Summary: In this sermon God gives us three truths about how are to live in a fallen world.
This is the fourth message in my series titled, “Making Sense of Today’s News.” Let us read Habakkuk 2:4-20:
4 “See, he is puffed up;
his desires are not upright—
but the righteous will live by his faith—
5 indeed, wine betrays him;
he is arrogant and never at rest.
Because he is as greedy as the grave
and like death is never satisfied,
he gathers to himself all the nations
and takes captive all the peoples.
6 “Will not all of them taunt him with ridicule and scorn, saying,
“ ‘Woe to him who piles up stolen goods
and makes himself wealthy by extortion!
How long must this go on?’
7 Will not your debtors suddenly arise?
Will they not wake up and make you tremble?
Then you will become their victim.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
the peoples who are left will plunder you.
For you have shed man’s blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in
9 “Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain
to set his nest on high,
to escape the clutches of ruin!
10 You have plotted the ruin of many peoples,
shaming your own house and forfeiting your life.
11 The stones of the wall will cry out,
and the beams of the woodwork will echo it.
12 “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed
and establishes a town by crime!
13 Has not the LORD Almighty determined
that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire,
that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
14 For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD,
as the waters cover the sea.
15 “Woe to him who gives drink to his neighbors,
pouring it from the wineskin till they are drunk,
so that he can gaze on their naked bodies.
16 You will be filled with shame instead of glory.
Now it is your turn! Drink and be exposed!
The cup from the LORD’s right hand is coming around to you,
and disgrace will cover your glory.
17 The violence you have done to Lebanon will overwhelm you,
and your destruction of animals will terrify you.
For you have shed man’s blood;
you have destroyed lands and cities and everyone in them.
18 “Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For he who makes it trusts in his own creation;
he makes idols that cannot speak.
19 Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.
20 But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.” (Habakkuk 2:4-20)
September 11, 2001 is now one of the most tragic dates in our history. Terrorists attacked America in a blatant, brutal way. People in this country, and indeed the world, were shocked by the attacks. Five years later, we are still living with a great deal of uncertainty as we contemplate the possibility of another attack.
How does your view of God line up with such real life evil? How do you make theological sense out of the attack on America? Many great thinkers and philosophers throughout the ages have stumbled at this very problem of pain and suffering and evil—some ultimately rejecting Christianity because of it.
But the messy problem of pain and suffering and evil keeps popping up, regardless of our erudite attempts to explain it away. Living in a real world, we are faced with a question like: “Why did God allow the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001?”
Even C. S. Lewis, who offered perhaps the most articulate explanation of the problem of pain in the 20th century, saw his arguments fade in significance as he watched the onslaught of bone cancer in his wife’s body. Lewis said, “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”
The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk reached just that place. When faced with the fact that God was about to raise up the evil Babylonian nation to bring judgment against the people of God, it was more than he could take. He almost lost it! But instead of becoming an atheist or an agnostic, Habakkuk went to his watchtower to pray, meditate and wait on God to put it all together for him. He had confidence that God would send an answer soon.
Last week we saw the steps Habakkuk followed while waiting for God’s answer. He (1) committed his problem to God, (2) expected an answer from God, and (3) was persistent in his expectation of that answer. Finally, (4) God rewarded his faith with an answer.