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Here are the slides that accompany the video (and mp3) of Simon Bowkett's Bible exposition on Habakkuk 1:12-17 to be found on the Grace Wales Rural Chaplaincy YouTube channel and on archive.org

Here are the slides that accompany the video (and mp3) of Simon Bowkett's Bible exposition on Habakkuk 1:12-17 to be found on the Grace Wales Rural Chaplaincy YouTube channel and on archive.org

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  • Habakkuk has challenged God because it seemed that God was doing NOTHING about the godlessness of the people of Habakkuk’s time and place.God has responded to Habakkuk’s twin questions: ‘Why?’ and ‘How long?’ with a very clear indication that He hasn’t been inactive, that He has got it all in hand and a terrible punishment is about to befall Judah, which as we know will remove the monarchy and the nation state to prepare the way of the Messiah and the Kingdom (no longer of human kings) but of God.It is a huge bombshell to Habakkuk not least because of the suddenness and thoroughness of it all (ironic given Habakkuk’s first complaint), but also because of the wickedness and idolatry of the people who will execute God’s judgement against Judah.So where are we in the structure of the unfolding of the prophecy?
  • 1:1-4 Habakkuk’s first complaint1:5-11 God’s response1:12-2:1 Habakkuk’s second complaint2:2-20 God’s (lengthier) response3:1-19 Transformed, Habakkuk worships in awe and wonderHabakkuk’s first complaint was of the lawlessness of his times, the violence in his society and the effects of the absence of the fear of God.His two big cries to God were: ‘Why?’ and ‘How long?’We know what that’s like, don’t we?So where are we going this week?
  • Habakkuk, as we begin this passage today, having been complaining bitterly that God wasn’t doing ANYTHING about the spiritual state of the land is now cast to the opposite extreme … stunned by what God is on the very verge of doing and rattled by the people who will be his instruments in doing that.He has been CLOBBERED.He is REELING.He is UTTERLY CONFUSED as his expectations of God … previously scandalised and frustrated by these expectations not being met through God’s inactivity … are once again shattered by the extent and nature – the intensiveness - of God’s activity.What do you do when the foundations are shaken, when you are utterly RATTLED by what God has done or is doing?God has dismayed, shaken and surprised Habakkuk SO MUCH, he has little option but to resort to going back to and going over what he definitely knows to be true about the fundamental character of God.
  • The natural challenge posed to faith by the apparent triumph of the forces of godlessness has the effect of suggesting that God’s is n longer at His post.Given the way God does not usually take us into His counsel, but calls rather for the trust of His people, it is easy to think He’s given up on the job.Or asleep.Or on holiday.Or dead.In his distress at the impact of the things that have been told him in the immediately preceding verses, it is n wonder (is it?) that Habakkuk’s thoughts run this way?Those Babylonians are coming, they’re going to over-run the nation, and they are bound to give some verbal abuse to the ability of Israel’s God.Just as Elijah stood on mount Carmel giving abuse to the prophets of Baal, so the same could be expected of the Babylonians: ‘where’s your God now, eh?!’There are always plenty around us like Job’s wife, who in his horrible experiences would urge that afflicted man to ‘curse God and die’!Habakkuk starts of his resorting to the character of God for help and comfort in his bitter experience by remembering that His God is not dead.
