Summary: Along with the beautiful promises of God is the conditional clause of severe discipline if we break His commands and His laws.
In 1969, in Pass Christian, Mississippi, a group of people were preparing to have a "hurricane party" in the face of a storm named Camille. Were they ignorant of the dangers? Could they have been overconfident? Did they let their egos and pride influence their decision? We will never know.
What we do know is that the wind was howling outside the posh Richelieu Apartments when Police Chief Jerry Peralta pulled up sometime after dark. Facing the Beach less than 250 feet from the surf, the apartments were directly in the line of danger. A man with a drink in his hand came out to the second-floor balcony and waved. Peralta yelled up, "You all need to clear out of here as quickly as you can. The storm’s getting worse." But as other joined the man on the balcony, they just laughed at Peralta’s order to leave. "This is my land," one of them yelled back. "If you want me off, you’ll have to arrest me."
Peralta didn’t arrest anyone, but he wasn’t able to persuade them to leave either. He wrote down the names of the next of kin of the twenty or so people who gathered there to party through the storm. They laughed as he took their names. They had been warned, but they had no intention of leaving.
It was 10:15 p.m. when the front wall of the storm came ashore. Scientists clocked Camille’s wind speed at more than 205 miles-per-hour, the strongest on record. Raindrops hit with the force of bullets, and waves off the Gulf Coast crested between twenty-two and twenty-eight feet high.
News reports later showed that the worst damage came at the little settlement of motels, go-go bars, and gambling houses known as Pass Christian, Mississippi, where some twenty people were killed at a hurricane party in the Richelieu Apartments. Nothing was left of that three-story structure but the foundation; the only survivor was a five-year-old boy found clinging to a mattress the following day.
People are sent into our lives to warn us of coming storms. Habakkuk was just that man for the nation of Israel. Let’s go, Habakkuk 1- In this awesome, prophetic, historical exposition we have the prophet Habakkuk, right in the middle of the progression of God’s kingly dimensions of kingdom building in Old Testament theology. And in the Old Testament you will find hidden in the crevice of the minor prophets, a remarkable character whose name is Habakkuk. We don’t know a lot about this prophet. Except his name means, “to embrace”. He came at a time when the Babylonian empire was at it’s peak militarily and economically with Nebuchadrezzar as its emperor. Assyria, Syria, Palestine and Egypt were all under his feet. / And here we have Habakkuk. /
Before the Babylonian empire came to power we have pictures of God in the Old Testament that are very easy to worship and love. We get to see God, the object of our worship, the destination of our worship. We praise Him because He is God. He has created the heavens and the earth like Genesis has told us. He delivered the Israelite slaves out of bondage and slavery. He is a loving Father who takes you back time and time and time again after you’ve failed Him so many times.
Yet here in Habakkuk we see a part of God that is hard to Habakkuk, hard to embrace. Why? If you will have the ears to hear for a few minutes I want to talk to you about that reason. Is that all right? (READ v. 1) Habakkuk had a burden. Do you believe that what a judge says has weight? If you don’t hang out in a courtroom for a few hours. I’ve been in courtrooms where every word that the judge speaks is listened to and hung on as if they were the very words of life and death. Will I go to jail? Will I see my child again? Will I be able to work? Will I be free from this monster? Judgments have weight. Judgments are heavy. Judgments, can be a burden. / So we have Habakkuk here with a burden of judgment on God’s very own people. (READ vv. 2-11)
God has gone from being a God of redemption and deliverance to a God of justice. He has gone from speaking as a father to acting as a judge. Habakkuk has the burdens that you and I have had as believers. The burdens of, “Why?” and “How long?” But it was God that first asked those questions in Exodus when His people ignored how good He was and how much He had given them with manna from heaven. You see God, sympathizes with Habakkuk. He asks, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?”