“The Lord is Coming”
A marshal in Napoleon's army -- a man who was devotedly and enthusiastically attached to him -- was mortally wounded in battle. As the last struggle drew near and he lay dying in his tent, he sent for his chief. Napoleon came. The poor man thought his emperor could do anything. Perhaps he even sought to put him in the place of God. So he earnestly pleaded with his leader to save his life. The emperor sadly shook his head and turned away. But as the dying man felt the cold, merciless hand of death drawing him irresistibly behind the curtain of the unseen world, he was still heard to shriek out, "Save me, Napoleon! Save me!" In the hour of death, that soldier discovered that even the powerful Napoleon could not give him physical life.
It is amazing what we’ll put our trust in today. I wonder sometimes when we face difficult times in life, does all that we know of what Jesus is capable of doing and has already done vanish from our memory. We saw the wonderful principle of contentment last week. John Newton sums it up nicely.
Everything is necessary that God sends. Nothing can be necessary that he withholds. - John Newton
And we have to remember that nothing can stop this dynamic from happening. So then why the discouragement and disappointment with God today. So much so that we are putting our trust in politics, culture, special interests, money, success and fame. The word tells us that this is futile. History tells us that this is futile. Even those who ever had it all is telling us that it is futile. The greatest leaders in this world cannot bring us what we all ultimately need. We are told this over and over again, but we still find that we are faithless and loving the things of this world. So why the tension?
Ultimately, our problem is not that we don’t believe that he can. It’s that we don’t believe that we will. Yeah he did it for them but he won’t do it for me. We don’t necessarily doubt that he is able we just don’t think that he cares enough to do it. This is why I say that the scriptures do not judge our unbelief in that we don’t believe that God exists, we don’t believe that He is good.
After all the miracles the Israelites saw in Egypt, the cloud by day, pillar of fire by night, manna from heaven, the presence and voice of God from the mountain…and what happened? Man we had it better in Egypt. We had all the food we wanted to eat in Egypt. What about this land that flowing with milk and honey? What about us being a nation of power? What about us being a nation that is blessed by the living God? All the heat, the wind, the enemies that surround us. What about water? Man my life was better in Egypt.
Then the foreign rabble who were traveling with the Israelites began to crave the good things of Egypt. And the people of Israel also began to complain. “Oh, for some meat!” they exclaimed. “We remember the fish we used to eat for free in Egypt. And we had all the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic we wanted. But now our appetites are gone. All we ever see is this manna!”
Everything is necessary that God sends. Nothing can be necessary that he withholds. And we continue to be influenced by the corruption of sin. But it still remains that many today are still doubtful that God is able. This is the continued philosophical argument when dealing with the discipline of what we would call theodicy (vindicating God). Why does evil exist in our world? Thinkers for centuries deduced 3 things. Either God does not exist, God is not able or God is not good. And this is what the Israelites assumed. This is what many will assume about God today.
Now we know in the scriptures that God exists, God is able, and we know from the scriptures that God is good. So maybe there is more to the story than that. Let’s take a look at it today.
Was it in anger, Lord, that you struck the rivers and parted the sea? Were you displeased with them? No, you were sending your chariots of salvation! You brandished your bow and your quiver of arrows. You split open the earth with flowing rivers. The mountains watched and trembled. Onward swept the raging waters. The mighty deep cried out, lifting its hands in submission. The sun and moon stood still in the sky as your brilliant arrows flew and your glittering spear flashed. You marched across the land in anger and trampled the nations in your fury. You went out to rescue your chosen people, to save your anointed ones. You crushed the heads of the wicked and stripped their bones from head to toe. With his own weapons, you destroyed the chief of those who rushed out like a whirlwind, thinking Israel would be easy prey. You trampled the sea with your horses, and the mighty waters piled high. I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.
The Power of His Presence
The Power of His Salvation
The first thing we will look at is the incredible display of the power of God as he comes to destroy His enemies and save His people. The second thing we will see is how the Lord came to save us from the coming wrath of a fearful enemy.
Thesis: Though sin and the pattern of this world may cause us to look for salvation in the things of this world, it is the truth of scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit that will cause us to recognize the true power of the Lord to deliver His people and the trust that He will in His way at His time.
I. The Power of His Presence
- Our God is able.
A. Now here we continue to see the prophet finding hope by looking back. The wonderful truth that should be encouraging to us all today. In the most difficult of time in the life of Habakkuk he finds hope and praise not because of a new revelation or experience he got from the Lord, but a looking back on all that the Lord has done for his people in the past. All that he had to find comfort, we have so much more today.
