We are living out turbulent times right here and now and so many so called Christians are lost in which directions they must go…..His advise can be applied easily in our personal lives.
Look up to Jesus, Awake Christians, and make sure you are wearing the robe of righteousness.
I have learned from the spirit of God that we have major Christian leaders in this world who are not wearing the right robes, yet, some uneducated, homeless and/or poor smocks are. Examine yourself… unless you fail. Seek the approval of God, not the approval of man. EVEN SATAN THINKS HIS MINIONS ARE GREAT PEOPLE
In the end it is what God thinks of you and I that matters
2 Timothy 2:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB) 15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.
Inter-Varsity Fellowship : Nottingham, England
All Rights Reserved — Used by permission of IVF
Subjects: 1. Bible — Habakkuk — Criticism, interpretation, etc. 2. Bible — Habakkuk.
BS 1635.3 L66 ~ OCLC: 221340255 ~ 78p.
From Fear to Faith is presently held by 145 libraries including the National Library of Scotland and the University of Oxford.
Table of Contents
Introduction ….. 7
Outline of the Book of Habakkuk ….. 12
I. The Strangeness of God’s Ways ….. 13
II. The Prophet’s Perplexity ….. 23
III. Waiting for God’s Answer ….. 34
IV. ‘The Just Shall Live by Faith’ ….. 45
V. How to Pray ….. 55
VI. How to Rejoice in Tribulations ….. 66
From the Back Cover of the Book
The country was on the brink of a devastating invasion. Famine threatened. Violence and social injustice filled the land. Habakkuk the Old Testament prophet had every reason to sink into despair. Where was God in these turbulent times?
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was one of the twentieth century’s foremost preachers and Bible teachers. The parallels he draws between the message of Habakkuk and the crisis-ridden West are still powerfully relevant to our own times. Here is the secret of the problem of history. No event, however catastrophic, fails to find a place in God’s loving purpose for humanity. Habakkuk’s great assertion of faith, in the midst of enormous personal upheaval and emotional strain, can be ours: ‘Yet I will rejoice in the LORD … The Sovereign LORD is my strength.’
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) was minister of Westminster Chapel, London, for thirty years. He exercised a wide ministry through preaching and writing.
The Mystery of Historical Processes
THERE are many and varied problems in connection with the life of faith. We are never promised in the Bible that our lives as Christian people in this world will be free from difficulty and trial. There is an adversary of our souls who is ever active. His great object is always to discourage us, and if possible to get us even to deny the faith. Various temptations are presented by him to our minds — anything, indeed, that may undermine our faith.
Now one of the main anxieties in the realm of faith today is what we may call ‘the problem of history’. It is about the historical situation that so many people now seem to be perplexed. This has not always been the case. Toward the end of the last century, and perhaps until 1914, the main difficulty confronting those who belonged to the faith was not ‘the problem of history’, but ‘the problem of science.’ In that period, the attack upon the faith claimed the authority of scientists and their discoveries. The difficulty then seemed to be one of reconciling the teaching of the Bible with the observed facts in nature and the various claims of science.
It is true, of course, that there are still people who are troubled in the same way; but this is not now the main problem. The old conflict between science and religion is really out of date. Scientists themselves have put it out of date by rejecting, for the most part, the materialistic and mechanical notions which governed
the popular scientific mind up to twenty years ago. In the realm of physics, recent discoveries and theories have put an end to such notions, and we have witnessed in our own time more than one outstanding scientist having to confess that he has been driven to believe in a Mind behind the universe.
It is not the scientific problem, therefore, but the mystery of history which gives anxiety now. That is the problem of problems in this twentieth century. It naturally arises from the events of this period. Our fathers, and to an even greater degree our grandfathers, were not particularly concerned with the problem of history because life was moving in leisurely fashion and, as they believed, inevitably towards a wonderful goal of perfection. The Promised Land was about to be occupied. They just had to go on quietly and they would soon be there. But we in this century have all been shaken to our foundations by the course of events and, in face of these things, many have found their faith sorely tried. They have found it difficult, for example, to account for two devastating world wars, for such events seem incompatible with the biblical teaching concerning the providence of God.
Now it must be stated at once that this is a problem which should never have led anyone to feel unhappy or perplexed. There is really no excuse for this because of the plain teaching of the Bible itself. From one point of view there was never any excuse, either, for being in perplexity about science and religion. But there is still less excuse for anyone to be in trouble over this problem of history, because the Bible deals with it in the clearest possible manner. Why then are people troubled about it?
