May 01, 2023 | Letters from the Lead Pastor by Brandon Lenhart
Throughout the month of May, in addition to Mother's Day on May 14th, we will be exploring the Old Testament book of Habakkuk. Though rarely preached from, this short three-chapter book is full of struggles and questions, but also wisdom and encouragement.
Habakkuk (the author) was a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah. And though he only wrote three chapters of text, his impact is powerful and relatable. The remaining Jewish nation, Judah (the southern kingdom), had become so corrupt and immoral that GOD's patience with them had run out. As a judgment upon the people of Judah, GOD decided to turn them over to the Babylonian Empire who was right at their doorstep. They would inevitably be conquered and many of them sent into exile throughout the Babylonian Kingdom under the leadership of King Nebuchadnezzar. However, right before this happened, Habakkuk penned this short book.
Even though the nation of Judah had become completely and utterly corrupt, there was a small minority of people who remained faithful to GOD; a remnant of men, women, and children who did not worship idols or pagan gods, and who remained spiritually and physically pure. Habakkuk was among this group.
In the first two chapters of Habakkuk, he questions GOD. He asks, "How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen!" and he makes statements like this as he cries out to GOD, "Violence is everywhere! But you do not come to save." and "The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts." And all of this is just in the first chapter. In essence, Habakkuk, and those who have remained faithful to GOD, are experiencing the fallout of a society devoid of godly behavior and they are concerned that GOD seems to not be doing anything about it.
GOD's response to Habakkuk is one of patience and exhortation. He responds twice to Habakkuk by explaining
He is doing something behind the scenes. Though Habakkuk could not see it, GOD's plan for judgment of the wicked was coming, and coming quickly. The Babylonian Empire was his means of punishment and discipline. The day of prospering for the wicked and abusive people of Judah was coming to an end, and the whole nation would experience it. Even the remnant would see the judgment of GOD, but why?
There are times throughout the course of human history when things haven't seemed to measure up. And it's in those times that it also seems as though GOD is silent and gone from the scene. Maybe there are even times in your own life when you have felt this way. You've worked hard to do the right things and live a life that is pleasing to GOD, but it seems that He is too far off to even notice. Or, maybe you're praying and praying but your prayers don't seem to go any further than the ceiling. Whatever the case, we are reminded in the writings of Habakkuk that though it seems that GOD isn't listening or doing anything on our behalf, He's behind the scenes working out His purpose and will for our good and for His glory.
So, in the meantime, while we await our Rescuer, know that He is good and that He is here. Know that GOD is not idle; He is constantly at work to accomplish His will. Even though He may seem far away, we must remember that He is closer than a brother. For those who believe in Him, and remain faithful to following His lead, He will sustain, protect, and provide. Though all may seem lost, and though it seems like we're at the end of our rope, know that GOD oftentimes leads us to the end of ourselves in order to do amazing things in our lives as we surrender to Him.
Habakkuk eventually came around. In his final words, he testifies to the goodness and trustworthiness of GOD as he writes, "The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights." Do you believe this? Cast your cares on GOD because He truly does care for you.