Summary: A call to the believing citizens to see and respond to God’s work in the land.
Changing the Course
* With the importance of this week looming large, I went to my bookshelf and reviewed some of the books found there. The titles which I found there (I.E. Heal our Land, Seducing America, Reclaiming Morality in America, Preserve us a Nation, A Nation with a Conscious, and even Enough is Enough) remind me that pulpits and books have been calling for a change in direction, attitude and action for almost a generation. Sad to say, these calls have gone largely unheeded until tonight we stand on the precipice of what could prove to be disastrous.
* For the person who has ever endured sickness, here’s the lesson which is learned; the sooner you recognize that you have a problem and the sooner you respond to that problem, then the easier the healing will be. Perhaps our country has delayed diagnosis or has ignored the illness for so long, that major surgery is going to be needed.
* This week is a time of decision for this nation and we need that power of God to direct or redirect us. For the last 40 or 50 years every sacred institution and belief we have known has been attacked and honestly, most have said, “That’s not really any of business of mine because it doesn’t affect me.” And so, as a nation, we have lived and let live. In 1946, a German Pastor named Martin Neimoller offer these thoughts about his former apathetic society;
* "In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
* And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
* And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
* And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."
* Although Habakkuk 1 is our text for the night let me begin by bringing to our attention 1 Thessalonians 5. Please turn there (Read verses 1-3). There are many things which literally jump off the page at me, but nothing more than this; “When they shall say, Peace and Safety; THEN”. I doubt there has been another time in history where a nation of individuals felt more safe, secure, and even at peace than today. People tend to not allow national issues to concern them too much, just like Judah in the days of Habakkuk, prophet of God. Let’s read our text.
* The USA boasts of one the 3 largest rivers in the world. Behind the Amazon and Congo Rivers, the Mississippi is considered the 3rd largest in the world. Draining some of Canada and some 41 states, this rivers impacts much. If you have ever noticed on a map the Mississippi looks like a “snake” working its way down through the US. A frustration to the Corp of Engineers is the ability of the river to change course and to do so almost without effort. So in an effort to control the changes along the Mississippi, the Corp of Engineers has built a lock and dam system in specific places to keep the river on its needed course. This prevents loss of life and property. However, it was no easy task. Rarely is changing a direction an easy task.
* For years Habakkuk has seen Judah headed in the wrong direction and felt helpless except to cry out to God. As we read last week God had chosen not to answer those prayers as of yet. From God’s answer tonight, it seems that Habakkuk was so focused on his prayer that he missed the happenings. When God spoke to the prophet, the message was four-fold. This is not a “feel-good” message. This is a message for the USA today.
* It is my belief that God can speak to us through these words and help us come to grips with our nation, just like Habakkuk had to do with Judah.
1. Be Aware – Verse 5 tells us as God’s people to “Look and Observe.” KJV uses the words “Behold and Regard.” From the Hebrew language the meaning is clear; not only are we to see and take note of, but we better pay attention by taking a good, long look to the point of understanding. I submit that people who claim the name of Jesus tend to keep their head in the sand about issues confronting society. We so completely hide behind the principle that we are “in the world and not of the world” that we have lost our place in the world. What is our place? To be the salt and the light which gives flavor, preserves, heals and illuminates the world. The bottom line is this; we can do none of those things if we are disengaged. In the governmental issues (I.E. country, county, city, etc) when do most believers get involved? The answer is, “When there is a problem.” Now watch how this plays out. There is a problem in the city, so we go to be heard. At that point we have little or no firsthand knowledge of what has transpired to bring our leaders to the point of this decision, we only know that “we don’t like it”. So we show up to do something about it. And we leave frustrated because no one hears us.