Thru the Bible – Day 138

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Day 138 – Thru the Bible

Today we read Habakkuk and continue Psalms. Here is the overview video for Habakkuk.

Video – Read Scripture: Habakkuk

How does today’s video help you understand Habakkuk better?

Habakkuk 1 & 2 – The book begins with the prophet Habakkuk’s first of two complaints and God’s unexpected response. As he sees the sins of immorality, lawlessness, and idolatry all around him, Habakkuk questions God and wonders, “Why do you idly look at wrong?” Amid Israel’s internal spiritual corruption and external political pressure, the prophet begins to doubt whether there will be justice against evil and mercy for the faithful. Throughout the ages God’s children, like Habakkuk, have often expressed this complaint. Job wondered why God seemed absent amid his difficult circumstances (Job 3), and Israel cried out during its wilderness wanderings, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17:7).

God’s response was not what the prophet ever imagined or desired: God is surely among His people, will help them, and will bring them justice. But He will do it through the violent and haughty nation of Babylon (“the Chaldeans”).

Through this perplexing response God challenges not only Habakkuk’s faith but ours as well. That God can bring about good from evil is a theme that echoes down through the whole Bible, such as in Joseph’s statement to his brothers: “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20). God’s response to Habakkuk also foreshadows the ultimate good—eternal salvation—that would come through the ultimate evil—execution of the sinless Son of God upon a cross.

Yet in the unfathomable wisdom of God, on that cross justice and mercy meet. Jesus receives the penalty that the justice of God requires for sin; and we receive, through faith, God’s mercy in forgiveness of sin and the promise of eternal life (Romans 3:21–26). This is why we can continue to have faith amid frustration: God’s providential use of people and events is both purposeful and personal.

Next we see Habakkuk’s second complaint (1:12–2:1) and God’s response (2:2–20). Having heard of God’s plan to use Babylon to bring justice, the prophet is even more perplexed: How can a good God use evil Babylon to punish His own people? Habakkuk finds it difficult to reconcile God’s character with His actions. He correctly affirms the many attributes of God—eternality, holiness, and power—but he cannot understand why God would use the more evil nation of Babylon to punish the seemingly less evil nation of Judah, God’s own people.

God reminds Habakkuk that evil will never ultimately prosper, because God is providentially orchestrating history for His own righteous purposes. Though the timing of God’s just purposes may seem slow, “it will surely come; it will not delay” (2 Peter 3:8–9). The five woes pronounced upon Babylon (2:6–20) reveal God’s judgment upon any human power that sets itself against His reign and rule.

From the tower builders of Babel to the empire builders of Rome, every generation will see kingdoms that achieve a measure of temporal earthly success. God’s righteousness, however, will triumph in the end, and His glory will cover the earth—a promise ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, before whom “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10–11). It is in Jesus’ sinless life, sacrificial death, victorious resurrection, and vindicating reign that God’s righteousness is finally revealed to all humanity over all the earth.

Therefore, God’s people are called to live by faith. This call to trusting faith is an important notice to all believers in all ages of the path by which we may know and embrace the grace of God that is ultimately revealed in Jesus (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; Ephesians 2:8). This is not a path of blind faith but a deep-rooted trust in the eternal, providential, ever-present God who resides in the holy temple provided for His people’s atonement (2:20). He unfolds all things—even the difficult and inexplicable—according to His wise and compassionate purposes.

Like the psalmist who struggled to reconcile the wicked’s unhindered prosperity and God’s apparent inactivity, we are assured of God’s providential rule over all things when we encounter God’s presence in His temple (Psalm 73:17), especially as we look to the One it prefigured: Jesus, God’s ultimate temple. When Jesus stated, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19), He was foreshadowing God’s provision through the cross and the empty tomb. Faith in the God who provided these is the foundation for living with confidence and hope in a fallen world filled with many trials and tears. As the hymn states so well, our faith is “built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.”