The main reason, it would seem, is that there are those who use the Bible in a narrow sense, as being
exclusively a text book of personal salvation. Many people seem to think that the sole theme of the Bible is that of man’s personal relationship to God. Of course that is one of the central themes, and we thank God for the salvation provided without which we should be left in hopeless despair. But that is not the only theme of the Bible. Indeed, we can go so far as to say that the Bible puts the question of personal salvation into a larger context. Ultimately the main message of the Bible concerns the condition of the entire world and its destiny; and you and I, as individuals, are a part of that larger whole. That is why it starts with the creation of the world rather than of man. The trouble is that we are inclined to be exclusively concerned with our own personal problem, whereas the Bible starts further back: it puts every problem in the context of this world view.
If we do not realize that the Bible has a particular world view, it is not surprising that the world in its present state makes us despair. But if we read right through the Bible and note its message, instead of just picking out an occasional Psalm, or the Sermon on the Mount, or our favourite Gospel, we shall find it has a profound philosophy of history, and a distinctive world view. It enables us to understand what is happening today and that nothing that occurs in history fails to find a place in the divine programme. The great and noble teaching of the Bible is concerned with the whole question of the world and its destiny.
In the book of the prophet Habakkuk we have a perfect illustration of this. The prophet treats the problem of history in a particularly interesting manner; not as an academic or theoretical philosophy of history, but as the personal perplexity of one man — the prophet himself. He wrote his book to relate his own experience.
Here was a man greatly troubled by what was happening. He was anxious to reconcile what he saw with what he believed. The same approach to the question is found elsewhere in the Bible, particularly in the Psalms,1 and every one of the prophets deals with this same problem of history. But not only are the books of the Old Testament occupied with this problem; the attentive reader will find it running right through the New Testament as well. He will find our Lord giving His pre-view of history, and in the book of Revelation he will meet another fore-view of history and of the relationship of our risen Lord and the Christian Church to that history. We should awake to the fact that ‘the problem of history’ is the great theme of Holy Scripture.
In approaching the study of the book of Habakkuk we may first of all consider the situation confronting the prophet personally. Then we can proceed to deduce certain principles. Thus we shall see that, in essence, everything that caused anxiety to the prophet is exactly what is worrying so many people today as they try to relate all they observe to the teaching of Scripture, especially to the teaching about the being and character of God.
The prophet saw Israel in a very backslidden condition. She had turned away from God and forgotten Him. She had given herself over to false gods and other unworthy pursuits. No wonder that he exclaims in acute distress of mind: ‘O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity (and he is thinking of his own nation and people) and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are (those) that
1 One of the classical statements is to be found in Psalm 73.
raise up strife and contention. Therefore the law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth.’
What a terrible picture! Sin, immorality and vice were rampant, while those who were in authority and entrusted with government were slack and indolent. They did not apply the law equitably and honestly. There was lawlessness everywhere; and whenever anyone ventured to remonstrate with the people as the prophet did, those in authority rose up with strife and contention. Serious religious falling away had been followed, as invariably happens, by a general moral and political decline. Such were the alarming conditions which confronted the prophet.
It was a real problem. To start with, he could not understand why God allowed it all. He had been praying to God about it, but God did not seem to answer. Hence his perplexity: ‘O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not save!’ But, unfortunately for the prophet, this was only the beginning of his troubles. For following his complaint that God had failed to listen to him and to answer his prayers, God did answer him, but in an altogether unexpected way. ‘Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously: for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you. For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation, which shall march through the breadth of the land, to possess the dwelling places that are not theirs.’ God was virtually saying to the prophet, ‘All right! I have been hearing your prayer all the time, and now I tell you what I propose to do. I am going to raise up the Chaldeans.’ The Chaldeans were, at
that time, a very insignificant people compared with the Assyrians, who were the great contemporaries of Israel. Habakkuk, already perplexed at the fact that God permitted iniquity in His own nation, is now told that God intends to raise up an utterly pagan, godless people to conquer the land and to punish His people. The prophet was almost overwhelmed. This is the problem which we shall study in the following chapters.
* * *
Outline of the Book of Habakkuk
In i. 5-11 God tells the prophet what He is about to do. He reveals the might of this terrible enemy and the devastation which he will leave behind him. He describes the enemy’s arrogance and pride in imputing his success to his own god and to his own greatness. In i.12—ii.1 we see the way in which the prophet grapples with this problem. The rest of chapter ii is devoted to God’s gracious dealings with Habakkuk, and the way in which He enables him to understand the over-all situation. God gives him a wonderful insight into biblical philosophy and history, and how these things are to be reconciled with His own holiness and greatness, and how everything will eventually be perfectly worked out. Chapter iii describes the prophet’s reaction to all this.
