Thursday, February 18, 2010

HABAKKUK – the “Estranged” and Hopeful Prophet

Lord, I have heard of your fame;

I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord.

Renew them in our day,

in our time make them known;

in wrath remember mercy.”

~Habakkuk 3:2 (NIV).

This Minor Prophet lived and prophesied in a dangerous day, Babylonians afoot, trouble ahead. Unlike most other prophets he had more questions for God than he had answers—and goads—for the people. And whilst he sought some sense of revival in the midst of darker times coming, he like the people, and certainly the psalmist, is often bewildered by what he sees. ‘C’mon God, do something!’ seems to be his sentiment in the early going.

And so it is for us. We can be the most fervent of believer, strident in faith, yet we see what we see around us and wonder beyond hope; is God really in control? Shaking ourselves, castigatingly for a moment... ‘Of course he is; don’t be so silly,’ we’ll say. But the evidence can tend to deny us.

This is why Habakkuk is such a comfort to us. God provides a word in his inerrant way that proves such doubt and uncertainty is reasonable and naturally consequent in the midst of the spiritual reality we find ourselves in.

Habakkuk commences in the style of lament psalm with Joban allusions of complaint; with God answering the oracles contained in 1:1 – 2:20. It ends with a psalm of its own in chapter 3. The prophet resolves to “wait patiently” (3:16) though he knows of the impending doom coming toward him and the people of Judah.

We too know that things will get darker and muddier and despite this we’ll grow our families and sow further into God’s kingdom here. We’re forgiven for asking why.

This is the greatest faith—a faith beyond worldly hope—that God secures us and we, despite our days of doubting, go on with him in any event. In these days we will read Habakkuk, along with Job and the lament psalms and be greatly encouraged that God’s faithful were—and indeed are—tested. This is not because God has a magnifying glass and we’re ants in the sun. It’s because life is the way it is; there is no preferential treatment for anyone. Such is our glorious God so impartial. There is indwelt peace in the experience of this reality.

God, beyond understanding, allows us—indeed encourages us—to make our queries and complaints. He wants us to haggle and wrestle with our faith, and with him. He knows the nature of life. He wants us to fight with him, but in that—the process—to come to truly know him and his true loving purpose, and these at times beyond our understanding.

In our waiting and listening to God, post-complaint, we hear his irrevocable voice streaming through all of creation—and it speaks to us trust and peace, undying faith and calm. Beyond the scary wood is an open plain baked in golden canola. Clear of the shrill is rest.

We see that it’s God’s nature to not only remember mercy but to design it in, throughout his entire creation. He knows the stark ugliness of sin beyond our understanding, yet he must contend.

Our job, our final resting place, is to be in frank awe of this God—the Inventor of it all!

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

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