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Monday, January 21, 2008

Dilemmas Of A Prophet

As I was sitting in church yesterday morning I began to reread a few passages in the book of Habakkuk. This, the thirty fifth book of the Old Testament, is unique among the prophetic books of the Bible. The book of Habakkuk is not so much a message for the people, but a dialog between the prophet and God, who is trying to understand why the things that are happening are allowed to occur.
It was a time of great shaking for the nation of Judah, the end result of their rebellion and disobedience was being visited upon them. Although constantly called to repentance, it was stubbornly refused, and there was no change in the nation. The hardened hearts of the people of Judah would soon cause God to use the Babylonians as His chastening rod upon the nation.
All that could be wrong, was wrong in Judea the context in which the people found themselves during the time of Habakkuk being nothing less than disastrous. Politically, they were unsure and afraid because of the constant expansion of the Babylonian empire; socially, there was disorder and mass chaos due to the unwillingness of the people to abide by the laws of God. Justice had been replaced with injustice; trust in God had been replaced with trust in the arm of the flesh. Theft, greed, slander, and other more offensive sins were being practiced in full view of everyone. Lawlessness reigned, and rebellion had overcome the hearts of most.
Within this tumult, within the uncertainty, sin and rebellion, one man stood before God, seeking his face, desiring understanding in regards to his dilemma. Habakkuk’s dilemma was one that many true Christians face today in light of the condition of not only the world but also the church. Habakkuk sought the face of God and wanted to know how it is that the wicked go unpunished, and are allowed to devour those more righteous than them.
Habakkuk 1:13-14, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, and hold Your tongue when the wicked devours one more righteous than he? Why do You make men lie fish of the sea, like creeping things that have no ruler over them?”
God knew Habakkuk’s heart. He knew that the query stemmed from a sincere desire to understand the mind of God, and not some root of bitterness that he allowed to grow there. Habakkuk was not bitter, he just wanted to understand the heart of God, to perceive that which had eluded him. When we ask God with sincerity of heart, He will answer, for His desire is not for His children to live in ignorance. It is only when we come before God with our own agendas, or preconceived notions of what His answer should be even before He gives it, that He remains silent, and though we question, though we query, the answers never come. God knows the hearts of all men; He knows the intent, and the purpose for which we stand before Him.
God’s answer to Habakkuk’s pleadings was short, clear, to the point, and at the same time quite surprising. God did not go into detail, explaining his motives and motivations to Habakkuk, He did not expound upon the topic, but spoke personally and intimately to him saying, “the just shall live by faith.”
Six little words that speak volumes to every true believer, six little words that should give us strength and courage, that ought to embolden our hearts, and cause us to pursue God, without being distracted by the lives and practices of those around us.
The modern day Christian is continually confronted with opposition. Although it is subtler than outright physical persecution, everything around us, the world we live in, promotes the negation and denial of faith. Rather than promote Christian values and faith in God, the society in which we live is continually embracing, and tightening its grip on the worthless doctrines of materialism and self. This present generation is out for one thing, and whether it be in the form of fulfilling desires, experiencing pleasure, accumulating wealth, it all boils down to making the carnal man as happy and comfortable as possible. In order to achieve their desired goals, many men and women abandon their humanity, go to any lengths, and use any means necessary.
Looking at humanity as a whole, it seems very few are still concerned with God, justice, or honesty, and resort to manipulation, intimidation, and injustice, unconcerned with the fact that their perceived happiness is causing others to suffer. Man has become as a beast to his fellow man, that which makes us human slowly being depleted, replaced with cruelty, selfishness and bitterness. We speak of love only in general terms, never truly showing it in a practical sense, we invoke the name of God only when it suits us or when we have something to gain from it, and yet we still thump our chests, crying out to all who would hear, ‘we are the people of God.’
One thing is certain, if you are a Christian in this fallen generation, where the righteous is looked upon as an alien species, faith in Christ is the only thing that can keep you from desperation, uncertainty, and sadness, transcending you into the realm of righteousness, hope, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
It is easy to grow despondent. It is easy to throw our hands in the air, and give up the fight. Why do good, when those who commit evil are rewarded? Why pursue righteousness when the lukewarm fill the pews unhindered? We see, as Habakkuk saw the state of the world around us, and wonder how it is that God still tarries, how it is that judgment has not rained down. Leave the judgment to God. Nothing goes unnoticed by His all seeing eye. The day of reckoning is coming on swift wings, and all that was done in the darkness will be brought to the light. God is not mocked, though He tarry, He has impeccable accounting skills. He is just, He is holy, and in His time God will do as He sees fit. As far as you, His child is concerned, be certain that faith will carry you, and by faith you will live.

