09 February 2012

Wrestling With Problems (Part 1)

Habakkuk Chapter 1:1-17

One of the modern day “Christian myths” is that when you put your faith and trust in Christ the problems that you would find in a good country song seem to done away with. The sad reality and error to that kind of thinking is that your problems don’t all of a sudden go away! The biblical truth to God’s salvation is that our internal spiritual problem is over with because of the relationship we have with Christ through the finishing work of the cross. But our external lives are faced with a new set of problems along with the other problems that you and I face before Christ took hold of our lives. As Warren Wiersbe said “...Christians who claim to be without problems are either not telling the truth or not growing and experiencing real life.” See! Jesus didn’t come to save you from....

• Cancer
• MS
• Money
• Sickness
• Drought
• Famine
• Politics
• Death

He came to save souls so that they don’t face the greatest judgment that is yet to come, and the overflowing grace of His salvation is that you will be able to have a joy filled life as you face the possibilities of cancer...ms...the problems of flooding....or a bad year on the farm.The Christian isn’t exempt from problems! What do I mean about all of this? Usually the number one question most Christians ask [especially in the early stages of their pilgrimage]....

• Why do good people suffer and evil people prosper?
• Why isn’t God answering my prayer?
• When I’m doing my best for the LORD, why do I experience the worst from others?

Remember! We must face these questions with the understanding of the cross in mind. See God allows things to happen in our lives so that we grow deeper in His grace and in His word. See most people equate a good life with the blessings of God and there is truth to that. We see evidence of this in the Old Testament.....the nation was extremely blessed by God as He lead them through the wilderness. But we also see something else....How God deals with His children even in the midst of blessing. The greatest example of this is the letter of Job. He was exceedingly blessed by God and then one day God took it all the away for the purpose of worship and His glory. According to the scripture Job was a devote and righteous man of God, but God used this time to display the devotion Job had even through trails and devastation. Paul wrote these words and I remind myself daily when it comes to the why questions! In Phil 1:27-29 it says “Only let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of your affairs, that you stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel, and not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”

So we come to the short letter of Habakkuk who was a contemporary of Nahum, Zephaniah and Jeremiah. This book could easily be outlined this way! Chapter 1.......The problem, Chapter 2.......The prayer of Habakkuk and Chapter 3.......The praise of Habakkuk. As one great man of God said “Problem + prayer=Praise.” We come to a letter were we get front row seats to the question that most Christians are plagued with “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Habakkuk was a man who was deeply burdened over what was happening to his people. What was the reason the nation of Judah was going through this?

First of all! King Josiah was dead and his son and successor King Jehoiakim was leading the people into disaster. You ask yourself! What’s so bad about that? This is what God had to say about Jehoiakim and his self righteous and wicked behaviour. Jer 22:13-19 “....... (v17) “Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, For shedding innocent blood, And practicing oppression and violence." Therefore thus says the LORD concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah: "They shall not lament for him, Saying, 'Alas, my brother!' or 'Alas, my sister!' They shall not lament for him, Saying, 'Alas, master!' or 'Alas, his glory!' He shall be buried with the burial of a donkey, Dragged and cast out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.”

See there are four basic principles to why Israel went into captivity.

1. Their failure to keep the sabbatical year when it came to land......(Lev 25:1-7); (2 Chron 36:20-21)
2. Their idolatry......(1 Kings 14:22-24)
3. Their ungratefulness......(Exo 15:24; 16:8) (1 Sam 8:19-22)
4. Their handling of the Lord’s anointed [prophets, messengers]..... (1Chron 16:22)

Habakkuk was a man just like us! He was faced with a problem that left him with a heavy burden! A burden just like many of us have faced or still faced with today in our Christian lives. One word could summarize the whole first chapter - "WHY?????" (v1-v4)

• Why do you make me look at injustice?
• Why do you tolerate wrong?
• Why do you tolerate the treacherous?
• Why are you silent?

What’s your "why" question to God? James Dobson says "why" so often shreds a person’s faith to bits.” He’s right! This is one of the most difficult questions for Christians to answer when they are dealing with pain and suffering. The “problem of pain,” as the well-known Christian scholar, C.S. Lewis, once called it, is atheism’s most potent weapon against the Christian faith. The world mocks us and says “were is your God know” but God allows these things to happen even though we may never understand fully. Habakkuk has 2 questions for God about this problem that he faces. The first question of “why” isn’t your regular and ordinary burden!

