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May 24, 2020

“Confusing Times calls for strong Faith.” series

Habakkuk part 3: – “Our choices shape our life” 

Habakkuk 2:1-20

I won’t read all 20 verses to start with what we will do is simply work our way through them so if you take out your bibles and turn to Habakkuk 2.

Let begin in prayer…

We make our choices in life and then our choices make us, who we are.

We see often in the bible where people are asked to make a choice.

Near the end of his life Moses challenged his people this way:

 

(Deuteronomy 30:19). This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

As Joshua was an old man and nearing death, he reminded the people of Israel about what God had done for them. Then he exhorted them with these words:

 (Joshua 24:15).  But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Many years later Elijah stood atop Mount Carmel and addressed the people of Israel this way:

 (1 Kings 18:21). Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

Every one of us come to a point in life where we also must decide, who do we chose to Follow…God or Baal, Baal was seen as a  fertility God. 

If doesn’t matter if you are 7 or 8 or 70 or 80, everyone of us comes to a place in life where we must make a choice in who we will follow in life.

Solomon  talks about choices, Matthew talks about choices, all thru Psalms you see discussion on choices.

Every one of us are on a journey that leads thru life on to death. Jesus calls it a “way.” 

One “way” is wide and easy.

The other “way” is narrow and hard. Make your choice He says.

Chose  the easy way or  the hard way.

Jesus is saying to all of us today,

“Make sure you are on the right road. You don’t want to end up in a place you never wanted to be.”

That brings us back to Habakkuk. He is standing at a cross roads.

He now needs to make a decision. 

He has complained twice to God, he has heard part of Gods answer and now he has to decide if he will hear and accept any more.

Chapter 2 verse 1 says: I will stand at my watch
and station myself on the ramparts;
I will look to see what he will say to me,
and what answer I am to give to this complaint.

The rampart is a high wall that protects the people.

Habakkuk says I am going to stand here see what God says.

The books subtitles go like this, Habakkuk complains, God answers, Habakkuk complains again and now God is about to give him his final answer.

We are about to find out just what Habakkuk believes. He needs to make a choice, accept Gods answers  or don’t.

Accept what God says or walk away or keep questioning God.

All of us will face a day like this, accept what God says or walk away.

When trouble comes our way we find out very quickly what we really believe. What we really stand for.

When we are under pressure for any reason, our true character starts to show.

As we pick up the story in chapter 2, Habakkuk is a man waiting for an answer. 

God gives him 3 instructions: write, wait, and remember.

1. Write

Verse 2   “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald (the town crier) may run with it”.

God wants no misunderstanding, he wants what he says to be clear. What he says to Habakkuk is not some secret, some coded message only for the prophet. Instead it’s a message for the whole nation for our whole world.

2. Wait

Verse 3  “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”.

God may seem slow but he’s never late. He never delays in order to hurt us. He’s an always “on-time” God.

God wants his will made clear, and it will show up at the perfect time.

3. Remember

READ     (vv. 4-5)

The “he” refers to Babylon as personified by Nebuchadnezzar the king. Historically Babylon was greedy as the grave. The empire spread itself in all directions, conquering cities, towns, provinces, and ultimately whole nations. Babylon’s hunger was never satisfied. 

There was always another nation to subdue, another city to overrun, another army to defeat.

In the midst of this rampage of terror, what should the people of God do? The answer comes at the end of verse 4:

“the righteous person will live by his faith.”

No matter how terrifying a time seems to be “Remember live by your faith”!

Habakkuk, no matter how confusing the answer, no matter how misunderstood God is, no matter what you think.

The righteous person will live by his faith

He is saying to Habakkuk.

What do you do when they are killing your people? The just shall live by faith.

What do you do when the enemy destroys your home? 

What do you do when your loved ones are taken into captivity? 

What do you do when you lose everything you own? 

What do you do when nothing God does makes sense to you? The just shall live by faith.

What do you do when your work lays you off, What do you do when schooling is confusing, what do you do when you don’t know what September  will look like, what do you do when you can see your friends,

What do you do when you are having trouble getting your seed in the ground or you don’t get the price you want for your cattle. 

