Tag Archives: Habakkuk

If You’re A Christian Who’s Scared About The Times In Which We Live, Habakkuk’s The Book For You…

Over recent years, we Christians have watched our country descend further and further into rampant sin and instability.  The divorce rate is climbing steadily.  Abortion and homosexual marriage are becoming more and more accepted in our culture, while the Christian religion is becoming more and more maligned.  It seems that the freedoms of religion and expression, as well as other constitutional rights, freedoms, and privileges, which we love and have had for generations increasingly are at risk of being taken away for a very long time, perhaps permanently.  Violence is escalating, especially as race relations deteriorate.

It is rare these days that I meet the Christian that is not very anxious and scared about the times in which we live.  Each election cycle, especially the current one, seems to heighten those fears as it seems with each passing year the political leaders who continually promise to make things better for us only make things worse and worse.  It’s gotten so bad that now we are faced with as our choices for president of the United States two proven habitual liars who have recently been under investigation, one of whom has spent an entire political career championing causes which go against Christian freedoms and values, and the other an extremely openly immoral person who at best has paid contradictory lip service to providing the right solutions to our woes.  The best we can say about our choices this year, from what I hear repeatedly among my brethren who follow politics, is that both candidates are train wrecks but we have to pick the one whom we think will be slightly less worse than the other.  All this does is continue to heighten our fears, concerns, worries, and anxieties.

Yet Christians aren’t supposed to be anxious and scared.  Are we not commanded by God to not be anxious about anything?  (Phil. 4:6-7)  Did not Jesus Himself tell us that we must not be anxious about the necessities of life because He has promised to provide for our needs if we would but seek first His kingdom and righteousness?  (Matt. 6:25-34)  One thing the past few years of following politics has taught me is that there is a big reason God in the Bible told us:

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” — Psalm 118:9

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” — Psalm 146:3

Christians, we need to remember a few things.  First, our God is always in control.  He has never stopped being in control.  He has always been in control when it comes to the affairs of man in government, and He always will be.  It is God who puts any president in power and keeps him in power (Dan. 2:21; 4:17, 34-35; Rom. 13:1-2).  God, not the president or any congressman, senator, or governor, has the ultimate authority (Matt. 28:18).  Jesus is head over everything (Eph. 1:20-22; 1 Pet. 3:22).  He is King of kings…and presidents (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 1:5).  No matter who resides in the Oval Office, God still rules supreme.

Christians, we must trust in His authority.  We must remember His promise that all things work together for good to those who love Him (Rom. 8:28).  Remember that God is on our side, and since that is true, “who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31-34).  Far worse things could happen to us than a President Hillary Clinton or a President Donald Trump.  Far worse things could happen to us than losing our freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to own a gun, etc.  I understand that if we don’t “walk by faith” instead of “by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7), it’s hard to imagine worse things…but trust me, there are far more worse things here on this earth that many Christians go through than we do, and an eternal hell in the next life tops them all.

We must remember that God has promised us that He is with us and will keep us on the winning side even if those terrible things were to happen to us (Rom. 8:35-39).  In fact, He has even inferred that it might be for our spiritual good if such hardships were in fact to come upon us!  (Heb. 12:3-13; cf. 10:32-39).  So no matter what may happen to our religious freedoms, our economic prosperity, or our health care over the next few years…we are still in the hands of a God who loves us and who will take care of us.

Christians, This Is Why You Need To Read Habakkuk

Around now you might be saying, “Jon, that sounds all well and good, but here’s what I don’t understand.  Since God is ultimately in control, why would He allow all these bad things to happen?  If ___________________ becomes President, why would God allow that?  Why would God allow anything that would end up promoting sin in our society?”  

Excellent question!  You know what?  We aren’t the first to ask it.

