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: Maintaining Our God Perspective

Monday, June 27, 2016

Maintaining Our God Perspective

Maintaining Our God Perspective

As Habakkuk rehearses the past workings of God in history, he confronts his fear with faith.  His faith rises victorious over his fear.  Faith must rest in God’s power and abilities, not ours or it is not faith.  In these few verses of Habakkuk 3:6-8, we see that faith can also find rest in knowing God’s purpose and knowing what God does within His creation.

“6 He stood, and measured the earth: he beheld, and drove asunder the nations; and the everlasting mountains were scattered, the perpetual hills did bow: his ways are everlasting. 7 I saw the tents of Cushan in affliction: and the curtains of the land of Midian did tremble. 8 Was the LORD displeased against the rivers? was thine anger against the rivers? was thy wrath against the sea, that thou didst ride upon thine horses and thy chariots of salvation” (Habakkuk 3:6-8)?

Faith sees beyond the circumstances of life to see the broad involvement of God in an overall plan of redemption and the confrontation of evil in the world.  Although the redemption of humanity and the protection of humanity from satanic corruption and destruction is only a small part of what God does within His creation, it singularly carries the highest emphasis of Scripture.  If God would remove His protective custody over humanity for but a single moment, Satan would utterly corrupt and destroy humanity in that single moment.  This is to what Habakkuk speaks in Habakkuk 3:6-8 regarding God’s involvement to chastise Israel and correct the satanic corruptions of His children. 

Paul speaks of this as well in Colossians chapter one.  The verb tenses in Colossians 1:12-17 are critically important to understand what God has already done in our salvation and redemption.  Understanding the emphasis of the eternal aspects of our redemption should help maintain an eternal perspective of our short time “under the sun” of our temporal existence prior to our glorification.  The emphasis of both Habakkuk 3:6-8 and Colossians 1:12-17 is to bring our attention upon our eternal God and our eternal existence “in Christ.”  There is no greater test of our faith than the trials of the faithful within our temporal existence within the cursed creation.

“12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:12-17).

Paul writes with some very vivid Jewish imagery (Colossians 1:12).  There are certain words in the text that are key words to that imagery such as “inheritance” and “saints in light.”  The word “inheritance” refers to something assigned or allotted.  These words would immediately draw the attention of the twelve tribes of Israel to the Land of Promise.  These words meant a kingdom for them.

However, the kingdom to which Paul refers in this imagery is the kingdom “in light” - the realm of absolute truth (“saints in light,” vs. 12).  This kingdom is the realm of God’s sovereignty, glory, and grace.  It is the realm where truth reigns supreme and where the living Word of God is Lord.  The “born again” believer is already positionally in this kingdom of light.  We are commanded to “walk” in this kingdom of light (I John 1:7) as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8).

This kingdom “of light” is the heavenly presence of God that fills the universe.  It extends to the uttermost parts of the universe in both the macro and micro sense of existence.  The kingdom “of light” is another dimension of existence that transcends time and space, yet our time and space are a part of this existence.  Although this other existence is beyond our human senses (I Corinthians 2:9), all believers are intended to live within this spiritual reality by grace through faith.  We practically live in this invisible existence as we yield to the Holy Spirit and are empowered to live in obedience to God’s revealed will (truth) in the Word of God.  This invisible existence is the kingdom where Jesus is Lord.

All believers have been qualified to live in this realm by the finished work of Christ.  They are enabled to succeed in this realm by the enabling grace of God through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in their life.  We must be careful to emphasize that this realm of “light” that Christ has qualified the believer to live in is a spiritual realm.  We can participate in it only when we are fully surrendered to the Spirit of God in us (Romans 6:11-13).  Only the Holy Spirit can live God’s truth through us.  We cannot succeed in this spiritual existence apart from the enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.  This is to what the words “made meet” in Colossians 1:12 refer.

When the Word of God uses the word “saints,” it refers to individuals “born again” of the Spirit of God.  The “saints” are those who have been set apart from this world and have become part of this heavenly existence.  “Saints” refers to beings fit to live in the presence of God.  Every Christian should understand that we live in this existence now.  It is not a pie in the sky thing.  This is our present reality.  This fact ought to change the way we think and live in this world.

These truths were a direct contradiction to the Gnosticism that was perverting early Christianity.  Gnostics taught that salvation came through a process of enlightenment in varying levels of spiritual knowledge (the stairway to heaven heresy).  In Gnostics’ corrupted view of salvation, God did not give a person salvation.  The Gnostics believed a person achieved salvation.  This stairway to heaven idea of salvation continues to be a major part of the corruption of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and is still a major part of the terminology of many people.

