Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday, April 8 -by Pamela

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is Joshua 7-8, Psalm 70, John 2
Today's scripture focus is Habakkuk 1:1-4

New Living Translation (NLT)
This is the message that the prophet Habakkuk received in a vision.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

How long, O Lord, must I call for help?
    But you do not listen!
“Violence is everywhere!” I cry,
    but you do not come to save.
Must I forever see these evil deeds?
    Why must I watch all this misery?
Wherever I look,
    I see destruction and violence.
I am surrounded by people
    who love to argue and fight.
The law has become paralyzed,
    and there is no justice in the courts.
The wicked far outnumber the righteous,
    so that justice has become perverted.

Isn't this the same complaint we have today?? It seems that everywhere we turn, we are confronted with evil and monstrosities that exceed our worst nightmares.

 "Violence is everywhere"

Children and teachers are gunned down in an elementary school.

Children are killing each other.

Children are killing themselves.



...and it never seems to end.

We can't help but wonder how much worse it can get ... and then it does. You can't watch the news, listen to radio, or login to yahoo to get your email without seeing horrific and terrible news stories that make you shudder with despair and wonder how things like this can happen. It seems Habakkuk's time, he was burdened by wondering the same thing.

David Legge gives us a little history about the book of Habukkak:

Let's begin looking at the book of Habakkuk: Habakkuk is a lament, it is a Psalm, it is a weeping Psalm - it's not a public address, it's not specifically a message of preaching that was given by this prophet Habakkuk to the nation of Judah, but as we read chapters 1,2 and 3 we find that this little book is a discourse, it's a dialogue, it's a speech, a debate, between this man and God. It seems that there was no one else speaking within the book. What is the time of this book? ... it's just shortly before King Nebuchadnezzar, before he came and he ravaged the cities of Assyria, he went through Nineveh, you remember how Jonah prophesied that. This prophecy, this little book of Habakkuk, is just before Nebuchadnezzar came from Babylon and went right through eventually to Jerusalem - he destroyed the temple, and the children of Israel and Judah were taken to the land of Babylon for 70 years captivity. This little book is written just before that.
To give you a summary of this book tonight, it can be split up into three chapters, the chapters that we have. The first chapter deals with a burden, the second chapter deals with a vision, and the third chapter deals with a prayer. If you like: chapter 1 is sighing, chapter 2 is seeing, and chapter 3 - finally and exultingly - is the prophet Habakkuk singing. This whole book is about Habakkuk's journey of faith - and isn't that what we're all in tonight? We are in a journey of faith, we have been born into the faith, and given as a gift the faith of Jesus Christ the Son of God - and we're all on an adventure, we're all on a journey that has started in our lives when we were born-again. But that journey has bumps, that journey has plains, that journey has difficulties and barriers, that journey has traps, booby traps - it has dangerous wild beasts upon its path, there are many dangers, pitfalls, there are many joys and exaltations. But as we look at Habakkuk's journey of faith, I believe tonight and the weeks that lie ahead, we see in chapter 1: faith - this man's faith, and our faith, grappling with problems. Chapter 2 we find: faith grasping at the solution, and then in chapter 3: faith glorifying in its assurance.
Our faith journey is exactly what God has planned for us. However, we question God, we wait on God to reveal His plan, and we struggle with not knowing. 

Sometimes...we lose hope. We think there is no possible way God could recover, renew, or remedy a problem so big. We are reluctant to hand it all give it all to surrender to ourselves. We think there is only "destruction and violence" and "the wicked far outnumber the righteous" and it is, to say the least, depressing and something that will definitely weigh you down.

