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Habakkuk 1:12 - 2:1 Sermon Final

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Introduction

Main Idea
At first I thought of the main idea being, "How can God be holy and pure in allowing evil and suffering?"
At first I thought of the main idea being, "How can God be holy and pure in allowing evil and suffering?"
But the book of Habakkuk is not a book about God being on trial as if God needed to be vindicated.
The real theme of the book I believe is this.
"God deserves glory no matter how evil and wicked the world is."
Before we ask how can God allow evil in the world, we must simply observe that;
There is evil in the world.
We do not need to look far to see evil in our world today.
We do not need to look far to see evil in our world today.
More than ever before we see murder, war, violence and sin, so much that it has become normal and to some extent numbing to the conscience.
It doesn’t take much to ask ourselves, what is wrong with the world.
“When a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ G. K. Chesterton wrote a brief letter in response: ‘Dear Sirs: I am. Sincerely Yours, G. K. Chesterton.’
Which is exactly the better question.
Many ask how can God be good when there is so much evil and suffering in the world.
When we should be asking, what is wrong with us.
We are whats wrong with the world.
The book of Habakkuk is not about how can God be God when there is evil and suffering. Even though the prophet poses questions to that extent.
The real issue here is that one can forget why there is evil and suffering.
The reason there is evil and suffering in the world is because man has fallen.
Romans 5:12 NASB95
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned—
Through one man, Adam, sin entered into the world. Death came through sin. And what Adam deserved and all who follow him was the wrath of God.
The problem with this answer to many is that they struggle with how unfair this seems.
But their problem is that they do not know God and His holiness.
The fact that God would even allow us to live is an act of grace.
We are dealing with evil and suffering in the world because we have fallen. We have sinned.
And the book of Habakkuk captures this in redemptive history.
God deserves to be worshipped no matter how evil and wicked the world is because of who He is.
And only those who come to saving faith, can and will.

Background

The Book of Habakkuk was likely written between 610 and 605 B.C.
The book of Nahum was written before this book and what took place was the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians around 612B.C.
It gives a grave description of what would happen to Nineveh through the Babylonians.
The book of Habakkuk was written shortly after the great fall of Nineveh.
The book of Nahum was written before this book and what took place was the destruction of Nineveh by the Babylonians.
The book of Habakkuk was written shortly after.
The prophet saw a city that had repented 150 years prior through their ministry of Jonah, destroyed.
The Babylonians were rising in power and they were coming to conquer.
The book of Habakkuk was written at a time when there was much sin and trouble in Judah.
Prior to the book being written, King Josiah brought significant spiritual reform. We see this in 2 Kings chapters 22 and 23.
He put away idolatrous practices where the words of the covenant were again read in public and the temple was being repaired. This was a time of revival.
But then Josiah was killed in battle which left his throne to 3 sons.
After Josiah’s death, his son Jehoahaz was chosen to be king by the people. But Jehoahaz didn’t follow his father’s legacy in remaining faithful to the Lord. Instead he “did evil in the sight of the Lord” ().
Jehoahaz reigned only for three months before he was taken into captivity by the king of Egypt.
The king of Egypt replaced him with his brother Eliakim ( ; ). And the Egyptian king renamed the 25-year-old Eliakim “Jehoiakim.”
Jehoiakim would revert to doing evil in the sight of the Lord and this would bring God’s judgement on Judah.
Around this time, Jeremiah the prophet prophesied a 70 year captivity which was a message of judgement against Judah.
Judah had many idols that were set up in high places and they were engaging in practices that were clearly forbidden by God.
Because of Judah’s sins, God would send Nebuchadnezzar, who was the king of Babylon, to destroy Jerusalem and take the Jews captive for seventy years ().
Afterwards, God used Babylon to bring judgment against Israel for their sins of idolatry and rebellion against Him. The Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem for over a year.
They slaughtered many people and they would even destroy the temple. They took captive many of God’s people and they left Jerusalem in ruins.
Habakkuk lived in troubled times where he witnessed the decline of God's covenant people who had given themselves to idolatry and sin. And he knew that the Babylonian armies would be used by God as an act of judgement because of their idolatry and sin.
The evil he saw coming and witnessed made the prophet ask questions.
Which is what suffering does.
Evil and suffering does bring out from us the questions of how can this be and why.
This is what the prophet is experiencing. Questions come from experiencing and observing evil and suffering.
4 Points
1: The question about the eternality of God (v.12)
2: The question about the purity and perceived silence of God (v.13)
3: The question about the treatment of God's people (v.14-17)
4: The prophet waits for an answer (ch 2. v.1)
4: The prophet waits for an answer (ch 2. v.1)
4: The prophet waits for an answer (ch 2. v.1)

