Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Habakkuk’s Dilemma

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Habakkuk’s Dilemma

Habakkuk’s Dilemma

Habakkuk is a book about people facing enormous changes in their lives. Because of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, political, economic and social changes were on the horizon of their lives. God’s hand of chastisement was upon them. This was a great dilemma for those of Israel who wanted to be faithful to God. It would be a time when their faith would be tested. For many others it would be a time when they would begin to question God and their faith in Him.
          Because of the faithfulness of king Josiah (640-609 B.C.), God had blessed Israel with great material wealth and national prosperity (Read 1 Kings 22:1-20). However, it was not long before Israel would forget God. They forgot He was the source of their blessing.  Therefore, God was about to withdraw His hand of blessing.
          We are living in a similar period of history. We are seeing vast changes in the political arena. The things Christians have held sacred for centuries are being ridiculed and rejected by our society. Violence, fornication, adultery, drug use, and perversion flaunt themselves openly and without shame. We are reminded of the words of Jeremiah to a similar generation, “Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed.” (Jeremiah 3:3)

The “burden” of knowing what God will do.

Verses 1-4 of Habakkuk chapter one could be the prayer of any Christian as he prays for our nation.  Habakkuk knew he served a holy and righteous God. He knew God hated compromise.  The prophecy given to Habakkuk was a “burden” because it involved God’s judgment coming on the nation of Israel, faithful and unfaithful alike.  Like many Christians today, Habakkuk was confused about God’s apparent inaction to the nation’s moral decline (verses 2-4). Habakkuk was perplexed by God’s apparent inaction.  He asked God for the answers and solutions.
Unless we can get an accurate theological world view, we will always be perplexed by the present problems of our society.  Although the future historical problems for Christians may be overwhelming, confronting those problems with faith is complicated because so many see the Bible as only a textbook for personal salvation.  Actually the Word of God provides an overview of world history in a steady, progressive moral decline into the judgment of God as the final destiny of the world.  The message of salvation is not a message to correct the decline, but to help lost souls escape the pending judgment.
Do we just need better laws?

Christians look for a solution to the moral decline of our society in government.  Has the dispensation of law taught us nothing?  Israel had perfect law, the laws of God.  Israel had a perfect theocratic government. Why didn’t it work?  It did not work, because perfect laws and perfect government require perfect people to make them work.  Law is irrelevant to unregenerate people.  Isn’t that what verse four says? “The law is ignored and justice is unenforceable.”

The Bible puts every problem in life in the context of the world view of a steady degeneration of truth.

Because many Christians do not hold this world view, they think the solution to this moral decline is Theonomy.  Theonomy is a world view that thinks Christians can establish the Kingdom on earth by forcing the moral laws of God upon a society.  Theonomy says, “if we can change society by changing government and moral law, we can change man.”
          This is the same message of the old social gospel wrapped in a new package. It didn’t work with that name on it and it won’t work with this name on it.  If there is any hope of changing a society, it is through evangelism.  However, if you have read the end of the Book, society will not be changed.  Therefore, Christians need to understand they are not here to reform society.  We are here on a search and rescue mission to help as many as possible escape the “wrath to come.”
When we look at world history (past and future) in the context of God’s world view, we see all circumstances of life in their divinely appointed place in the culmination of God’s universal world plan.

Habakkuk is a book relating by example how God wants believers to function when faced with worldwide or national calamity.  God wants us to respond with faith (trusting Him).

“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4)

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

“But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)

“Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Hebrews 10:38)

How many Christians, in situations of life such as Habakkuk, greatly burdened when they see things contradictory to the absolutes of God happening in the world, adopt man made methods  of dealing with them?  The vision of faith always sees God in control of every circumstance (or it is not a vision of faith).  We may not understand it all.  It may be very disturbing to us, but our sole responsibility is to keep our eyes fixed in faith on the Lord and continue with our search and rescue mission. Stay on track! 
The only way to balance life’s difficulties is with faith.  Faith trusts the national and world situation to God.  Faith trusts God to use you to rescue as many souls as possible from the pending judgment

Never interpret God’s inactivity as indifference.

God had a plan.  The “burden” that was given to Habakkuk signified he understood that plan and was greatly troubled by it.

1. Sometimes we don’t like God’s answers to our prayers.
2. He doesn’t always do things according to our dictates.
3. God does not work in the shoe boxes we make for Him.

Try not to be impatient with God.  He does not work according to our time table.  When time is ripe, He will answer. That is God’s pattern.

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

When society is filled with injustice, don’t accuse God of injustice because He does not immediately act.

1. God is not the cause of injustice.
2. Sin is the cause of injustice.
3. God cannot deal with the sin without condemning the sinner.
4. When justice finally prevails, all injustices will be corrected.

          Keeping our faith fixed upon Jesus throughout national and international incidents keeps us on track.  Faith looks beyond the moment and sees everything from an eternal perspective and with God’s world view.  This world is on a roller coaster ride to Armageddon.  If you are lost, the most important thing you can do is to get off the roller coaster.  If you are saved, the most important thing you can do is to rescue as many people as you can before they come face to face with a righteous God and judgment.

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Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist. 
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.

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