Does it seem to you as if the world is slowly beginning to spin out of control? Another week and another tragedy that is simply too horrific to explain. Look back at the past few years and answer the question; “are things getting better or are they getting worse?” We began last week to look at an article written by Jack Kelley about the book of Habakkuk, and how applicable it seems to be when compared to the world we are living in today. Today we look at the second part of the article, and Habakkuk’s conversation with the Lord.
Habakkuk’s Second Complaint
O LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O LORD, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? You have made men like fish in the sea, like sea creatures that have no ruler. The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad.Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food. Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy? (Habakkuk 1:12-17)
Surely the Lord couldn’t be behind the rise in terrorism. He’s too pure. He couldn’t possibly condone that kind of evil, could He? But somehow, like the tentacles of some giant yet invisible octopus, Islamic terrorists have slithered into every western society and according to some have positioned themselves undetected at our most vulnerable points, awaiting the signal to strike. And we admittedly have no certain defense against what will surely be a devastating attack. “It’s inevitable,” we’re told. How did they accomplish this? Will the Lord really permit this to happen to his own people?
And if He does, will the terrorists then acknowledge Him as their benefactor after they’ve struck? Will they proclaim Him as their God? Or will they give the credit to the one they worship, offering sacrifices and burning incense to him as if he had brought them the victory?
The Israelites expected God to protect them from the Babylonians. They convinced themselves that He would never permit any harm to come to them, even as the Babylonians were camped outside their gates. They were His people, after all. Never mind their unfaithfulness, their lusting after false gods, their disrespect for the fatherless, the down trodden, the widows. Never mind that they only gave lip service to their beliefs, that their worship had become form without substance, ceremony without meaning, that they sacrificed their children in the name of prosperity, and worshipped the idols of the harvest.
It’s different now, we say. But is it? We sing, “God bless America” playing lip service to our relationship while our sins pile up to the heavens just as theirs did. And even now, as our leaders admit the inevitability of further attacks and as our countries suffer storms and earthquakes and the threat of pandemic disease, are our churches and synagogues full of repentant worshipers, praying as Habakkuk did, “In wrath, remember mercy”? (Habakkuk 3:2)
For over 50 years Christians have looked with concern on the plight of Israel while Islamic enemies periodically tried to wipe them off the face of the Earth. Now the fight’s come to us, just as they promised it would, and we seem surprised. We don’t even consider that this might be another, stronger warning from God.
A few conservative preachers call terrorism an attack on our religion, but not even they suggest that it might be more than that. They join the secular voices demanding stronger fences on our borders, bigger weapons in our arsenals, and tighter restrictions on our populations, but where are the voices calling for repentance from our lifestyle, or for mass prayer vigils in our auditoriums and stadiums? Are we already so far gone that God has spoken to them as He spoke to Jeremiah. “So do not pray for this people nor offer any plea or petition for them; do not plead with me, for I will not listen to you. (Jeremiah 7:16)
I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint. (Habakkuk 2:1)
Habakkuk has complained about the Lord’s method of judging Judah. “Sure, we deserve it” he said, “But at the hand of the Babylonians? They’re ever so much worse than we are, and they don’t even believe in you. Do You think they’ll credit You for giving them victory over us? No, they’ll think it was their god who did this, and they’ll worship him for it.”
The LORD’s Answer
Then the LORD replied: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay.
“See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright— but the righteous will live by his faith – indeed, wine betrays him; he is arrogant and never at rest. Because he is as greedy as the grave and like death is never satisfied, he gathers to himself all the nations and takes captive all the peoples.
“Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying, ” ‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods and makes himself wealthy by extortion! How long must this go on?’
Will not your debtors suddenly arise? Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
Then you will become their victim. Because you have plundered many nations, the peoples who are left will plunder you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
“Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin! You have plotted the ruin of many peoples, shaming your own house and forfeiting your life. The stones of the wall will cry out, and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.
“Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and establishes a town by crime! Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
“Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors, pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk, so that he can gaze on their naked bodies. You will be filled with shame instead of glory. Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed! The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you, and disgrace will cover your glory. The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you, and your destruction of animals will terrify you. For you have shed man’s blood; you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
“Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it? Or an image that teaches lies? For he who makes it trusts in his own creation; he makes idols that cannot speak. Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’ Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’ Can it give guidance? It is covered with gold and silver; there is no breath in it. But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:2-20)
Chapter two deals primarily with the Lord’s condemnation of the Babylonians, declaring in no uncertain terms His distaste for those evil people. In language eerily reminiscent of His judgment of Satan in Isaiah 14:1-23 (interestingly called the King of Babylon there) He answers Habakkuk’s complaint by promising Babylon’s destruction. Cautioning him to be patient, He swears that it will surely happen.
Is this how it will be in our day? The West is also ripe for judgment, and it appears that Islamic terrorists are positioned to bring it to us just like their ancestors did to Judah. If so, Europe and America are in for even more difficult times, and as His people we’re admonished to rely on our faith to see us through. Like it did in Judah’s case, the judgment will come, but our enemy’s victory will be short lived, as his ultimate destruction awaits the appointed time and will not prove false. His god will be of no help to him then; the error of his teachings exposed. But the Lord will stand in His Holy Temple; let all the Earth be silent before Him.
There have been many articles written this past week attempting to explain the violence this world is seeing, and in many the word “agenda” has been used. Unfortunately no one as yet has been willing to apply this word to the one individual behind all of the violence that is occurring everywhere today. That person is Satan. It is his agenda which will bring about the end of days and it is no surprise that we see it unfolding right now before our very eyes.