“Lord, That’s Your Answer?”

// July 14th, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Habakkuk Sermon Series

For Habakkuk, it seemed that the ground was parched… You can listen online or download it and listen later…Lord, That’s Your Answer?

…that the heavens were brass, that his prayers didn’t go past the ceiling…there was nothing, not a word from God.

A month ago, I started this sermon series based on the Minor Prophet book of Habakkuk – in that first sermon we looked at v. 1-4.  We took note of the man with a burden that he could hardly bear.

What was his burden?  The sin of the people of his nation.  We traced the history of Judah, and how they had seen so many ungodly kings – and then, all of a sudden, one godly king – King Josiah, came along, and he brought revival to the nation – everything was great – and then he was wiped out.

Suddenly they were shrouded in hopelessness and despair.  King Josiah’s son was put on the throne after him and the son reversed most everything that his father had made right; they brought all the high places and the idols back into Jerusalem, and God brought judgment against them once more.

And, just like you and me, Habakkuk, looked to God and said: “Lord, what are You doing?  Injustice, sinfulness, evil, idolatry is rampant among Your people, and it seems that You’re doing absolutely nothing about it!”

As Habakkuk cried-out, prayed, pleaded and wrestled with God, it just seemed like the ground was parched, the heavens were brass, his prayers went nowhere, and there was no word from God…only silence.

He wanted an answer from God and he wasn’t getting it.  But, we ended with v. 5 – where we pick it up today – and we saw that God did answer him…God said: “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told you.”

To Habakkuk, God’s silence seemed to mean that He was not interested, unconcerned.  There was violence all around, absolute lawlessness and blatant evil – in God’s temple, in government, in society – and the prophets of God were being ignored within the church and in the nation.  It seemed like God wasn’t doing anything.

As Christians who have faith in God, we know that God’s Word is true, and we pray to God in faith, but…when you look at the world – all the injustice, the violence, the absolute disregard for God’s values, you start to wonder…Is God asleep or merely silent?  Could it be that He doesn’t know how bad things are?  And, if He knows, why isn’t He doing something about it?

Just consider how awful things are getting – Some time ago, I read that in the State of New York, some children are wearing bullet-proof jackets to school.  One church in the U.S., spent $100,000 on church security.  And two weeks, I read about a Presbyterian Church in Alabama that has been granted the right to establish their own police force to protect their campus.

We see so much injustice, so much rampant evil, that it seems evil has won the day.  I wonder…has this caused us, the people of God, to get down on our knees and cry out to God:  “Lord, what are You doing?  What is going on?  Why don’t You come and judge and save?”

There is a word used in the Yiddish language – the Yiddish language is mixture of Hebrew and German that they spoke in Europe, a slum slang language – there’s a Yiddish word ‘shutzpah’.  It is a word with no English equivalent – it means, an attitude of incredible gall and presumption.  A linguist described it like this:  “The classic example of shutzpah is a young man who murders his parents and then asks the court to show him mercy because he’s an orphan.”  You know, that is the kind of world we’re living in.  Extreme presumptuousness, extreme gall and pride, people think they can get away with anything.

And so, we could look to God, and ask: “Lord, why?  What are You doing?  Why does it seem like You are silent nationally, morally, spiritually & personally in our lives?  Why won’t You do something?”

Whether we notice it or not, He is always present with us, and He always answers…in some way – but He may not answer the way we think or hope or ask.

Maybe it’s more personal for you…in your illness, in your relationships, in your finances, emotions or mental struggles…you are asking:  “Lord, why won’t You do something?”  Maybe you expect the Lord to take the problem away – to heal you or whatever; but just know that He is there.

Habakkuk was crying to God for an answer, but he had certain qualifications on what answer he wanted.  Basically one:  Answer me in whatever You want, Lord, but just not this way!  Have you ever been there?  I’ll do anything, I’ll go anywhere, I’ll deal with whatever You put in front of me, I’ll say anything, I will give up anything, but just not this one – anything, Lord, but this!

Habakkuk said, “Lord answer me!”  And God says, “I’m going to answer you!  You will look around yourself and be amazed, for I am doing a new work.”  And then God added, “You won’t even believe it when I tell you!”

Notice God’s answer – v. 5-6:  “The Lord replied, ‘Look around at the nations; look and be amazed! For I am doing something in your own day, something you wouldn’t believe even if someone told you about it. I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands.’”

That’s your answer Lord?  “God answered my prayer; I prayed for revival but God answered in judgment.”  God says, “I will chasten them, I’m going to whip My sheep into place.”

He tells Habakkuk, “Look/Watch/Be utterly astounded” – this command to look is a plural command, which means that He wasn’t just simply telling Habakkuk to look, but He was telling the whole nation of Judah, “Look around you.”

God is full of surprises for His people.  Amen? The longer you walk with God, the more you realize that He doesn’t always act and move in the way you and I expect.  This was a surprise for Habakkuk, it wasn’t what he was expecting.  He gets his eyes opened to God’s plan for Judah.

