On Wednesday evenings, we are studying through the OT Book of Habakkuk. Last Wednesday night, we began with vs 1-4. Habakkuk’s major concern was that God seemed inactive amid the devastating injustice that was rampant inside his nation.
Verse 4 is very important.
“This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.“
*When the law is infused with sin and unrighteousness, justice always comes out distorted and perverted.*
We can look around us, and especially within us, and see very clearly that justice is being perverted. Every citizen of this great country can see injustice in the courts, legal systems, communities, and families of our nation. Habakkuk says this is what happens when the law is infused with sin… justice comes out distorted and perverted.
So Habakkuk looks within and sees unspeakable injustice within his country, and he cries out to God to DO SOMETHING about it… His major complaint is that God is inactive…
“Look at the nations and observe— be utterly astounded! For something is taking place in your days that you will not believe when you hear about it.“
God’s immediate response to the prophet is, “I AM doing something!!! Open your eyes!” God is never inactive. He is always working. Our problem is that we think too small. When God is not working in the way that WE EXPECT, our immediate thought is that He’s not working at all. God says to the prophet, and to us in our own day of injustice, “Open your eyes. Look around. I AM working!” When we open our eyes to what God IS doing, we are utterly astounded. Not only does God work… but when we catch a glimpse of Him working, it absolutely blows our minds. And the awkward part about it is that He’s been working the whole time… right in front of our faces. But because we’ve been engulfed in our own sinfulness and focussed on our own perception of “the problem” (whatever you might consider that problem to be), we have been unable to see that God is indeed active. And He has been working in a way that will utterly astound us, should we catch a glimpse of it.
Understand that Habakkuk was asking God to DO SOMETHING about the injustice. God’s response is that He is raising up a nation to answer this prayer. He has been doing this – it’s already in the plans… Okay, so if God is raising up a nation to execute the judgment that Habakkuk has been praying for, what would this nation look like? And how would they have gotten to that point?
The God of eternity continues… Verses 6-10:
“Look! I am raising up the Chaldeans [(Babylonians)], that bitter, impetuous nation that marches across the earth’s open spaces to seize territories not its own. They are fierce and terrifying; their views of justice and sovereignty stem from themselves. Their horses are swifter than leopards and more fierce than wolves of the night. Their horsemen charge ahead; their horsemen come from distant lands. They fly like an eagle, swooping to devour. All of them come to do violence; their faces are set in determination. They gather prisoners like sand. They mock kings, and rulers are a joke to them. They laugh at every fortress and build siege ramps to capture it.“
Here is what the nation is like: the one who will do the bidding of God to answer Habakkuk’s cry for justice.
In V.6 they are bitter, impetuous (impulsive), and invasive.
In V.7 they are fierce, terrifying, and immoral. (We’re coming back to this one).
In V.8 they are swift, quick, and deadly.
In V.9 they are bent on violence. Unreasonable. They Do NOT negotiate.
In V.10 they are prideful! They do not respect or recognize any authority besides their own.
How does a nation get to be this way?! So horrible?! So ungodly?! Look back at V. 7.
“their views of justice and sovereignty stem from themselves.”
They appeal to no higher authority than that which is within them. This is personal morality. “You do what you feel is right and I’ll do what I feel is right, and that’s the way we’ll be a moral nation.” Everyone doing what is right in their own eyes! Wait… who are we talking about again? Are we still talking about the Babylonians? What does the Book of Judges say about the Israelites? There is that common motif throughout the Book of Judges, after the Conquest… “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Personal morality.
The natural course of a nation (ANY nation!) that denies Godly morality is… (taken from the adjectives above)…
***bitterness, impulsivity, invasiveness, terror, deadliness, violence, disrespectfulness, and pride.
This is a recurring theme throughout scripture. The best example I can possible give is Romans 1:18-32. I would like for you to read it all the way through:
“For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth, since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse. For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen. This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error. And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Although they know full well God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.“
This is the NATURAL PROGRESSION of a nation who refuses to acknowledge God’s eternal moral statutes. When we refuse to acknowledge Godly morality, this is what we become.
Do you know what this means? Judah was well on its way to BECOMING Babylon. And so God – out of His great mercy – intervened. It didn’t feel like Godly intervention… but it was. God stepped in to Judah’s world and stopped them in their tracks toward worthlessness. The big point here is this: Sometimes, God’s temporal judgment is really an act of mercy. (To stop us from becoming what we are rapidly becoming.)
