HOW MUCH LONGER

It's another Monday morning. One of my favorite '80's song is the hit single by the Bangles called "Manic Monday." Oh, well, I hope this is not a manic Monday for you. I hope it's a good one. We are edging closer and closer to the New Testament in our Journey Through The Bible Study. Today, we will take a quick look at the Book of Habakkuk.

"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?" (Habakkuk 1:2)

Well, this is how the book opens. The first two chapters of the book are a unit (two units make up the book) detailing the dialogic exchange between Habakkuk and Yahweh. The second unit is a hymn anticipating victory.

Habakkuk is questioning God in order to understand God's action. The question: "How could God use evil Babylonians to punish the people of God's covenant?" Habakkuk's point was: The people who are being punished are not as bad as those who are being used to punish them. Well, Habakkuk has a very valid point. Does God give Habakkuk an answer? If you remember, when Job wanted answers God didn't give him the answer he wanted. Sure, God gave Job a response, but...not in the form Job wanted. Well, God answers Habakkuk, but...perhaps not in the way Habakkuk desired. Don't you just hate it when someone says to you: "You just need to be patient?" You have probably heard it said: "Be careful about praying for patience because God just may very well answer your prayer."

I think many of us can relate to what Habakkuk is asking the Lord. I do know that I have ever heard of so much violence in our land as I have been hearing about lately. I was thinking this morning that every time I listen to the local news (not national or world I hear of someone killing someone. I sometimes have to wonder: "How long, O Lord?"

"Then the Lord replied: 'Write down the revelation and make it plain on the 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." (Hab. 2:2-3)

God is reminding Habakkuk that God is in charge. Things are the way that Yahweh planned them. The Babylonians will meet their end, and it won't be that long. However, the righteous will survive, but only if they will remain faithful to God. It is then that we get the verse: "The righteous will live by his faith." (Hab.2:4b) There are four places in the Bible where we find this verse or a variation of it. It is often thought that we are being told to simply "live by faith," but I would argue that this verse is implying that we are to live by "by the faithfulness of God." Yes, we are to have faith and be faithful, but without God being faithful to us, then our faith would be of little worth.

Yahweh is the sovereign Lord and will prove victorious. The righteous must be patient and wait for that time to come. In the end Habakkuk is able to go from wondering to worshipping the Lord.

Before I close, I want to do just say a few words about the book of Zephaniah. The prophet Zephaniah follows the lead of Amos by proclaiming that the Day of Yahweh is coming. But, it will not be a good day for God's people. "The great day of the Lord is near-near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter...that day will be a day of wrath...(Zephaniah 1:14-15a)

Tomorrow we will cover the Book of Haggai. Join me tomorrow. Blessings! -Pastor Rick


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