Thousands of years ago, the prophet Habakkuk was wondering the same thing.  This man, a Jew, lived during a time when the ungodly empire of Assyria had just brutally conquered the northern kingdom of Israel.  The southern kingdom of Judah was following in her northern neighbor’s footsteps by becoming more and more unrighteous and ungodly with each passing year (sound familiar?)  Habakkuk, a godly man who wanted his country to stay loyal to God, was perplexed and disheartened by all the wickedness he saw all around him in Judah every single day (again, sound familiar?)

So Habakkuk decides to talk to God about it (Hab. 1:1-4).  Notice some of the everyday evils he says are happening around him: violence, iniquity, destruction, strife, contention, a lack of law and justice, the wicked surrounding the righteous…any of this ring a bell?  This in many ways is what America is becoming with each passing year.  Habakkuk thinks God doesn’t hear his prayers for help about these matters.  Habakkuk thinks God doesn’t care.  “Lord,” he asks, “…why do you idly look at wrong?”

God answers him (Hab. 1:5-11).  God DOES care that Judah is becoming more and more wicked and ungodly; that’s why He’s doing something which Habakkuk will find hard to understand.  What is He doing?  He’s going to get the Chaldeans (another name for the Babylonian empire) to come in and punish Judah for their ungodliness.

Now, the Babylonians were a very ungodly nation themselves, in some ways even worse than Judah was.  Basically, God was going to use an ungodly, sinful, terrible people to punish an ungodly, sinful, terrible people.  I can see why Habakkuk would be confused by this.

He then asks God how He, a holy and pure God, could use such an unholy and impure instrument like the godless Babylonians to judge Judah (Hab. 1:12-2:1).  We might wonder about the same thing today.  Without a doubt, America is becoming more and more ungodly, so why would God put into power an individual who promotes even more ungodliness, as well as policies which will severely hurt this nation economically?  Is God using President ____________________ in the same way He used Babylon, to punish America for her ungodliness just as He punished Israel?  If so, we might join with Habakkuk in asking how could a holy God do such a thing?

The Lord gives two answers to Habakkuk.  I want to focus on the second one first (Hab. 2:5-20).  Those proud Babylonians who arrogantly trusted in their own might (Hab. 1:11), those drunken, covetous, cruel, materialistic, violent pagans…none of them would go unpunished by God, in spite of being His instrument to punish unrighteous Judah!  Think about what God is telling Habakkuk here.  Yes, he was going to use a wicked nation like Babylon and a wicked ruler like Nebuchadnezzar to punish wicked Judah…but he wasn’t going to let Babylon’s wickedness go unpunished either, nor Nebuchadnezzar’s (see Daniel chapter 4).

As Christians who are upset by the immorality which is being promoted in our society by even our own government (which God placed into power and will continue to do so in this election), we can find strength in the fact that these wicked forces are not being ignored by God even while He uses them to bring our nation to its knees in punishment should that happen.  God will also punish them, perhaps here in this life but definitely in judgment if they don’t repent.

Now let’s look at the Lord’s first answer to Habakkuk (Hab. 2:4).  The prideful are not upright, but the same cannot be said about the righteous.  The righteous live by faith.  What a great reminder for us today!  I think in our anger and worry over our nation’s continuing decline in Christian values and freedoms, we have forgotten that we are to live by faith.

Christians, you are saved from an eternal hell because of your faith, remember?  (Rom. 1:16-17; John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Heb. 11:6; James 2:14-26).  Would that same faith help  you persevere through hard times in this life?  Would that same faith get you through the anxiety and worry some of you are sure to feel once the final returns come in on November 8, no matter who wins?  And if your candidate of choice wins but then later goes back on his or her word and lets you down, would that same faith get you through any worry or anger that might come then?  If more economic recession comes, or our health care gets worse, or religious persecution deepens dramatically…would that same faith help you persevere?