With love in Christ,


Michael Boldea Jr.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was beautiful.. thank you.

Mary

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much Brother Michael for the words of encouragement regarding the day we are living in. Truly, I feel we in America are living as in the midst of the days of old when the Prophets wept, cried, and begged Israel to repent. Your words confirm and encourage those who seek righteousness; the righteousness from God, not man.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.

Thank you.

deannaslater said...

Praise God, with as little faith as a mustard seed we can move mountains, that little seed can be planted anywhere and will overtake everything around it,no wonder the Lord used the mustard seed to tell us if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, Move from here to there, and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you. Now thats powerful, and thats what we have as children of the King,and in the Name of Jesus, you shall cast out devils, heal the sick, Praise the Lord Jesus for all the power he has left us by the shedding of his Blood to continue his work, and no weapon formed against us shall prosper. Blessings

Elm Street Chapel said...

Michael, glad your back!
Truer words were never spoken. Of course the understanding of this requires that people believe that they can converse with God. That they have acquired ears to hear, that they are just before God so that they can "live" by their faith that believes what they heard. “The just shall live by faith", doesn't "just" happen. Those who are just do the will of God. Know the voice of God. Worship in Spirit and in truth who God really is, Holy and Righteous. And have exercised their faith to the point of being able to rely completely, in fact, on God, by every word that proceeds out of His mouth. Many people say I believe, but at the first sign of trouble their "faith" takes a vacation, their hearing goes with their faith, and doesn't come back to town until the storm is over.

God has not changed. His message is always consistent to a dying, perverse and fruitless generation. Come up, come out, be separate, be holy, do not partake of the wrath to come, to those who He finds worthy. Two types of people will read this message, those who will and those who won't hear. It's life to those who will eat it and take it to heart, it is food, nourishment, spirit. It is cause for judgment to those who cannot see or cannot hear for it has no positive effect, no fruit, they remain unchanged.
L,J,P&HG

amy said...

This book of Habakkuk has spoken to me so much over the years, along with Psalm 18. Please pray for me to know whether the Lord is telling me in my life right now today to stand up and fight or stand down and wait for Him. I think I am supposed to cease striving and stand down, but then I am also hearing that I should not stop fighting and I should be speaking and declaring these promises before the enemy, which I know is sometimes exactly right, but I have become confused and very discouraged. In fact I could describe it like 2Cor 1:8, that I am so pressed it is beyond my ability to endure and I am despairing to think this might go on another day. Please don't anybody else give me some word or advice or something... that is the problem. Just pray that the Father will take away this confusion and reveal the truth I need to know to get through. Thank you brother Mike and Body.

Brother Andrew said...

Brother Michael,

I think we have all found ourselves in Habakkuk's shoes asking these questions at one time or another. God's response is succinct and it would do us all well to meditate on His words.

If we live by faith, being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see, we also know from Scripture that the Lord has appointed a day to judge the world in righteousness. At the moment, we see with our natural eyes, the wheat and the tares growing up together, but if we look by faith with our spiritual eyes, we see Him who is coming and who will not delay until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. The great day of the harvest is yet to come when the wheat will be separated from the tares and the sheep from the goats.

In the meantime, we are not to let our hearts envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 23:17). This should not be too difficult, since we know by faith, what the plight of the sinners will be. And if the righteous scarcely be save where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:18)

It seems that the prophet Malachi and the people of his day also wrestled with this same dilemma. Malachi 3:14-18 reads, "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.' "

Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.