B. We saw the awesomeness of the coming of the Lord, today we witness the actual ability of the Lord when he comes. If there was any doubt that the Lord is able to fulfil what he promised, Habakkuk drops the hammer.
C. If we are not sure of His ability to accomplish His purpose, just look back at what He did. The rhetorical question brings a back to mind the amazing. One of the most awesome powers in the world is the waters. Rivers, seas, oceans… there is no combating it. The power of the sea, eats away at the land it surrounds. Tsunamis destroy cities and all that the pride of man has built. Rivers continue to cut through valleys and continuously change surrounding landscape. Floods continue to humble the ingenuity of our culture. We can’t handle the power of water. We can’t control the power of rivers and the sea. We continue to underestimate the power of the ocean and the mysteries it contains. Jeanine at Makapu’u.
D. In order to fulfill His promises… is the Lord able to fight the most powerful forces of nature? You bet He is. Do you remember family...
Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the Lord opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land.
The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall.”
What of the mighty Godlike Nile river?
So this is what the Lord says: “I will show you that I am the Lord.” Look! I will strike the water of the Nile with this staff in my hand, and the river will turn to blood. The fish in it will die, and the river will stink. The Egyptians will not be able to drink any water from the Nile.’ ”
E. The mountains are not worried about us. Sure we can make little holes in it. We can knock crevasses in it. But it is the power of winds, waters, rains, controlled by God that it truly fears. But remember family this is not just figurative language… He literally controls the entire earth. Yes yes he can keep it from turning… literally.
On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said, “Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.” So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies. Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day.
F. It is the power of the presence of God. What this means is that our God is able to do what He intends to do and nothing will be able to stop Him. There is nothing in this world that can stop Him. The largest and strongest elements in the world cannot stop Him. The most powerful forces of nature cannot stop Him and will be used by Him to accomplish His purposes. Water cannot keep Him from accomplishing His purposes. No river, no sea, and no ocean can keep His will from being done. Not even the world turning on its axis can defeat the plans and purposes of the living God.
“O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you!
He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”
Our God is in the heavens, and he does as he wishes.
G. So clearly… God is able to do what he wants to do. So then the popular conclusion is that God is not a good God. He does not care. He is not there. He will not share. It is popular to come to this conclusion , but what we have to understand is that it is more complicated than that.
II. The Power of His Salvation
- Our God is good.
A. If evil exists, then either God does not exist or God is not good. So He is there. He is obviously able. So is He good? Yes we do not evil in the world because it hurts us. We do not evil in the world because it destroys us. We do not like evil in the world because its just bad for everybody. We want God to save us from evil. We want to be saved from evil. But did it ever occur to us that we are evil.
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
B. So then here is the question… how can God come to destroy evil without destroying us? Oh and it even gets more complicated than that. The fact that God is a good God is even more of a problem for us. When we understand the context of our study of anthropology in light of scripture, it might be better if he was bad. Then he might not judge us. And it gets worse… since God is good, it is the living God who cannot be stopped and cannot be slowed that is coming to destroy evil. So he wont be stopped in his destruction of evil. The good God is coming for us. Gets even more complicated. But the solution is simple. The Gospel.
C. Salvation is what needed to happen for us. It is what was needed for Habakkuk. They needed to be saved, but they needed to be saved from God who brought the Babylonians to judge evil in the land. This is why Habakkuk could rejoice and why we can rejoice today. The Lord is gonna save us from Himself. The unstoppable force who cannot be stopped from accomplishing His purpose. And the Lord came out and accomplished His purpose. He came to destroy evil and save His people.
You went out to rescue your chosen people, to save your anointed ones. You crushed the heads of the wicked and stripped their bones from head to toe.
D. And the ultimate salvation came to us with the good news. The Kingdom of God is at hand. The Lord sent His Son into this world to seek and to save that which was lost. The evil was destroyed when the sin of the world was laid upon the shoulders of Christ… and the punishment for sin is death. And was our sin punished with death? Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures and he was buried and he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures. The saying is trust worthy and deserving of full acceptance..
E. Salvation is here for those of us who repent and believe. Who turn from their sin and turn to Christ. If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. All who call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
F. But Shane what about all the trembling and fear stuff we find in Habakkuk’s prayer. Do we find this at work with the salvation we find with Christ. Totally.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.