April 24, 2012

Today you should read: Habakkuk 2

Steve Sawyer was a hemophiliac.  He frequently required blood transfusions throughout his life.  As a child, he acquired HIV through a blood transfusion.  This resulted in a bitter anger towards God.  Steve eventually surrendered his life to Christ and, as a 19-year old college student, began to travel all over the U.S. to tell his story and share the message of Christ.

I had the opportunity to hear Steve speak when I was a junior at Marshall University.  I remember him going backstage twice to throw-up in a bucket.  After both occurrences, he came back to the microphone and made a joke, then continued speaking.  Eighty-four students gave their lives to Christ that night!

Steve said something that really stuck with me.  He said that a lot of people saw his sickness as a reason to be mad at God, but he saw his sickness as his medicine.  He said that if it weren’t for his sickness, he would never have surrendered his life to God.  Steve’s sickness resulted in him finding spiritual healing.  (You can read Steve’s powerful story here (http://www.everystudent.com/features/sawyer.html )  His story came to mind as I read Habakkuk.

Habakkuk and God are in quite a dialogue.  It started with Habakkuk asking, “God, how long?” and “God, why?”  (1:1-4). Then God responded by saying, “Look, I am doing something great, but you wouldn’t believe it if you were told.” (1:5-11). Habakkuk then responded by saying, “God, you are God, but I still don’t understand what you are doing.  Why are you using the evil Chaldeans as tools of judgment?” (1:12-2:1).  The rest of chapter 2 is God’s response to Habakkuk.

In 2:2-3, God told Habakkuk to write out the vision He is about to reveal, so that those who read it will run and proclaim it.  The vision was something that would happen at an appointed time, and it would not fail.  The vision He is about to give is contained in 2:4-20.

The vision is about how He is going to judge the Chaldeans (synonymous with Babylonians) and eventually free Israel from their captivity.  Look for the “5 Woes” in this chapter.  Woe to the Chaldeans because they are about to be smashed by God.   God is telling Habakkuk some good news.  The good news is that God used the evil Chaldeans as a tool to purify Israel, and now He is going to punish the Chaldeans, and free Israel.

Are you confused?  If so, you aren’t alone.  Habakkuk was confused as well.  Here’s the general summary of the book so far:  God was using something that seemed overtly negative in order to bring about a positive. God was using the Chaldeans to judge Israel so that they would turn back to Him.  The Chaldeans were the medicine that God used to spiritually heal Israel.

That leads me to a couple of simple, but deep questions to ponder:

  1. What medicines (difficult situations) has God used in my life to draw me to Himself?
  2. What overtly negative situations are happening in my life right now that God is using to refine me, heal me, and draw me closer to Himself?

Posted by: Rich Duffield

April 23, 2012

Today you should read: Habakkuk 1

Habakkuk begins with a cynical cry to the Lord. He wants the Lord to punish the iniquity of Israel. They are sinning against the law of the Lord but it seems that there is no justice from the Lord. Habakkuk basically is saying, “Why even have the law? No one is paying any attention and there is no consequence for those sinning against you.” Habakkuk is crying out on behalf of the righteous that love the Lord and begging God to put a stop to the madness. Habakkuk, like many of us, speaks before he knows the whole story.

God answers Habakkuk’s lament by telling him of the coming judgment. God is going to use the pagan nation of the Chaldeans (another name for the Babylonians), to punish Israel. God is a patient and merciful God but he is also a just God. Habakkuk learns an important lesson in that when it comes to God, justice will always be served. God will use the Chaldeans as a judgment, but God will not create the evil. The Chaldeans as described in v. 5-11, are a bitter and hasty nation. The Chaldeans already had evil in their hearts. God is just allowing them to do what they already would like to do to Israel. In other words God is removing his protection from the nation of Israel.

Often I can feel the way Habakkuk feels about evil in our world today. It seems like those who serve themselves and seek to get ahead by any means necessary often succeed. Innocent people are abused and murdered. Nations are oppressed by corrupt governments. We live in a world where sex sells and violence is interesting. So where is justice? Where is God’s wrath? The answer is God’s wrath has been satisfied and poured out on his son Jesus Christ. If we are honest we deserve wrath and punishment for our sin as well. Fortunately for us God’s mercy and wrath were both satisfied perfectly on the cross.

Romans 8:1-5:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.


Question:

Is my righteousness based on my worthiness or Christ’s work? What do you believe practically?

Posted by: Chad Wiles