"They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.

Let us all pray that we may be found in God's book of remembrance. The day of reckoning is coming very soon upon all who live in the earth. As Paul admonised the Philippian believers, "Do all things wthout murmurings and disputings; that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." (Philippians 3:14-16)

Father, help us not to be slothful or envious, but as others that have gone before us, let us inherit your promises through faith and patience, enduring until the end.

Grace and peace in Jesus Name,

Brother Andrew

joyce said...

Hi Michael,
Welcome back.
When I read that line "the jsut shall live by faith" it translated in my mind that "I will just have to trust Him". How true. Faith is being able to trust that God is who He says He is and will do that which He says He will do.

In His Grace,
joyce

amy said...

I don't know if anyone will come back here to read this, but I just wanted to thank whoever may have prayed for me regarding the dilemma I described above and give you something to laugh at. The Father answered me when I went out to my Jeep and the battery was dead and I could not get anyone to help me until today. That was fine for last night, but this morning, in case I wasn't sure it was okay to stay home again, the Father made sure when it turned out my Jeep's battery was literally frozen - as in frost on the top of the cells and the sides of the battery literally bulging out - so that it was impossible to even jump start or charge it. This battery has not had trouble starting even at 25 below a few days ago (brother Michael, when you talked about it being cold and huddling by the wood stove, waiting for the Internet to work and the power to come back, I know exactly what that is about... along with deep snow and wind to knock you off your feet). My neighbor pulled the battery out for me and set it in my mudroom next to the baseboard heater, which I cranked up, I guess just in case. In case!? In case what?! I called both the NAPA store and Jeep dealership in town (town being 25 miles away) to find out if it was worth thawing it and trying to charge it, and they had never heard of such a thing happening in real life and both places told me if I tried to charge it I should be as far away from it as possible when I plug the charger in, either that or put it back under the hood and close the hood and stand back. (Can you see that scenario?) It is now 12 hours later, and that battery is still frozen, in fact when I put my hand near it, I can feel a cold draft coming off it despite the fact that that little room feels like a sauna at 72 degrees. This may only be obvious to me, but I knew very well that I was not supposed to try something like rebuke the enemy off my battery and then risk exploding it, but that it could only be the Lord's sense of humor and clear way of not only telling me the door wasn't open for me to go anywhere yesterday, today, and probably tomorrow and the weekend, but yes, I'm free to cease and desist. :) Because there will be no new battery unless He provides it. I have $8. Anyway, I hope this made someone laugh with me, because sometimes I feel very alone in winter and wonder what in the world is being produced by it - winter physically and spiritually. Please pray that I will keep believing and not doubt the Lord's promise to provide for my daily needs and a large propane bill that's overdue. And that I will stay where He has me until His purpose is fully accomplished no matter how bad the cabin fever gets! :) Thank you again for praying.

Chris said...

Amy:

I don't know who you are or where, but I'm thankful that you have a warm place, and I assume something to eat, while your battery thaws! You are not alone, and you know that, and that's awesome.

amy said...

Chris - I am in Wyoming and yes, I do have a warm place and food. :) My neighbor (a mile away) bought me a new battery and put it in for me today. Provision to pay half my propane bill also just came from several sources, and there are a couple more weeks for the rest to come, before I'll need to order the tank filled again. If not, I have wood. God is good!

Bonny said...

Hi Amy - sometimes the Lord just wants us to be still, and He can easily do something radical to make us stay where He wants us!! I relate to your experience.
True words of encouragement to persevere, Brother Andrew, thanks.
Thank you Michael. If we look at the world around, where things are coming to a close at breakneck speed, there are still times to ask "Lord, will you bring about justice soon?" We feel pain when the Lord is mocked and blasphemed. We feel shame when the false church lives in blatant sin and error before the world....how long Lord? But He is faithful and He will fulfil His Word.
God bless Michael.