The righteous person will live by his faith, faith that God will take care of you and in the end you will benefit by standing strong

How much of this did Habakkuk really understand? 

We will learn that by Habakkuk’s actions and what he says in Chapter 3 after God speaks to him.

 

There was 3 instructions, write, wait and remember, which also apply to us, and they were followed by Five Woes, (woes meaning  sorrowful things or stressful things that will follow).

Habakkuk doesn’t understand  what God is going to do.

But he says Habakkuk I know your confused about Babylon but what watch and see what  I will do.

I know you don’t understand me, but this is bigger then you, bigger then Judah or Babylon, bigger then Persia, the outcome of my decisions goes way beyond anything you can understand.

 Over two thousand years ago God made a decision that is still affecting the world today. Of course that decision involved his son.

Habakkuk just relax, your immediate concern regarding Babylon will be dealt with. Babylon will be brought down and utterly destroyed. 

God conveys that message through 5 woes found in verses 6, 9, 12, 15, and 19. Taken together, they serve as a formal indictment against Babylon.

1. verse 6 “Woe to him who piles up stolen goods”.

That perfectly described the Babylonians. When they took a city, they plundered its silver and gold. They took the crops and the cattle, and they carried off anything else of value. They grew rich through the misery of others. But God promised a day of judgment:

Babylon will get what they deserve

READ 7-8

They got away with it for a long time because no one dared to stand against them. But God saw it all, and in due time he would even the scales of justice.

2. Verse 9 “Woe to him who builds his house by unjust gain, setting his nest on high to escape the clutches of ruin”.

The high part  refers in part to the walls of Babylon, in some places the wall was a 100 feet high. The Babylonians thought themselves invulnerable to attack. They believed no army could ever breach there walls.

But look at what verse 11 says:“The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it”.

Remember I told you a number of years later Persia would invade Judah and take it back from Babylon. That’s what all this is talking about. 

3. Verse 12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by injustice or crime” .

God hates those who build an empire on bloodshed. Obviously this applies to nations that use military might to conquer the weak and defenceless. 

Verse 14  Brings a glimmer of hope in the midst of all that God has said to this point.

 14, “But the earth will be covered with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea”.

A time will once again come when the “the earth will be filled with his glory.”

God will be welcomed back to Judah by the same people who rejected him.

One day the glory of the Lord will fill the earth.

One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Then we come to 

4. Verse 15 “Woe to him to who gives drink to his neighbours, pouring from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies”.

God uses this as a statement against immorality.

The Babylonians were a very immoral society, nothing did was wrong in their book. 

BUT many theologians also see this as a condemnation on those who use alcohol  as a tool to lead others into immorality. 

Verse 16 gives us God’s response:

“You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and let your nakedness be exposed! The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory.”

What goes around comes around. 

5. Then finally verse 19 “Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ he is talking about  Idolatry.

Who in their right mind would believe that praying to lifeless stones could make any difference? 

Pray to the stones all you want, bow down before the wooden altar all you want  nothing is going to happen.

There is only one true living God who you should worship.

God’s indictment of the Babylonians ends this way in verse 20:

His final words to Habakkuk…

“The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.”

We talked last week about why we should think before we speak and that silence before the lord sometimes is important.

Habakkuk,……. the Babylonians will get what’s due to them.

Just wait and see.

God says to Habakkuk  “Will you wait for me, will you trust in me, will you have faith in me?”

Mirror Alliance Church, will you wait for God, will you trust in him, will you stand faithful before God.

The world says, “Don’t just stand there. Do something!”

God says, “Don’t just do something. Stand there!” and wait

As we close I want you to  ponder the words from a very well known song.

This is My Father’s World:

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget

That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:

Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,

And earth and Heav’n be one.

Pray with me

O God,

Help us to choose you over the call of Babylon.

Help us to be on the right side of history—your side.

Give us faith to believe that in the end all your ways are right and you make no mistakes.

We pray for courage to make proper choices, because no one who trusts in you will ever be put to shame.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.