The Why Question
Title: The Question Of Why?
Text: Habakkuk 1:1-2.
CIT: Habakkuk asks God why He allows evil to go unpunished & use
Babylon to punish Judah..
Theme: Why God allows evil things to happen to His people.
Cindy Lipscomb and June Bonnin had been the closest of friends for two years. They both shared a profound faith in Christ and had daughters about the same age. Cindy had three daughters: Rainey, 10, Lacey, 8, and Jesse Anne, 5. June had a daughter at home, Ashley, 8 and a grand daughter, Jessica, 12 that was living with her. They all enjoyed being together. For spring break they decided to take a train trip to Chicago on Amtrak’s famous City of New Orleans. While there they went to the top of Chicago’s Sears Tower, visited the children’s museum, and shopped. What stories the girls would have to tell their school friends the next week.
On the return trip home all seemed peaceful as the train sped down the tracks on that cold March night in 1999. Cindy’s family was assigned a sleeping car in the back of the train. June’s family was in the front. The older girls wanted to have a slumber party, so Rainey and Lacey kissed their mom goodnight and went off to be with the Bonnins in the front of the train. Less than an hour later, about fifty miles south of Chicago, the train slammed into a truck loaded with steel. The impact derailed all but three of the railcars, leaving the cars strewn around the tracks like an accordion. Flames engulfed the front cars.
Frantically, Cindy made her way toward her daughters. She said, “I wanted to die when I saw the flames because I knew. It was either lay down and die or pray, and I just sat down and prayed.” When it was all over, eleven people were dead, including Rainey, Lacey, June Bonnin, and June’s grand daughter Jessica. Miraculously, Ashley Bonnin was able to crawl out of the wreckage. She lost a foot and her lower leg from a falling door.
When we hear or read of such tragic events, we can’t help but wonder why. WHY? Of the two hundred people on the train, why did these sweet little girls and a godly mother perish? They were committed Christians. They were good people! Ironically, June Bonnin had just won a four year battle with cancer. Why did she now die like this? Why couldn’t they all have been in the back of the train rather than in the front? Why couldn’t the accident have been an hour earlier? Then, at least the girls would have survived. Why didn’t the truck stop?
What good could come from such a tragedy? Much is unclear, but some things are evident. Cindy and Matt Lipscomb and June’s husband Max gave a beautiful testimony for Christ that would change the lives of all who listened. They were interviewed on national television. The funeral was broadcasted live on Memphis television. Christ received great glory, and many people came to Jesus through their testimony. Still, much remains a mystery.
Centuries ago, an ancient prophet looked at the violence and wickedness of the world he lived in him and cried out to God,
Why do You make me look at injustice? Why do You tolerate wrong?... Why are You silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?” /(Hab. 1:3, 13)
The prophet not only asked “why”; he also received answers to his questions. The answers given by the Creator are carefully recorded in the little book called Habakkuk. As we begin our study, I want us to learn about two items tonight. First,
I. Habakkuk The Man (vs 1).
The burden, the oracle, the prophecy, which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
The only reliable information we have about Habakkuk is contained in the book that bears his name and it is very little indeed. Though his writings are quoted several times in the New Testament, he is not mentioned there by name. So we are left with three short chapters and a few clues to uncover information about the prophet’s life.
The apocryphal book of “Bel and the Dragon” (vv. 33–39), mentions a man named Habakkuk. The angel of God carried him off by the forelock, bore him through the air, and set him down with food for Daniel when the latter was in the lion’s den. This account is clearly fictional and no help to us. I want us to look first at:
a. The Particulars About Habakkuk.
The name Habakkuk means “to embrace.” Martin Luther said:
Habakkuk is one who embraces another or takes him into his arms ... He comforts them and holds them up, as one embraces a weeping child, to quiet it with the assurance that, if God wills, it shall soon be better.
Whether the embracing is of other people or God, Habakkuk was a friend in deed and in need. Habakkuk is called the doubting Thomas of the Old Testament because he seemingly had a question mark tattooed on his forehead. We find him always asking, “Why!” Second, see,
b. The Personality of Habakkuk.
