The violence, wickedness and stupidity of our culture get’s played out each night on the nightly news. The body count today is 22 dead in an Elementary School in Texas. Nineteen children dead. One teacher, one school administrator and the shooter all dead. And 19 children injured, no, wounded, as if they were in a war. It is heart-breaking and disgusting and the whole nation, right and left, and most of us who are in-between, are as President Biden said, we are all sick of it.
Years ago, I preached an 8 message series on the book of Habakkuk. I have never been the same since. Habakkuk is one of those obscure “minor prophets” in the Old Testament that most people never read but when you do you are sobered. It is a book that slaps you in the face and tells you, “our nation is no different than ancient Israel.” (True story, I once had a Jewish landlord, who taught Hebrew, was the leader of his synagogue and yet did not know that the book of Habakkuk was in his own Bible. I had to pull my Hebrew copy off the shelf and show him, to which he said, “I have never read this book in my life!”)
It took me three messages to get through chapter one and another message to cover the pivotal first five verses of chapter 2. Then I took up the fifth message which covered chapter 2:6-10 and the five “woes” that Habakkuk pronounced on the nation of Israel because of its wickedness. The message was titled, “Who Will be Judged by God and What Should I Do About It?“
I started with a summary of what we should have learned so far in the book.
“What are some of the lessons we should have learned so far in our study of Habakkuk?”
What are the Transcultural Principles that we should apply:
- God has not been taken by surprise.
- God is still in control.
- God is ready to hear your cries.
- God is not obligated to answer our questions.
- God very rarely tells us when a trial will end.
- God very rarely tells us why a trial is taking place.
- In the midst of it all, God is still worthy of our praise.
What is going on with Habakkuk? What we have found out so far is that despite the fact that he lived 2600 years ago and has an unpronounceable name, he is asking and struggling with the same questions you and I are. (Paraphrasing)
Habakkuk, to God: “God, why don’t you judge this evil?”
God, to Habakkuk: “I am about to use the Babylonians to judge Israel?”
Habakkuk, to God: “God! How can you use them. They are worse than us!”
God, to Habakkuk: “They will not get away with their evil anymore than Israel. Meanwile, make up your mind that you are going to trust me, because the just will live by faith.”
Habakkuk has a decision to make.
Will he trust God or won’t he? And if he trusts God, what should he do?
Habakkuk’s first response, flows out of a meditation on what God has revealed.
By the way, one of the biggest problems we have is that we don’t meditate sufficiently on what God has already revealed. I could embarrass a lot of people here this morning, or any church in town for that matter, by simply asking one question: How often do you study the Bible? That one question would be enough to embarrass and shame many so called Christians about the quality of their pursuit of God.
Habakkuk meditates on what God has said and responds in a public way first. He responds by warning anyone who will listen and most who won’t, about what it means to live under the judgment of God. His line of reasoning seems to be some thing like this.
- I know what God has said He is going to do.
- I don’t understand all of the why of why God is going to do it this particular way.
- I do understand that God keeps His word.
- I must warn my countryman and the nations.
He warns by issuing 5 woes, listing out five different categories of activities that men do that they can expect the judgment of God to fall on, and fall on hard.
Each “woe” has three parts:
- A description of the sin
- An announcement of the judgment that will come on the sinner
- A statement of the reason for the judgment
That message and what I said next in my exposition of Habakkuk 2:6-20 are now over two decades old. But I could roll that message out today and it would be just as relevant to our nation as it was to Habakkuk’s nation. Go ahead and read it for yourself in your own Bible. God, through Habakkuk pronounces 5 woes that will befall the nation that does the kind of things that are common place in our nation.
Revival is our only hope.