Habakkuk is crying because of the burdened he is carrying about the people! (v2a) “how long shall I cry,” this word translated means “to cry out for help”. The second use of this word “cry out to You” (v2b) means “to scream, to cry with a loud voice, to cry with a disturbed heart.” Why was he so burdened? The answer is found in (v6) “I ‘am raising up the Chaldeans” The reason! The Babylonians were a wicked people group!

Look at how God describes them (v6-v11). It’s interesting that the LORD uses illustrations form animals to explain the Babylonian’s..... “their horses are swifter then Leopards” pictures a fierce creature, ravenous like a lion and much swifter...the speed with which they conquered........ “more fierce than evening wolves” pictures long fasting in the day as they come out at night hungry and fierce seeking their prey. Their horsemen are pictured as an “Eagles” pictures the speed and the swiftness of flight as they sweep down on its prey....... “they haste to eat” as a eagle hungers it makes their flight all the quicker, bolder and daring.

Then the LORD describes them as nature..... “their face is like the East wind” this speaks of a desert wind, hot, uncomfortable and continuing blowing. Which means... the Babylonians would keep coming...making their life unbearable........ “they gather captives like sand” Just as the East wind keeps blowing and shifting the sand before it, so the Babylonians would come and nothing could stop them. And to top it off! They Babylonians had no respect for kings, princes....or any authority for that matters. Accept the god of their idolatry [which was many]. (v10-v11)

This is what Habakkuk was faced with! Wicked people were hurting his brothers and sisters. This was a big problem and we see a man broken before God who hates to see his people go through such pain. Let’s make it personal this morning! Have you ever cried to God and ask why?

• Why did you let my husband or wife die?
• Why did this young girl take her own life?
• Why is my farm falling apart?
• Why did you allow the flood to come into our area?
• Why can’t I find work?
• Why do allows Christian’s to be persecuted.
• Why did you allow me to have cancer?
• Why did I have such a terrible childhood?
• Why did my parents’ divorce?

Why God....Why? I sometimes wonder myself why there is so many problems in the church today...the lack of true doctrinal teaching.....the fighting....the murmuring....the back-lashing at one another to name a few! And I think the simple answer for me is.... it helps me grow into a deeper love with Christ and His word.....It draws me closer to Him so that I learn to love the people who are not perfect....who have issues and are sinners like me. It strengthens my faith in Him, because I realize that I’m insignificant in comparison His perfect plan for the church and His creation. The church isn’t perfect and it never will be until we stand before Him in glory. We need to realize that God is working even when things don’t seem that they are.We must do what Habakkuk does here in his letter! Seek God with our burden or problem. Remember what Jesus said “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." Matt 11:28-30

Habakkuk was crying out to the only that could help him with this problem. Oh! How often we don’t though..... we try to solve the problem or complain about in our own strength. When we are unsure or confused there is nothing better than to turn to the One who created everything for His glory. As Job said at the end of the letter..... “I know that You can do everything, And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” Job 42:2. David said......“You know my sitting down and my rising up; You understand my thought afar off.” Ps 139:2. This is exactly what God wants us to do when we are faced with a burden or a problem. Again! We may not understand why God does what He does.... but again He is God and we are not! We need to trust that God knows exactly what He's doing!

If your heart is burdened for something this morning.....cry out to Him and seek His face for understanding or rest in His sovereign hands. He is there waiting for you. If your heart is convicted this morning and you need restoration because you have fallen into carnality.....I beg you to cry out to Him this morning in repentance and be restored to the loving relationship that He desires for you. Why? He is there waiting for you! If you don’t know the Lord and have never embraced the cross..... but your heart is filled with regret, remorse over your sin and your conscience is telling you that you need to be saved....Please! Cry out to Him this morning and seek His face at the cross of repentance and faith! He is there waiting for you! He is the only that can make sense of your problem or burden in your heart! Because Jesus said "....My yoke is easy and My burden is light" SO MY SUNDAY QUESTION IS......Have you truly cried out to Him with everything? Cast your cares upon Him and wait.....He will see you through it...... SDG

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