God thinks so (Heb. 10:32-39).  In fact, do me a favor.  Read Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:16-17, and Hebrews 10:32-39 back to back.  The same faith God speaks to Habakkuk about is also quoted by Paul when he speaks of the faith which saves you from your sins and by the writer of Hebrews when he speaks of the faith that helps you get through hard times.  Is that a coincidence?  Of course not.

It’s not faith in politicians that helps us.  If anything, the past decade or so should have taught us that by now.  Again, what did you say, God?

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” — Psalm 118:9

“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.” — Psalm 146:3

No, the only faith that truly helps us is faith in the Lord.  Faith that shows itself by works of obedience (James 2:14-26), by standing by God’s will and putting His standards, His righteousness, first…even if doing so might seem like it’s the wrong thing to do and will make things worse for us.  (Think Abraham felt that way as he trudged up Mt. Moriah with Isaac?  Think Daniel felt that way as he thought of the night with the lions waiting for him?)

Habakkuk’s faith was certain strengthened when God told him all of this.  In fact, he was so encouraged that he asked God to “revive” his divine works of wrath, and yet be merciful at the same time (Hab. 3:2).  He remembered how God in the past had brought both punishment to the wicked and salvation to His faithful people (Hab. 3:3-15).  That’s why he resolved himself to be prepared for the times of trouble which were waiting for his country when the Babylonian invaders would come (Hab. 3:16).  Yet, his faith was still strong.  How do I know this?  Because he determined that he was going to rejoice in the Lord, his strength, even while trouble was upon him (Hab. 3:17-19).

Christians, we need to do some more rejoicing in the Lord and ease off on the angry pontificating about how terrible things are and how we’re sure they’ll get better once President _____________________ is in office.  I know many are angry and scared.  I know we might be wishing that God punish evildoers both inside the government and in our society as a whole…but do we ask for His mercy along with His wrath as Habakkuk did?  Do we remember how God got us both as individuals and as a country through hard times in the past like Habakkuk did?  Is our faith strong like Habakkuk so that we now resolve to stay loyal and obedient to God even in the midst of current and future hardships, rather than curling up into a ball and blaming God for all of our woes?

Remember, We Are Always Christians First.  God’s Our King.  His Will Must Always Come First.  His Joy Must Always Come First.  Faith In Him Must Always Come First.

To my American brethren, we might be citizens of this country, true…but as Christians we have a dual citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19).  While in this world, we are travelers and exiles (1 Pet. 1:1; 2:11) whose true homeland lies within the kingdom of God, not the country of the United States.  His standards in all areas of our lives, including who we support politically, must come first.  The influence we have in bringing souls to His salvation must be paramount at all times.  His will must reign supreme in every aspect of our lives.  Our top priorities must be His top priorities as revealed in His Word.  If we keep these facts front and center in our thoughts at all time, our faith will be strengthened and we will be able to withstand anything that this world throws at us.  Our joy will be made full.

On the other hand, if we have allowed ourselves to focus and become attached too much to the worldly material possessions and pleasures of this life (1 John 2:15-17), we will become angry and scared.  We will become weak and fall away from God during the hard times (Luke 8:13-14).  Heaven will not be ours.

Let’s not let that happen.  God is on our side.  With His help, we can withstand anything.  With His help, we rejoice with the coming of harder, more difficult times should they come…because they will bring us closer to Him if we allow them to.

It all depends on our faith.  Let’s take a lesson from Habakkuk.  “The righteous shall live by faith.”

“My Candidate Lost And I’m Angry and Scared!”: What American Christians Need To Remember Over The Next Four Years

Well, the 2012 election is finally over.  In some ways, I’m glad.  My wife can tell you that I’m somewhat of a political junkie, especially during election years.  For about a year now talk radio has been on in my car during the day and political pundits have been on my TV screen at night.  The overwhelming majority of the people I follow on Twitter are political and news media types.  My Facebook friends who aren’t interested in politics probably wanted to de-friend me during the presidential debates due to being sick of my running commentary popping up on their monitors every two minutes.  I am very interested in what goes on in my country.  However, a big part of me is ready to take a break from it all for a little bit.