Habakkuk is crying for his country and God says look at the world around you – Habakkuk, look at what I am doing in My world, among the nations, you need to see the big picture.

God is saying, “You need to understand, that I am God and there is none beside Me, I am sovereign, I am omnipotent, and I rule in the kingdoms of men.”

Habakkuk had a narrow vision – we do the same thing – we look at our own situations – our lives, our communities and forget that there is a big world around us, and that God is moving, His way, in His world!

God is at work, saving men and women, boys and girls, across the face of this world.  We read of what God is doing in China, in South America, in Vietnam, in Korea, in Iraq and all over God’s world.  Are you a Christian with a God-influenced world view?

God tells Habakkuk, “Look around you – I am the God who raises up nations and the God who casts them down.  The wheels of My justice may seem slow as they move but they keep on grinding – one day they will catch up with all nations.  I’m at work among the nations even though you, Habakkuk, can’t see it!”

The thing that I find interesting is that God gave Habakkuk a revelation, not an explanation.  And, if you think about it, what we need most in times of doubt and confusion is a new view of who our God is!

And further, we should never think that we are so “chummy” with God that He owes us an explanation for what He is doing or has done.  Our God doesn’t owe us any explanations…period!  But, if our eyes and ears are open, we would see and understand that God continually reveals Himself and His work to those who seek Him.

What Habakkuk suffered in a small way, Job suffered in a great way, and God’s answer to Job’s many questions was simply to reveal Himself to Job; and the same applies to us.  We don’t live on explanations, we live on the promises of God; and the promises of God are based on the character of God!

The turning point in Job’s experience came when he put his hand on his mouth, stopped arguing with the Lord, and started to worship the Lord as He deserves to be worshipped.  In the book of Habakkuk, we see a similar thing in Habakkuk’s experience…and, I’m confident it will be the same with us today.  Because, there’s nothing like a fresh view of the glory of God to give you strength for the journey!

What God was doing was so amazing, incredible and unheard of, that even God’s prophet Habakkuk would be shocked.  God said, “You wouldn’t believe it, even if I told you!”

God was planning to discipline the Jews by using the godless Babylonians.  In v. 6 we read that they were a “bitter and hasty people”, “dreaded and fearsome”.  Listen to how the Message Bible reads v. 6-7:  I’m about to raise up Babylonians to punish you, Babylonians, fierce and ferocious— World-conquering Babylon, grabbing up nations right and left,  A dreadful and terrible people, making up its own rules as it goes.”  Their only purpose was to promote themselves and conquer and enslave others.  Modern-day Iraq is not too far removed from that description.

 In Amos 3:6, we find a verse that is very clear – that when law breaks down and there is an injustice in the government, in the legal system of a nation – the result will be that absolute disaster and chaos will break out. And, when disaster breaks out within a nation, God is behind it.

Listen to Amos 3:6 in the ESV:  Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?”

Bible scholar F.F. Bruce translated it like this, “Does disaster befall a city? The Lord has done it.”  Just think about it:  If lawlessness breaks down, do you think God will come in and rescue all the people?  Don’t you think that God can let it happen, and still be able to enact His Sovereign plan.

Regardless of what it looks like – God is at work…He is raising up kings and kingdoms, and He is taking kings away.  All the nations of the world, and politicians, whether they believe it or not doesn’t matter – but God has them where they are, and He can remove them in a heartbeat.

People don’t believe God today, they never did.  But, God’s Word will come to pass, and when the Lord Jesus Christ says, “Repent, or you will also perish” – He meant it, and it will happen.

In Acts 13:41, Paul quotes Habakkuk 1:5 – To the Jews of Paul’s day, God was saying, “I’m going to do a work in your day”.  Quite literally, if you reject Christ, I’m going to raise up another people – the Gentiles – not for discipline but as a means to fulfill His promise.

The prophecy that Habakkuk received was fulfilled – the Babylonians came into Jerusalem and they destroyed the temple.  In v. 6, God said, “I have a plan…and My plan is:  I will raise up the Chaldeans” – another name for the Babylonians.

They were a Semitic people, they were the offspring of Abraham’s brother, Nahor.  The region they settled in was in the region where the city of Babel existed – where they tried to build the tower to heaven.  Babylon is an actual place, but it also is a symbol – a symbol of human society trying to live independent of God.

And so, what was God doing?  He was taking an evil, sinful, wicked people and using them to get to His own people.  How could God do such a thing?  But, in this act, God was saying three things:

First, He was saying: ‘I am God’.  Basically stating that He is God and He can do whatever He wants.  He is not obligated to anyone.  Just like He told Job, He doesn’t have to explain His actions – not to Job, not to His people and not to us.  Listen to Romans 11:33-36, Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!  “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”  “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”  For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”  He says first of all, “I am God.”

