Welcome Warnings from God

// August 4th, 2019 // Sermons

This entry is part 5 of 7 in the series Habakkuk Sermon Series

This is Sermon #5 in the sermon series… You can listen online or download it and listen later…Welcome Warnings from God…based on the book of Habakkuk – using the theme, “The Righteous shall live by faith!”  There’s just three chapters to this little book.  The first chapter dealt with the problem and the subsequent burden of Habakkuk.  The second chapter deals with the vision that Habakkuk was given.  And chapter 3 will deal with the prayer that Habakkuk prays.

Last week we looked at v. 2-4 – Habakkuk was given a vision that he was to write down – it was to be clear and plain so that everyone could grasp it.  The message Habakkuk was given was God’s answer for him and the nation, as well as for all of us – that the righteous shall live by faith.

In Acts 17, we find the story of Paul the apostle standing on Main Street in the city of Athens.  In v. 16 we read that he is livid because of all their idols and false gods.  The Amplified Bible reads: “…his spirit was grieved and roused to anger as he saw a city full of idols.”

  • He was angry at the power of false religion to trick people – that should make us angry today!
  • He was angry at the reckless devotion to those powerless gods that gullible men, women and children were bowing down to.
  • He was angry at the crazy amount of money that was sacrificially given to build these temples and support those fraudulent religious deities.
  • It made him angry that Christ was not given the love and devotion that He is worthy of.
  • He was angry that people would actually cry out to these man-made gods.
  • He was angry that the atoning blood of Christ was being trampled underfoot.
  • He was angry that the intellectuals were mocking the life, death, resurrection, and the ascension of the living Son of God.
  • He was angry that the people of that city who were only one heartbeat from an eternal hell could still eat, drink, and be merry.
  • Paul was angry that the devil had a hold on people – people who were captives to fear and lust were willing to follow the devil to the bottomless pit.

In Christian circles today, we don’t hear a lot the anger/wrath of God.  But, you sure find it when you read the Bible.  In my Chronological reading of the Bible, I’m in the book of Jeremiah right now.  If you remember from the background information, the prophecy of Jeremiah was right around the same time as Habakkuk.  God is so fed-up with the people of Judah.  The pictures that God gave to Jeremiah as to what He was going to do the people of Judah and Jerusalem…you would think the people would do anything they could to turn things around.

I tried to come up with an image that might make it more real for us today.  What God was doing was like you, as a parent – if you had a rebellious, delinquent son or daughter – and so, you enlisted the help of Charles Manson to help get your son or daughter back.

We think, “That sounds absurd!”  That is exactly how Habakkuk, Jeremiah and the others felt.  But God had had enough!  The cup of God’s wrath was full to the brim.  In Jer. 16:5 we read, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do not go to funerals to mourn and show sympathy for these people, for I have removed my protection and peace from them. I have taken away my unfailing love and my mercy.’”

God’s anger and wrath are clearly depicted in the law of God.  If we do not preach the law, people will not realize that they have come short of God’s standard.  If people don’t hear that they have fallen short and therefore, the condemnation and wrath of God is on them…then, they have no hope of being saved!

One scholar put it like this: “The Gospel that is preached today, it neither wounds nor heals!”  It is when you and I realise that we are so depraved before God that even our righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s sight – then, are we in a position to believe that it is only through Christ that we can be acceptable in the sight of a holy God.

We need to preach/live that God is holy, and in order to come to Him, we must be holy as He is holy.  This is what the prophets preached – the holiness of God and the failure of people to live the holiness of God.  But, it is not politically correct to preach sin, to preach the righteousness of God, and to preach the unrighteousness of people.

Hamish McKenzie said of this type of preaching, “Hell fears it, earth requires it and heaven ordains it!”  If God is to save and heal a sinner, the sinner must be wounded from their own self-righteousness, their own sinfulness, their own lack of being able to approach the very presence of God.

I’ve called this sermon: “Welcome Warnings” because, Habakkuk welcomed God’s answer to his prayer.  There are five woes.  God says: “Woe unto you” “I’m warning you…”  They can easily be applied to Babylon, to Judah and also to us.

