Russia, Iran, China, or a handful of other powerful nations. Those nations have one thing in common, they THINK they are all powerful. They think they could never be defeated in battle. Their arrogance is their weakness but they don't know it.

I write this in perhaps the most powerful (militarily and economically) country in the world. But I’m not foolish enough to believe that we will always be this way. Nations come; nations go. It really is that simple. Often the destruction of a nation comes from within (without any other nation firing a single shot).

Arrogance will bring down a nation fast. Wherever you are, pray for your nation. Pray for the leadership. Pray that they will humble themselves before Almighty God has to intervene and humiliate them.

Out of Control

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. Habakkuk 1:5-6

This is God's response to Habakkuk's complaint. God was raising up a very specific group of people who were feared and hated among God's people. Think about that. It was almost as if God were saying, “Yes, Habakkuk, you see evil now but wait until the Babylonians come to town. You ain't seen nothing yet. AND I'm raising them up to do just that!”

The longer I'm a Christian, the more puzzled I become at some of the things God allows to happen. Of course there are the indescribable atrocities occurring in foreign lands (mass rape, genocide, children being used as sex slaves), but we don't have to go far to see what God allows. We too shake our heads and question the rightness of it all.

But this was God’s point to Habakkuk. Of course Habakkuk wasn't in control of events around him. God was. As the world seemingly spins out of control, God still is in control. He knows what He's doing. We need to be reminded of that often.

Habakkuk: The Reverse Prophet

The oracle that Habakkuk the prophet received: 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? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore, the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. Habakkuk 1:1-4

How many times this year have you felt this way?? This opening passage could have easily been written last week. Habakkuk (and every generation since) has experienced the utter despair at the violence and injustice occurring all around. He seemed frustrated at his inability to do anything about the corruption and conflicts.

Normally a prophet received a message from God and delivered it to a people. With Habakkuk, the reverse is true; he is speaking on behalf of the people to God. Habakkuk is an honest seeker of the truth, perplexed by the evil and injustice around him. He knows God is still around but carries a "boy, wouldn't it be great if He actually did something about the evil" attitude.

God is stirring hearts all around you. He is stirring yours. He wants to continually draw you near to Himself. Forget about the evil and injustice and terrible things happening in the world today. What is He saying to you? Today. Right now.

Listen. What is He saying to you?

They Won’t Understand

The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing. Psalm 112:10

Have you ever had a non-believer look at you in disbelief at something you did or couldn't do because of your beliefs? I've had that happen on a number of occasions. They simply cannot figure out what's making you tick at the moment.

When I lived in Mongolia, drinking three shots of vodka "to the bottom" was standard fare among any group of people. Early in our stay there we had decided that drinking in Mongolia would be disastrous for our Christian witness. It was a personal belief based on the out of control drinking we saw wherever we went. So, I was at a party and one man across the table had downed his three shots of vodka and reached across the table with the upside down shot glass, indicating it was my turn to do the same. I refused. He held it there. I still refused. Others around me said I was offending the host. To put the matter to rest, I addressed the host, “Sir, can I still be your friend even if I don't drink a drop of vodka?” He nodded. I held out my hand and said, “then please let me be your friend without the vodka.” I held it there as the man sitting in front of me held the shot glass in front of me. The host shook my hand and his head, then explained in Mongolian what I had told him.

You will possibly be misunderstood for what you believe and your belief in God. People won't “get” you. That’s okay. Continue to make clear and thought out stances. Continue to fear the Lord, much like the entire Psalm 112 exhorts us to do.

Hoard No More

[Blessed is the man who fears the Lord]…He has scattered his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever. Psalm 112:9

Search the Bible and you’ll see that God clearly has a special place for the poor, the orphan, the widow, the foreigner, and the downtrodden. Entire laws were written to protect them from the ruthless and uncaring. And rightly so.

Without question, God has compassion on the poor. He had compassion 4000 years ago when He wrote the laws, and He has compassion now in the crazy world we live in. He knew about the poor then and He knows about them now. And verse nine still remains: [the man who fears the Lord] scatters his gifts to the poor.

Again, I’ll relate it to the times we live in. As the economic downtown continues, our tendency will be to hoard as we have fewer resources. It will then become more and more important for us to be generous in our giving, and in our giving to the poor. Hopefully God’s people will be able to lead the way in generosity. God will show us how we should then give.