According to Colossians 1:14 (“In whom we have redemption”), the Father’s work is already positionally complete.  The Father has once for all qualified, rescued, and transferred the believer into His “kingdom . . . of light.”  Delivery from the tyranny of darkness is a finished work of God and part of the believer’s present reality.  Nothing can be added, or needs to be added, to what the Father has done.  “In Christ,” we presently possess redemption “through His blood.”

In Colossians 1:15-19, we now move away from Christ’s accomplishment in His work of redemption to who He is.  In verse nineteen, “fullness” refers to all that God is or possesses now residing in Jesus Christ through His incarnation.  This refers especially to His sovereign authority in His Lordship.  These verses portray the sovereign position of Jesus over all other realities in all other existences.  The focal statement is in verse eighteen - “That in everything He might have pre-eminence.”

All worship of God must focus upon Jesus and His work.  It is not enough to intellectually recognize that Jesus excels and is sovereignly above all other humans.  We must personally give Him preeminence in our lives.  The purpose of this statement is to expand upon the person who is Jesus.  Jesus is not merely the Father’s angelic agent in the work of redemption as the Gnostics believed.  Jesus is God’s agent in the whole of God’s workings from creation to the consummation of history.

Because humanity is blinded to the eternal and spiritual dimension of our existence, we tend towards preoccupation with the empirical problems of our present temporal existence.  The corruptions and problems of life within the corruption of the fallen creation occupy most of our thought life and most of our prayer life.  The central purpose of Colossians 1:12-17 and Habakkuk’s statement in Habakkuk 3:6-8 is to bring our focus back to our eternal hope in our eternal God and the surety of our arriving at that eternal destination regardless of the difficult of our present temporal threats.

The universal struggle of evil against righteousness is to confirm the sovereignty of God over His creation.  Satan challenged that sovereignty and Adam bought into it, bringing the curse of God upon all of His creation.  God gave dominion of creation to Adam.

“26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Genesis 1:26-28).

Adam gave the dominion God gave him away to Satan in the fall by willfully denying God’s sovereignty and disobeying God’s command.  Satan then became “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2).  God has cursed and eternally condemned everything under Satan’s dominion.

“14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. 16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. 17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:14-19).

Faith trusts God with doing whatever is necessary to fulfill His purpose in the restoration of the dominion over the earth back into man’s hands.  We must understand that this demands God’s judgment.  This judgment will take place when Jesus Christ returns to the earth at Armageddon to establish His Kingdom on earth as the God/Man.  However, there are other incidental judgments interim leading to the great and final Judgment called the Great White Throne Judgment.  (STOP)
In Habakkuk 3:6-10, faith is presented as a person who begins to see God’s purpose transcending man’s difficulties and trials.  If we are ever going to be able to trust in God through various trials and difficulties, regardless of how world circumstances might affect us personally, we must understand and accept what God must do to re-establish His sovereignty over His creation.
In Habakkuk 3:6, faith sees God’s sovereign power active in the affairs of this world and His people.  When God led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, He divided the land between the twelve tribes like someone dividing a pie.   The strength and numbers of the pagan people already residing there were of absolutely no consequence as a factor to resist God’s sovereign choice of Israel as His people or His choice of the Promised Land for His people.  “He beheld, and drove asunder the nations.”

God moved before the nation of Israel and defeated their enemies in heart and mind before Israel ever got to them physically.

“1 And it came to pass, when all the kings of the Amorites, which were on the side of Jordan westward, and all the kings of the Canaanites, which were by the sea, heard that the LORD had dried up the waters of Jordan from before the children of Israel, until we were passed over, that their heart melted, neither was there spirit in them any more, because of the children of Israel” (Joshua 5:1).

The “mountains and hills” of which Habakkuk speaks in Habakkuk 3:6 are symbols of grandeur, permanence, and security representing the strength and power of the nations that occupied the Promised land.  Yet, before God, they are as nothing.  They are scattered like a fox scatters chickens before God presence.  They bow in helpless surrender before the overwhelming power of God.  Although the forces of evil in this world present themselves as indestructible and impregnable, they are nothing before God and their destiny is already determined and sealed.  Only God and “His ways are everlasting” (Habakkuk 3:6).  These forces of evil do not deserve one moment of fear from us.
We cannot understand much of what is going on in the world, but we can know and trust in the One Who does know.  God has everything under control.  Every evil and wrong doing done “under the Sun” will be judged along with every lost soul that does that evil.  Maintaining our faith perspective of God’s righteousness understands that end of our lives is not the end of the story.  At the end of everyone’s life is just their beginning of eternity.  Eternity is another existence either in the presence of God or in eternal separation from God in the place of eternal torments.  This is the revelation of Satan’s judgment in Isaiah 14:12-27.  “Lucifer” in the text is embodied in the person of Belshazzar, typical of the antichrist.  Bel was the pagan god of Babylon.  We can understand Belshazzar to mean Bel’s king.