Warning #1: Woe to thieves! – v. 6-8

A warning to those with selfish ambition.  Ambition is a good thing, but selfish ambition makes people greedy, selfish and abusive.  This is a warning to those that benefited from ill-gotten gain.

The Babylonians were consumed by selfish ambition and they stopped at nothing to acquire wealth and expand their kingdom.  God warned them that one day they – the victors in this battle – would one day become the victims.  Babylon plundered other nations and in a coming day would be plundered.  Babylon had shed innocent blood and soon their blood would be shed.  It’s a basic law of the universe that eventually we will reap what we sow!

Habakkuk warns them that the day is coming – where they would experience a nasty bite, and they suddenly will be vexed.  The word “vex” means to shake violently, to pick up a man and turn him upside-down and shake his money out of him!

God says – those who have ill-gotten gain will one day face a pay day!  People may forget, history might forget, but God never forgets.  In Num. 32:23 God says:  “Be sure your sin will find you out.”  It might look like those who do these things are getting away with it…God says: “God is not mocked, His name will not be trodden in the dirt – but whatever a man or woman sows that shall they also reap.”  One day the tables will be turned.  A warning to those with selfish ambition.

Warning #2: Woe to those who covet – v. 9-11

The Chaldeans were a covetous, self-exalting, proud people – and that usually produces unfair and inhuman practices.  In v.  9, God describes them like eagles who set up their nest on a high mountain, so that they are safe from predators.  V. 10 says: “But by the murders you committed, you have shamed your name and forfeited your lives.”

Apparently Nebuchadnezzar built his house with the plundered remains of the conquered cities that he stomped on.  God says, “You may set yourself like an eagle on a mountain, and think that nobody will touch you.  You may make yourself luxurious by the spoil of your enemies and your victims, but God says: ‘Woe to inhumanity’.  You may have carried many people away with you, but the stone of your wall/your house, will ‘cry out, and the beam from the woodwork will respond’.”  In other words, your house will testify to what you are doing to those around you. V. 10 says: “You have forfeited your life!”

In Mark 8:36 Jesus said, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?”  O that people who take pleasure dabbling in sin, realise that they are sinning against God, against the people they are exploiting and they are sinning against their eternal soul.  Sin, is never innocent or without consequence!

Covetousness…the sin of our world today is the constant cry for more!  Jesus warned His disciples, “Take heed and beware of covetousness” (Luke 12:15).  Habakkuk gives a warning to inhumanity.

Warning #3: Woe to those who exploit people – v. 12-14

“Woe to him who builds a town with blood and founds a city on iniquity!”  Babylon’s cup of iniquity is filling up fast because they are building their great empire, with blood, with iniquity – another word for sin.

Babylon was built by prisoners of war, slave labor and exploitation of the weak.  The city was an architectural marvel, but all for naught.  In contrast to the shame of Babylon, God promised that His glory would one day cover the earth (v. 14).  Babylon’s glory wouldn’t last, but the glory of the Lord will abide forever!

The fall of “Babylon the Great” is a reminder to us that what man builds without God can never last.  The exploiter will eventually lose everything, and man’s ”utopias” will end up as disasters.  We can’t exploit people made in God’s image and expect to escape God’s judgment.  It may take time, but eventually judgment will come.

Babylon is a picture of all worldly religion, the worldly system that is a living without Christ, a godless power that denies Christ and lifts themselves up as God.  The word of God clearly testifies that soon it will all perish!  Why?  Because Jesus is coming again – and He will destroy man-made things and set Himself up as Lord and Master of all.  Hallelujah!

This is a warning to those who exploit others…

Warning #4: Woe to drunkenness – v. 15-17

While the Bible doesn’t demand total abstinence, it does warn against the evils of strong drink.  Drunkenness and ungodly behavior go together.

In these verses, Habakkuk is saying that alcohol was used to entice others to sin.  The scene in v. 15 is one that is played out too frequently in our culture.  The addiction to alcohol usually loves company and leads to gross choices.  The picture is that of a repulsive drunk, vomiting all over himself.

The word “neighbor” could also refer to a neighboring nation that was “intoxicated” with Babylon’s power and so they were willing to give up their dignity (become naked) before Babylon’s invading armies.  God had used Babylon to discipline the nations, but now God will give her a cup to drink that will bring her to ruin.

