14 February 2012

Wrestling With Problems (Part 2)

Hab 1:1-17
God, why do you let evil have its way in our world? Have you ever ask that question to God? Let’s be serious about this question this morning! This is what Habakkuk was asking the Living God of the universe in his opening remarks. Why do you allow these wicked people to over take your chosen children? But let’s stop and think about that statement! What make us [you] believe the Babylonians were more wicked then the Israelites. Don't get me wrong they were a wicked people group.....But! They weren't the ones in disobedience to the one who set them apart through His covenant promise back with Abraham. See......

• They were the ones who have turned their backs on the God that delivered them from Egypt.
• They were the ones who made idols for themselves.
• They were the ones who were wilfully sinning before an almighty God.
• They were the ones who did what was right in their own eyes.

The Babylonians were only doing what they knew best.....sin! But the nation of Israel, knew there was a real God whom they must obey....the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. The same goes for our generation! We know sin is wrong as born again believers...but the natural man [the Babylonians] don’t understand the things of God. We look at people and compare them with other people and we come to the conclusion were not as bad as those people. We watch the news and read the paper and we say "those people are wicked". We read the history of some of the world’s most despicable people and we say "they were wicked". We watch some the youth or person who has tattoos or piercings and say "they must be wicked people" because of their appearance. And this scares me! Because this way of thinking puts us in a place that makes us no different than the Pharisee who was praying! “God, I thank you that I am not like other men...” But the Bible says.... “But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin,...............” Gal 3:22.

I can see myself at times thinking this way, can’t you? Sticking my [your] nose up to the sky and say “Lord why do you allow wicked people to live and your children to suffer?” And the answer that I keep coming back to is.......For the very same reason He allowed you [me] to live before the Gospel took a hold of our lives. Do you sometimes forget the hole in the ground that He pulled you out of? The only thing that separates us from them [unsaved, Babylonians] is the unmerited grace that He bestowed upon you in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember..... “.....that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom 5:8

Now we come to Habakkuk’s second question! Why, a God who is the sovereign LORD over everything would allow these fallen sinners to continue. (v12-v17) This isn’t a question that leads us to believe that Habakkuk is denying the God of the Bible. See! There’s a huge difference between someone who doubts from someone who doesn’t believe at all. The unbelief is a person who is rebellious against God........Unbelief is a refusal to accept what God says and does. Warren Weirsbe said “unbelief is an act of the will, while doubt is born out of a troubled mind and broken heart.” This is Habakkuk ““how long shall I cry,” (v2). See! The doubter questions God and may even try to debate Him...but he or she will never abandon God! Thomas is a prime example of this!
He loved the Lord without a doubt! But in his human nature he had a tendency to doubt at times. And The Lord used that opportunity to show Him that he doesn’t need to doubt the promises and plans the Lord has in store for His people. We have the Holy Spirit and His written word and the account of the early believers [Thomas, Habakkuk] to help us in our time of doubt! Have you ever done that? Have you ever tried to question God or debate Him? Questioning God .....

• Why He allows so many babies to die in the womb?
• Why He allowed this deranged man in the States to kill his 2 sons and then blow up the house?
• Why He allowed this 17 year old boy die and be found dead in the snow near Fisher Branch?
• Why He allows my family or your family to face so many obstacles as we make our way home [Heaven]

And the answer I remind myself with is found in Isaiah...."For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the LORD Isa 55:8. We need to accept the fact that we are not all-knowing and in control of this planet! Many people today would like to think that we are in control!...... but we need to pay close attention to what Habakkuk is saying! As we look at his second “Why” question....We need to understand the foundation that Habakkuk is describing! The great and awesome God of the universe. Habakkuk knows who God is.... even in his present state of doubt and unsettled heart. Why do I say that? Look what he writes here! This is God’s resume.

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is ETERNAL

(v12) “are you not from everlasting” What does Eternal mean?.........refers to the endless past, the unending future, or to God's present experience of all time. God has no beginning as man can understand beginning and no ending either, but God exists now and knows both the beginning and the end as we perceive them. See....

• God is the creator and sustainer of the universe and beyond!
• God is the One who spoke everything into existence.
• God [The Trinity] is self sustaining and needs no one’s help.
• God is the beginning and the end of everything.
• God is the sovereign LORD who is in complete control.

“The eternal God is thy [my personal] refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.” Deut 33:27. Habakkuk recognized God as His eternal LORD...but not only that!

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is........HOLY.

“O LORD my God, my Holy One?” (v12) a personal relationship response to who God is. Holy......refers to His majesty and His perfect moral purity. There is absolutely no sin or evil thought in God at all. His holiness is the definition of that which is pure and righteous in the entire universe. “There is no one holy like the LORD, Indeed, there is no one besides Thee, Nor is there any rock like our God 1 Sam 2:2. R C Sproul said in his book “The Holiness of God”......“The Bible says that God is holy, holy, holy. Not that He is merely holy, or even holy, holy. He is holy, holy, holy. The Bible never says that God is love, love, love, or mercy, mercy, mercy, or wrath, wrath, wrath, or justice, justice, justice. It does say that He is holy, holy, holy, the whole earth is full of His glory.”................He continued to say in the same book! “When the Bible calls God holy it means primarily that God is transcendentally separate. He is so far above and beyond us that He seems almost totally foreign to us. To be holy is to be ‘other,’ to be different in a special way. The same basic meaning is used when the word holy is applied to earthly things.” That’s why we see in (v13) “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,” God is so holy He cannot under any circumstance look upon sin and not do anything about it! God has a hatred towards sin and the sinner! Again we read in Psalm 5:5-6 [hear me before you jump on the angry pastor bashing wagon] “For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness, Nor shall evil dwell with You. The boastful shall not stand in Your sight; You hate all workers of iniquity. You shall destroy those who speak falsehood; The LORD abhors [means detests, repulsive] the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.”