How do you remember to trust God even when things appear to be out of control?

Habakkuk 3 – After Habakkuk’s two complaints and God’s corresponding responses, this last chapter reveals the transformation that has occurred in the depths of the prophet’s soul. Habakkuk’s prayer of praise, petition, recollection, and thanksgiving have much to teach us about the nature of prayer.

Consider verse 2. As he stands before God, the prophet reverently recognizes the holy and righteous purposes of God but also the grace of God. Then, despite the struggles that he is experiencing, Habakkuk asks that God’s perfect will would be done (“In the midst of the years revive it; in the midst of the years make it known”). The prophet recognizes God’s unsearchable plan for establishing His kingdom and offers to God a prayer of trust and confidence, with reverence and awe, knowing that God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28–29).

Many prayers of trust found in the Bible begin by recounting God’s faithfulness in the past and reveal steadfast hope in God’s promises for the future. Because of God’s past faithfulness and future promises, we can pray with faith in the present without losing heart (Luke 18:1). In Habakkuk’s prayer, he remembers God’s faithfulness in Israel’s history. “Your anointed” referred to the Davidic king and the people he represented, but the word used there is the Hebrew word from which we get “Messiah.” The final Davidic heir, representing God’s people, was yet to come.

In reviewing God’s faithfulness in Israel’s history, Habakkuk can face his fears with faith and trust in the God of all history. For at the climax of all human history, the Messiah did come. God truly did “in wrath remember mercy.” At the cross of Jesus, God’s wrath was poured out on His own Son, so that we who trust in Jesus are washed clean in an astounding act of mercy.

The recounting of God’s faithfulness in Israel’s past draws our minds to the great and mighty deeds of the Lord on behalf of His people down through history. And all these deliverances and provisions foreshadow the ultimate mighty deed of history: the coming of Jesus “when the fullness of time had come” (Galatians 4:4). The ultimate fulfillment of God’s covenant promises to His people is found in Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:20). Through His life, death, and resurrection, He delivers us from sin’s bondage, brings us safely through death to life, and thus defeats our greatest enemies—Satan, sin, and death. And at the end of history, Jesus will establish us in the eternal promised land of the new earth.

This is why, even amid many difficulties and uncertainties, we can continue to “quietly wait” and “rejoice in the Lord” in prayer, looking to Him as the “God of my salvation.” When life crumbles all around us, we need not despair. God has not abandoned His purposes. He remains with us, even in the trials and struggles. Jesus has brought us to Himself. We are restored to God. Hell cannot touch us, for we say, “God, the Lord, is my strength.” We will rejoice in God.

How does the faithfulness of God in days past give you confidence in God’s promised future for you?

Psalm 133 – The unity of God’s people has been, and continues to be, a sign of God’s rich blessing. Here the psalmist reflects on those who are bound together in the worship of Yahweh at the temple, and he revels in their union in faith and practice as the true people of God.

He likens this unity to two different but equally important parts of their lives: unity in their holiness, as they submit to the practices of the priesthood by which their sins are forgiven and they are represented to God; and unity in their dependence on God for His physical blessing, bringing moisture from the higher mountains in the north to water the needy land of Palestine. Both the priestly and the natural images also depict things distant from one another being joined by another element flowing down (the oil uniting Aaron’s head and collar; and dew uniting a northern, high mountain with southern, lower hills). Spiritual and physical blessings are both good gifts from God above, and those who see God’s hand at work in both ways unite in their common praise of their gracious God.

As Believers on this side of the cross, our minds are naturally brought to the unity we have in Jesus (John 17:21–23). The basis for our unity is even greater now that the fulfillment of those priestly laws has come, and the true Mediator of God’s people with their heavenly Father intercedes for us. If there was beauty in the unity of God’s people at the temple, how much more is the glory of our union shown as we, in Jesus, display our devotion and love for Him.

How do you enjoy worshiping God with other Believers?

What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?

Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.

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