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Prophecy: the stabiliser of faith

As we open the daily news, there is one action that is guaranteed to be reported: violence.  No matter which country you live in, violence is a fact of everyday life and is only growing worse.  I am sure I am not alone when I say that most days, I lift my eyes to the heavens and ask, “How long, o Lord, how long?”. 

Concerning Israel, though the violence of war reverberates throughout their land (and will continue in the Tribulation Period), how wonderful to read of the promise of Isaiah 60:18 concerning the Millennial Kingdom:  Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise. 

How long will it be until this wonderful promise is fulfilled?  For many people throughout the world, particularly those who are under constant threat of violence, a similar cry is echoed – how much longer will this violence and wickedness persist?  How much longer will the wicked be allowed to grow in strength and number?  

Habakkuk also dealt with concern over wickedness, particularly when he was told God would use the more wicked Babylonians to punish the less wicked Judeans.  Habakkuk 1:13: 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 a person more righteous than he?  Then in verse 17 he says: Shall they therefore empty their net, and continue to slay nations without pity?  In other words, how could a just God allow Babylon’s merciless slaughter of the nations, much less their triumph against God’s people in Judah? Why God are you allowing this?  Why does strength belong to the wicked and humiliation belong to the just?   

Well, Habakkuk decides it’s time for answers.  He was clearly troubled by how easy the wicked seemed to have it and if the wicked acted then like they act now, they were probably also mocking and taunting him.  So, Habakkuk 2:1 tells us what he does next: I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.   Now, did Habakkuk ascend a literal watchtower?  Maybe, maybe not.  It’s possible that the language is figurative and that what he is doing is expressing his innermost attitude through the use of symbolism.  In other words, just as one who stands with determination upon a watchtower straining his eyes to see if those advancing are friend or foe, he is straining to grab hold of any vision of God’s truth which may help him lift the burden on his heart.  Proverbs 18:10:  The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.  Psalm 61:3:  For You have been a shelter for me, a strong tower from the enemy. 

You see, this is exactly what we need to do when we are confused about things that are happening around us.  We need to go somewhere quiet, put our full attention on the Lord and ask Him to help us work through things that may be confusing or distressing to us, therefore asking Him to reveal the truth of the matter to us.  And then, he waits.  Waiting!  That is hard, isn’t it?  But as hard as it is sometimes, that’s exactly what the Scriptures command. 

  • Psalm 27:14:  Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the LORD!

  • Psalm 33:20:  Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield.

  • Psalm 37:7:  Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass.

  • Psalm 39:7:  “And now, Lord, what do I wait for? My hope is in You.

  • Psalm 40:1:  I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. 

  • Psalm 62:1:  Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation.

  • Psalm 62:5:  My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. 

  • Romans 8:25:  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.   

  • Isaiah 40:31:  But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.

There is value in waiting for the Lord.  In fact, trusting in the Lord means waiting for the Lord.  But as I was thinking about this and meditating on Habakkuk’s prayer, what struck me is that not only did Habakkuk voice his concerns to God, but he also waited until God provided an answer.  Now, in our prayer life, do we take the opportunity to wait for God’s answer?  Or, do we just spew forth all of the things on our mind, say “amen” and race off?  Do you think it is possible that sometimes God might just want us to remain engaged in silent prayer so that He may answer the cry of our heart? 

Habakkuk was different.  He was determined to go up on the tower and remain on the tower (figurative or literal) until he heard what the Lord was going to say to him.  God seldom speaks and neither can we hear until we are silent, still and attentive.  “Be still and know that I am God”, the psalmist said.  And here is where I smile at what God says.  Because He answers Habakkuk, but the answer involves more waiting!  Habakkuk 2:3: For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.  Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.

Now, as much as we may feel frustration in waiting for wickedness to be judged, I want you to notice God has a purpose for it and verse 2 of Habakkuk chapter 2 confirms it: Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.  The vision was to be written down so that it would be clear, unambiguous, certain and would produce hope – hope that Judah would be delivered, and that Judah’s enemies would be judged. 

As much as we appreciate the printing press and all of the commentaries and books available about the Bible, sometimes man takes the unambiguous and makes it ambiguous.  He takes the certain and makes it uncertain.  He takes the accurate and makes it inaccurate.  He takes the hopeful and makes it hopeless.  If we are producing sermons, articles and tracts, it is so important that contained within it is truth because this may become the medium by which others are warned of the wrath to come and of the wonderful gift of salvation available.  God did not provide His Word so that it would simply die in the hands of the spiritually dead.  He expected, as evidenced by Habakkuk, that it be shared – particularly that which was warning people of the two paths available – righteousness or wickedness. 

Chapter 1 ended with Habakkuk’s eyes focused on the wickedness of the Chaldeans.  And that is why the opening of chapter 2 is such an encouragement.  Because it reminds us where peace is found.  And may I say that as much as we love Bible prophecy, it is not given to satisfy our curiosity, it is given in order to stabilise our faith in turbulent times. 

Now, I will end with something very interesting.  Habakkuk 2:3b says: Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.  Habakkuk 2:4b says: But the just shall live by his faith.  Now, we turn our attention to Hebrews 10:37-38a which says: “For yet a little while, and He who is coming will come and will not tarry.  Now the just shall live by faith;”.  What marvelous truth!  Habakkuk said: wait for it – it will surely come; it will not tarry.  And by the time we reach Hebrews, the “it” has become a “He”.  Who is “He”?  It is Jesus – King of kings and Lord of lords!  Dear reader, He is coming.  He is coming to rescue His people.  He is coming to destroy the wicked.  He is coming to set up His kingdom.  He is coming so the promises of God may be fulfilled.  HE IS COMING!  And so, we wait.  Hebrews 9:28:  So Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many.  To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. 

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