The Strangeness of God’s Ways
Habakkuk i. 1-11
A. Two Statements of Fact
THE message of Habakkuk is sorely needed in these days when so many are perplexed by this problem of history. We begin, therefore, with two statements of fact:
I. God’s Ways Are Often Mysterious
(a) His inaction
The first thing we discover when we study God’s actions is that He may seem to be strangely silent and inactive in provocative circumstances. Why is it that God permits certain things to happen? Why is the Christian Church what she is today? Look at her history over the last forty or fifty years. Why has God permitted such conditions? Why has He allowed ‘modernism’ to arise, undermining the faith and even denying its fundamental truths? Why does He not strike these people dead as they utter their blasphemy and their denials of the faith which they are ordained to preach? Why does He allow so many wrong things to be done even in His name?
Again, why has not God answered the prayers of His faithful people? We have been praying for revival
for thirty or forty years. Our prayers have been sincere and zealous. We have bemoaned the state of affairs and have cried out to God on account of it. But still nothing seems to happen. Like the prophet Habakkuk many are asking ‘How long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear, even cry out unto thee of violence and thou wilt not save?’ But this is not only the problem of the Church as a whole; it is also the question which confronts so many people personally. There are those who have been praying about someone who is dear to them for many years, and God does not seem to answer. They reason within themselves like this : ‘Surely it is the will of God that a man should become a Christian? Well, I have been praying for him for all these years and nothing seems to happen. Why? Why is God thus silent?’ People are often impatient about this. Why does He not answer our prayers? How can we understand a holy God permitting His own Church to be as she is today?
(b) His unexpected providences
A second thing we discover is that God sometimes gives unexpected answers to our prayers. This, more than anything else, was what really startled Habakkuk. For a long time God does not seem to answer at all. Then, when He does answer, what He says is even more mysterious than His seeming failure to listen to our prayers. Habakkuk was quite clear in his own mind that the need was for God to chastise the nation and then send a great revival. But when God replied, ‘I am answering you by raising up the Chaldean army to go right through and destroy your cities’, that was the last thing he could ever have imagined that God would say. But that is what God did tell him, and that is what actually took place.
John Newton wrote a poem describing a similar personal experience. He felt that he wanted something better in his spiritual life. He cried out for a deeper knowledge of God. He expected some wonderful vision of Him rending the heavens and coming down to shower blessing into his life. But instead of this Newton had an experience in which for months God seemed to have abandoned him to Satan. He was tempted and tried beyond his comprehension. Yet at last he did come to understand and saw that that was God’s way of answering his prayer. God had allowed him to go down into the depths to teach him to depend entirely on Him. Then, when Newton had learned his lesson, He brought him out of his trial.
We all tend to prescribe the answers to our prayers. We think that God can come in only one way. But Scripture teaches us that God sometimes answers our prayers by allowing things to become much worse before they become better. He may sometimes do the opposite of what we anticipate. He may overwhelm us by confronting us with a Chaldean army. Yet it is a fundamental principle in the life and walk of faith that we must always be prepared for the unexpected when we are dealing with God. I wonder what our fathers would have thought forty years ago if they could have had a preview of the state of the Christian Church today. They were unhappy enough about things even then. They were already having meetings for revival and for seeking God. If they could see the Church at the present time, they would not believe their eyes. They could never have imagined that spiritually the Church could have sunk so low. Yet God has allowed this to happen. It has been an unexpected answer. We must hold on to the hope that He has allowed things to become worse before they finally become better.
(c) His unusual instruments
A third surprising feature of God’s ways is that He sometimes uses strange instruments to correct His Church and people. The Chaldeans, of all people, are the ones whom God is going to raise up to chastise Israel! Such a thing was unthinkable. But here again is a fact which is evident right through Scripture. God, if He so wishes, can use even a godless Chaldean. In the course of history He has used all sorts of strange and unexpected instruments to bring His purposes to pass. This is a very relevant fact today, for it would seem that, according to the Bible, much of what is happening in the world now must be regarded in this light. We may perhaps go further and say positively that Communism, which seems to be feared by so many Christians today, is but an instrument which God is using to deal with His own people.
The importance of all this lies in the fact that, if we do not view these things in the right way, our prayers will be wrongly conceived and wrongly directed. We have to realize the true state of the Church, and recognize its iniquity. We must understand that it is possible that the forces which today are most antagonistic to the Christian Church are possibly being used by God for His own purpose. The plain teaching of the prophet is that God may use very strange instruments indeed, and sometimes the very last instrument that we would have expected.