“12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou {Belshazzar} shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; 17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners? 18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. 19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet. 20 Thou shalt not be joined with them in burial, because thou hast destroyed thy land, and slain thy people: the seed of evildoers shall never be renowned. 21 Prepare slaughter for his children for the iniquity of their fathers; that they do not rise, nor possess the land, nor fill the face of the world with cities. 22 For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD. 23 I will also make it a possession for the bittern, and pools of water: and I will sweep it with the besom of destruction, saith the LORD of hosts. 24 The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: 25 That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart from off their shoulders. 26 This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth: and this is the hand that is stretched out upon all the nations. 27 For the LORD of hosts hath purposed, and who shall disannul it? and his hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back” (Isaiah 14:12-27)?

Faith in God’s Word sees God’s removal of the enemy (Habakkuk 3:7).

Cushan (Habakkuk 3:7) is Arabia.  The Cushans and Midianites were nomadic tent dwellers.  They occupied the area of the wilderness surrounding Mt. Sinai.  They represent all nations, or nationalities, that worship pagan gods, and reject and oppose the one true God.  When the Lord appeared on Mt. Sinai, these nomadic people abandoned the area out of fear.

From Habakkuk 3:7 through verse 16, we are exposed more to the purpose of God in doing what He did, rather than just what God did.  People who do not know God flee in fear from Him.  People who know God, flee in fear to Him.  If a man truly knows God, that man understands there is no place to go to escape God’s wrath or hide from Him?  The only place to escape God’s wrath is to flee to Him in His grace and mercy.

“There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves” (Job 34:22).

“16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand” (Revelation 6:16-17)?

Was the purpose of God in parting the Red Sea, or dividing the flood waters of the Jordan for Israel to enter their Promised Land, solely to show God’s power to the heathen nations (Habakkuk 3:8)?

God’s purpose went far beyond this.  His purpose was to fulfill His covenant promise to Abraham, to fulfill His promise of deliverance of the nation of Israel, and to preserve His people.  The point is that you can count on God’s eternal promises.

Although the waters of the Red Sea falling in judgment and wrath upon the armies of Pharaoh (Exodus 14:6-15:19) are a testimony to both God’s anger and wrath against evil, they exist more as a testimony to God preservation and protection of His people.  The God Who saves you is the God Who keeps you.  The love of God that brought you out of bondage is the love of God that will bring you into His glory.  These judgment waters actually testify to the believer’s security and preservation in the omnipotent hands of God.

“17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed: 18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God” (Joshua 24:17-18).

“27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Fathers hand. 30 I and my Father are one” (John 10:27-29).

Faith can rest in God when the believer understands God’s purpose.  God saves people with the intent of keeping/preserving them.  It is His power that preserves the believer in Christ.

“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1:1).

What power did the greatest military force in the world (Pharaoh’s Calvary and chariots) have compared to the omnipotence of a God Whose sovereignty commands the world’s seas?  God used something as insignificant as water to defeat the greatest military force in the world and to preserve and protect His people.  When believers are confronted with overwhelming odds, their faith must rest in knowing God’s purpose.  In and through faith, they must resign themselves to that purpose regardless of how the circumstance of life might affect their temporal existence “under the Sun.”

“17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:17-19).

It would be of little value to merely be Lord/Sovereign of a dead creation.  Jesus will judge that cursed and dead creation.  Of that you can be absolutely sure.  However, Jesus died so we could become part of His New Creation.  “All things” refers to both the spiritual and material universe including the “church.”  The words “might have pre-eminence” means Jesus is made firstborn, sovereign, and LORD.  This happens in this present worldly existence when individual believers chose Jesus as their Sovereign Lord.  This is what the word “might” means in Colossians 1:18.

Today, Jesus does not force his Lordship on a world that does not want Him or who refuse to yield to His will.  However, when all lost souls stand under the judgment of God, “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).  

If Jesus is practically the Lord of your universe today, then you have yielded to Him.  He is Lord!  However, if you want Jesus to qualify you to participate in His realm of light, you will have to practically bring your life under His Lordship.  Have you yielded to Him as the one and only Lord of your existence?

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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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