Is it because my personal preferences were not realized yesterday?  Sure, that’s part of it.  While Mitt Romney was not who I consider to be the best candidate for President, I considered him to be a better choice than President Obama, and I am disappointed and somewhat discouraged that the President won.  However, I also noticed some feelings of anxiety stirring within me as it became more and more apparent over last evening that the President – and his party’s immoral policies (abortion and same-sex marriage) and unwise decisions (universal health care, higher taxes, a lack of concern about the debt crisis and a lack of doing anything to fix it) – were going to stay in power over the next four years.  My wife began telling me that she was worried and anxious as well.  I realized that this was even more serious than my disappointment and discouragement, because as a Christian I am commanded by my God to not be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6-7; Matt. 6:25-34).  Focusing on the current political landscape is a stumbling block towards me obeying that command (Matt. 18:7-9), and so I’m going to try to focus on other things for a bit.

Before I do, I think it proper to talk to my fellow Christians here in the U.S. who are disappointed with yesterday’s results and scared, frustrated, and angry.  Brethren, we need to remember a few things.  First of all, our God is in control.  He has never stopped being in control.  He has always been in control when it comes to the affairs of man in government, and he always will be.  It was God who put the President in power and kept him in power (Dan. 2:21; 4:17, 34-35; Rom. 13:1-2).  Therefore, it is God, not the President or any congressman, senator, or governor, who has the ultimate authority (Matt. 28:18).  Jesus is head over everything (Eph. 1:20-22; 1 Pet. 3:22).  Jesus is King of kings…and Presidents (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 1:5).  No matter who resides in the Oval Office, God still rules supreme.

As Christians, we must trust in his authority.  We must remember his promise that all things work together for good to those who love him (Rom. 8:28).  We must remind ourselves that God is on our side, and since that is true, “who can be against us?”(Rom. 8:31-34).  Far worse things could happen to us than President Obama remaining in office…and yet God has promised us that he is with us and keep us on the winning side even if those terrible things were to happen to us (Rom. 8:35-39).  So no matter what President Obama may do to our religious freedom, our economic prosperity, or our health care over the next four years…we are still in the hands of a God who loves us and who will take care of us.

Why Did God Allow This To Happen?  Ask Habakkuk…

“Jon,” you might be saying, “that sounds all well and good, but here’s what I don’t understand.  Since God is ultimately in control, why would he allow this President who has promoted such ungodly actions as abortion and homosexual ‘marriage’ to keep that power for another four years?  Why did he allow him to obtain power in the first place four years ago?  Why would God allow anything that would end up promoting sin in our society?”  That’s an excellent question, and you and I are not the first people to ask it.  Thousands of years ago, the prophet Habakkuk was wondering the same thing.  This man, a Jew, lived during a time when the ungodly empire of Assyria had just brutally conquered the northern kingdom of Israel.  The southern kingdom of Judah was following in her northern neighbor’s footsteps by becoming more unrighteous and ungodly with each passing year (sound familiar?)  Habakkuk, a godly man who wanted his country to stay loyal to God, was perplexed and disheartened by all the wickedness he saw all around him in Judah every day (again, sound familiar?)

So Habakkuk decides to talk to God about it (Hab. 1:1-4).  Notice some of the everyday evils he says are happening around him:  violence, iniquity, destruction, strife, contention, a lack of law and justice, the wicked surrounding the righteous…this in many ways is what American is becoming with each passing year.  Habbakuk thinks that God doesn’t hear his prayers for help about these matters, that God doesn’t care.  “Lord,” he asks, “…why do you idly look at wrong?” God answers him (Hab. 1:5-11).  God DOES care that Judah is becoming more and more wicked and ungodly; that’s why he’s doing something that Habakkuk will find hard to understand.  What is he doing?  He’s going to get the Chaldeans (another name for the Babylonian empire) to come in and punish Judah for their ungodliness.