You cannot help but pick up some particulars about Habakkuk’s personality as we read through the three chapters of the book. First, we notice:
(1) He Was An Honest Doubter.
In a sense he was to the prophets of the Old Testament what Thomas was to the apostles. As a careful observer of life, he could not harmonize the evil he saw around him with the concept of God as good, just, and sovereign. Why did evil seem to have such a free reign? Why did the wicked seem to prevail over the righteous? The Question of why?
Have you ever had a situation where you asked God “Why?” This is a little book you will want to read and study. Second,
(2) He Was Morally and Ethically Sensitive.
He was alarmed by the lawlessness and violence around him. It wasn’t right for evil always seemed to have its way. He hurt not only for those who suffered in Judah but also for those who suffered in other nations.
(3) He Searched For Truth.
He refused to close his eyes to the evil around him. At the same time, he refused to gloss over questions about evil that disturbed him. Instead of letting his anguish and doubts get the best of him, he faced them honestly, seeking answers from the only One who could give them, God. Fourth,
(4) He Maintained Reverence for God.
He knew that God was the only source to answer his questions. These questions were never critical of God; they were addressed to Him in love and reverence. Fifth,
(5) He Had A Deep Personal Faith.
He did not use his doubts as an excuse not to maintain a deep, personal relationship with God. He turned to God in the midst of his confusion and simply sought God’s wisdom and council. This is what God calls each one of us to do when we are confused or have questions.
The result of his search is astounding. The Habakkuk we meet at the end of the book is not the same one at the beginning. His struggle produced spiritual growth. Your struggle will too when you seek God’s face in honesty and truth. Second see:
II. Habakkuk, The Message (vs 1).
The burden, oracle, prophecy which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
As I said before, Habakkuk is a man with questions. He is disturbed about God’s seeming indifference to the inquity of His own people. Habakkuk asks God,
a. “Why don’t You do something?”
In our day a great many folk feel as Habakkuk did. They are asking, “Why doesn’t God do something? Why doesn’t He move into the affairs of men and stop the violence and injustice and suffering?” God provides an answer to Habakkuk and He will provide us an answer when we seek His face. Second,
When God answered the question for Habakkuk, He informed him that He was preparing a nation, Babylon, to punish Judah and to take her into captivity — that is ... unless she changed her ways. Well, if you think Habakkuk had a problem before, he really had a problem now! Habakkuk asked,
b. “Why will You use Babylon”
Babylon as nation that was definitely more wicked, more pagan, and more given over to idolatry than Judah — So Habakkuk asked God, “How can You use Babylon to punish Judah?” God reveals to Habakkuk that He was not through with Babylon but would judge her also.
This is God’s method. It was His method then and its His method today. Because it His method, we need to be on our knees daily in prayer for America, our president, and our governmental officials.
There is one more thing this evening,
III. Habakkuk, The Moral.
The burden, oracle, prophecy which the prophet Habakkuk saw.
From the prophet’s struggle comes two guidelines for us to learn: First,
a. Struggle Is Proper With Life’s Situation.
Habakkuk teaches us that it is alright to struggle with life’s complexities as we try to understand problems evil presents to our faith. We are to be like Habakkuk and take the questions of “Why?” and “How long?” to God in prayer. In fact, honest questions, honest, struggling, and doubt reflects a better relationship with the Father than superficial, outward, religious behavior. The second moral,
b. Its Better to Live in Faith.
Faithfully and honestly following the Father is better than rebellion. We are to trust God when the answers cannot be found. We are to be faithful even when evil seems to be getting the upper hand. This approach to life is wise because we know that the omnipotent God will ultimately prevail over all.
Have you learned with me that there are some questions, some situations that we will never understand this side of heaven? There are! But God respects us when we ask why? God will give us an answer, He will give us peace in the midst of the storm, that is the kind of God we serve.
We are going to sing a song of invitation in a moment. It is an invitation for you to come and do business with God. Won’t you come as we sing?
FBC, Hughes 11/09/08