Can I tell you that America faces a very significant election six weeks from now…? The differences in this election are more clear-cut than any in our history. And we can get caught up on the economy, and sure, that matters. But understand this… one of these candidates is hoping to infuse our law with what God considers to be SIN. This party’s platform is determined to practice that which God considers to be an “abomination” and to applaud others who do so.
Clear-Cut Truth: In the next four years of our lives, homosexual marriage could very realistically become an almost irreversible abomination in this great country. Abortive remedies for “unwanted pregnancies” could go further in the next four years than any of us have ever dreamed.
Why is that a bad thing? Because we are infusing our law with SIN! What naturally follows is that in every case, justice will inevitably come out perverted and distorted. We are prescribing to personal morality instead of Godly morality. Instead of our (V.7) “views of justice and sovereignty” stemming from God’s eternal moral statutes, they are “stemming from ourselves.”
JUST LIKE JUDAH… America is turning in to Babylon. I don’t think that God hates America. I would never make such a claim. But I do know that God hates sin, and that we are well on our way to promoting and praising sin.
“Then they sweep by like the wind and pass through. They are guilty; their strength is their god.“
“They sweep by like the wind.” Daniel Ch. 5 follows this progression through. “Their days are numbered,” says Daniel to the Babylonian King Belshazzar, and that very night, he was murdered and his kingdom divided between the Medes and the Persians.
Those who deny Godly morality, they are like the wind. Here one minute and gone the next. Let me ask you a Question: … Where is the great Babylonian Empire today? Gone. Roman Empire? Greeks? Persians? Egyptian Pharaohs? Nazis? Stalinists? Gone. Gone just like the wind.
Two phrases from the second half of V. 11…
1. “THEY ARE GUILTY.” “But Pastor, God raised them up.” “How are they guilty?” Godless nations who pursue personal morality are guilty before God. Their terror and their downfall is because of their own immorality. Jeremiah 2:17 (Jeremiah was a contemporary of Habakkuk’s): “Have you not done this to yourself by your forsaking the LORD your God When He led you in the way?” They stand guilty before God for their own sin. Guess what… so do we. Galatians 6:7 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.” Don’t fool yourself. If we sow the seeds of Godless immorality, we will reap the fruit of destruction as a nation. And it will be our own fault.
2. “THEIR STRENGTH IS THEIR GOD.” Ps. 28:7, 46:1, Pr. 18:10, 2 Sam. 22:33, Job 12:13… For Judah, the saying was supposed to be: “God is our strength.” But the nation who acknowledges no higher authority than that which is within themselves… the nation that ascribes to personal morality… that nation gets this backward. When we start relying on our own strength, we make it our god. But our strength is necessarily characterized by feebleness, finiteness, and limitation. What a weakened form of a false god it is. But here’s the good news… if we’ll start relying on our God, He will become our STRENGTH.
The remedy for America is exactly as it was for Judah, Israel before them, and many nations since… Jeremiah, remember, a contemporary of Habakkuk’s…
Jeremiah Ch. 3:
“Return, unfaithful Israel. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will not look on you with anger, for I am unfailing in My love. This is the Lord’s declaration. I will not be angry forever. Only acknowledge your guilt— you have rebelled against the Lord your God. You have scattered your favors to strangers under every green tree and have not obeyed My voice. This is the Lord’s declaration.” (vs. 12-13)
“Let us lie down in our shame; let our disgrace cover us. We have sinned against the Lord our God, both we and our fathers, from the time of our youth even to this day. We have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God.” (v. 25)
The remedy is repentance before God. The various threats from without are nothing compared to the threat from within. Let’s be clear about this. The hope for America is not for Islam to repent. The hope for America is not for the annihilation or eradication of some terroristic group – although I do believe that in pursuing justice we should be engaging them in warfare. BUT… if WE cannot be sincere about repentance… those of us in the congregation of our God… if we can’t be real with God, admitting our faults and sins specifically, and falling on our own faces before Him… then we can be assured that one of two things will happen:
ONE: God will allow us our natural progression toward Babylon. And in the end, we will be like a wind… here one day and gone the next.
TWO: God will bring the justice on us that we deserve. It will be an act of mercy to preserve us from godlessness, but it certainly won’t feel like mercy.
America… OPEN YOUR EYES.
Church… OPEN YOUR EYES.
Get out from under your sin. Fall on your face before a holy God. Look at what God is doing around us and be utterly astounded. Weep and mourn for we have disgraced our God. Repent. Turn back. Are we praying like Habakkuk for God to DO SOMETHING? If so… are we prepared to see what it is that He’s doing?
Grace and Peace,