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The Difficult Questions

Habakkuk: Clear Trust in Confusing Times  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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1 The pronouncement that the prophet Habakkuk saw.

HABAKKUK’S FIRST PRAYER

2 How long, LORD, must I call for help

and you do not listen

or cry out to you about violence

and you do not save?

3 Why do you force me to look at injustice?

Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?

Oppression and violence are right in front of me.

Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.

4 This is why the law is ineffective

and justice never emerges.

For the wicked restrict the righteous;

therefore, justice comes out perverted.

The pronouncement that the prophet Habakkuk saw. How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save?
HABAKKUK’S FIRST PRAYER
How long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen or cry out to you about violence and you do not save?
and you do not listen
or cry out to you about violence
and you do not save?
Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Oppression and violence are right in front of me. Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Oppression and violence are right in front of me.
Strife is ongoing, and conflict escalates.
This is why the law is ineffective and justice never emerges. For the wicked restrict the righteous; therefore, justice comes out perverted.
and justice never emerges.
Introduction:
For the wicked restrict the righteous;
I never liked tests, and still don’t. Teachers and professors provide study guides to help prepare you, and yet there are always those difficult questions. The ones where you just can’t seem to remember the answer. Children are experts at asking questions, especially that one word question, “Why?” There are other questions that sometimes people ponder. For example, do you know why a bride stands to the grooms left at a wedding? Brides began standing to the left of the groom during the time when a bride would be taken from a neighboring village. The groom needed his sword hand free (his right hand) in order to fight off any possible suitors or relatives of the bride.
Looking at the recent videos and images coming out of the Bahamas is heartbreaking. A replay of previous devastation caused by storms in recent years and throughout human history. Shootings and murder in our cities and abortion/murder of innocent babies on demand. Tragedy, death, injustice and sickness envelope people all over the world. It is almost like this world is a time bomb waiting to explode. Why doesn’t God do something? Why doesn’t he straighten all of this mess up? These are not new questions. They are old questions. We see them in the prophet Habakkuk’s opening words.
Habbakuk prophesied in the seventh century BC during a tumultuous time in his world. Lawlessness and violence are rampant in Judah. The Babylonians, having just crushed the Assyrian empire and Egypt, are threatening and soon God’s people would be carried off to captivity. Habakkuk is pleading for divine judgment against these enemies as his nation is on the brink of destruction.
therefore, justice comes out perverted.
He asks the same questions of God people are asking today in verse 3. “Why do you force me to look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Rather than complaining about God, Habakkuk took his questions straight to the Lord. In the end, the Lord answers him. In a world that is filled with chaos and crisis, what we need is a clear message of hope and encouragement. When we encounter God, the confusion turns to clarity. Habakkuk begins with a complaint, but in the end his fear turns to faith and he worships as he encounters the God who is in control. In the end, is confusion is overwhelmed by clear trust.
The central theme of this short book is found , “But the righteous one will live by his faith.”
Habakkuk’s confusion revolved around his circumstances and is conception of how God should act. We start with what we see him saying to the Lord in verse 2 concerning:

I. God’s Apparent Indifference

“how long, Lord, must I call for help and you do not listen?”
There is an old saying that “perceived is believed” - no matter what the truth may be, the perceptions people develop about a situation become truth to them. Habakkuk perceived here that God was indifferent to the situation he was in. As we have already stated, this was difficult time for Habakkuk and Judah, wickedness, violence and injustice were rampant. So Habakkuk prays, and he prays, and he prays. In fact, the King James uses a more accurate word here in my view in the opening verse. That word is “burden”, or a weighty message.
Habakkuk prays and does not seem to get an answer, at least the answer he was hoping for. He is pleading for God to help and heaven seems silent to him. This happens to us as well:
We pray for peace and yet war is rampant or our lives are still filled with despair or turmoil
We pray for healing and physical healing does not come, only death.
We pray for relationships to be restored and yet strife continues