1: The question about the eternality of God (v.12)

a. The prophet acknowledges God as everlasting

Habakkuk 1:12 NASB95
Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct.
Habakkuk
I use the word acknowledge because this question is rhetorical.
A rhetorical question is asked solely to produce an effect or to make an assertion and not to elicit a reply.
It is a question asked to make a point, not to get an answer but to get a point across.
This term everlasting I found to be used much in the book of Daniel which makes sense since Daniel was one who was taken into exile by the Babylonians.
Everlasting or forever: an indeterminate and unending time going on into the future; also possibly an indeterminate and unending time extending into the past.
Daniel acknowledged God as living forever. And he tied that to His kingdom
forever n. — an indeterminate and unending time going on into the future; also possibly an indeterminate and unending time extending into the past.
The question of God being eternal is brought forth to assure that God’s people would also live forever.
Thus the next part of the verse. “​​We will not die.”
Malachi 3:6 NASB95
“For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

b. The prophet acknowledges God's holiness

The prophet acknowledges God's appointmentThe prophet acknowledges God as the rock and establishment of the Babylonians for correction.
He brings up the issue of God being pure in the midst of allowing a wicked people to conquer God’s own covenant people later in our text.

c. The prophet acknowledges God's appointment

Habakkuk 1:12 NASB95
Are You not from everlasting, O Lord, my God, my Holy One? We will not die. You, O Lord, have appointed them to judge; And You, O Rock, have established them to correct.
The prophet admits that God appointed the Babylonians as an act of judgment.
This explains why God allowed this to happen.
We see this in Jeremiah 1:13-16
Jeremiah 1:13–16 NASB95
The word of the Lord came to me a second time saying, “What do you see?” And I said, “I see a boiling pot, facing away from the north.” Then the Lord said to me, “Out of the north the evil will break forth on all the inhabitants of the land. “For, behold, I am calling all the families of the kingdoms of the north,” declares the Lord; “and they will come and they will set each one his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem, and against all its walls round about and against all the cities of Judah. “I will pronounce My judgments on them concerning all their wickedness, whereby they have forsaken Me and have offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands.
God is acting out judgement because they had forsaken God.

d. The prophet acknowledges God as the rock and establishment of the Babylonians for correction.

The correction looked like the people of God were going to get obliterated.
The people of God would not end because God does not end. God is everlasting.
Remembering that God is allowing this to take place as an act of judgement and correction helps with making sense of what looks like an end.
God has a purpose and a plan for God’s people.
The text that many have misused in reads,
Jeremiah 29:10–11 ESV
“For thus says the Lord: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
This was a message given to a people devastated and conquered because of their rebellion and their forsaking God.
God’s people had become wicked and had forsaken God. They had offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands and not the living God.
The prophet knows this. He then goes on the ask about how God could be favorable on the Babylonians conquering the way they did.

2: The question about the purity and perceived silence of God (v.13)

a. The prophet acknowledges that God cannot look on wickedness with favor

Habakkuk 1:13 NASB95
Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?
I think it was a mistake to assume that God is favorable of what the Babylonians did.
Jeremiah would bring up a similar question.
Jeremiah 12:1–2 ESV
Righteous are you, O Lord, when I complain to you; yet I would plead my case before you. Why does the way of the wicked prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive? You plant them, and they take root; they grow and produce fruit; you are near in their mouth and far from their heart.
Jeremiah
God allowed this because of their sin. Not because He desired their destruction. And it was not because He looks on them and approves it.
The evil done by the Babylonians is their own evil. God allows it as an act of judgement because of sin. This is what is happening.
This is what is happening.

b. The prophet asks why God would look to them with favor

The prophet is probably asking this because of how God speaks of the Babylonians in His first reply.
It was God raising up the Babylonians .
But it was not a favorable act. The whole of the Babylonians captivity and exile happened because of sin.
God is not looking on them with favor. But God acts in allowing them to exile His people because they had forsaken Him.
The problem I see here is how the prophet talks about themselves as righteous.

c. The prophet asks why God is silent when the wicked swallows up the righteous

Habakkuk 1:13 NASB95
Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?
Questions I would have asked the prophet.
Was it righteous to forsake God?
Did you forget how wicked God’s people had become?
Did you forget how they had offered sacrifices to other gods, and worshiped the works of their own hands?
I was shocked that God didn’t respond with questions Himself. Of course, rhetorical questions to point out the reason for this in the first place.
God cannot look on evil favorably. He is pure. God does not look with favor those who deal treacherously. He is holy. And God is not silent. He has spoken but with judgement.

And the reason for this exile and the evil done by the Babylonians, is not God’s favor over the Babylonians.
It was done because they had forgotten God.
Their treatment by the Babylonians started by forsaking Him.