II. God’s Ways are often Misunderstood
(a) By careless religious people
God’s ways are often strange and perplexing and surprise at what He does is felt by more than one type of person. It is, first of all, a matter of great surprise to
the more careless amongst religious people. In Habakkuk i.5, God refers to the godless in Israel, those who had become careless and slack. ‘Behold ye among the heathen, and regard, and wonder marvellously; for I will work a work in your days, which ye will not believe, though it be told you.’ Their attitude was: ‘Here is that prophet telling us that God is going to use the Chaldeans. As if God could do anything like that! There is no real danger; don’t listen to him. These prophets are always alarmists, and threatening us with evil. The very idea that God would raise up a people like the Chaldeans to chastise Israel! The whole thing is impossible!’ The trouble with Israel was that they would never believe the prophets. Yet, in fact, God did deal with His people exactly as He said He would.
The attitude we find in Israel is as old as the Flood. God warned the ancient world of judgment through Noah, saying, ‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man’. But men scoffed and said that such a thing was monstrous and could not happen. It was the same with Sodom and Gomorrah. Easy-going people could never believe that their cities would be destroyed. They said God would intervene before that happened, and continued in their indolent ways in the hope that God would deliver them without much trouble to themselves. In the time of Habakkuk the attitude was the same. But God did raise up the Chaldeans, and Israel was attacked and conquered. The nation was laid low and carried away into captivity.
The most signal illustration of this principle is recorded in Acts xiii where the apostle Paul quotes the fifth verse of Habakkuk i and applies it to his contemporaries. He declares in effect: ‘No, you will not believe, any more than your fathers did. But because
Israel has not recognized her Messiah, has even crucified Him, and now refuses to believe His gospel, God is at last going to act in judgment. He is going to raise up the Roman power to sack and to destroy your temple, and you yourselves will be cast out among the nations. I know you will not believe this, for the prophet Habakkuk has already prophesied it, and you are continuing to ignore his message.’ The year A.D. 70 inexorably came. The Roman legions surrounded Jerusalem and destroyed it and the Jews were cast out among the nations where they remain until this day. It is true that careless religious people never believe the prophets. They always say, ‘God will never do such things!’ But I am reminding you that God does so act. God may be using Communism in our time to chastise His own people and to teach them a lesson. We dare not continue, therefore, to be smug and indolent, saying it is unthinkable that God could use such an instrument. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into the state of those who dwell at ease in Zion and who fail to read the signs of the times.
(b) By the world
In the second place, God’s ways are very surprising to the world. ‘Then shall his mind change, and he shall pass over, and offend, imputing this his power unto his god’ (Hab. i.11). The Chaldeans completely failed to realize that they were being used by God and imputed all their success to their own god. They thought that they owed their success to their military prowess, and boasted of the fact. But God was soon to demonstrate to them that it was not so, and that as He had raised them up so He could cast them down. The world, even more than God’s own people, fails to understand God’s ways. Those arrogant
powers, which have been used by God for His own purpose at various times in history, have always prided themselves on their achievements. The pride of the modern world in its scientific progress and in its political systems is typical of this. Because the enemies of the Christian faith see the Church languishing and find themselves coming into the ascendancy, they impute their success ‘unto their own God’. They fail to understand the true meaning of history. Great powers have been raised up and have conquered for a while, but they have always become drunk with their own successes. And suddenly, they in turn have found themselves cast down. The real significance of history never dawns upon them.
(c) By the prophet himself
Lastly, God’s ways were baffling even to the prophet himself. But his reaction was a very different one. His question was as to how all this is to be reconciled with the holiness of God. He exclaims, ‘O Lord, how long shall I cry, and thou wilt not hear! even cry out unto thee of violence, and thou wilt not save! Why dost thou shew me iniquity, and cause me to behold grievance? for spoiling and violence are before me: and there are (those) that raise up strife and contention.’
B. The Biblical Answer
It must suffice to establish the following general biblical principles by way of an answer to this problem of history:
I. History Is Under Divine Control
‘For, lo, I raise up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation.’ God controls not only Israel, but also…
Listen guys, you have to go to the original page to read the rest of the book. Although it says do not copy, but, I love the writer so much, he is so deep in the Lord, has so much knowledge and such a great teacher to me also. His books are not really on the public domain, so in respect for the writer, and Varsity who granted us this precious reading opportunity, I copied just a bit of the book for you. Now, you have to go to read the rest here. OR, click the links in the contents above to lead you directly to the original site