Friday, September 05, 2014

Reading Through Habakkuk

Habakkuk is the 2nd book of the three (Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah) in the arrangement of the Minor Prophets that focus on the “undoing” of creation in God’sHabakkuk Chart judgment so that he can create a new world. Habakkuk is a conversation with the God of Justice who is in the process of setting the world right. When we are in the midst of the chaos of this sinful, oppressive world it seems like God is not doing his job very well. But, since God is committed to his plan of running the world through his created image, human beings, he must hold us responsible for our actions and bring righteous judgment on those who do not act responsibly to be his image. When we are in the midst of the process things get confusing and engender doubt about God and his plan. But as Habakkuk, and Job, find, when we meet the God of justice and have relationship with him, the questions go away; even though they are not always answered. To know God gives us the confidence to live our daily lives founded on trust in Him (2.4).

God will not let sin go unpunished. God is in control and can even use sinners to bring about justice for his people and for all creation. God is a worthy object of faith and the righteous can always trust Him.

Quotes below are from the New American Commentary, Habakkuk by Kenneth L. Barker. Barker sees that the main messages of Habakkuk are…

God is the friend of the honest doubter who dares to talk to God rather than about him. Prayer that includes an element of questioning God may be a means of increasing one’s faith. Expressing doubts and crying out about unfair situations in the universe show one’s trust in God and one’s confidence that God should and does have an answer to humanity’s insoluble problems. Habakkuk, 277–278.

Habakkuk learned that God is just if one waits to see the long term work of God who in his sovereignty and eternity chooses to work according to his timetable and according to his understanding of the ways of his people and the needs of his people. His justice does not always work for every individual or even for every generation. To see God’s justice one must take a stand on the watchtower and wait for God’s timing and God’s revelation. Habakkuk, 280.

Salvation is not prosperity now. Salvation is trust in the midst of hardship while God plans his actions according to his ultimate knowledge and will. Habakkuk, 281.

As Christians we need to realize that we are not living in the garden or the final kingdom yet. Yes, we have the Spirit and we have the first fruits of the kingdom but we don’t have the whole thing yet. We still live in a world where our personal cross is in front of us,not behind us. God is still in the process of bringing the perfect justice of His kingdom. We should expect to see unfair situations and injustice around us. Our job is to bring Jesus’ kingdom to bear, in the power of the Spirit, in the midst of them, while we wait for the full expression of his kingdom.

Human anger seeks immediate action. Divine anger seeks human repentance. Habakkuk, 283.

Evil’s inherent tendency is to self-destruct. Habakkuk 2.8, 334.

Evil tends to carry with it its own destruction. Selfishness destroys self. A principle that runs through the prophets is that whatever you worship in God’s place is what will destroy you. Justice is sure.

The righteous are not perfect, but they do live according to their relationship with God. To be righteous means to meet the demands of a relationship. Righteousness toward God involves a strong ethical dimension—it is to meet the demands of God toward him and toward others...They use speech, money, and influence in positive ways. They recognize righteous acts and other righteous persons and treat them properly. Habakkuk 2.4, 325.

In a world which sees almost everything in economic terms, believers need to consider the profundity of Habakkuk’s faith. Though the worst things in life happen, believers need a faith which depends on the God of the universe and worships him as the true Lord of life. Habakkuk 3.18, 376.

Blessing in this life is not primarily material wealth and possessions; it is the presence of God in our life. God has not promised us wealth in this age. We may gain possessions as we live disciplined lives of service to those around us in the power of God, but their purpose is to use them to bless others and enjoy the presence of God in our lives. This is the “prosperity theology” of the New Testament and how we should live out our faith and salvation.

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