KNOWING GODS’S WAYS

  1. KNOWING GOD’S WAYS. Habakkuk 1:1-11
  2. DEALING WITH LIFE PROBLEMS. Habakkuk 1:12-2:20
  3. PRAYING IN DIFFICULT TIMES. Habakkuk 3:1-19

KNOWING GODS’S WAYS HABAKKUK 1:1-11

Introduction

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God’s ways are always higher than man’s ways. Most of the time, man fails to understand God’s ways in human life. Do you know that God’s ways are perfect and the best for man? I want to bring to a sermon entitled “Knowing God’s Ways.”

Open your Bible with me to Habakkuk Chapter 1. Habakkuk is a very fascinating book. Although, it is merely three very brief chapters, it is a very important book.

Habakkuk 1:1-11

The prophecy that Habakkuk the prophet received.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

2How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

The Lord’s Answer

5“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. 6I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. 7They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.

8Their horses are swifter than leopards, fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their cavalry gallops headlong; their horsemen come from afar. They fly like an eagle swooping to devour; 9they all come intent on violence. Their hordes advance like a desert wind and gather prisoners like sand. 10They mock kings and scoff at rulers. They laugh at all fortified cities; by building earthen ramps they capture them. 11Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty people, whose own strength is their god.”

Life

Life is never a bed of roses. Particularly, the Christian life is never a bed of roses. Even though we live the life of faith, there are always problems in the Christian’s life. There were always problems in the life of the Israelites. There were problems in the mind of Habakkuk as he wrote in this prophecy. Most of you here are having trials and problems you are facing today. Many of us find coming into our lives problems that we cannot understand. We face sorrows that we cannot cope with.

The question of today’s people are: “Why is the world in such a mess? I don’t understand why God allow the world to suffer.” Believers often ask, “How can God allow troubles in my life when I am following him?. I don’t understand God’s ways.

Habakkuk is an illustration of this problem. He says, “God, I can’t figure out why things are going bad in Israel and why are people suffering?”

Now what was the situation? Well the situation in Habakkuk’s day was that Israel had backslidden. Israel had turned from God and gone into idolatry.

Habakkuk’s Complaint

Habakkuk 1:2-4 2How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? 3Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. 4Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted.

What a difficult picture of Israel. Habakkuk is praying, “We are in a mess. Please do something about it Lord. How long shall I cry and You will not hear?”

Comparison of Habakkuk’s day to our day

1. Violence. V2

2. Injustice, wrong doing, destruction. V3

3.Strife and conflict. V3

4. Law is paralyzed. V4

5. Justice never prevails. V4

There was lawlessness, there was sin, immorality and so forth. Habakkuk was praying to the Lord as to why God allows this. Such were the conditions of Israel.

We stand today in the 21st century and we can look at God with almost the same expression in our brain and say, “God, why is it like it is? Why is it that we constantly cry out about my life nothing ever happens? They only get worse.”

In verse 5 to 11, Habakkuk gets probably the most unusual answer to prayer that anybody ever got. If you think God’s inactivity was perplexing, just notice his activity. And Habakkuk was perplexed in verses 2 and 4 but it must have been nothing compared to what’s going on in his mind after he heard God’s answer.

Habakkuk 1:5-7

The LORD’S Answer

5“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. 6I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own. 7They are a feared and dreaded people; they are a law to themselves and promote their own honor.

God answered Habakkuk by saying, “I am going to answer and you are going to be amazed. When I answer you would not even believe it and I am doing these things.”

He’s been crying out, “O God, deliver us, deliver us” And God says, “Not only will I not deliver you, it’s going to get worse than it is now.” God intends to raise up an utterly pagan godless people, the Babylonians to come in and destroy Israel.

THE PROBLEM OF HABAKKUK

  • 1. Why is God inactive?
  • 2. Why does God not hear his cry?
  • 2. When God does answer, why does He answer that way?

And through these eleven verses, we learn three great truths about God’s ways.

1. GOD’S WAYS ARE MYSTERIOUS

a. God’s Inaction Is Mysterious

It is strange how that God is silent in very serious circumstances. Some will ask God, “Why did God let Israel get this far gone in idolatry? Why didn’t God take action against them? Why did God allow false prophets? Why didn’t He strike them down on the spot? Why did God allow Israel to deteriorate at all? Why didn’t God maintain the purity of Israel?”

We can ask ourselves the same questions in reference to the ourselves. Why has God let us continue in our trouble? Why does God let false teachers in the church? Why does God allow so many wrong things to be done to his people? Why hasn’t God answered yes to all of my faithful prayers?

If God is really God, why does He let this happen?

See, God’s ways are mysterious, aren’t they? His inaction is mysterious.

b. God’s Providences Are Mysterious

God sometimes gives very unexpected answer to our prayers. For a long time God didn’t seem to answer. And then all of a sudden God answered. Finally God answered and it was even more mysterious than before.

Habakkuk thought he knew what Israel needed. Lord, here’s what Israel needs: They just need to be punished a little bit and then they need a revival. Then they’ll turn to You and everything will be great. But, you see, God had other plans for Israel.

Suffering always precedes glory.

I suppose the best illustration of that is athletic practice. There is glory for an Olympic medal but do you know the suffering during the years of practice? No man ever becomes a well-trained musician who performs well at the big moment unless he is disciplined and sacrificed throughout the hours and hours that nobody saw.

Today God may do the opposite of what you expect. It might look like the backside of a Persian rug to you but on the other side, the side that God sees, it’s beautiful, glorious. It was needful for Christ to suffer before He could be glorified. And so it is for us.