  • God is not dead, and He is the LORD!DN is being referred to here in His role as the rightful King … He is the covenant King of Judah … the suzerain.And He is the covenanted suzerain Who has the RIGHT to rule.To cut a long story short, the right to kingship in ancient near eastern political theory rested on ‘cutting a covenant’ … it was often done on stone tablets or walls or whatever … whereby a people (often a SUBJECT people with little real choice in the matter) agreed to accept the sovereignty of a particular potentate with provisions specified that regulated the relationship on both sides.When you see a reference to the LORD in our English translation of the Bible you are seeing a reference to the covenant king, the Great King or suzerain over Israel’s rulers who faithfully keeps the covenant that He has ‘cut’ with His people.Israel’s Kings are portrayed in the OT as vassal kings of the Great King YHWH … who has appointed these incoming Babylonian hordes as His royal executioners, coming (faithfully) to administer the judgement stipulations (often referred to as the curses) of the covenant.It is, therefore, Israel’s ROCK, her protector who administered the blessings of the covenant, the provision and the protection, Who now administers the punishments of the covenant as PART of His overarching intention to bless.In the big scheme of things, this horror is coming to the people of Judah not only because horror is due, but because as He brings it God is wiping out the corrupted Kingdom of Israel to inaugurate the incoming Kingdom of God.It is God’s righteous rule as Judah’s legitimate ruler that Habakkuk reminds himself of in these verses.God is proving faithful to the covenant as He executes its penalty clauses, if you will.
  • At the end of the day, the biggest thing we know about God – and incidentally the biggest and most crucial fact the unbelieving world around us has forgotten - is that He is set apart from sinners, utterly other than we are … the HOLY (which means ‘set apart’) God.The way things have worked out in the world really challenges that.In fact, when satan tempted Eve and then Adam, he hit on a wheeze that resulted in great potential for ongoing rebellion against God.What do I mean?One of the most common arguments I hear people use against God is the argument from the presence of evil, pain and suffering in the world.‘How can there be a God of love when … ?’You know the sort of thing?So satan approached Eve in the Garden of Eden with the express objective of tempting the humans to sin, trying to persuade them that they could know better than God.And he did it in the sure and certain knowledge that if he could persuade the humans to rebel against God, pain, suffering and death would enter the world on an on-going basis as the result of that first act of rebellion, providing humans thenceforth with their number one objection and accusation against God.The holy God would (because of His holiness) have t act on that in judgement, and that judgement would be misconceived by hurting humanity as evidence that God WASN’T holy.Neat trick?!All the while these things that make it feel otherwise are happening (says Habakkuk) I KNOW your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and that you cannt tolerate wrong.Now, this isn’t the end of the matter … because this fact about God has to be held in tension with the things that we see around us which seem to contradict it.
  • All the while Habakkuk’s faith tells him one thing, he’s conscious and aware his eyes are trying to tell him another.
  • Natural question to ask as you look out on a world that makes us hurt.It’s NOT just a Christian question … it’’s a NATURAL questionI hear ATHEISTS asking it, because it is in our nature (however much we do have a surprising ability to suppress it) to reckon there’s a God and to reach out to Him for somebody to blame when things don’t suit our plans or our agenda.But do you notice what is surprisingly lacking in this complaint against God?Habakkuk is changing the One worthy being in the universe with wrongdoing … but there is NO consciousness of sin in the man himself.He has conveniently FORGOTTEN both his own sin and his own sinfulness in finding someone else he can accuse of injustice.I was with someone yesterday who I think a LOT of, but has chosen a path that is not according to God’s Word and whilst that was honestly and ( I think) graciously acknowledged, it is amazing how fast we both fell to finding other places to attribute fault.Habakkuk attributes guilt to the Babylonians, guilt to God (of all people!) … but his current thinking attributes none of the responsibility to the people of Judah or to himself as their prophet, God’s watchman.An adequate sense of conviction of his sin would have kept Habakkuk … or the people for whom he speaks … from attributing wrong-doing to God, and from piercing his own heart with this grief.His complaint against God is that GOD is silent – is God EVER silent?!And that Gd is silent whilst the wicked go gobbling up those who are MORE righteous than themselves.
  • Here is what gives rise to Habakkuk’s fierce indignation …“You have made people like the fish in the sea, like the sea creatures that have no ruler.”In the ancient near eastern political system, a ruler was there t lead out the armies and give protection t his subjects in the land.Life without active governance would be nasty, poor, brutish and SHORT!Kings were there to DEAL with thatSo Habakkuk is actually accusing God – Israel’s covenanted King – with a serious dereliction of His duty.This is a horribly heavy duty accusation.The Israelites are like FISH …Fish seem to the land-locked Judean to be utterly unprotected … mere quarry.Vulnerable to the hook and the net.And they aren’t simply vulnerable, but predated upon …
  • This looks like a poetic flight of fancy, but is actually a frightening reference to what historically happened …
  • The Babylonians did this.They invaded lands, took captives, pushed hooks through their bottom lip and led them off single file to Babylon.It HAPPENED to the people of Judah.