Does God hate the sinner? Yes.....look to the cross! Does God hate sin? Yes......look to the cross! That’s what the GOSPEL is all about.....The cross is ugly and beautiful at the same time. The GOSPEL is the display of God’s hatred towards the sin and the sinner! Jesus Christ became sin on our behalf......so that God could look upon a repented people like you and me and declare us to be His beloved children [sinners saved my His merciful grace]. Habakkuk is confused to why a holy God would allow wickedness to overtake His people. Do you ask that question when you look around at the peoplein our community?

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is.......UNCHANGING

this is expressed in (v12) “O Rock” literally means “Mighty Rock”. This is a great picture that describes God as an unchanging rock that is stable and unmoveable! He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He. Deut 32:4. This pictures a God who unshakeable! The things happening to the nation isn’t causing the LORD to bit His finger nails or to have panic attacks! He is in complete control of the situation and the same goes for me and you! He is complete control of the situations in your life whether you think He is or not. We need to embrace that truth because this is where we find comfort and rest. Realizing that God is allowing things and doing things for our edification and ultimately for His glory. Rom 8:28 says “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Habakkuk is acknowledging that God is.......... TRUTH 

“You have appointed them” (v12) God is a covenant keeper! As He told Noah that he would never flood the whole earth again. The Nation under the Abrahamic covenant was still God’s chosen people. God is a God of promises and truths.....what He says He will do! You can put that in the bank. As the bible says “thy word is truth” He promised from the beginning He would send a Saviour and He did. He promised that we could attain eternal life through repentance and faith in His Son. He promised that He would call us home or come back again to reclaim what is rightfully His. Remember! God is a God of order! Not confusion. And the promise He made with Jeremiah would apply here for Habakkuk if the nation would only listen. Jer 31:33-34 says “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” All God asks of the nation is to repent of their disobedience and wicked and embrace the truth found in the promises of God. The same principle applies to me and you today! Repent and be restored or repent and believe the Gospel.

Let’s get serious this morning! Because Habakkuk is really struggling with this! (v13) Sin is a universal problem. [Rom 3:23 “all have sinned”]. God is holy and hates sin with a flaming passion. [Ps 5:5-6 “abhors the.....man”]. God is all knowing and will not turn a blind eye to sin [Heb 4:12 “stand naked”]. God is just and He will judge sin accordingly to His word.

• Sometimes its present.......Hab 1:13
• Sometimes it’s post-poned........2 Peter 3:9
• Sometimes it’s final.......Rev 20:12-15

God is not unaware of shortcomings and He surely isn’t unaware of our weaknesses. God knows we fall into sin easily.....Look at (v14-v15) He uses the analogy of the fishing industry! The Babylonians are the fishermen who entice and lure their prey [the fish] to grab a hold what they are offering..And then take their prey captive. Just like today! With the electronic and entertainment and post modern thinking to keep people occupied and busy so that they don’t focus on Christ. If you don’t believe look back at this past week! How much time did you spend in the word and fellowship with other believers? Not to say these things are wrong in and of themselves...but what is soaking up the majority of your time? Because if your day is not being consumed in Christ then you have fallen prey to the allure of the bait. It’s like the those info commercials and the person is saying buy now and you say to yourself “I got to have one of those pens that can write upside down.....it looks fancy and shiny so you get hooked on the pitch. Remember what John wrote.......“For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:16. See, sin is an accuser and enticer to fallen generation of any age. The nation was trapped by their [own] sin and wickedness and the Lord used the Babylonians’ to chasten them back to His caring and sovereign merciful arms. God took a nation who were.....self-righteous, puffed up, full of pride and worst of all they worshipped themselves. Do you know people like that? “we are all gods”......”It’s all about me!” This wasn’t the first time God has used a wicked people to discipline His children.... Isa 10:5 says..... “O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger...”

So let me ask you! Is God chastening and dealing with you this morning? Habakkuk may have not been able to see that at the present time. God was working to restore and bring order to the ones that He called out of darkness. God loves the people of Judah but He needed to correct them in their disobedience. God loves you and me [the church] but sometimes He has to correct us for our disobedience. Remember the Hebrew writer says because this is for our good! “For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.” Heb 12:6-8. So let me ask you again! Is God chastening and dealing with you this morning? Is God dealing with your “WHY” question?

If so......you are God’s sons and daughters and He is doing a work in your life.

If not.....I plead with you this morning to embrace the cross and seek His face while it may be found......there is still hope for you.

God is eternal.....holy......unchanging....and truth! He does what he does for His purposes and for His glory. We as Christians need to embrace the sovereign providence of God and wait upon Him to see what He will do next....which will see next week! Why? Because it’s for our good! As Moses said “.......you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
God is in control! We need to accept that and embrace that truth found in God’s word.


Gordon Smyth said...

On my own opinion, I think that had undergone wrestling With Problems. I think that every problem comes with a solution. I think its true that we should always have faith and never surrender when problem comes.

Mike Andrews said...

So true! That's why we read in the next chapter of Habakkuk "the just shall live by faith" Thanks for comment........God bless and keep looking upward as He guides us home. SDG