II. God’s Apparent Idleness

“or cry out to you about violence and you do not save?”
Habakkuk not only wants to know why God is not listening to him, he also wants to know why God is not acting? Generations of God’s people have been asking these same questions. Just read the Psalms. In fact, it was a part of Hebrew worship for God’s people to plead with God in times of trouble and distress. God’s people took their complaints directly to God, they didn’t gossip about him with others. Habakkuk seems to believe that prayer means that God is at his beck and call. We misunderstand prayer in the same way.
“The idea of prayer is not in order to get answers from God; prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God. If we pray because we want answers, we will get huffed with God. The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our spiritual huff shows a refusal to identify ourselves with Our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God’s grace. When prayer seems to be unanswered, beware of trying to fix the blame on someone else. That is always a snare of Satan.” - Oswald Chambers
We are tempted to
Many scholars believe that Jeremiah became a contemporary of Habakkuk. Both lived in times when violence and sin were celebrated in the land. People seemed proud of their sin and boasted of their wickedness. Scholars tend to agree that Habakkuk is prophesying just after King Josiah’s death. Josiah had instituted a great deal of reforms, but he was killed in battle, and wicked Jehoiakim was on the throne in Judah. The change was dramatic. Godly leadership makes a difference.
Why am I forced to look at injustice? (v.3)
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (v.3)
Oppression and violence were right in front of Habakkuk and strife and conflict were ongoing and growing. These words used together in this way formed a grim picture of the environment that Habakkuk finds himself in.
We live in the same environment, yet with different manifestations of sin. Murder of unborn babies, the pervasive nature of sexual sin, racism, materialism, greed and dishonesty. We plead as well with the Lord, just as Habakkuk did thousands of years ago in Judah. And yet we may be tempted to ask, “Why are you idle Lord?” “Why aren’t you doing something?”
We pray for p
The idea of prayer is not in order to get answers from God; prayer is perfect and complete oneness with God. If we pray because we want answers, we will get huffed with God. The answers come every time, but not always in the way we expect, and our spiritual huff shows a refusal to identify ourselves with Our Lord in prayer. We are not here to prove God answers prayer; we are here to be living monuments of God’s grace.
(v.4), “the law is ineffective and justice never emerges.”

III. God’s Apparent Injustice (v.4)

“the law is ineffective and justice never emerges.”
“the wicked restrict (or surround) the righteous..”
Habakkuk’s complaint revealed the consequences of what he saw as God’s indifference and inactivity. The law was void of its power, justice was not served, instead it is perverted. The law was God’s law, God’s instructions were being violated. The essential requirements for a functioning society were crumbling. The social order was falling apart. The underpinnings necessary for his nation to be sustained were gone.
The further result was that “the wicked restrict the righteous..” When the law is ineffective and justice is not found the righteous have no recourse because they will not lower themselves to use the standards or methods of the wicked.
What we are going to discover as we study this book are that God’s ways are mysterious and they are often misunderstood.
Romans 11:33–36 CSB
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Read
,  Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!
33 Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!
both of the wisdom and of the knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments
and untraceable his ways!
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? 35 And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid?
34 For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?
35 And who has ever given to God,
that he should be repaid?
36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
36 For from him and through him
Truths to Remember:
God is the proper source to go to for help with our questions.
God is the proper source to go to for help with our questions.
Faith is the key to eternal life and is also the key to daily life for the believer.
God is not unaware of what is happening in the world.
God is a faithful judge who will dispense justice in his time according to his plan and purpose.
Applications:
Trust God even when you don’t understand.
Seek God at all times, even in times of doubt and fear.
Patiently endure trials or suffering by resting in the Lord
4.
and to him are all things.
Conclusion:
A common argument used by atheists to promote their belief that there is no God is to reference the problem of evil. Essentially the argument is formulated like this:
To him be the glory forever. Amen.
God is Good. God has all power. There is evil in the world. Therefore, there is no God.
Life here is full of mysteries, but we can trust our holy and just God to act fairly and faithfully and one day in eternity no mysteries will remain.
This is what many of our educational institutions of higher learning are promoting in the minds of our young people..have been for a generation or two now. Without question, the problem of evil in our world has caused many to walk away from faith in God. If God is so good and exists, why did I get sick? Why did my child die? Why did I lose everything in a storm? Why is there so much hate and injustice? How do we respond?
We must respond biblically. Sin and evil entered the world because of man’s rebellion against God’s command and design. Sin has affected not only the human race, but it has also affected creation. Therefore we have storms and tragedy in nature.
J.I Packer: Of the evils that infect God’s world (moral and spiritual perversity, waste of good, and the physical disorders and disruptions of a spoiled cosmos), it can summarily be said: God permits evil (); he punishes evil (, ); he brings good out of evil (, , , , ); he uses evil to test and discipline those he loves (, ), and one day he will redeem his people from the power and presence of evil altogether (, ).
We ask the question, “God, why don’t you do something?” He did, he became a human being like us so that he may identify with our sufferings. Jesus was a man of sorrows who knew what suffering was. He was tested in all points as we are but yet without sin so that he might be our redeemer who reconciles and saves us from sin.
John Stott, “
Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? (v.3)
Oppression and violence were right in front of Habakkuk and strife and conflict were ongoing and growing. These words used together in this way formed a grim picture of the environment that Habakkuk finds himself in.
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