Now, the Babylonians were a very ungodly nation themselves, in some ways even worse than Judah was.  Basically, God was going to use an ungodly, sinful, terrible people to punish an ungodly, sinful, terrible people.  I can see why Habakkuk would be confused by this.  He then asks God how he, a holy and pure God, could use such an unholy and impure instrument like the godless Babylonians to judge Judah (Hab. 1:12-2:1).  You and I might wonder about the same thing today.  Without a doubt, America is becoming more and more ungodly, and God at the same time puts into power an individual who promotes even more ungodliness, as well as policies that will severely hurt this nation economically.  Is God using this ungodly President in the same way he used Babylon…to punish America for her ungodliness just as he punished Israel?  If so, we might join with Habakkuk in asking how could a holy God do such a thing?

Notice the Lord’s first answer to Habakkuk (Hab. 2:4).  The prideful are not upright, but the righteous are different.  The righteous live by faith.  What a great reminder for us today!  Christians, you are saved from an eternal hell because of your faith, remember?  (Rom. 1:16-17; John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Heb. 11:6; James 2:14-26)  Would that same faith help you persevere through these current hard times?  Would that same faith get you through the anxiety and worry that many of you felt last night once the final returns came in?  Would that same faith help you persevere through any hard times that might come in the future from economic recession, bad health care, or religious persecution?  God thinks so (Heb. 10:35-39).  Read Habakkuk 2:4, Romans 1:16-17, and Hebrews 10:35-39 back-to-back.  The same faith God speaks to Habakkuk about is also quoted by Paul when he speaks of the faith that saves you from your sins and by the writer of Hebrews when he speaks of the faith that helps you get through hard times.  Is that a coincidence?  Certainly not…

Notice also the Lord’s second answer to Habakkuk (Hab. 2:5-20).  Those proud Babylonians who arrogantly trusted in their own might (Hab. 1:11), those drunken, covetous, cruel, materialistic, violent, pagans…none of them would go unpunished by God, in spite of being his instrument to punish unrighteous Judah!  Think about what God is telling Habakkuk here.  Yes, he was going to use a wicked nation like Babylon to punish wicked Judah…but he wasn’t going to let Babylon’s wickedness go unpunished either.  As Christians who are upset by the immorality that is being promoted in our society and is further strengthened by the governing authorities which God has placed into power…we can find strength in the fact that these wicked forces are not being ignored by God even while he uses them to bring our nations to its knees in punishment.  God will also punish them, perhaps here in this life but definitely in judgment!

Habakkuk’s faith was certainly strengthened when God told him this.  In fact, he was so encouraged that he asked God to “revive”his divine works of wrath, and yet be merciful at the same time (Hab. 3:2).  He remembered how God in the past has both brought punishment to the wicked and salvation to his faithful people (Hab. 3:3-15), and resolved himself to be prepared for the times of trouble that were waiting for his society when the Babylonian invaders would come (Hab. 3:16).  Yet, we see how strong his faith remained in that he was going to rejoice in the Lord, his strength, even while trouble was upon him (Hab. 3:17-19).  What a lesson for us today!  Many of us are angry right now, and might be wishing that God punish evildoers both inside the government and in our society as a whole…but do we ask for his mercy along with his wrath as Habakkuk did?  Do we remember how God got us both as individuals and as a country through hard times in the past like Habakkuk did?  Is our faith strong like Habakkuk so that we now resolve to stay loyal and obedient to God even in the midst of current and future hardships, rather than curling up into a ball and blaming God for all of our woes?

We’re Christians First And Americans Second…But Will We Act Like It?