Listen to v. 16 from The Message“You thought you were having the time of your life. Wrong! It’s a time of disgrace. All the time you were drinking, you were drinking from the cup of God’s wrath.”

Over the years, I have known many who have told me that they wish they had never taken their first social drink because alcohol has destroyed much of their life; but you know, I have never encountered anyone who wished they had started drinking earlier in life because alcohol has brought them so many good things.

There are 2 things that I want to say from this passage about alcohol:

1) It invites sexual sin – v. 15 – they were making people drunken that they may look upon their nakedness.  Alcohol lowers our inhibitions.

2) Secondly, It brings shame – in v. 16 God says: “What you have done to others – taking advantage of them – will be done to you.”  God told Habakkuk to warn against drunkenness.

Warning #5: Woe to idolatry – v. 18-20

The people of Judah had been guilty of worshiping man-made idols – the gods of the surrounding nations – for many years.  All the prophets had spoken against this violation of the 2nd Commandment but the people refused to repent.

What is idolatry?  Rom. 1:25 gives the best answer – Idolatry is worshiping/serving the creature instead of the Creator!  It started back in the Garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Eve with, “You will be like God”.

Idolatry is disobedience to God’s Word – it is foolish and useless.  What value is a god made by man?  Common sense would say that it makes more sense to worship the God who made the man!  An idol gives the worshiper a false confidence that this man-made thing can help, when it cannot!

Idols are dead substitutes for the living God.  Whatever we delight in, other than God; whatever we give our devotion to and are willing to sacrifice for; whatever we just can’t live without – this has become for us an idol and as such, is condemned by God.

People can become idols, possessions and bank accounts can become idols, our family/spouse/kids can become our idols, appetites/food/sex can be an idol, social status, cell phones and FaceBook can become idols, whatever brings you carnal pleasure can be an idol, your intellect can be your idol, your abilities/talents can be an idol, even your church/your faith could be an idol…whatever it is that you just don’t want to be without – you just have to have it to be complete, and it isn’t our Jehovah God…that is your idol!

God ended His reply to Habakkuk by giving an amazing assurance:  “But the Lord is in his holy Temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”  In this chapter God gives Habakkuk 3 assurances:

  1. i) 4 – Assurance of God’s grace
  2. ii) 14 – Assurance of God’s glory

iii) V. 20 – Assurance of God’s Sovereignty – God is on the throne and has everything under control.  Therefore, we shouldn’t complain against God or question what He’s doing.  Like faithful servants, we must simply wait and listen for His instructions.  Like the Psalmist said in Ps. 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God.”

A dead idol cannot give you a word of exhortation, encouragement, direction, or anything – but, there’s a God in heaven who knows what is going on, who knows your heartaches, who knows your concerns, your temptations, your tribulations – there is the Lord God of Heaven and earth, who is in His holy temple, and let all the world keep silence before Him!

So, brother and sister in Christ, take encouragement:  God is in control! He is on His throne, and in His time He will answer.

Seeing the vision of God and hearing the voice of God made a tremendous difference in Habakkuk’s life.  As he grasped the significance of God’s grace, glory and sovereignty, this worried watcher of national events became a worshiper of the Sovereign God.  In the next chapter we will begin to see the impact this change had on his life.

So, what idols do you have in your life?

Or, should I ask, does Christ have all of who you are and have?

Are you longing to see revival in Canada?

In the Christian Church in Canada?

It will never happen if we don’t deal with our own sin!  We have to break up that fallow ground – farmland that hasn’t been farmed for years needs to be broken up.  It’s time to seek the Lord until He comes and rains righteousness upon us!

Charles Finney said: “Take a pen and a paper, and write on one side all your sins of omission – the things that you should do but are not doing.  On the other side, write down the sins of commission – the sins that you are committing.  Write them down, think about them, weep over them, and confess them before God” That is breaking up the fallow ground!

In Joel 2:12-13 – we read, “…the Lord says, ‘Turn to me now, while there is time….Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.’ Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”

Christian friends, the fire of God will not come upon your life until all the flesh is on the altar.

Let’s pray…

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