David Legge suggests that Habukkak means "embracer of God" which is an incredible testimony of faith: 
"embracers of God are burdened by God. This man Habakkuk, his name means 'embracer', it says: 'The burden of Habakkuk' - the burden! He had a burden because he was so close to God, because he held onto God, it's almost as if he felt the feelings of God. God was imparting to him His feelings, His convictions, what He thought, His viewpoint of the nation of Judah at that particular time. God was sharing it with His friend Habakkuk - because he was an embracer of God, he was burdened by Him. If you're here tonight, and you seek to embrace God, maybe you are an embracer of God tonight, and you're well burdened, and you know all about it - and if you are, you will know about it! But maybe you're not, and you think this sounds great to be like Habakkuk, and to be an embracer of God, and to hold onto God - no matter what life, no matter what Satan throws at you, or your family - to hold onto God. Listen tonight: make sure you know what you're getting into, because embracers of God will be burdened by God. They will receive a burden that is almost - almost I say - too heavy to take, only that the Lord knows what you can bear. He will burden those who embrace Him.
The Hebrew word 'burden' is the word 'massah' (sp?). It's the word that is used within the Old Testament, there's many words for burden, but this particular Hebrew word 'massah', it means 'a load', it means 'cargo' - something that has to be lifted from one place to another. It's the Hebrew word that is used of the Levites when they carried the Ark of the Covenant, they bore a burden. I could turn you to other Scriptures, Deuteronomy 1 and verse 12, Job 7 and verse 20, where men use this word as a burden of the soul - but they describe it in such a way as carrying something, as if the burden that they bear (and the idea is this) is a responsibility. Something that they have been given, not to chide, not to harm, but it's a responsibility given for them to steward and for them to use - they are responsible for it.
The Hebrew word 'burden' is the word 'massah' (sp?). It's the word that is used within the Old Testament, that suggests that it means 'it's to be lifted up'. Some translations of the word of God say this: that Habakkuk lifted up the burden, he lifted up! The idea here is that it's not something to be hidden - as the Lord Jesus Christ said, you don't get light and then you take a bushel and put it over it, you don't do that! You let your light shine before men, that they may see it and that they may glory in your Father in heaven. What was it that Paul testified to Festus in the book of Acts? What did he say? Paul was standing describing the Gospel, he was testifying like a lawyer of why it was true, and why a Christian should not be put to death, why they should not be punished for their beliefs. What did he said to Festus? He said to him: 'This thing was not done in a corner'! Friends tonight, the burden that we have for souls - or we ought to have - the burden of the Gospel, the deposit, the guarantee that we have been given by the Lord Jesus Christ and the apostles themselves, it's not something to be kept within these four walls - it's something to be lifted up that the world may see it and fear, and that many may trust in the Lord!

May it be our desire too to be burdened because we are an embracer of God. May He use us to His honour so that we may be what He wants for us to become.

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Habakkus 1:5-11
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage: Joshua 9-10, Psalm 71, John 3


Miriam said...

Anyone who says the Bible isn't applicable in our society today obviously never read these verses from Habakkuk! There really is nothing new under the sun, is there? Great post, Pam.

Roxie said...

Terrifyingly beautiful. May we have the courage to embrace our God even as we carry the burdens He lays upon our hearts...and as we offer them back to Him.

TammyIsBlessed said...

Great thoughts here Pam.

Chandler also points out that Habakkuk has arrived at a point that happens to pretty much everyone - something happens (in general or in particular) and we just don't know what God's doing. It doesn't make sense to us. But Habakkuk brings that to God. He's honest with God and doesn't try to pretend things away. Chandler says that if we do not to this - if we are not honest in our relationship with God (and with others) then several things will happen.
1) We will be unable to grow and worship. When trials come, and when we take that opportunity to dive into the nature and character of God, we are reminded how great He is and how small we are, and we can get caught up in that, instead of on our trial.
2) We're forced to pretend all is ok when it's not. We don't know where we are, and when we don't know where we are, we can't know where we're going. We are far from God, far from others, lonely and exhausted.
3) Our focus is taken off of Christ and the cross, and focuses on us and our issues. But the reality is that there is nothing in our life, no issue, no sin, that's more powerful than the cross of Christ, than His mercy, than His love.