3: The question about the treatment of God's people (v.14-17)

Habakkuk 1:14–17 NASB95
Why have You made men like the fish of the sea, Like creeping things without a ruler over them? The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, Drag them away with their net, And gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore they rejoice and are glad. Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net; Because through these things their catch is large, And their food is plentiful. Will they therefore empty their net And continually slay nations without sparing?
a. The prophets asks why did God make men like fish and creeping things without a ruler over them v.14

a. The prophets asks why did God make men like fish and creeping things without a ruler over them (v.14)

The question essentially asking, Why did you make Your people to be captured like animals with no keeper over them?
Now, they are
This is

b. The prophet describes the treatment by the Chaldeans (Babylonians) v.15

Habakkuk 1:15 NASB95
The Chaldeans bring all of them up with a hook, Drag them away with their net, And gather them together in their fishing net. Therefore they rejoice and are glad.
Habakkuk 1:
So they are captured like fish. Drug away by the net of the enemy and gathered while those who have captured them rejoice and are glad.
Think of fishing. Have you ever thought how immoral catching a fish is?
Did morality ever cross your mind when catching a fish?
Did you ever think of their family or offspring?
There is no thought about morality when fishing.
This is the feel for what the Babylonians did.
There was no regard for them. Like fish being captured to be eaten.
How could God over look such evil? Using a nation devoid of morality. A nation that would eventually destroy the temple and leave Jerusalem in desolation and ruin.
How can God allow this to happen?
How can He allow the enemy to rejoice and be glad?
The more important question here is, how can we who know God ever turn to idols?
How could we forsake God and worship and cling to the temporal?
How could we ever treat God as nothing to be concerned with when tempted?
The preceding question is what about us and our treatment of God.
God allows this because of forsaking Him. God does not just punish and allow things to take place for no reason. Evil comes from sin. And from sin, death.
Evil comes from sin. And from sin, death.

c. The prophet describes the Babylonian's victory over God's people v.16

Habakkuk 1:16 NASB95
Therefore they offer a sacrifice to their net and burn incense to their fishing net; Because through these things their catch is large, And their food is plentiful.
Because of their turning to other gods, God would allow even a nation of other gods to conquer them as an act of judgement.
This is how serious idolatry and forsaking God is.

d. The prophets asks if they will continue to empty their nets and continue (v.17)

Habakkuk 1:17 NASB95
Will they therefore empty their net And continually slay nations without sparing?
Habakkuk 1
The prophet is asking how long will they continue to treat God’s people this way.
Jeremiah had a similar cry in .
Jeremiah 12:4 ESV
How long will the land mourn and the grass of every field wither? For the evil of those who dwell in it the beasts and the birds are swept away, because they said, “He will not see our latter end.”
The prophet is pouring out his heart in anguish which God never said was wrong.
The only thing left to do with this was to wait for God’s answer. Which he does in the following chapter.

4: The prophet waits for an answer (ch 2. v.1)

Habakkuk 2:1 NASB95
I will stand on my guard post And station myself on the rampart; And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, And how I may reply when I am reproved.
The lesson here is simple.
God can act out His judgements against sin without compromising His character.
God never brings about judgment without the desiring restoration.
God’s people had forsaken Him. Their treatment by the Babylonians is not even a fraction of how they have treated God in their idolatry.
They did what speaks of.
Romans 1:21–23 ESV
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
They were treated like fish and creeping things because of trading the beauty of God for images and creeping things. This is what idolatry does.
This is what idolatry does.
Evil and suffering in the world exists because man has traded God for images and idols.
So God had to respond in judgement.
What would be God’s greatest response to this great evil?
How has God spoken concerning evil and suffering?
What would be God’s final answer and reply to such wickedness?
What was God’s final answer?
a. The prophet stands on guard
a. The prophet stands on guard
b. The prophet stations himself
c. The prophet keeps watch for what God will speak
Romans 5:12–21 ESV
Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
d. The prophet waits to reply when reproved
Main Idea
At first I thought of the main idea being, "How can God be holy and pure in allowing evil and suffering?"
But the book of Habakkuk is not a book about God being on trial as if God needed to be vindicated.
The real theme of the book I believe is this.
"God deserves to be worshipped no matter how evil and wicked the world is."
1: The question about the eternality of God (v.12)
The prophet acknowledges God as everlastingThe prophet acknowledges God's holinessThe prophet acknowledges God's appointmentThe prophet acknowledges God as the rock and establishment of the Babylonians for correction.
2: The question about the purity and perceived silence of God (v.13)
The prophet acknowledges that God cannot look on wickedness with favorThe prophet asks why God would look to them with favorThe prophet asks why God is silent when the wicked swallows up the righteous
3: The question about the treatment of God's people (v.14-17)
The prophets asks why did God make men like fish and creeping things without a ruler over them v.14The prophet describes the treatment by the Chaldeans (Babylonians) v.15The prophet describes the Babylonian's victory over God's people v.16The prophets asks if they will continue to empty their nets and continue
4: The prophet waits for an answer (ch 2. v.1)
The prophet stands on guardThe prophet stations himselfThe prophet keeps watch for what God will speakThe prophet waits to reply when reproved
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