Monday, July 02, 2012

A seven-word antidote for life

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Habakkuk 1:1-2:4

TO CHEW ON: "Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him.
But the just shall live by his faith." Habakkuk 2:4

The prophet Habakkuk lived during desperate times. Josiah's reforms had run their course in Judah. The nation had again fallen into chaotic disarray with violence, oppression of the poor and the collapse of the legal system. Add to that the rise of Babylonia (the Chaldeans) who had conquered Assyria and Egypt and was eyeing Judah's northern border, and you have a grim scenario.

Habakkuk's innate sense of justice was deeply troubled by all this. And so he dared to question God. Subheadings in my Bible make it easy to follow their conversation:

Habakkuk: God, why don't You do something? (Habakkuk 1:1-4 - my paraphrase)

God: I will use the Chaldeans. (Habakkuk 1:5-11)

Habakkuk: Why do you use wicked people? (Habakkuk 1:12-17)

(To himself: I'm all ears to hear the answer to this!) (Habakkuk 2:1).

God: Write what I tell you so that you can easily spread this message when the time is right: THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY HIS FAITH. (Habakkuk 2:2-4)

The introductory notes to Habbakkuk in my Bible explain what these words probably meant to the prophet at the time:

"For the prophet, the promise is for physical protection in time of great upheaval and war. When the predicted invasion by foreign armies becomes a reality, that righteous remnant whose God is the Lord, whose trust and dependence is in Him will be delivered and they will live." "The Book of Habakkuk" New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1223.

Of course the words "The just shall live by their faith" have echoed through history. For Paul and the writer of Hebrews they were the anchor of salvation (Hebrews 10:38).  For Martin Luther they were the catalyst for the Reformation.

The seven words God spoke to Habakkuk way back in 600 B.C. also apply to us today. Everyday living demands faith. Handling sickness, catastrophe, and financial instability demands faith. Believing that we are really right with God demands faith (Philippians 3:8,9). Doing what we hear God telling us to do demands faith (Galatians 3:5,6).

For what do you need faith today?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to follow my vague anxieties to their sources of fear and unbelief. Help solidify my faith in Your goodness and ability to bring into my life things that are good for me. Amen.

MORE: Questioning God

I love the way Habakkuk speaks plainly to God about the things that trouble him. And God answers back. A sidebar article in my Bible suggests five keys to hearing God's voice, gleaned from Habakkuk 2:1-3.

1. Meet with God regularly in a special place of prayer: "I will stand my watch."
2. Look for God to speak to you in dreams and visions: I will "watch to see."
3. Listen for the word of the Lord: "He will say to me."
4. Keep a journal of things that God says: "Write the vision."
5. Wait for God to bring it to pass: "It will surely come."
"Five Keys to Hearing God's Voice" by James W. Ryle, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1225.
(From the archives)
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