Secondly, He says, “My ways aren’t your ways.  In Is. 55:8-9 we read – For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”  

And thirdly, God says, “Even if I told you, and explained My thinking and My thoughts, you wouldn’t even believe it.”  Because I’m God and My way aren’t your ways, you can’t think and understand what I’m doing.

And so, now back to Habakkuk ch. 1 – the Lord then uses a number of pictures from nature to describe the Babylonians and how they treated people.

  • Their horses had the speed of leopards and were ferocious like wolves;
  • Their troops swooped down on their prey like vultures;
  • Their army swept across the desert like the wind;
  • They gathered and deported prisoners the way that a man digs sand and ships it to a foreign land;
  • They scoff at kings and laugh at rulers;
  • They make a mockery of fortresses and strongholds.

Could anything stop them?  Certainly God could stop them, but He was the One who was using them to accomplish His purposes.  No human power could stop them.  They laughed at gates and walls as they built their siege ramps and captured foreign cities.  They worshiped the god of power and depended totally on their own strength.

Habakkuk learned that God was not indifferent to the sins of the people of Judah.  He was planning to discipline Judah by allowing Babylon to invade the land and take them into exile.  And this just was not the answer that Habakkuk was expecting or hoping for.

He anticipated a revival coming from within his people – the leaders would be judged and righteousness would be restored in the land.  As a result, the nation would escape the punishment and the people and cities would be spared.

God had warned His people time and time again…but, they refused to listen.  Prophet after prophet had declared the Word, only to be rejected.  He had sent natural calamities like drought and plagues, storms and catastrophes and military defeats…but the people wouldn’t listen.  Instead of repenting and turning from their wickedness, the people hardened their hearts more and more.  Instead of turning to God for help, their turned to the false gods of the nations that surrounded them.  They had put God’s longsuffering character to the test and been found wanting.  It was now time for God to act.

Have you ever thought about Hitler and the holocaust from this perspective….from 1933 to 1945, 6 million Jews were wiped off the face of the earth.  I’m not trying to oversimplify a terrible atrocity.  But, if God is Sovereign – and we believe He is, then there is no other satisfactory answer as to why the Holocaust happened.

Now, we do not have the mind of God, and we don’t have easy, calculated answers that we can give to all things we face.

By the way, even as a Christian, you don’t have to have an answer for everything – we are not God, and if we had an answer for everything we would set ourselves up as God.

We don’t see the whole picture.  Deut. 29:29 says, “The LORD our God has secrets known to no one” – this is the message that Habakkuk received in his answer – God is sovereign and in control!  Many Christians have lost that confidence because we live in a selfish society, but as the true church today, we need to look to God, believing that God is in control, He is sovereign, He is omnipotent!

Because of who He is, He doesn’t have to be accountable to anyone.  Notice v. 11 – in the KJV it reads, “Then shall his mind change…”  It literally means “a wind storm will pass through”.

The Babylonians look to themselves as being self-sufficient and self-glorifying.  God said to King Nebuchadnezzar that he would eat grass like an animal because of his pride – “…until you learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world and gives them to anyone he chooses.”

When you and I look at our beloved Canada, and we see the downward spiral of the nation’s value system, like Habakkuk we should be crying out to God – asking God to come and help get things back on track.  But, like Habakkuk, when God shows us His handiwork, we might respond with, “Lord, anything but that!”

How far will things have to go before we press in to Him?  Will God have to bring a Babylon into our land to chasten us?  I wonder, with the influx of so many Muslims in recent years, has He maybe already started to do that?

Our Canadian society is so messed-up!  With all the gender confusion – the city of St. Albert passed a motion on Monday, that by the end of this year, conversion therapy – an effort to convert someone who is gay to being straight – will be illegal.  What really disturbs me about these things is not the gay activity, but that they are so desperate to get everyone to agree with them and applaud their sinful behavior.

The Pro-Choice/Pro-Abortion camp desperately tried to stop the UnPlanned movie from being shown in Canada.

Our United Conservative government is facing many challenges because they have reversed some of the decisions of the previous government – there is such an agenda of gender confusion, warped sexuality and brainwashing of young children that it makes the whole evolution debate seem like child’s play.

Some 350 years before Habakkuk’s prophecy, King Solomon built the Temple and dedicated it.  God spoke to during the night, making a commitment to him and to the nation.  Not all of it can be applied to us today, but I believe v. 14 can – listen to 2 Chron. 7: 14, “…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

So, what has you at the end of your rope, crying out to God?  Is it your deep concern for Canada – it’s morals or lack thereof, it’s determination to go in the opposite direction of where God is; or is it illness, struggles in your relationships, finances or lack of them, emotions, mental struggles…what are you crying out to God for?

Are we ready to accept God’s answer, even if it is different from what we desire?

Are we ready to “put all our eggs into one basket”?  To trust the Lord and only the Lord?

Let’s pray…

Series Navigation<< God You Are Not Hearing Me!Okay God, I’ll Watch and Wait! >>

Comments are closed.