And so, sometimes though we think we know how God ought to answer, He doesn’t answer the way we think He should. God said, “I’m going to raise up the Babylonians to judge Israel.”

c. God’s Instruments Are Mysterious

When He talks about the Babylonians, that must have really been a problem for Habakkuk cause the Babylonians were very, very despised. They were absolutely pagan and godless.

God has used all sorts of strange instruments to bring His purposes to pass including an ass in Numbers 22.

In Isaiah 44:28, you have the incident of Israel, the prophecy regarding Israel being released from the Babylonian captivity.

Isaiah 44:28 ..who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’

Isaiah 45:1 This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut:

Cyrus was a pagan king and yet God said, “I’m going to use Cyrus to free Israel from bondage.” And He carried it even further by saying, “Cyrus is My shepherd, Cyrus is My anointed.” And I’ll tell you, God uses some strange instruments to carry out His judgment. One perhaps very strange instrument is Antichrist.

In conclusion, God’s ways are mysterious. His inaction is mysterious. His unexpected providences are mysterious. His unusual instruments are mysterious.

2. GOD’S WAYS ARE MISUNDERSTOOD

God’s ways are not only mysterious but misunderstood. There are two different groups of people that misunderstand God’s ways.

a. God’s People Sometimes Misunderstand God’s Ways

Habakkuk 1:5. 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.

In Habakkuk’s day, these religious Israelites didn’t believe the message that God gave them. They didn’t believe it. No matter what God did, they never believed the prophets.

In Matthew 21 a man had a vineyard. He brought servants in and people would come and kill the servants. And finally he said, “I’ll put my own son there, surely they won’t kill my son.” And what did they do? They killed the son.

Graphic illustration of the fact that no matter who God sent to Israel, they always did the same thing with them, they never believed God. God said judgment, judgment, judgment. The prophets kept crying judgment, judgment, nobody ever believed them. And yet they fancied themselves to be God’s people.

There are people like that today. Nobody wants to speak on sin and judgement. Nobody wants to believe that there is a judgement coming.

Peter spoke on Judgement

2 Peter 3:3-4 3Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?

Now this is always the attitude of the some who are God’s people. They deny the deity of Christ and secondly. They always deny the Second Coming. They reject every Scripture that talks about judgment.

Do you know what they argue? 2 Peter 3:4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”

You know what they’re saying? “Well, Jesus will never will come. I’ll never be judged for my actions. People said before Noah, didn’t they? It never will rain because it never has. And God said, “My Spirit will not always strive with man,” and it did rain and judgment came.

So from Habakkuk we see that God’s people sometimes misunderstand God’s ways. Let me tell you, if you’re a believer today who never a thought for the judgment of God, let me warn you that God’s going to judge this world. It’s time that you check your own life to be sure you’re prepared. God did judge Israel, you know. He did. Not many years after Habakkuk’s time He judged them. They were taken into captivity and it was a disaster.

Paul spoke on Judgement

Paul picks this same message in Acts 13:41 Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you. He stood there and he talked to those Jews in that synagogue and he said, “You won’t believe this but God’s going to judge you just like He told those Jews in Habakkuk’s day. God’s going to judge you for refusing the gospel. But you’re not going to believe it.

Judgment came by way of the Babylonian army, just as Habakkuk promised. Judgment came by way of the Roman army, as Paul promised in Acts 13, for in 70 AD, the city of Jerusalem was wiped out. One-hundred thousand Jews were killed. The judgment of God always comes on sin.

b. God’s Ways Are Misunderstood By The World

Habakkuk 1:11 Then they sweep past like the wind and go on—guilty people, whose own strength is their god.

The Babylonians when they conquered Israel, completely failed to realize that they were being used by God. Therefore, they went around patting themselves on the back telling themselves how great they were for having done this. They thought they owed their military success to their own ability and their god.

No matter what a man accomplishes, he always pats himself on the back. But God was soon to demonstrate to them that it was not so because the God who had lifted them up was about to smash them down.

Even today people soon forget that position, power, success comes from the Lord. They applaud themselves for the victories. In the world political level, great powers have come and gone and conquered and become drunk with their own success. God has cast them down.

Yes, God’s ways are mysterious to the careless religious people and God’s ways are misunderstood by the world.

3. GOD’S WAYS ARE MORAL

Habakkuk 1:6 I am raising up the Babylonians, that ruthless and impetuous people, who sweep across the whole earth to seize dwellings not their own.

In verse 6, it indicates that God is going to raise up the Chaldeans. God is the one in control. Every single nation on this earth is under the power of God. God’s ways are always moral.

God is moving the nations for the ultimate setting up of God’s Kingdom is the end of all history. God’s ways are right. God’s ways are always righteous. He is moral. God can do no wrong. God has divine control of this world.

God Brings Authorities

How do you know that? Romans 13:1 ….for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

God is the Lord of history. Listen, God was sovereign in creation. God is sovereign in the dispersion of man at the Tower of Babel. God was sovereign over Pharaoh’s army. God was sovereign over Hitler’s army. God is even sovereign even now.

What God permits in the church and what God permits in the world is related to His Kingdom. What God permits in your life is related to glory in the coming Kingdom.

Conclusion

If you’re a believer, ask yourself this whatever is happening how does this relate to the Kingdom of God? Whatever is going on, how does it fit in to God’s plan to establish His Kingdom?

If you don’t know Jesus Christ and you’re not a part of His Kingdom, ask yourself this…what is God trying to tell me through what I am going through? What is God saying? What’s wrong with me? And having asked yourself that question, come to the sense of your own sin and then turn to Jesus Christ who can take you out of the kingdom of this world and put you into the Kingdom of His dear Son. Let’s pray.