To my American brethren, we might be citizens of this country, true…but as Christians we have a dual citizenship in heaven (Phil. 3:20; Eph. 2:19).  While in this world, we are travelers and exiles (1 Pet. 1:1; 2:11) whose true homeland lies within the kingdom of God, not the country of the United States.  If we keep these facts front and center in our thoughts at all time, our faith will be strengthened and we will be able to withstand anything that this world throws at us.  On the other hand, if we have allowed ourselves to focus and become attached too much to the worldly material possessions and pleasures of this life (1 John 2:15-17), we will become weak and fall away from God during the hard times (Luke 8:13-14).

With this in mind, let me ask you something, friends.  Do you want to be able to survive whatever hard times might be ahead and come out of them standing tall and strong for God and for your family?  Do you want this country to come back to God rather than continuing further down the godless path that leads to its destruction?  If you do, then remember Who you really belong to, Whose citizens you are, and Who is your true leader.  Make his mission your primary mission…and what is that?  To put his kingdom and his will first in all areas of your life (Matt. 6:33), to tell others about how great and wonderful he and his mercy is (1 Pet. 2:9-10), to tell his good news of salvation to the entire planet and make disciples of the United States and every other nation (Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 28:19-20).  Christians, are you as active and passionate about your evangelism as you are about your politics?  Is your free time outside of work and family taken up more with Bible study and prayer than television and golf…or is it the other way around?  Do your Facebook and Twitter feeds have more posts from you about politics, or recipes, children, movies, or other such topics…than posts from you about your God and his will for you and everyone else?  Do your co-workers, friends, and family members know when you walk into the room that it is likely you are going to want to talk to them about Jesus and how great he and his will has made your life…or will they correctly assume that a conversation about sports is about to start?  If we aren’t as evangelistic as we need to be…and let’s face it, most of us aren’t…then is it any wonder that the majority of our country voted for the man who is on record for making fun of the Bible, promoting the killing of innocent babies and the perverting of the divine institution, and plans to continue policies that promote the violation of 2 Thessalonians 3:10?

Christians, disagree and stand against…but do not insult and disparage. There is a difference, and God knows it (1 Pet. 2:17)

Furthermore, will those of us who prefer a different occupant of the Oval Office start or continue to disparage the current occupant?  If we will, is that what God would have us to do?  God told us that we are to submit to the authorities of government (Rom. 13:1-5; 1 Pet. 2:13-15), and that part of that submission meant giving them honor and respect rather than insulting them (Rom. 13:7; 1 Pet. 2:17; Jude 8-9; Tit. 3:1-2).  He also wishes for us to pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-4), including the ones we do not like.  While submission to the government does not mean that we agree with and submit to their directives which violate the laws of God (Acts 5:29), any immoral commands they give or promote and any immorality they may personally practice does not justify our own violation of the scriptural commands God gave us which are listed above.  We have our First Amendment right to free speech, but God says we do not have the freedom to do or say that which is evil (1 Pet. 2:16)…and God trumps the First Amendment.  Will the lost who currently support the immorality of our current leaders be more likely to convert to Christ and repent if they see us respectfully disagreeing with their icons…or blatantly insulting them?  God is wise in giving us these directives, isn’t he?

Almost every Christian I’ve talked to today is very discouraged and disappointed.  So am I.  But we have great cause to rejoice in spite of our hardships (James 1:2-4), because we serve a God who is in control, a God who even now is working to bring our nation back to him in ways so wise and with such foresight that it is beyond our ability to comprehend completely.  Are we allowing ourselves to be part of his plan?  Are we going to stay loyal and faithfully obedient to him, no matter what?  Are we going to play an active role in his plan to bring our nation and our world closer to him by living for him and preaching his gospel at every opportunity?  Are we going to let our light shine by giving respect to the offices in authority, even when their occupants promote immorality?  Are we going to stand against that immorality with love and firmness rather than giving into the popular peer pressure of the world?

Yesterday, a gauntlet was thrown down…and it was God who threw it down.  It is God who has placed this challenge before us (Heb. 12:3-14).  Like Job, let us prove our faithfulness and loyalty to him.