  • Additionally there are inscriptions (referred to by O. Palmer Robertson in his commentary) to captives being netted and dragged behind horses back to Babylon.Can you see where the complaint of Habakkuk is coming from?It is born right out of the suffering and humiliation of the people of God.What doesn’t accompany this complaint is any sense (for the moment) of the unworthiness of the people which gives rise to all this … an unworthiness Habakkuk was complaining about just a little earlier.We ALL want God to end sin (and therefore the suffering it causes) … we just don’t want him to end ours, we don’t want him to do it His way and we certainly don’t want Him to do it now!
  • He rejoices.Over us.Here’s the final hurtful humiliation in the list.Being LAUGHED atHaving the enemy rejoice over our sorry – but unrepentant - condition.
  • Idolatry and self-interest go hand in hand … deifying what gives you what your flesh craves, is very common
  • Habakkuk is back to ‘how long?!’

Transcript

  • 1. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Romans 15:7
  • 2. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction
  • 3. Habakkuk • 1:1-4 Habakkuk’s 1st. complaint • 1:12-2:1 Habakkuk’s 2nd. complaint • 3:1-19 Transformed Habakkuk worships in awe and wonder • 1:5-11 God’s response • 2:2-20 God’s (longer) response
  • 4. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction
  • 5. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a
  • 6. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a – God is not dead, v. 12a “LORD, are you not from everlasting? My God, my Holy One, you will never die.”
  • 7. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a – God is not dead, v. 12a – God is the Sovereign judge, v. 12b “You, LORD, have appointed them to execute judgment; you, my Rock, have ordained them to punish.”
  • 8. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a – God is not dead, v. 12a – God is the Sovereign judge, v. 12b – God is the HOLY One, v. 13 “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing.”
  • 9. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17
  • 10. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”
  • 11. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God – The outrage of it, vv. 14-16 • The Sovereign God offers no protection, v. 14 “You have made people like the fish in the sea, like the sea creatures that have no ruler.”
  • 12. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God – The outrage of it, vv. 14-16 • The Sovereign God offers no protection, v. 14 • So the wicked foe rejoices, v. 15 “The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad.”
  • 13. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God – The outrage of it, vv. 14-16 • The Sovereign God offers no protection, v. 14 • So the wicked foe rejoices, v. 15 “The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks …
  • 14. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God – The outrage of it, vv. 14-16 • The Sovereign God offers no protection, v. 14 • So the wicked foe rejoices, v. 15 “The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet …
  • 15. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God – The outrage of it, vv. 14-16 • The Sovereign God offers no protection, v. 14 • So the wicked foe rejoices, v. 15 “The wicked foe pulls all of them up with hooks, he catches them in his net, he gathers them up in his dragnet; and so he rejoices and is glad.”
  • 16. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God – The outrage of it, vv. 14-16 • The Sovereign God offers no protection, v. 14 • So the wicked foe rejoices, v. 15 • … and indulges in idolatry, v. 16 “Therefore he sacrifices to his net and burns incense to his dragnet, for by his net he lives in luxury and enjoys the choicest food.”
  • 17. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 – V. 13b The big issue: the apparent inactivity or injustice of God – The outrage of it, vv. 14-16 • The Sovereign God offers no protection, v. 14 • So the wicked foe rejoices, v. 15 • … and indulges in idolatry, v. 16 – The prophet’s big complaint, v. 17 “Is he to keep on emptying his net, destroying nations without mercy?”
  • 18. Habakkuk 1:12-17 • Introduction • Faith resorting to the character of God, vv. 12-13a • Sight complaining of the things it sees, v. 13b-17 • Conclusion