Salvation out of Judgment

July 17, 2020

 Habakkuk 1:5–7

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.

When God said, “I am doing something in your day that you will not believe. I’m doing something out there in the nations that you will not believe. What he is saying is:

 I am going to be bringing salvation out of judgment. I’m going to be bringing justice out of injustice. I’m going to be bringing salvation and justice out of violence and oppression and injustice. He says, I know you don’t understand it, but that’s what I’m doing,” what does that mean?

 Years later, Paul in Acts 13:38, says this amazing statement. He is talking to them. He is preaching the gospel. He is talking about Jesus, and he says, “… God raised him from the dead … Therefore, my brothers, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

 Okay? Then Paul adds, “Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: “Look … and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” Paul looks at Habakkuk 1:5, where God says, “I am going to be doing something you’ll never believe, something most astounding. I am going to bring salvation out of judgment. I’m going to bring salvation and redemption out of injustice and violence.”

 Paul says he was talking about Jesus. You say, “Wait a minute. No, he was talking about the Babylonians.” But see, what Paul is saying is the thing God said to Habakkuk, that principle, “I bring light out of darkness. I can bring … and I do bring … salvation and redemption out of injustice and wrong and evil and suffering,” finds its ultimate and supreme expression in Jesus Christ. Do you see why?

 When Jesus came into this world and went to the cross, he took the judgment we deserve. He didn’t come in strength. He came in weakness. He didn’t come in triumph. He came and essentially, he experienced a kangaroo court. He experienced absolute injustice. He was tortured, and he suffered, and he died. Why? Because he is holy. See, Habakkuk says, “I don’t understand why you put up with injustice, how you can bring salvation out of injustice if you’re holy.”

 God says, “On the cross, I’m going to explain everything.” Because on the cross, because he is holy, because he can’t just forgive us, because our sin has to be paid for, because what we’ve done toward him and toward each other has to be paid for, because he is a just God, he experienced judgment on the cross.

 He paid our penalty. He took the judgment in himself. He is the ultimate example on the cross of bringing salvation out of judgment and therefore bringing light out of darkness and therefore bringing redemption out of suffering and evil and difficulty.

 



I Don’t Get It

July 16, 2020

Habakkuk 1:5–13

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.

 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. 10 They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. 11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”

 12 O Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O Lord, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

When God says, “I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth …” Habakkuk says, “Why all this injustice and violence? Where is your salvation?” God says, “I’m going to bring more injustice and more violence into your life. That’s how I’m going to work my salvation in the world, and you’re not going to understand it.”

Habakkuk says, “You call that an answer?” God says, “Yes.”

Now today we can see something Habakkuk couldn’t see. If the Jews had not been taken off into exile, they never would have spread throughout the whole Roman Empire forming and worshipping in synagogues.

After the exile, though a lot of them came back and they rebuilt Jerusalem, most Jews stayed in dispersion. Therefore, in every city in the ancient world, you had synagogues. You had Jews and God-fearers, Gentiles who had been pagans who began to study God’s Word and began to get interested in the God of Israel.

When Christianity began to spread (and you can see this in the book of Acts, and historians will tell you this), the most receptive people in the entire world to the gospel in the very beginning of the church were not the pagans and not the Jews but the Gentile God-fearers, the people who were part of those synagogue communities. They embraced it, and it was through them Christianity spread through the world.

Because the Babylonians came up and took the Jews off into exile and then because the Greeks conquered the world, which made Greek the modern language of the world everyone could read the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament.

Then the Romans rose up, and they conquered everybody. You could travel everywhere, because everybody was at peace because they were under Rome. You had had the roads they built. In other words, this succession of dominant world powers (the Assyrians and the Babylonians and the Greeks and the Romans) were all part of God’s plan to create the environment for the spread of the gospel in the first century.

Habakkuk saw none of this in God’s answer to him. “I don’t get it!” Habakkuk says, “of course you don’t,” God says, “I didn’t expect you to.”



Wrestling Faithfully

July 15, 2020

Habakkuk 1:5–13

“Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwelling places not their own. They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.

 Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like a vulture swooping to devour; they all come bent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. 10 They deride kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; they build earthen ramps and capture them. 11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty men, whose own strength is their god.”

 12 O Lord, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, we will not die. O Lord, you have appointed them to execute judgment; O Rock, you have ordained them to punish. 13 Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrong. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?

 Modern people, especially in California, have this enormous confidence in our human reason and in our perception. What we say is, “I don’t see how God could be bringing anything good out of this. I don’t see why God is allowing all this suffering and evil. Therefore, I’m not going to believe in him. I don’t need this. I’m out of here.”

Habakkuk doesn’t do that. He is challenging. On the other hand, he wouldn’t even think of leaving, not in a million years. In fact, when he says, “… my Holy One,” we see this as a prayer. I think this is what he is saying:

“I wouldn’t be upset if I thought you weren’t holy, but I know you are. I wouldn’t be upset if I thought I could walk away, but I know I can’t. Where else do I go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Do you know why God doesn’t smite Habakkuk, why he doesn’t stop talking to Habakkuk? Do you know why he puts the prayer of Habakkuk in the Bible for us to read centuries later? God preserves these prayers. Why would he do such a thing? Are we supposed to pray like this? Well, we’re not supposed to say things like that, no. I mean, we shouldn’t be talking to God like that. But he knows how we speak when we’re desperate.

He has not remained our God because we put on a happy face, because we don’t; not because we have perfect emotional self-control, because we don’t; not because we’re doing everything just right, because we’re not. He remains our God because of his grace, because his relationship to us is not based on our performance. It’s because of his unconditional, covenantal committed love towards us.”

When God said, “I am doing something in your day that you will not believe even if you were told,” we need to take him at his word. He answered Habakkuk and the answer was not, “don’t you dare question me,” the answer was, “what I am doing is unbelievable, and you will not believe is for your good.” But it is…




Daily Devotions 2020