2016-03-08 - Habakkuk
God's Ways Are Not Our Ways
Verse 17: And so Habakkuk awaits the answer of God. As he started in faith and confusion, he now waits, standing at the watchtower in the same condition, or as Ironside states:
“His (Habakkuk) words bespeak a very right and proper condition of soul. Perplexed and confused by the seeming enigma of God’s ways, he owns he may require reproof, and takes his stand upon the watch-tower, above the mists of earth, and beyond the thoughts and doings of men, where he can quietly wait upon God, and look out to see what He will say unto him.” 1
Conclusion: Once again we see that the ways of God are not always our ways. The issue isn’t that we question God, but the manner in which we do so. God’s actions don’t make sense to Habakkuk, because of what he understands and doesn’t understand about God. His assessment of God’s righteousness is accurate. His understanding of the implications of that righteousness are lacking. But what is of most importance is Habakkuk’s humility, for while he questions, he also recognizes the problem isn’t God’s actions, but instead his own understanding of those actions. And so, in faith, he has questions - and in recognition of that faith, God will answer, but that is to be seen next time.
As I noted at the start of this session there are two lessons which can be taken from this section. The first is applicable to us as a nation, and that is not to underestimate God and His unwillingness to be patient with a people forever. He will judge. Dr. McGee spoke to this, when he noted:
“God Habakkuk says, “You can’t trust those Babylonians. They are sinners and a bunch of crooks!” He was right. They were. But God was going to use them to accomplish His purpose.
While one may or may not agree with Dr. McGee’s views in his specific examples, his understanding of God’s movement within this world cannot be rejected. The fear that God can and does judge this nation is certainly not without merit, for we are impacted by His actions.
But at least from my perspective, the truth that we don’t understand why God acts the way He does, can and should be a comfort. Yes, I understand that this truth creates an uncertainly in our lives, and that uncertainty by its very nature can create anxiety.
But if we understand that God loves us and is in control, we can be comforted. This comes, not because life won’t be a struggle, but because our confidence is in Him. This truth is also a comfort, because I won’t want a God whom I could fully understand. This would not be an infinite, all-knowing, all-powerful God. This would be the god of the pagan, the heretic, the cultist. This would be another god.
But God is incomprehensible, except to the extent He is willing to reveal Himself to us. It is this infinite God is the source of our security as a finite people. It is this understanding which allows Habakkuk to question while at the same time understanding his confusion is a product of his limitations, not God’s actions.
The message we can take from Habakkuk is that while we live in a chaotic, fallen, unjust world, we serve and are cared for by an orderly, righteous, just God. Praise God that we do not and cannot fully understand Him. Praise God that He is not limited by our perceptions of how He should act. God is our creator, He is our Savior, He is unchanging, and therefore we are secure.
When we have looked on the pleasures of life, and they have vanished away; when we have looked on the works of Nature, and perceived that they were changing; on the monuments of Art, and seen that they would not stand; on our friends, and they have fled while we were gazing; on ourselves, and felt that we were fleeting as they–we can look to the throne of God. Change and decay have never reached that. The waves of an eternity have been rushing past it, but it has ever remained unshaken. The waves of another eternity are rushing toward it; but it is fixed, and can never be disturbed. ~ F. W. P. GREENWOOD
All verses are from the English Standard Version (ESV) unless otherwise noted.